Popped Culture: Final Fantasy’s Great Romance Is Doomed
It’s no secret that this writer’s favourite game ever, ever, is Final Fantasy VIII. Happily for the season that’s in it, it’s also the romantic one in the FF family, so around about the 14th of February is as good a time as any for getting reacquainted with Mr. Leonhart and his many neuroses. VIII has the schmaltzy ballad, the cute cut-scenes and the tender quotes…
… so it’s easily the closest that SquareEnix have ever come to a playable chick flick. Well, outside of that excruciating scene between Tidus and Yuna in FFX.
So, the great Final Fantasy romance is between cranky Squall Leonhart and MPDG Rinoa Heartilly, who learn to compromise on their less attractive traits for the sake of lurve and also save the world and stuff. There’s lots of falling into one another’s arms…
… and promises in flower fields…
… and smooching on balconies.
But the sad fact of the matter is that Squall and Rinoa’s romance, like the summer fling she had with his most bitter rival the year before (awkward), is doomed to be but a flash of giddy passion in the heat of their most desperate hour. No matter how in love we are with Squall and Rinoa’s being in love, we have to face up to the fact that Zell’s hotdog heartburn has a better chance of seeing out the end of the week than their photogenic romance. And we’re not just being baselessly pessimistic, either. Here’s why.
The Best Intentions Can’t Change A Loner Overnight
Squall is a brilliant soldier because all he does all day and night is study how to be a brilliant soldier. No friends, no family, and certainly no time for your nonsense, sweetcheeks.
In saving the world with a small group of teenaged heroes, he’s learned how to trust his team, because it’s really hard to take on slavering monsters in tight formation if you keep breaking ranks because battalions are stoopid. Even so, he’s not exactly going to blossom into a fully-fledged human being overnight, not when his formative years have been defined by his own bitter seclusion. It’s not like being a dickhead is a pelt you can conveniently shed when hotties come a’nagging.
We’re surprised he can even form words, let alone read cues as to when he should drop the hand. And that reminds us…
Squall’s Most Likely… Inexperienced
Rinoa had a summer romance with Seifer, Squall’s brash, arrogant rival (read: the kind of bastard ‘nice guys’ cry into their sleeves over), and let’s face it, it’s quite likely that any sticky teenage fling with a cocky, ballsy specimen such as Seifer would have seen the airing of the organs those two adjectives were named for.
Squall, on the other hand, has only been to the Training Centre after-hours to train (not to get the shift, like everyone else), is completely oblivious to his instructor’s advances, finds Irvine’s porn stash ‘sick’, and readily admits he doesn’t get women. Because the only one he’s in any way intimate with is a blue-skinned sprite who lives in a wedge of ice.
It’s A Really Bad Idea To Fall In Love While You’re Fighting A War
You know the way there’s usually a baby boom 9 months after any social cataclysm? Hormonal adrenaline is precisely why your first dates shouldn’t revolve around slaying monsters, rushing on armed troops, or discovering mind-blowing cities hidden in fantastical landscapes. It ain’t easy to go back to holding hands at the ice-cream parlour after that.
It’s true that all couples eventually reach a time in their relationship when their most exciting escapades will be behind them, but for Jaysus’ sake, that shouldn’t be happening on anyone’s two-week anniversary. ‘Hey, Squall, remember the time I was possessed by a malevolent being and ended up stranded in space, and you just came out there after me and then we somehow caught a dragon-shaped spaceship back home? That was hot. Why don’t we ever do that anymore?’
Mind you, there well may be more trouble ahead, bearing in mind that…
Rinoa’s A Damn Sorceress
In Squall and Rinoa’s world, a sorceress isn’t just some nubile chick addicted to pyrotechnics and chiffon skirts, but a godlike being particularly vulnerable to corruption, like a Fianna Fail minister whose attention span doubles as a doomsday device.
Rinoa and her fledgling superpowers are as likely to be the instrument of havoc as they are to be the cure, and Squall knows this only too well because he vowed to stand at her side even if the whole world turned against her. Could we be seeing a Bonnie and Clyde style ending for our flightless lovebirds?
Well, perhaps not. Supernations Galbadia and Esthar aren’t exactly going to forget the damage a sorceress can do, but then again, Rinoa is Galbadian… and not just any Gabadian…
Their Fathers Head Up Old Enemy Nations
Her Da is a general in the notorious Galbadian army. His Da is president of the most technologically advanced country in the world, which just so happens to be defined by its dark history of sorceress dictatorship. We could be optimistic here and suggest a diplomatic marriage between heir to the throne Squall and military brat Rinoa might usher in an era of new world peace, but that’d be ignoring the fact that Squall himself is commander of the most elite military force on the planet, which has no national or political allegiances to speak of. So you’ve got the Galbadian empire quarrelling with Esthar, the epitome of first-world technological evolution, over a seventeen year old sorceress with potentially apocalyptic powers, who’s protected by a mercenary force that’s totally ok with harnessing the gods to finish off household pests. Yeah, this is going to end well.
And speaking of harnessing gods…
Squall’s got severe brain damage
Taking away the political impositions, the absolute power thing and the fact that Squall’s been hanging on to his V-card for dear life, the great love affair of the Final Fantasy series can never last because Squall’s been using Guardian Forces as a substitute for elbow grease for so long, he’s banjaxed his long-term memory. He’s cracking under the burden of a past he can’t even remember. He has abandonment issues and he has no idea how they got there. He knows how to do things, but not why. He’s the perfect soldier: brain-dead from last week backwards. It’s a wonder he can even put his pants on in the mornings (though it might explain why he wears so many belts).
Given that his entire identity is bound to his military excellence, and that things are unlikely to calm down any now his girlfriend is one of the most feared individuals alive, he’s not going to be abandoning the GF power any time soon. Meaning that it won’t be long before Rinoa is berating him not just for forgetting her birthday, but her name and what the hell she’s doing in his bed.
So no, we won’t be picking out hats any time soon.