Thursday, November 1, 2007

Final Fantasy 10's Tidus's Realness

Like every other large, popular series which attracts and entertains a fairly wide variety of people, Final Fantasy has some characters that, for one reason or another, a lot of people wind up hating. Most of the time, contrary to what you'd expect from a guy who uses the majority of his blog rants for RPG-related complaints, I find myself in opposition to people's opinions that so-and-so character sucks (I happen to like FF7's Cait Sith, see nothing wrong with FF9's Quina Quen, and think FF4's Edward is one of the more inspiring individuals in the entire series). Not to say that I don't sometimes agree that some characters suck, of course--FF5's X-Death is just downright lame, and there's frankly less creative talent behind the writing for FF8's Squall than there is behind See Spot Run. But in general, the FF characters who get bashed the most are ones I think are just fine.

FF10's Tidus is one of these characters. While perhaps not quite as universally mocked and denounced as the subject of my last rant, Edward, there are a lot of people out there who just plain can't stand him. Reasons for this range all over the place, although popular ones include the unreasonable and empathy-lacking "He whines too much," the shallow and stupid complaints about how he dresses and/or how he looks (some people apparently never mature past their "Middle School Cool Kids' Lunch Table" mindset for judging others), to a few--a very few--well-reasoned ones regarding aspects of his personality that indicate that the person expressing dislike was actually paying attention to the game.

Oh, yeah, and there's also people who hate Tidus (and/or Yuna) just for that one scene in the game where they're practicing how to laugh. I find this one hard to debate, because seriously, that was maybe the most fucktarded scene in the entire 20+ installment series, worse even than Odin being killed by that nitwit Seifer in FF8, or FF10-2 in general.

The reason for hating Tidus that I may hear the most often, however, and the one that I've taken 3 paragraphs to finally get around to discussing, is because he "isn't real." This view comes from the fact that Tidus is, like the Aeons you summon in that game, a manifestation of the dreams of the Fayth, put into the real world and maintained through inadequately-explored and plot-convenient magical means.

Now, there is an obvious rebuttal to this especially nonsensical reason to dislike a character: that NONE of the characters in ANY Final Fantasy game are real anyways, so for the love of sweet toast, how can it possibly matter how "real" they are in their own completely 100% imaginary worlds?

But, for the sake of having an actual rant on this, let's put aside that tidy piece of logic, and use our imaginations for a moment to pretend that a video game character's lack of realness in his/her/its own game is a legitimate complaint. Let's look at how "real" Tidus is.

First of all, in the strictest, most scientific sense, he seems real enough. He interacts with physical environments, affecting and being affected by them. He swims in water, holds and moves objects, and can physically interact with others, such as the ability to hug Yuna or strike Seymour. His body seems to work as any other real Spiran human's does--he feels physical sensations like cold, pain, and hunger. So I'm pretty sure he qualifies as being as physically real as anyone else in the game.

What about spiritually, though? What, if anything, decides whether he's "real" in terms of his humanity? I think the best way to go about determining that is to look at his existence as an emotional being, and his accomplishments and impact on others. Such things are, essentially, what verifies our existence to others, and to ourselves mentally.

So let's look at Tidus's state and development as a human being. Over the course of the game, Tidus shows (occasionally excessively) emotions of joy, sorrow, despair, determination, irritation, petulance, and enthusiasm, among many others. Over the course of the game, he develops from a somewhat selfish, very disrespectful loud-mouth to a selfless, supportive leader. He learns from experience, comes to terms with father issues he's had for many years, and falls deeply enough in love to be completely willing to give up his life so that the woman he loves and the world she inhabits will be able to live on in peace. It's pretty safe to say that he's as real a human being as any other given RPG character--hell, it's pretty safe to say that he's a lot MORE real than at least half of them.

What about accomplishments? His impact on others? Well, let's see. Tidus defeats hordes of monsters of all sizes, disrupts a global society's traditional religious views, brings a conclusion to a previously unending cycle of destruction and sacrifice, effects a complete change of thinking in several of the people who travel with him through his example and actions (teaching Wakka open-mindedness and tolerance, helping Lulu overcome some of the grief and distrust of emotions that she's had since Chappu's death, and, of course, showing Yuna what it is to live for herself and have the courage to break free and change what is wrong, rather than simply suffer it for others' sakes), and, of course, saves the world from a deranged, seemingly narcissistic nitwit out to destroy it for the most idiotic reasons imaginable (remember, it's not Final Fantasy if you don't feel like slamming your head against the wall at hearing the main villain's motivation!). Regardless of how "real" his origins are, Tidus is clearly real enough to be one of the most important figures in Spira's history.

So in the end, Tidus is real by any reasonable standard I can come up with. And even if one considers him not to be--it still obviously changes nothing about who he is and what he does, so how can it possibly be something to hate him for?


  1. Great arguments there. I wonder if you can write about how Tidus can be revived by Fayth and live happily ever after? And why is Shuyin resembles Tidus THAT much. Even their swordplays are same.

    1. Hehe. It was myself a year ago. So silly. :D

      But, I'm still wondering that questions. How do Tidus revived? Why Shuyin resembles Tidus?

      Hey, I'm not the one who is genius here, so I can't explain that. Hehe. That's why I asked.

    2. Hm. Odd. I don't recall having seen this comment before. Sorry, I didn't mean to ignore you.

      Shuyin's resemblance to Tidus (or vice-versa, really, since Shuyin came first) is, from what I can remember of that piss-poor shit-hole of a sack of vomit that is FF10-2, never explained, so I guess we're supposed to chalk it up to coincidence or a hiccup in the dreams of the Fayth or something. Which would be fine, I can take a coincidence like that, but compounded with the fact that Lenne looks markedly like Yuna, the coincidence that they just HAPPENED to be a couple who looked JUST like another couple centuries later becomes a little hard to swallow.

      I'll be honest: I don't remember why Tidus is revived in the perfect ending of FF10-2, if there was an actual reason given or even implied in the first place--since I can't remember one, it seems a fair guess that there never was one and it's just one more inexplicable bit of Plot Magic in a game already overflowing with such. But there might be a reason that I just forgot, so we can't say for sure. Honestly, I try to remember FF10-2 as little as I possibly can, given that it's pretty much the most artistically bankrupt, audience-insulting piece of trash I've ever had the horror of witnessing. I don't even count it as an RPG to rant about or discuss on this blog; my only official recognition of it in a rant is in my Worst RPG list, where I throw it in as a Dishonorable Mention so I can give it its terrible due but stay as separated from it as possible.

  2. I think the problem is that most JRPG fans were surprised by a protagonist actually having a range of emotions and character flaws instead of being the usual bland one-note Mary Sue archetypes they project themselves onto, thus they react to anything outside their little status quo rather negatively. At least, that's what I can gather. Don't get me wrong, FFX was far from perfect and definitely had its flaws, but Tidus, surprisingly enough, isn't one of them.