On Final Fantasy Tactics and personal accountability


I know I brought up a lot of personal feelings from people when I brought up World War II in my last post, and while it was my intention to stir up debate, I didn’t know it’d end up as passionate as it did. And, well, that's awesome. It's nice to see one's passions laid bare in a public forum - I mean, that's the whole point of the Internet, is it not? That said, it is now my intention here to explore the theme I brought up – of exploring just how accountable one citizen can be for the things his/her nation does in his/her name – in other Japanese media. And one game in particular brought this topic up with such intensity that I thought I’d open up discussion on it here.

That game is Final Fantasy Tactics: the War of the Lions for the PSP. (Yeah, I know it’s a remake of the original PS1 title, but it’s got almost the same plot with a complete re-translation by Tom Slattery, so shut up.) Seeing as it’s got the word “tactics” in its title, one can of course expect war. But how it brought up war and its related topics – including the one I intend to explore – was something that powerfully captured my attention. Particularly with what the story’s main character, Ramza Beoulve, goes through.

What follows after the jump is an extremely abridged summary of Chapter 1 of the FFT story. It doesn’t have all the details here about the story, because of both lack of space, and that putting in all the details here would confuse and/or spoil the story for those who haven’t played the game. Hopefully though my summary will be enough for readers to get the gist of what I’m talking about.

Final Fantasy Tactics: the War of the Lions... 

...starts with Ramza, the character you play as, as a guy who was born to a noble family, called the Beoulves. He's friends with a commoner named Delita, who got accepted into the noble schools and such at the behest of Ramza's father, since Ramza's friends with Delita. Now, in Chapter 1 of the game, a group of commoners is uprising against the nobles, calling themselves the Corpse Brigade. They have a grudge against the nobles for the oppression nobles usually inflict against commoners, that sort of thing. Thing is, since Ramza's been friends with Delita all his life, he's never known nor participated in (at least not personally) the persecution of the commoners. Ramza's brothers have, however, gotten their hands dirty in said persecution, unbeknownst to Ramza. Now, atone point, the Corpse Brigade decides to kidnap Delita's sister, mistaking her (and Delita) for a noble. When you go to rescue her, she's being held at knifepoint, but Ramza's brothers, being the dicks they are, order one of their troops to shoot the hostage - Delita's sister, of course - as well as her captor. Delita, needless to say, swears revenge...against all the nobles. Ramza (i.e. you the player) included.

I’m hoping you can see what’s relevant about FFT:tWotL’s storyline in my summary here. Ramza's birth was not of his choosing. He didn't ask to be born a noble. Yet despite that, he has no choice but to be part of the group, inadvertently contributing to it, that oppresses the very people he cares about. And what am I in real life? I am a white male American citizen...and just as I mentioned in my last post, because of what I was born as, horrible things are done in my name. The war in Iraq for instance. I know I'm not personally responsible for it, but the war is being waged on my behalf, supposedly. At least that's what Bush says. I didn't vote for him, but my tax dollars are going to support the war, whether I want them to or not. Seeing Ramza suffer as he does in Final Fantasy Tactics: the War of the Lions has reminded me of the facts I just laid out here.

In my last post on this topic, someone said that I could become an activist of some kind, so I can claim to have resisted the actions of my government. Well, that is part of the reason why I’m writing posts of this nature – by expressing my opinions here and encouraging debate, I hope to not be regarded as just another ignorant, complacent citizen. Maybe you might see this as self-indulgent, but, well, we all have to find ways to resist whatever oppresses our individual lives somehow.


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