auronlu: (Blah)
[personal profile] auronlu
I was just pondering Justira's Clarion yet again — mobile version looks lovely on iPad Kindle reader — and was once again struck by how much more unseelie, sinister, callous is her view of FFX's Bahamut  than my more naive view.

I fixed on Bahamut's "don't cry" and "I'm sorry" to Tidus at various moments in the story, making me see Bahamut as a gentle, tired, perpetual-divine-child figure who wants things to end but exhibits compassion for Tidus. But Justira is right too: Bahamut is a manipulator. He's dangerous. And FFX's Bahamut is about the most benevolent incarnation in the franchise.
  • FFVI...er... need to start over, I forget
  • FFVII... various scary-ass summons. Like Justira's Jecht says, B always seems to resemble a dragon that had an accident with an airship.
  • FFVII:AC... Bahamut summoned by villain to terrorize Midgar Edge.
  • FFVIII: Dangerous dungeon to reach it. This Bahamut seems a little more benevolent than usual, less scary than the often equally-scary-ass Odin (another figure from RW myth who has morphed into his own unique FF archetype.) Tellingly, VIII's Bahamut says, "Using my powers... It is you humans I fear." If that's Yoda word order, then this B is concerned about how his powers may be turned to evil.
  • FFIX: Originally Garnet's Eidolon, but Queen Brahne extracts him and uses him to wipe out the Great Tree. Then Kuja hijacks/rides Bahamut and uses him to wreck further havoc, threatening to destroy Alexandria.
  • FFX: Creepy kid. Manipulator. Aeon of BEVELLE, capital of lies, manipulation, and control under the guise of religion.
  • FFX-2: Dark Bahamut appears in a heartwrenching scene where Yuna has to fight an aeon. Real B. later apologizes to Yuna, revealing the aeons have been dragged into darkness by the Big Bad and are now "no better than fiends."
  • FFXII: Bahamut is an airship, but more than an airship: it feeds on Mist, is awakened by the terrible explosion at Pharos, is coopted by the Big Bad as a doomsday weapon, and nearly destroys Rabanastre.
  • FFXIII: Eidolon of Fang, who almost plays the usual role of Bahamut HERSELF.
  • FFXIII-2: Same Eidolon bound/fused with a Guardian who has gone so far towards the defender-of-his-summoner-seeress side of things that he's now a Big Bad. 

In sum, Bahamut usually seems to be a supremely powerful force gone rogue, often loosely on the side of good but coopted by the Big Bads for destruction. Usually targeting the Home the party is fighting to defend. 

I am vaguely reminded of Godzilla/Gojira in his less campy incarnation: a monster created by nuclear fallout, yet sometimes a defender of Tokyo, albeit a very destructive one. I can't quite put my finger on how Bahamut embodies Japan's ambivalent fear of nuclear energy, but I have a feeling Bahamut and flare are yet another manifestation of this common mythic theme in anime and Japanese video games.

Date: 2012-08-22 10:21 am (UTC)
raphiael: (Auron)
From: [personal profile] raphiael
I hope you don't mind me creeping in from ff-meta, but I really like this post!

It occurs to me, though you didn't mention it, that FFIV treats Bahamut as intensely alien, as well. He's far more hostile than any of the other eidolons, and expressly states that siding with Rydia is the first time he's ever allowed someone to summon him. And then he's tied in with Kain through his sidequest dungeon, after one of the more mindscrew-y manipulative sequences in the whole storyline. (Given Caius' look is a major Kain throwback, I doubt that's coincidence, though I haven't played XIII-2 and thus can't really say for sure.)

It's definitely a trend that continues throughout the series, and I think the take in Clarion reminds me of a collective take on all of it.

/creepy weird comments from strangers!

Date: 2012-08-22 04:10 pm (UTC)
raphiael: (Lulu)
From: [personal profile] raphiael
I'm really delighted to find there's still meta stuff going on! I'm pretty new to the fandom itself, and I love discussions like this, but I wasn't really sure where to look.

Date: 2012-08-24 03:54 am (UTC)
lassarina: I'm not coming out until the stupid people have gone away.  ....I can wait all day. (Default)
From: [personal profile] lassarina
...and after I comment i see you mentioned me. XD I am the most predictable cat.

(psst you should play FF4 it's awesome)

Date: 2012-08-24 03:53 am (UTC)
lassarina: (Kain: Death from Above)
From: [personal profile] lassarina
Not to mention that Caius and Kain share a voice actor. /creeps on thread

Re: Woo!

Date: 2012-08-24 01:28 pm (UTC)
lassarina: I'm not coming out until the stupid people have gone away.  ....I can wait all day. (Default)
From: [personal profile] lassarina
I am mostly this particular VA obsessed; he also did Akihiko in Persona 3 and War in Darksiders, and I am critically weak vs deep voices. (See also Snow.)

Date: 2012-08-22 04:09 pm (UTC)
dagas_isa: Mithra from FFXI stalking RL giraffes (jais + giraffes)
From: [personal profile] dagas_isa
FFXI (If you're interested)

Bahamut is an avatar but not one that can be summoned by anyone player or NPC alike (and I believe he's the only avatar who falls into this category). He's a powerful and ancient force who lives isolated from the rest of Vana'diel, and prophesizes the apocalypse. But it's also implied that he's also made a pact with one of the ancient races and prevented the world from ending at one point.

(Someone on tumblr is doing a wonderful favor of recapping the FFXI storylines, and I'm going off her recaps and vague memories, basically he's a super-powerful and irritable source of information thus far)
Edited Date: 2012-08-22 04:11 pm (UTC)

Date: 2012-08-23 04:01 am (UTC)
dagas_isa: Yuna, from Final Fantasy X Text: Sin is dead and there will be cookies (yuna cookies)
From: [personal profile] dagas_isa
Odin is in the game as an avatar and Ragnarok is what happens when he collides with the opposing force Alexander. This of course is in a story line I haven't been able to complete yet...but someday...

Anyway, what FF does I think is take those fundamental archetypes (for example pretty much everyone who plays FF knows what Shiva or Bahamut is) but it changes the creation myths and the worlds that created those archetypes, and also what at the core they are. FF10's Aeons were all real humans at their core at one point, FF11s are either sleeping celestial gods or terrestrial guardians (depending on the avatar). FF12...the fact that the airships are given the archetypical avatar names and the actual summons given new (newish?) names speaks a lot about the popular imagination in Ivalice. FF13 the eidolons are actually a part of the l'Cie make up that come out in a moment of duress. Fundamentally Bahamut is a dragon and Shiva is an ice goddess, but that concept of what they are and what they come from changes.

Date: 2012-08-23 04:41 am (UTC)
dagas_isa: Kanzaki Nao from Liar Game (Default)
From: [personal profile] dagas_isa
And if I can dork out on XI a little more...

Bahamut is actually one of the less powerful of the avatars, as he's born of Vana'diel rather than a god himself. On the other hand the untameable aspect of him remains. He's awake and active whereas the technically more powerful celestial avatars remain asleep in their crystals.

More so, his title is Conquerer of the Skies, which is a quite more violent role than the other terrestrial avatars (i.e. Carbuncle, Bringer of Rainbows) and yet he's as much a guardian of the world as any of the others, just a distant, untameable one with lots of dragons at his command.

Date: 2012-08-22 05:36 pm (UTC)
cygna_hime: (Redheads FTW)
From: [personal profile] cygna_hime
The aspect of Bahamut that is most powerful, though I can't quite explain why, is the sense that he is fey: powerful, ancient, amoral or running on morals that we don't know, fundamentally uncontrollable.

Even though we quite often get to control him, and if we don't, someone else does!

But Bahamut, somehow, never stops giving what I often think of as the Aslan impression: not a tame lion. Bahamut isn't a tame summon, and no matter how mechanically reliable he is, the sense remains that as a character/mythic figure, he's nothing of the kind. Even when he's not rogue or suborned, or when you don't have to fight him {and you do fight Bahamut before summoning him more often, I think, than any of the other standard-rotation summons, and he's the toughest fight of the bunch when you do}, he always give the impression of great destructive power just barely under control.

That's an important thing to retain, I think, when video games always run the risk of breaking their own sense of danger and power. Somehow Bahamut never stops being fearsome.

But he's not a tame summon. Oh, no, not at all.

Date: 2012-08-23 02:24 am (UTC)
cygna_hime: Unretouched and unedited I swear to god. (Zounds!)
From: [personal profile] cygna_hime
Yeah, Bahamut is less tame than Aslan ever really manages to be, mostly because Aslan is not only reliably benevolent, but also understands and can be understood by humans without too much effort. He may not be tame, but he's not really wild either. Bahamut, on the other hand, is emphatically wild. He's very, very much Not A Tame Dragon.

And with Bahamut, as with faeries, he's never quite so terrifying as when he's helping you. Mostly because he does it by e.g. showing up to either kill you or knock you out of your funk, and it's all one to him which. Or, alternatively, he asks you to promise to summon him...so that you'll kill him when he gets taken over.

STOP HELPING ME!!!

Date: 2012-08-23 07:25 am (UTC)
terabient: Vanille with her eidolon (FFXIII: Vanille & Eidolon)
From: [personal profile] terabient
popping in from [community profile] ff_meta; I don't have much insight of my own to contribute, but as far as Bahamut's incarnation in other games goes...

In FF6, he's an Esper that can be obtained by defeating an optional boss. It's probably his least interesting, and weakest, appearance -- he's not the strongest Esper you can obtain and he has no backstory whatsoever.

I can't remember how he shows up in FF5 or FF3, although I'm pretty sure in both games, he's an optional boss that becomes a summon after beating him.

Looking at the trend of how summon creatures are handled over the series is interesting. With the exceptions of FF4 and, to a lesser extent, FF6, pre-FF8 summons are basically cool looking monsters that you can use, and they have little in the way of backstory or impact on the main plot. From FF8 onwards, summon creatures become more fleshed out as characters/plot devices.

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