Monday, August 25, 2008

Final Fantasy 4 Theory: Kain's Bisexuality

Alright, folks, a few people have told me that they actually wanted to hear about this, and most of my ideas for rants lately have been titled "Why God Hates Me (Spoiler: It's Because I Have To Buy A New PC Graphics Card Because Mass Effect Won't Run On My Computer, Which Is Now Refusing To Load Its OS On Reboot So The Graphics Card Is Really A Moot Point At This Point Anyway)" which is altogether too long to use, and "Why God Loves Me (Spoiler: It's Because My Computer Works Again Thanks To Angahith And Mass Effect Is So Fucking Awesome As To Defy Description)", which is also far too long, so here we go. As a note, though, I want to point out that this is nothing more than a theory, based on what is, albeit reasonable and believable, wholly conjecture. I will usually defend the perceptions and beliefs stated in these rants because I've made my conclusions through a lot of thought and looking at hard evidence. This, though, I'm not going to do any more with than throw out there as a possibility.

Alright. Most of us are familiar with Kain. He's the somewhat curt Dragoon of Final Fantasy 4 who joins forces with Cecil, betrays his country, gets lost, rejoins his country, betrays Cecil, rejoins Cecil, betrays Cecil, then rejoins Cecil. If someone like Kain existed prominently in Earth's history, we wouldn't know who the heck Benedict Arnold or Judas were, because Kain clearly has'em trumped. I've never been a huge fan of him, seeing far more appeal and actual depth in most of the rest of the game's cast, but FF4's fans are crazily fond of pretty every aspect of the game, which includes Kain, so he's a reasonably well-liked character in general.

So, after Kain originally betrays Cecil and then is forgiven by the Paladin sucker and allowed to rejoin, it's explained to the gamer that bad guy Golbez used Standard Bad Guy Mind Control to turn Kain against his friends. He did this by exploiting a certain emotional weakness in Kain's mind: his long-held resentment toward his best friend Cecil, who always had the king's favor, was the more popular and respected soldier due to his choosing the path of Dark Knight, and, by far most importantly, had the love of the apple of Kain's eye, Rosa. This jealousy is what makes Kain so incredibly easy for Golbez to manipulate him.

But hey, okay, that's all in the past now, right? Kain recognizes his general and romantic jealousy towards Cecil, and has come to terms with it, making him a nice guy once more and presumably free from any further mind control by Golbez.

Yeah, that doesn't last long.

At the first opportune moment presented, Golbez takes control of Kain once more with no more than a moment's struggle from the man. Kain betrays the party like a total dick again, and trots off to Golbez. Well, thinks the player, Kain must have OTHER inner battles than just the jealousy thing, and Golbez has apparently taken advantage of those ones, this time. Doubtless it will be explained to the player later why Kain fell so immediately a second time. never is explained. When Kain rejoins, he makes no attempt whatsoever to explain his last betrayal, gives no insight to how Golbez managed to sucker-punch his mind twice in a row. Nothing. Being an individual who, in a noble and nice way, invites betrayal into his life all the time, Cecil of course has no problem immediately accepting Kain back, despite the lack of explanation this time around.

The plot quickly moves along to its final conclusion of Good vs. Really Pathetic And Lazy Evil That Sits On Its Ass In Its Moonbase And Has Everyone Else Do Its Work For It (a kind of evil which, with the exception of the part about the Moonbase, will show up more than once again later in the series), and whatever questions the player might have about Kain's second betrayal are quickly forgotten. But what could have caused it?

Well, let's look at the material that the game gives us to go on. We know the following to be true:

1. Kain's personality's faults are what gave Golbez an easy in to his psyche the first time.
2. Kain's personality faults that are known to us are both based on jealousy--jealousy of Cecil's success and acclaim, and jealousy of the relationship between Rosa and Cecil.
3. Of these two, it is implied that the romantic jealousy is what really made him a sucker for Golbez.
4. After Kain is released from mind control the first time, he has a full comprehension of these weaknesses of jealousy of Cecil for his success and for having Rosa's love, and how they aided in his corruption. To this effect, it's reasonable to assume that in recognizing them, he has come to terms with them, and thus is not going to be susceptible to Golbez's mind control through these weaknesses again.
5. For no given reason, he still gets brainwashed at the drop of a hat later.

So here's my theory: Kain loves Rosa, and is jealous that Cecil has her love. But Kain also, unknown to him until after his second betrayal, loves Cecil, and is jealous that Rosa has his love.

It's a fairly elegant solution to the plot hole of the second betrayal in a couple ways. It allows Kain to keep his character development regarding his having recognized and resolved the issues that Golbez manipulated the first time, for it explains the second betrayal without having to nullify his understanding his jealousy towards Cecil for Rosa's love. Yet it also allows for the seeming ease with which Golbez regains control over Kain, for Golbez is, the second time, switching from Kain's jealousy for Rosa's love to Kain's jealousy for Cecil's love, two very similar emotional paths for Golbez to take into Kain's head. It's easy to see why Kain wouldn't have recognized this second love initially, as he could have been so focused on his love for Rosa that he would have mistaken the jealousy he felt over Cecil and Rosa's relationship as only being directed to one side, instead of both. And it also helps to explain why he doesn't even try to explain away his second betrayal, because, really, the only thing more awkward and distracting than saying "Hey dude, I betrayed you cuz your girl gives me a second spear, if you know what I mean" is saying "Hey dude, I betrayed you again cuz you also give me a second spear, if you know what I mean." Hell, he's probably still uncomfortably working through his feelings on the issue at that point; he's pretty quiet in general after that point, and he probably hasn't had as much time to come to grips with his second love as he'd had for his first.

So that's my Kain is Bisexual and Loves Rosa AND Cecil theory. Like I said, it's not one I'm going to stand by as clear, logical truth; it relies on circumstantial evidence and guesswork too much. At best, it's an interesting idea that's just as impossible to prove wrong as it is to prove right. And I admit that I haven't played the recent rerelease of FF4, so their completely unnecessary updated translation may have key changes which I'm unaware of that make this hypothesis impossible. But hey, at least I came up with the idea that a main guy in an RPG might be into another dude without once resorting to equating both friendship and rivalry/hostility with love. You gotta admit, THAT isn't something you see often.


  1. Of course in the after years "Kain" kidnaps Rosa (Again) and wants to kill Cecil so the theory is sorta moot

    (Of course the theory could also be Kain wants both Rosa AND Cecil)

    And lets not talk about his relationship with Ceodore o.0

  2. THIS is what stories are about. Interpretation.

    Who gives a DAMN how canon it is? It's a starting point for a discussion. What interests me about this angle is that Kain doesn't need to be aware of these feelings at all, so they really could remain unspoken, and it'd be totally in-character.

    I can disagree entirely, and play the card that this would be a bizarre moment of FFIV showing brilliantly subtle storytelling in a game that's almost childishly blatant everywhere else. But damn, does it still invite conversation and get me thinking.

    1. Heh, well, pointing out the generally transparent nature of the rest of the game's plot DOES poke a serious hole in this theory, I must admit.

  3. In the 3D remake, Golbez said that he only slackened his control over Kain, so the mistake here is assuming that Kain came to terms with Cecil's relationship with Rosa.