FFXV Meta: Too Much is Never Enough

I’ve recently beaten Final Fantasy XV and have been sating my need for more content by consuming all the DLC, scripts, and anime (which I’m sure you understand if you’ve also played). The other way I’m coping with the fact that I’m done FFXV is by analyzing one of my favorite songs from the OST, Too Much is Never Enough by Florence + the Machine.

Mind you, these lyrics are subjective and you may find other metas that have a different take. Enjoy them all! The fun is in gathering all the different ideas to discuss. And since you’re here, this is my perspective on what the lyrics mean in Too Much is Never Enough.

BEWARE: FFXV Spoilers Abound

Proceed with Caution

About 1500 words | 5- to 10-minute read

ffxv ff15 chocobros too much is never enough


 

A year like this passes so strangely

Somewhere between sorrow and bliss

He never really grieved his father fully, not on screen at least, and I think these lyrics really speak to that. He’s on the road with three people he loves like family*, but in the meantime, he’s lost his father without really getting to say goodbye. And they had such an emotionally charged but unexpressed (or under-expressed) father-son relationship that he’s never quite fully recovered from or processed his loss.

* not negating any ships here, just acknowledging his bond with all of the Chocobros

– – –

Oh, who decides from where up high?

I couldn’t say I need more time

Oh, grant that I can stay the night

Or one more day inside this life

I love this direct contradiction because that’s just so Noctis: to conceal what you really need emotionally even as you know that’s what you need.

To say you don’t need more time, but praying for the one night or maybe just one more day there, with his family—that’s all he needs before he lays down his life for them.

Because Noctis naturally doesn’t say what he feels, sometimes even saying the opposite, or says just the tip of the iceberg of his real feelings. That cloaked duality comes across here in a really meaningful, subtle (and yeah, hurtful) way.

But it also shows this desperate (not sure if this is the best word, but it’s that quality of needing someone), vulnerable side to Noctis that just wants a single night more even as he also says he couldn’t say he needs more (not that he’s singing, just going on the Noctis angle).

As much as Noctis is kind of spoiled and definitely takes his friends for granted, that doesn’t change the depth of his love for them.

And though this is the official lyrics line break, I do think it’s interesting that it can be heard either as shown above or:

Oh, who decides from where up high? I couldn’t say

I need more time

As an alternate interpretation of “who says it has to be this way, I don’t know” and then the plea for a little more time here with the ones he holds so dear to his heart. This ability to hear it differently really reinforces the duality/contradiction of these lines.

FINAL_FANTASY_XV chocobros selfie

– – –

And the crown it weighs heavy

‘Till it’s banging on my eyelids

Retreating in covers and closing the curtains

I once told my friends that Noctis was like a cat that hides beneath the bed and the Chocobros all have different tactics for getting him out—this section of lyrics reminds me of that, but way prettier and more poetic.

Retreating in covers and closing the curtains, shutting out the world, because he’s avoiding feelings, the pressures of royalty, etc. The specific things being avoided in these lines are royal obligations and the cost of being the True King, of course.

And it does remind me of the pointedly kingly moments of Noctis—like when Jared was killed, he focused on Talcott, speaking to him like his king rather than as his friend. He showed empathy, understanding that this situation wasn’t fair and it wasn’t right, but he promised to make it right.

FFX Noctis Talcott

That’s not something he’d say like that to his boys or Luna—similar, maybe, but not the same. If you know him as Prince Noctis, you aren’t getting past the curtains. He won’t let you in because you need him to be an icon, and he won’t disappoint you that way. But if you know Noct? You stand a better chance, at least.

Another moment is kiddo Noctis declaring to Gladio in Brotherhood that he won’t lose their sparring match—he has lost every one at that point, he has no reason to believe he’ll succeed. But that’s what is expected of him, that’s what he needs to do as prince.

And as much as that pressure is a lot—that crown weighs heavy—he embraces it, he wants to meet that expectation and make them proud. But the cost is both his closed nature and in a way, being blind to the costs of the crown. He knows there’s a cost, he’s said to Prompto that being a normal person is kind of nice. But he doesn’t acknowledge a limit to how much cost is too much (an interesting twist on the title, now that I think of it).

There’s a bit of idle dialogue in-game where Ignis comments on Noctis looking worn down, and Gladio says he needs to take better care of himself—and Noctis tells them that’s their job. I’m using this as an example of him not seeing self-care as worth it, seeing this cost as not being too much to pay, blind to its toll—and his friends have to take on that toll for him so he can keep on going.

But honestly, even the fact that Prompto says nothing is part of the cost. You know this boy probably wanted to speak up, but he 1) might’ve felt it wasn’t his place, thanks Noctis and 2) is the least pushy of his friends.

He lets Noctis come to him when he wants or needs something, so he puts his own feelings aside for Noctis’ benefit. Prompto is someone he can avoid the crown/feelings with who won’t bring it up before he’s ready, which is important, but it’s Prompto who shoulders that burden in the meantime.

Though I also want to say I think the really beautiful thing with Luna is that she gets the special privilege of seeing Noctis as himself and the True King simultaneously— they are one and the same to her, and I think that’s a big part of his feelings for her too.

Again, not negating any ships here! I’m a multishipper, so this game is a grand ol’ buffet of cute ships to me. :sparkling_heart:

– – –

And who cares about the thing I did that night?

So what, maybe Luna had it right

And who cares if I’m coming back alive?

So what, least I have the strength to fight

Okay, so if you look at these four lines separately, you get more options, but I’m choosing to look at them all together because angst.

When Luna dies and sees Noctis one last time, she says they can’t see each other again “because my prayers have been answered, my calling fulfilled”.

That’s what I’m thinking of with “maybe Luna had it right”, but this introduces an interesting thought that Noctis thought she was wrong before. Suggesting that perhaps he was angry with her for praying to die for them even if that is the cost of the Oracle’s covenant. Basically his thought path would be along the lines of “wtf Luna, haven’t I lost enough?”

ffxv luna noctis field scene.jpg

One of the five stages of grief is anger, so that’s especially intriguing to me because I have a feeling Noctis would also feel guilty about being angry, and of course he’s all caught up in his own feelings for the indefinite future as he works this whole mess out.

The first and third lines of this section apply well to the endgame. He’s referring to his own death for the safety of all without actually using the word itself. Avoidant even now, because sometimes it is just too much to take, whether you’ve made your peace or not (and of course he had, he says as much).

But it’s also an extension of not having any idea of what cost is too much—he’ll pay any cost for them and the world. Let’s be real, it’s mostly for the ones he loves, but he lives up to his duty with pride.

But he’s still being dismissive of their feelings. He doesn’t care if he comes back alive, but they do. One last cost he leaves them to pay, but that is part of their duty in this. They filled the time he had with love and a good deal of patience, so they must be among those not exactly celebrating at the return of natural order.

In a way, that last line is for all of them—having the strength to be there, to fight, to live up to the honorable, painful duty set before them—they can be proud of that despite the steep cost.

Thanks for reading!

If you’ve got thoughts to share, I’m happy to see them.

A Hero’s Burden: KH3 Spoilers

So I was doing some thinking on Luxu and Sora, and the parallels between them as protagonists of their own stories (though Luxu doesn’t have a game at the moment, of course)… And how much I’d love to analyze that like the nerd I am. And here we are!

Luxu

Sadly, there’s not much on Luxu himself before he returns as Xigbar. But I can glean some information from The Case of Luxu!

And yeah, he’s not exactly a hero, per se, but he’s got a quest and a mentor and bear with me here

The Gazing Eye

kingdom hearts back cover luxu.jpg

The Keyblade he was given didn’t have a name, but Luxu assumed this was its name. It’s something both literal and philosophical— there is literally an eye in it and it gives MoM the ability to see into the future.

And once he’s told it has no name, he repeats “No Name” with a breathless interest, giving the Keyblade a closer look. It’s safe for us to assume, then, that he’s a philosophical person who looks for deeper meaning in things and that he also reveres the Master of Masters like all the Foretellers do.

Whatever he told Luxu, the seventh member would have been interested and sought depth in the message he was given— whether it was there or not.

EWWW

But when he’s told that it’s the Master’s eye, he recoils and says “ew” immediately. From his voice here in particular, we can assume Luxu was young. Perhaps Sora’s age at Kingdom Hearts 1, but likely a little bit older.

Here’s where it gets interesting, though. When MoM asks him accusingly if he thinks that’s gross, Luxu hesitantly answers, “N-no.” He holds his hand out towards MoM in a disarming gesture, looking a little crestfallen.

So even though he just said Ew and clearly thinks it’s gross, he said he didn’t. Why lie? Based on his body language, he either didn’t want to disappoint MoM or didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

Later in life, I would call that a manipulation, but Luxu’s overall sincerity and inability to hold back his emotional responses here (such as recoiling and saying ew), I think it’s truly a little bit of both.

His Role

kingdom hearts back cover luxu box.png

When he’s told his role, he makes the connections quickly— his role is what allows the Book of Prophecies to exist. Luxu is smart, but for now, he tends to think in linear patterns. As most people do.

MoM tries to congratulate him on a job well done, but Luxu only said, “But I haven’t done anything yet.” This is a far cry from his actions as Xigbar, who sits on ceilings and casually warps space regularly while also helping out with some heart science and time travel.

The first step of his role was the most brutal, which I’ll expand on in this next section.

Luxu’s Disposition

Given how jumpy he can be, he’s likely kept to himself for the most part in his youth, possibly even being distrusting.

At one point, MoM says bingo and points in Luxu’s face and the younger man jumps and draws back to get some distance between them. This tells me Luxu dislikes sudden movements and people being in his space.

That said, all the Foretellers knew who he was even when he was Xigbar and presumably didn’t look like himself. So they knew him well enough to recognize his heart regardless of its vessel, at least.

His isolation during his role that took literally hundreds of years to see to fruition did not do him any favors in this regard. Especially considering he didn’t want to go alone and asked if he really had to, even wondering aloud what the other Foretellers would be doing.

With that and his eagerness to help MoM when pulling out the box, I think it’s a fair claim that Luxu doesn’t necessarily like people, but he’s loyal to those who are close to him. He dismissed his Keyblade the second he realized MoM was struggling with the box, running over to help him even though the job was mostly done.

And his promise to not open the box if he was told what was inside was softly spoken, but sincere, further cementing the notion that he’s devoted to those he already holds close.

But he’s also very curious and loves to push boundaries. If he’s told no, it just makes him want to do whatever it is more. Like not knowing what was in the box paired with not being able to open it made him really want to know what was inside.

And even when MoM told him what was in the box, he wanted to know why. This driven curiosity carried over to his time as Xigbar in the most destructive of ways, where learning secrets was worth nearly any cost.

His Descent

When he was told to just stand by and watch “as things unfold between the others”, the direct instructions from MoM, it was probably actually difficult to do. See them turning on one another, these people that he cared about and trusted, and worse yet— they were bringing the whole world down with them.

It’s no wonder that he grew to value emotional ties so little. It was those ties, their hearts, that led them so wrong. This affirmed that Luxu was right to distrust people, even friends, and that was the start of his descent down a slippery slope.

And now I draw my parallel.

With Sora!

sora riku soriku kingdom hearts

He’s curious, competitive, thoughtful, and loyal. Sora values his friends above all else and there’s nothing he won’t do for them.

To someone like Luxu, who started his journey by watching his friends destroy each other and the lives of those around him, it must be hard to see someone with a good deal in common with his younger self.

Sora also watched one of his friends turn on him, even going so far as to make him feel worthless.

But he was able to act. He wasn’t confined to a role. Sora stepped in and didn’t lose faith in his friends. Whether Luxu thinks he’s a fool who only put off the inevitable betrayal or resents him for being able to save the people he cared about (or a third option I can’t see yet), Sora is a reminder of how Luxu used to be.

Worse, how he could have been.

Then you get into meta narrative bits, like Kairi and Riku either expressly telling Sora or implying that he should never change.

As Sora battles with his insecurities, especially in KH3, it’s possible for him to go down a similar path as Luxu and lose his hope and optimism. For someone like Sora, that would make him change completely.

I can’t say that Kairi and Riku knew that was a risk or if Nomura is teasing that option with Sora. But I personally find it interesting that Luxu can be paralleled with Sora, at least with how they began their journeys, and I hope it is highlighted in some future game or DLC.

But most of all, I hope you had fun reading this!

Cloud Strife Analysis

Happy birthday, Cloud!

To celebrate his existence, I figured I’d do my thing and analyze his personality.

Of course, please be aware…
Spoilers Ahead

cloud-strife-advent-children-anime-cloud-ffvii-strife.jpg

A lot of strange wibbly wobbly science/magic things happen to Cloud at the end of Crisis Core and through FFVII, so the best place to begin is naturally the start.

Nibelheim
His friendship with Tifa sheds a lot of light onto who Cloud was growing up and how he differs from the larger personalities found in the FFVII cast.

His father died when he was young and aside from Tifa, he didn’t have any friends. In a discussion Cloud has with her about his childhood, he said, “Later, I began to think I was different… That I was different from those immature kids [her friends]”.

There is a crossroads here for his thoughts behind this sentence – either he really believed them to be immature or he rationalized that he was better than them to cope with his difficulty making friends.

Based on the loss of his father at a young age and his continuing desire to be better throughout the series, I’m inclined to believe it was a rationalization to help himself adjust to his struggles in making friends.

The issue with that being that instead of trying to make friends in his own way, as he did with Tifa, he convinced himself he didn’t need them – that he was better than the rest. This further increased the divide between him and other people, and his ability to socialize and connect to other people took a fairly serious hit.

But it also put greater value in the friendships he did have. So when Tifa’s mother died and she tried to see her by crossing Mt. Nibel, Cloud followed her to keep an eye on her.

This was another formative moment for him because when she misstepped and he tried to catch her, they both fell. He was unharmed and she was in critical condition.

The village believed it was Cloud’s idea to go up the mountain and as a result, her father wouldn’t even let Cloud go near her. The only friend he had.

He tried to be the hero and do the better thing, and it all fell apart. For someone who suffered loss at a young age and coped by thinking he was better than others his age, this was even more devastating.

The harsh realization that he wasn’t as good as he thought (with such severe consequences) combined with the rejection from everyone in the village was sure to wreak havoc on 10-year-old Cloud’s psyche. And so he developed a temper problem and began picking fights with little to no provocation.

SOLDIER
Four years later, word of Sephiroth’s reputation reaches Nibelheim and 14-year-old Cloud, who is still in the throes of self-blame and puberty.

Hearing about such a legend re-inspired Cloud to become the superior person he used to think he was, in my opinion, and with so few personal ties to Nibelheim – of course he left for glory in SOLDIER.

To reinforce that theory, Cloud arranged to meet Tifa at the village’s water tower to say he was leaving and promised to save her if she ever found herself in trouble.

It’s strong evidence that he still blamed himself for her injury and that drove his need to be better – so he’d never fail someone he cared about like that again.

Taking a step back and viewing this as a writer, that’s what I love most about Cloud. He’s relatable. Zack is insanely charming, Angeal is dad-wise, Genesis is extra fab, and Sephiroth is actually superhumanly powerful. Cloud is there to aspire to greatness as a Shinra Infantryman.

His honest ambition to improve humanizes the story and makes it more accessible than having the top tier people of Midgar alone.

Return to Nibelheim
After befriending Zack, Cloud sees him about once a year for missions – one of which was when he was 16 and involved an investigation of a reactor on Mt. Nibel.

Cloud still feels ashamed of not being SOLDIER, not being better, and he hides his identity from everyone but his mother… But the most important aspect of this mission is his confrontations with an unstable Sephiroth.

The first time, he’s knocked out by Genesis and becomes angry that he failed again. Everything he wants to be is escaping him, and since he holds himself to such a high standard, he’s bound to frustrate himself.

Cloud is steeped in that bitter anger when Sephiroth burns down his home town, killing his mother, and Cloud finds him with a heavily injured Tifa and barely conscious Zack…

It’s the worst moment of his life that he can’t forgive himself for, only worse, and this is a chance to finally do it right, be the hero he wants to be.

He ambushed Sephiroth, stabbing him with the Buster Sword, and going back for his two friends. This is a proud moment for him, what he’s aspired to be was finally within his grasp. His friends were in danger and he saved them from Sephiroth. The Sephiroth.

So when Sephiroth returns and lifts Cloud up on his sword, ready to kill him, this stepped on years of rage at failure, inadequacy, and a powerful need to protect the ones he cares about.

That’s where the strength came from for Cloud to use the katana as leverage to throw Sephiroth into the Mako pit… Before falling unconscious, of course, because he’s got his limits.

After that point, he spends about a year as a Mako poisoned vegetable, so that’s the end of this analysis… Although I hope you enjoyed the read! Questions, comments, etc., go for it!

Gavin Reed: Meta Analysis

Here’s my theory analysis of your favorite DBH grump and mine! I’ve gone through his major traits and possible influences on him, and I’m happy to chat with you about them if you’d like.

Resentment of Androids

Career threat

Connor is essentially a RoboCop for lack of a better term, and there’s a serious risk of every cop being replaced if Connor shows promise. Considering the rioters in Marcus’s first chapter, androids replacing all human workers is a growing concern across the country.

And from the fact that another cop is having breakfast with him in the famous coffee scene, Gavin does have friends in the force.

somehow

So his anger towards Connor in particular is out of protective instinct. For himself and the good cops he works with that will be out of jobs if Connor accomplishes his mission (reference intended).

But the truth is that this android’s success or failure is out of Gavin’s control, which would only make his resentment even worse. Gavin is the kind of person to fight, scrape, and claw his way to success if it kills him (and I don’t think I even need to catalog canon evidence for that, since it can be inferred from his general behavior).

Being powerless to stop something is so against everything that he is and I honestly don’t think he could resign himself to android police officers and detectives taking over their jobs. This open resentment is how he makes his stand.

Sub-human treatment

He also copes with this powerlessness against androids by treating all of them as being less than human. If they aren’t valid beings, then Gavin doesn’t have to respect them — and they’re not a threat worth considering.

This dehumanization is a real life psychological phenomenon most typically seen in opposing forces in warfare, but I won’t go into that here so we can stay on topic (and because it very, very sad). Also they aren’t quite at war when Gavin is displaying these traits, so he’s a bit ahead of the game.

Personal

But it’s beyond that, or rather it has notable potential to originate from a personal grudge as well.

Gavin has powerful opinions on humans having command over androids. This suggests a concern with possible dominance of androids over humans, especially when paired with the threat they pose to human workers.

Although the extent to which he is concerned is unclear, I would say he’s worried in his own way. His perspective on humans vs. androids is reinforced in later scenes (one shown below), where he puts strong emphasis on androids obeying humans.

While we’re talking about Gavin’s feelings, I have one more thing to delve into before I continue on the personal grudge angle.

Love/Hate for Hank

Gavin will back down if Hank steps up, even if he makes a stink about doing it. That said, he’ll take barefaced jabs at Hank too.

This demonstrates that he has respect for Hank, most likely because of his accomplishments as a police offer given their shared profession, but it’s difficult to say without further canon evidence to point to.

It could be a simple matter of rank where Gavin has to face career-based consequences for disobeying an order from a superior officer– but I would say that is unlikely since Hank had to draw his firearm to get Gavin’s attention during the interrogation scene.

A stronger likelihood is that Gavin begrudgingly respects Hank as a cop, so he will ultimately do what he says even as he also mocks him.

Looping back to the grudge, there is one line of dialogue from Gavin in particular that makes me suspect there is bad blood here:

“You’re not gonna get away with it this time…”

Get away with what? And this time?

Y i k e s

So this is from the scene when Hank intervenes between Gavin and Connor, and this is what Gavin tells Hank.

There was a point before this that Hank stepped in and stopped Gavin, and it seems like the consequences were severe enough to earn deeply seated resentment from Gavin.

Whatever it was, Gavin feels like Hank “got away with it” last time, and he wants to stop it from happening again. I would be willing to assume that it didn’t involve an android last time– if it wasn’t for the other line of dialogue below:

Since the first time he saw him, Gavin wanted to outright kill Connor. Not rough him up like the rioters did to Marcus, but actually kill him. And I doubt that he was exaggerating.

Officers in the USA are trained in the proper procedure to not draw their guns unless they see a weapon or have strong suspicion of murderous or harmful intent, and to not put their finger on the trigger unless the intend to shoot.

Assuming policies have not changed drastically in the time of DBH, Gavin is 100% serious about killing him and indeed, having wanted to since he first laid eyes on him.

That kind of overt hatred comes from something deeper than political perspective or social pressures. It could come from an upbringing where his immediate loved ones taught him to hate androids, or it could come from a traumatic personal experience with an Android (like that girl had in the beginning of the game).

Unless we get a sequel or a Gavin-centric game/DLC, we may never know what truly motivated Gavin to hate Connor so intensely (not casting any shade on the Reed x Connor shippers here, I’m a multishipper tbh).

But this was a fun close look at Detroit’s most aggressive detective, and I hope you enjoyed it too! Comment, message, heart it, etc., whatever you’re comfortable with– I appreciate you reading!

Xigbar and MoM

So this is what happens when I think about KH after exposing myself to toxic glue fumes.

Spoilers ahead

So I’d seen this theory flying around that Braig and the Master of Masters (MoM) were the same person… And I thought it was bunk.

As if, amirite?

And I got to thinking on how to disprove it, falling down this crazy little rabbit hole of proving it to myself by mistake.

Connection 1: The Cloak
This is shared with the entire Organization, though. And it was first worn by MoM and Luxu, who would be documented by the Foretellers.

It seemed just as likely that choosing the cloak was a remnant of Terra’s studies as a Keybearer being accessible to Xemnas.

It didn’t have to be Braig that connected the cloak to the Organization. The evidence here just wasn’t strong enough to tie them, but it didn’t rule anything out either.

Conclusion: Too many variables with the cloak.

Connection 2: The Eye
One of the supports given for why Xigbar and MoM are the same person is that they both have one eye.

The issue with this one is a bit obvious. MoM had one eye in Back Cover, the other being in the Keyblade for Luxu.

Since he came before Braig chronologically in the canon timeline, how could Braig have two eyes at the start of BBS if he (as MoM) had one prior to that?

Note: I am assuming that MoM was telling the truth about his eye. MoM was deceptive, but he was generally honest in the information he did give. That’s what made his deceptions so effective.

The first way I thought of to make this work was if Braig came first chronologically. In that event, he would later become Master of Masters in the future and travel to that time in Back Cover after the business with Organization XIII.

But then… It’s confirmed in canon that Xigbar recruited Marluxia.

Which means he had to know as Xigbar to go to the world as it fell to darkness and collect Marluxia. How could Braig be alive before MoM, but have the knowledge as Xigbar to time travel to that era for Lauriam/Marluxia once the world fell?

Conclusion: They had to be different people, but somehow Xigbar knew about that world, Lauriam’s presence, and the certainty that it would fall.

Connection 3: Knowledge
So how could Xigbar know about the world’s demise in Back Cover and that Lauriam was there?

This information could only be obtained by someone who was there. A book in Radiant Garden could have mentioned this war that caused that world to fall, but it would be unlikely to mention Lauriam with enough detail for Braig to find him accurately.

And Braig doesn’t really seem like the bookish type

So he had to get this knowledge from a person who knew all about the events in Back Cover, and that could only be MoM or Luxu.

And all we have in canon about Luxu’s role in Back Cover was to watch as events unfold and then “do his thing” – take the crate, his Keyblade, and leave to get an apprentice he could pass that Keyblade on to so MoM could see the future.

But how would Luxu or MoM even meet or directly influence Braig? The one connection between them is Xehanort, who did have Luxu’s Keyblade – so he was an indirect apprentice of Luxu – but he wouldn’t know the details of Back Cover to give to Braig.

Even if he did, why would he tell Braig anything? He was only a guard at Radiant Garden, no one paramount like a Foreteller.

Here’s where the glue fumes kick in

There are two ways in Kingdom Hearts to get access to real memories that technically belong to someone else: be their Nobody or their replica.

And MoM disappeared well before the world fell, so it’s unlikely that he became a Heartless.

He’s way too dedicated to his own goals for that to happen

EPIPHANY: Braig is MoM’s replica.

Stay with me here.

MoM has the ability to create living beings in a lab environment, as seen when he created Chirithy.

It is extremely possible that he would apply this knowledge to the creation of replicas to make one of himself. Especially since Xehanort was present with Luxu’s Keyblade for most of his interactions with Braig and that means MoM saw him in the future…

Going on the canon data that replicas bear at least a small resemblance to the original (such as having the same eyes), MoM would recognize Braig for what he was and make the future happen.

Being MoM’s replica would allow Braig to know when and where to go for Lauriam. He likely didn’t know why or how he knew, only that he did.

It also explains other similarities, such as their mischievous personalities and general mannerisms.

But how did Braig end up on Radiant Garden?
And here’s where the crate comes in. In the case of Luxu, MoM tells him never to open the crate. And when Luxu says he wants to know what’s inside… MoM tells him and the player can’t hear what he says.

All you hear is Luxu’s gasp of surprise and asking why. MoM only responds, “You’ll see.”

If a newly made replica was in that crate, opening it would wake them up into their zombie state – like Xion – and that couldn’t happen too early for MoM’s scheme.

But what scheme would that be?
MoM is enigmatic but thorough. When he manipulated the Foretellers into the events of Back Cover, he knew they would all inevitably push that prophecy onward at exactly the right pace.

So there must be a plan with having a replica brought to the future by Luxu, who of course would open the crate eventually.

Theory: It’s about Kingdom Hearts.

How could it not be? It’s the name of the series, for one, and opening Kingdom Hearts was something the Master of Masters specifically told the Foretellers not to do – meaning he knew at least one of them was bound to try it.

Then Braig turns up as an orphan with amnesia on Radiant Garden, joins the guard because what else on this planet might get him closer to power, and surprise, surprise!

Braig ends up almost front and center in a scheme to complete Kingdom Hearts, losing his eye in the early stages of that scheme.

Conclusion: MoM is using XigBraig and the sight from Luxu’s Keyblade to steer the Organization to complete Kingdom Hearts.

Bonus for Xehanort:
Even better, being a replica made Braig a great candidate to be the first vessel. As a replica, Braig would have to grow his own heart over time. He wouldn’t come with one, so to speak, in a less literal sense than Nobodies.

And because of his personality, Braig never seems to feel anything but fear, disdain, anger, and mostly idle enjoyment of atrocities. He seemed to prefer that. Because Braig started off angry and bitter, I theorize that his ability to feel never fully developed into a complete heart.

There was almost zero risk he’d want that back after being Norted.

And this is the kicker.
If Braig had been able to be less spiteful, to forgive and try to grow as a person rather than in power, he’d probably have a Keyblade of his own just like Data Sora did.

He was a replica of a powerful Keybearer, after all. If he’d put any stock in his heart instead of going straight for power, he’d have it by now.

never said he was smart

And that’s the ramble!
Hope you at least had fun reading this madness.

FFVII Analysis: Sephiroth in Crisis Core

It’s no mystery that I love the Final Fantasy VII series of games and movies, and in the spirit of that, I’ve set my sights on Sephiroth. You know, the man we all first knew from Final Fantasy VII as the guy you’d never invite to a fireside chat.

WARNING: FINAL FANTASY VII AND CRISIS CORE SPOILERS AHEAD

But before that in game canon, there was Crisis Core. Where Sephiroth was young and had friends and absolutely no desire to crush us all with a meteor (probably). We start at the beginning: Sephiroth was raised and trained as an intellectually and physically exceptional child with no immediate family.

While there’s no canon information on his childhood, some of his behavior in Crisis Core reflects what his mentality likely was.

Unlike many real life students with exceptional skills, Sephiroth had all of the special instruction and resources he needed to prosper. By the time we see him in Crisis Core, Sephiroth was entirely confident in abilities he’d been building on his entire life.

Yet when Genesis expressed jealousy over Sephiroth’s fame, he told Genesis he could have it. This is an indication that his confidence was self-contained rather than something he got from or held over other people. In short, fame or the lack of would not affect him at all.

This connects to another issue that exceptional people face in their upbringing. According to a guide by the Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), “specific provisions for [gifted and talented students] stir heated controversy regarding whether or not they need special attention”.

Zack himself displayed this skepticism just before his mission with the Turks that Sephiroth was originally assigned to. Upon hearing that he refused to go, Zack asked if they were being too soft with him or babying him (depending on language/translation).

You can see the scene here at about 6:40.

For Sephiroth, this kind of controversy led to his abilities defining him to others in one of two ways. His status as the best First Class SOLDIER led people to believe he was either a hero beyond their standing or he was entitled more than he deserved.

Let’s consider that in conjunction with the immense value he placed on his friendship with Angeal and Genesis.

To have two friends who treated him as someone on their level, whether positively or negatively, meant a great deal to Sephiroth. There were few people who wouldn’t judge him based on his reputation since he had no family.

The bottom line is that Angeal and Genesis (and later Zack) gave him something his reputation could not: a sense of belonging.

And that feeling overpowered everything else Sephiroth held as important. He refused the mission that Zack went on because it was an act directly against his friends. When he was on his way to Modeoheim, he put his current mission off to go out of his way and talk to Zack – even though Zack was upset with him at the time.

Full clip here.

Sadly, this value Sephiroth placed on belonging was his undoing in the end.

To be human and exceptional separated him from nearly everyone, even others who were First Class. But at least he had that in common with people – humanity.

His discovery of the truth took that last bastion of hope away along with two of his closest friends. (The below video shows Sephiroth’s struggle as he tried to hold onto his humanity and the particularly painful way he found out he wasn’t human after all.)

Full clip here.

Failing that, Sephiroth had utterly nothing in common with anyone insofar as he knew. What meant most to him in life was inaccessible to him forever (or so he felt).

All that remained to fill the void was his greatness. In his mind, that had defined him to everyone else throughout his life, and he only thought he’d been defined by something more to those he cared for.

With his feeling of belonging gone, Sephiroth had to face that he would never truly belong among humans.

That combined with inevitable rage at the deception and horror at the truth of his origin… Sephiroth turned to godhood to embrace what he had originally tried to reject.

He was exceptional and he did not belong among these people; he never would. Grieving it in solitude could drive him mad or…

Sephiroth could choose not to grieve, instead empowering himself by believing he never really needed to belong. The feeling was simply another deception by the lesser beings of humanity.

And so, he rationalized godhood as his destiny.

and I’m still sad about it after all these years
#BlameHojo

Thank you for reading!

May Your Heart Be Your Guiding Key

In response to the philosophies prompt on the Square Enix Amino, I’ve analyzed a recurring phrase in the Kingdom Hearts series, but specifically in Back Cover.

“May your heart be your guiding key.”

WARNING:

Spoilers Abound

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The one time the meaning of this phrase is explained is by the Master of Masters, who claims to say it all the time. In the Case of Invi, he tells her that “you ultimately need to do what your heart feels is right”. (He also says it to Aced during the Case of Aced, although he doesn’t explain it then.)

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But this is a fairly open definition. Its true parameters are defined by the heart, so each person is allowed to decide for themselves what it means. Add in context and you’ve got yourself a mission statement that can be perceived to mean anything.

So who says it when? What does it mean?

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After Ira’s announcement that he believes one of the Foretellers is a traitor backfires, Invi tells him this phrase as a comfort. In this context, Invi offers this familiar saying of their absent master to remind Ira that he did what he thought was right. And even if it didn’t turn out to be right, Invi wanted him to trust his heart.

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When Aced had to fight Ava, Gula, and Invi, Aced said the phrase to himself. For him, this phrase is to express certainty in his convictions.

Throughout the game, he frequently mentions that the Foretellers are comrades – this means a lot to him. To have them almost unanimously think that he is the traitor could not have been painless.

But saying this phrase to himself, the one their master repeated to them all, was a reminder to Aced that there are things more important than that. His heart told him to fight for what he believed, and so he did.

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Gula said it to himself after Ava refused to help him summon Kingdom Hearts in a ploy to make the Master return.

To understand the context of this phrase said here by Gula, you need to know his opinion of Ava. Before asking her to help him summon Kingdom Hearts, he tells her that she always does the right thing.

For someone whose role required him to trust no one, this is impressive. Gula holds Ava as a moral paragon. When she said she wouldn’t help him, it was as good as telling him that he’s morally wrong for wanting to summon Kingdom Hearts.

But still, he believed with all his heart that it was the correct choice. Maybe it wasn’t the morally right one, but his heart told him it was what needed to be done.

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Ava said this to the Keybearers she was training just before the war broke out. Until this point, all of the other Foretellers had done what they felt was right but several had deviated from the Master’s teachings.

In the earlier scene with Ephemer at the fountain, Ava said to herself that she would be glad to leave the future to those who see the world the way he did.

In this case, I believe that Ava told the Keybearers she trained to have their hearts be their guiding key because she truly believed they would make the best use of that phrase.

These Keybearers were the ones she regarded as the best of all unions. It’s not just their talent as fighters, but their perspectives that she valued. Their hearts could be their guiding keys because she believed they had the best, truest hearts.

I love Ava’s characterization, surprise surprise.

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Lastly, Luxu also said it as the final spoken line of the game (while hefting a box in the desert, no less). This meaning is a bit harder to interpret, but I think that’s the point of it at this stage in the story.

Nearly everyone else who used the phrase had gone against the tasks set before them, playing right into the prophecy (which I doubt was a mistake).

Does this mean that because Luxu was separate from the others, he actually succeeded in his entire role? Or did he “fail” as the others had, and open the box? The fun of this is that ultimately, we can’t say with what we see in this game.

In lengthy conclusion…

“May your heart be your guiding key” was the mission statement of the Foretellers, but it steered most of them in the wrong direction either inadvertently or knowingly.

The intent of the phrase is to encourage people in dark times, but it was also used to justify bad decisions as good ones made as a personal sacrifice.

And that’s just in this game; the phrase comes back with the Wayfinder Trio. But that’s a subject for another post!

Demyx: Demisexuality

Greetings to you all!

For this weekly challenge on orientation/gender identity in the Square Enix Amino, the obvious choice for me was Demyx of Kingdom Hearts, who I head canon as demisexual.

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First, what does it mean to be demisexual? According to AVENwiki, “a demisexual is a person who does not experience sexual attraction unless they form a strong emotional connection with someone.” <Source>

So where do I get the impression that Demyx is demisexual? Well, let’s take a look at his general personality and habits… Mostly from the manga, where he got the bulk of his development.

Demyx is lazy.

From the KH manga

He doesn’t want to work at his missions or even just simple tasks assigned to him. He’d rather relax, play music, read comics… Hide in a closet from Saïx…

But the main point of this rather obvious observation is to demonstrate that it is exceedingly difficult to motivate Demyx to action.

What does motivate Demyx?

To be fair, like most people, he’s easily motivated by fear.

That’s likely what keeps him at the Organization and doing the bare minimum required to get by without being turned into a dusk.

But that’s what motivates him against his will. What would it take to willingly motivate Demyx to work?

No surprise here:

Friendship.

* For the sake of your friendship

I needed this page, but the translation was a little off. Whoops!

If he’s given a choice, he’ll work hard for the sake of friends – even friendships he’s not part of! Roxas had a very poor opinion of Demyx and while we can agree exactly whose fault that is (DEMYX), it shouldn’t foster much kindness from Demyx to Roxas.

And yet there he is, willing to go above and beyond his normal zero effort… So Roxas can go to the beach with his friends. Close emotional bonds clearly mean a lot to Demyx on principle since he’s willing to actually do something in the name of it!

But how does this make him demisexual? Plenty of people place high value on emotional ties without being demisexual.

It’s all about heart.

SPOILERS FOR KH: DREAM DROP DISTANCE AND 358/2

Nobodies don’t have hearts, but it’s confirmed by Xemnas (revived Xemnas, mind you) in Dream Drop that a Nobody can re-grow a heart and the ability to feel. To understand how this works, let’s look at Axel at the start of 358/2.

He’s everything that King Mickey describes Nobodies to be: lacking a heart but good at faking emotions well enough to be convincing. But as he gets close to Roxas and Xion, his heart starts to form.

…only to be ripped out by all the sad in that game and KH2.

Anyway! Why did Axel’s heart form? He was prompted by the things that mattered most to Lea: being remembered, particularly by those you hold dear.

That triggered his heart to develop along with the ability to feel genuine emotions. Considering that template, let’s revisit Demyx!

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Nothing seems to strike him as overly pressing or important, as we all know. But he’s far too expressive and emotional to not have a heart and have had one for quite some time.

No one in the Organization took him seriously enough to consider it. And why would he tell them about it? Exposing a conspiracy about Kingdom Hearts not being needed for them to get their hearts is way too much work for him, let’s be real.

But he definitely had a heart throughout the games and books he was in. In the manga, when Saïx explains to Demyx that he has to kill Sora or else he’ll kill the rest of the Organization, Demyx hesitates:

“D-doesn’t that make him one of us?”

To feel hesitant due to kinship, you have to truly feel. Not to mention forming an emotional connection so important to Demyx that he considered Roxas “one of us” after he killed most of the Organization.

In the games, it takes Sora and Donald rejecting his statement that Nobodies do have hearts for Demyx to finally get serious and accuse Sora of being a traitor. Before trying to kill him–

While there are theories that Demyx was dropping a facade in this scene and showing his true heartlessness, I believe this shows his genuine emotional depth (as in the ability to feel so deeply betrayed that he actually wanted to fight).

The manga has a similar scene prior to their fight (for comparison and reference):

This kind of depth could only be achieved by having his heart for a long time without anyone realizing. Now how did he get it?

Because having emotional connections was the most important thing to Myde just as being remembered was the most important thing to Lea. (Note: Demyx’s Somebody doesn’t have a canon name yet, I just like Myde.)

Exposure to what you value most will get your heart back for almost any Nobody that’s retained their human form. For Demyx, this prompt was constantly being near people who were considered just like him and his need to have the emotional capacity to connect with them.

With that in mind, it stands to reason that he would be demisexual due to placing such a high priority on emotional closeness.

There you have it!

Agree, disagree, or feel the need to express a thing? I look forward to your illustrious comments!

Dorian Pavus: Coping Study

Greetings!

Though I’m not finished with Inquisition, Dorian is easily one of my favorite characters and with this piece, I’d like to pull back the curtain and show the coping mechanisms behind the man.

To see more content like this regularly, please support me on Patreon or leave me a tip on Ko-Fi.

SPOILER ALERT

And now, on we go!

• • • • •

Quick summary for those who need the recap: Dorian Pavus is a human mage of the Atlus caste in Tevinter society. The Altus are considered to be descended from dreamers/magisters that could speak to the Old Gods when in the Fade, and they are exceedingly well regarded in the Tevinter Imperium.

This influences him growing up as it would anyone– both with the pressure to meet that ideal and also being considered great from birth, particularly because he’s from an affluent family as well.

He had a natural talent for magic, and of course, he’s Dorian… So he flourished under the envy, at least on the surface. After being expelled from a Circle at 9 years old for injuring a Magister’s son in a duel, he continued to rotate through mentors and Circles, each ending in a new fiasco.

It wasn’t until Alexius found Dorian and offered to take him as an apprentice that Dorian found the focus he needed to truly prosper. And that he did, earning merit and stations inside four years of study in the Minrathous Circle.

…then Felix, Alexius’ son and a dear friend of Dorian’s, got the darkspawn corruption and Alexius’ wife died in the same tragedy. Two years, Dorian poured into finding a cure for Felix. But a fight between Alexius and Dorian severed their ties and immediately, Dorian was off the path to greatness again.

Between reveling in excess and loudly rejecting every flaw in his homeland, Dorian faced only hardship and scandals from then on in Tevinter. His father tried to use blood magic to “cure” his homosexuality, keeping him hidden as he slid back into old habits after his fight with Alexius…

This is the state he’s in when he joins the Inquisition. An outcast in his own nation, his trust in his own family destroyed, and completely adrift. [Backstory recap source]

So what does this all mean for Dorian’s coping mechanisms? He’s known to be very sure of himself and prefers wit on nearly every occasion, and let’s see how he uses both his bravado and humor throughout his backstory, either successfully or not.

Consider his first expulsion from a Circle at 9 years old, which was caused because he injured another child in a duel. A Magister’s son, no less, and at this point you can already presume that Dorian had a difference of opinion with most of his countrymen while still absorbing the doctrine of holding life in alarmingly low regard.

Whatever their disagreement was, Dorian would not yield. Although I’m sure he wasn’t as adeptly cunning as a child, it’s a safe bet that he pushed buttons with the Magister’s son until it came to a duel… Which he would not back down from to the point of actually injuring a fellow child.

Now there is where you behold two sides to Dorian: his general belief in morality and his inevitable acceptance of certain parts of Tevinter culture.

If he backed down from the duel, it wouldn’t be mercy, but weakness. Because it was a Magister’s son, he was expelled from that Circle… But the damage was done. He’d harmed a child in what was likely an intellectual disagreement.

And intelligent as he was, he knew that he could’ve been the one hurt or worse had the Magister’s son sucked a little less. And if that had been the case, Dorian would probably still have been the one expelled because he’s not a Magister’s son.

Dorian was an intelligent, gifted child who knew something was wrong there but didn’t have the direction, the guidance to figure out how to change it– simply how not to be affected by it.

If he was bound to expelled from the Circle regardless, and he knew he was once that argument began, why not at least show the brat his place? This is where bravado and humor comes in, and where Dorian’s… unsavory… behavior continued.

Tevinter is inherently a place where you can trust no one once you reach a higher standing, which the Pavus family held.

But ambition only doesn’t work for Dorian. A man of heart, he is internally and externally destructive without connections and a greater purpose. Given his backstory, with family alone as he is before Alexius, he’s reckless and overly aggressive. With purpose alone as he is after Alexius but before the Inquisition, he’s reckless with no regard for himself.

In the Inquisition and the Inquisitor, he finds both. Of course, this doesn’t change who he is or how he faces the world. Even as he confesses friendship with the Inquisitor, he leans on humor to make it safely through his honesty.

Such honesty was a serious risk in Tevinter culture, and factoring in the betrayal of his father and Alexius – two people he trusted most – and he’s opening himself to that all over again by admitting out loud that someone is his friend in this context:

“Perhaps it’s odd to say, but… I think of you as a friend, Inquisitor. I have precious few friends. I didn’t think to find one here.”

When the Inquisitor goes to respond, Dorian cuts them off to say, “Don’t speak. I detest confessions, and I’d like to get this over with.” He’s half kidding, mostly serious, but honesty suits Dorian far more than ambition and more than he’d care to admit.

And he needs that humor to bond over his genuine friendship with the Inquisitor. Dismissing a serious matter as light reduces its weight on him and makes him feel less threatened by the rules of the culture he grew up in: one where you don’t trust anyone and seek only power.

He can confess to being close to someone and all the solace that provides as long as he has redirection and hospital humor to get him by. And it’s not the only instance where he used these tactics to cope, not by any stretch. It’s nearly constant.

For example, in the Templar timeline, Dorian appears to warn the Inquisition at Haven. His first line of dialogue is, “if someone would open this [the gate], I’d appreciate it”. When someone does, he’s on the verge of falling over and held up only by his staff.

After trying to stand and falling onto Cullen, using his help to stand, Dorian describes himself as “a mite exhausted” and says “don’t mind me”. These are all examples of how Dorian uses levity to draw attention away from the issues he’d rather be hidden. In that case at Haven, he was on a time crunch to put it lightly, but the mentality stands.

Of course, there are those who don’t understand his perspective and view it as arrogance at best, indifference at worst. But this is part of the beauty and complexity of Dorian, and while I could go on… That concludes this study. Perhaps another time, my friends!


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Roman Torchwick: Fallen Hero

Greetings! I bring you a new analysis piece of Roman Torchwick and what I’ve seen in that amazing, majestic man.

Why can’t I do eyeliner like that

But I will inform you also that this is a baby analysis compared to my usual, mainly because there isn’t a wealth of canon material on Roman but I wanted to analyze him anyway. On we go!

SPOILER ALERT BELOW

First, the impression of Roman.

Here’s a man who exudes a powerful charisma even as he also shows that he’s not above using force. There’s a certain rough levity to the way he acts and speaks, reacting with phrases like, “that would be bad” when situations take a turn for the worse.

Were he a hero, he’d be considered playful and witty, but it’s his willingness to use violence that confirms him as definite villain. He’s no morally good but edgy bard using his silver tongue to gain the advantage. But! After all is said and done, I do believe he once was.

How so?

Let’s review his actions and demeanor throughout the series. He dresses and speaks very eloquently, which says he has both expensive tastes and a promising intellect.

Pair that with his ruthlessness, and a younger Roman has high standards and was intelligent, determined, and willing to go to any lengths to get what he wanted. He simply wanted different things (that I cannot determine because someone didn’t have a backstory).

SPOILER REMINDER

But if you listen to his final words, they are way too personal not to mean something. He’s beating Ruby, an actual child, with a cane and saying she has spirit, but the real world doesn’t care about spirit. The real world is cruel and cold, and she isn’t operating in this real world.

And as cold and cruel as Roman is, is he not a man with spirit? A broken one that never quite set right, but he has one nonetheless. He didn’t give in when he was imprisoned and interrogated by Ironwood, and he frequently brushes off hardship lightly.

Torchwick has spirit, but it’s changed with what he’s experienced in life.

Before that speech on the real world, he tells Ruby that she can’t beat his employer, he can’t beat them, so why not be on the right side? His exact response to her questions was, “You’re asking the wrong questions, Red! It’s not what I have to gain… It’s that I can’t afford to lose!”

This answer tells me about a boy who tried to fight for what was right, or loved someone who did, and he only lost everything. I think adult Roman has only Neo to hold dear, and when he lectured Ruby about the real world in his final moments, he was just as much speaking to his younger self as to her.

And when Neo is taken off the airship, he shows a moment of real concern for her before unleashing his cold anger on Ruby. He tells her that if she wants to be a hero, she should “play the part and die”.

In the real world as seen by Roman, all heroes die. Why would he want to be one after coming to see the world like that? (See the whole heart-wrenching scene here.)

I’m not pardoning him, that would honestly cheapen his character, but I am saying I see Roman as a man who tried to be the hero, who failed, and who lost all that he had fought for and more… And swore he’d never lose again no matter the cost.