This marks the beginning of Chapter 4: In the Name of Love, which was also the game’s final and longest chapter. Like I said during FFVII, the size of my write-ups can’t be a 1:1 measure of these things, but it’s telling that there’s only one chapter left in the game, but that one chapter takes up 40% of the Journal!
No time skip between chapters this time. The first official scene of the chapter was to show Orran Orlandeau returning home to his father, Cid. Orran mentioned to Cid that there were many people in the Black Lions who only seemed to be staying in the war effort because Cid was doing the same, but Cid said his oath to Duke Goltanna was absolute and he wasn’t going to defy it even in the name of peace. Orran then reported on the activities of the conspiracy. It seemed he had learned much of what we had learned about the conspiracy, except for the events at Castle Riovanes, since they had just happened. Curiously, Cid remarked on having “ears in Mullonde.” It sounded like he was talking about the city that had been destroyed in Ajora’s day, so you wouldn’t think it would be possible for him to “have ears” in it, but we later learned (hours and hours later) that while the city of Mullonde was gone, the capital of the church was built on the island that remained and so shared its name. So thanks for that. Orran said that all of their spies in the Fantasy Vatican had turned out dead.
We pick up with the end of the previous episode (Makenshi and Kaze about to blow each other to atoms) and cut immediately to opening credits and Fabula, not wasting any time today. Knave responds to the inevitable battle between the show’s actual main characters by ordering a total retreat, which is how you know he’s a wise leader after all. The twins, Lisa, Chobi and Lou stay behind, however, and Lisa wakes from her collapse from Episode 23 to see Teros beginning to erupt in geysers, either because of the damage in the previous episode, or as a Dragon Ball Z-style consequence of the two titans charging their powers during a stare-down.
As Ai and Lou help Lisa to her feet, Yu begins to moan about how he “never help[s] out in any way.” Yup, you sure don’t! Blame yourself or god, kiddo. And by “god,” I mean the screenwriters. Keep an eye on that, by the way, it’ll be back later. Yu’s self-deprecation, I mean, not the incompetence. You should already be expecting the incompetence. Anyways, Yu is so mopey that he’s caught by a geyser and has to be rescued by Chobi, leaving the others undefended when they’re hit by a subsequent geyser.
I must have been really zonked at my laptop, because poor Kyle ended up doing this battle immediately after Battle 30. I suppose that in strict numbering, this made up for the time that I forgot to pass the controller back to Kyle for Battle 29a, but I’m still not very impressed by myself and it was definitely my bad.
Arriving at the castle gates, we found only a token resistance led by Marach. Our party was split into two flanks, but for once this wasn’t a serious concern, as we were simply spaced out a little on the same edge of the map. Rapha, still functioning as a Guest, told her brother that they should flee together, but Marach said that the Grand Duke had promised them both their freedom if they cooperated, which Rapha didn’t even believe. On the subject of Alma, Marach simply repeated his demand to hand over the Scriptures, and that sure as hell wasn’t going to happen.
It’s a memory-themed twofer! Or at least that’s what the titles are telling me, the second episode doesn’t really have much to do with… oh, are we starting?
Chapter 22 – Moogle: Nostalgic Memories
This new Ocean puzzle cube seems to be home to an idyllic riverside village. It goes without saying that any genre-aware group of heroes would have hid inside the sub and welded the hatches shut, but I guess we wouldn’t have a plot if they had done that, would we? As the title implies, a Moogle is watching their arrival, concealed by a brown cloak.
I was teasing the good guys in the previous paragraph, but they cross the line into genuine foolishness when video game town-style music starts playing and the Comodeen start sunning on the beach. Kaze and Lisa aren’t so impressed, but they’re the only ones, so their cautions go unheard. We see everyone revelling or relaxing, followed by a shot of a distant, bizarrely ugly tower on a hill. This close-up on the tower (above) causes the background music to abruptly stop in its tracks, only for it to return when we cut away! I don’t think the effect is quite as good as they were shooting for, but it’s certainly interesting!
At the town of Yardrow, we came across a sibling feud: a young woman named Rapha was fighting with her brother Marach, who was the “Outland Mage” who had given us Alma’s ransom. The siblings were, most remarkably after something like 14 Final Fantasy products, brown-skinned! Wow, what a huge difference a single years makes, first Barret and now these two! Of course, in an anime-styled product, it can be really hard to tell when someone is actually supposed to be brown-skinned or simply “tan,” but the PSX version of the game identifies Marach as “Malik,” which is an actual, real-world Arabic name, so I we’re supposed to see this skin colour as racial. And hey! We’ve actually seen another brown-skinned character earlier on, even though they turn out to be a minor NPC of no consequence! You can do it Square! You can jump your own, incredibly low bar!
(I can only assume that Malik/Marach’s name was changed in WotL out of WotL’s weird propensity for slightly misspelled real world names as a means of creating fantasy names, i.e.: “Wilham” and “Meryell.” Honestly, I think it was a bad move, not just because it looks ridiculous, but because of how it divorces Malik and Rapha from their real world contexts. Then again, Malik is a gargantuan ass, so maybe the real world context took physical form and chucked him as far away as possible.)
It’s a few days later, and Ai is still mooning over Clear. This is also upsetting for Yu, especially because neither Ai nor Kaze will give him any details about what happened in the previous episode! Yu isn’t talking long before Cid flies in, riding Clear’s glove, which can fly just like the name “flying water” implies. Ai is angry at him stealing the glove away while she was staring into space, and takes it back. But enough reminiscing about Episode 19: Fungo gives a warning and the ocean puzzle shifts to start today’s activities.
Much to everyone’s dismay, the Jane ends up in a new cube in mid-air and is now plunging through the clouds. After clearing one particular cloudbank, the party stumbles onto none other than… Gaudium! Yeah, Gaudium is here, inside the Ocean Puzzle! It doesn’t really makes sense to me that Gaudium could have been inside the puzzle before now, and there were never any hints that that was the case, so it makes me wonder if the production team moved it here after they got word they were going to be cancelled, just to rush things along?
So now we had the Scriptures of Germonique. Sounds like a pretty big deal, doesn’t it? In fact, Kyle and I assumed that since they were such a big deal, the game would automatically present them to us in a cutscene, right? It did not. As battle after battle went on, this omission became stranger and stranger. Finally, it occurred to Kyle that we might read the Scriptures in the game’s Chronicles section. This might have been more obvious to a Japanese gamer, since in the Japanese version you can read all the game’s artifact books in the form of minigames with branching paths. As a matter of fact, there’s enough content that I’ll be discussing them in an appendix at the end of the Journal! Unfortunately, in English you can only read this one book. While the game is at fault here for not explaining that you can read the Scriptures in the Chronicles section, Kyle and I made the problem worse by only remembering that we wanted to read the book while we were in the middle of battle, and over and over again we forgot by the time the battle was over! As a consequence, we essentially didn’t read the Scriptures for the rest of our entire session. I only managed to read it after Kyle had left for the night, and no thanks to the internet, which contained the contents of the book, sure, but still no instructions on how to read it in-game!
The Scriptures are presented in a summary compiled by Ramza, and even this summary has a lot of bloat. I can cut it down to just a few key points: Germonique plays the Judas Iscariot role in St. Ajora’s life, a former disciple who turned Ajora in to the authorities, who had Ajora executed. Germonique outlines that Ajora was never a godlike figure, but a mortal and a spy. Ajora also had tried to collect the Zodiac Stones back in his day, though unlike the legend he and his disciples never had all twelve. The church had modified Ajora’s story to include the Zodiac Braves to build up a cult around their lives and so seize power. The only truly miraculous thing that seems to have happened in Ajora’s life is the spectacular destruction of a town named Mullonde around the time of Ajora’s death – a town that sank into the sea.
Chapter 18 – Madoushi: The Battle of Kiri and Kumo
This episode begins a strange room that looks like paint in dark water. Oscha is here, performing some sort of ritual involving a sword much like Makenshi’s, but black and red instead of white and blue. He speaks to the “great, wandering spirits of Wonderland,” and a whispering voice answers. This voice is provided by David Stokey, known for Nadia, Tekken: The Motion Picture, here’s Jing:King of Bandits again, I’ve been seeing that a few times. Oh, and several actors in this show also went on to appear in Friday Night Lights! Stokey seems to have gone into a brief retirement from 2008-2012, before returning for a few live-action roles. Anyways, what was I talking about? Right, Oscha defying the natural order of life and death. Let’s get on with that.
The voice asks who woke him, and instead of answering, Oscha uses a straw doll to resurrect the spirit as a young man, who looks similar to Makenshi but in red. Oscha identifies this person as “My Lord Madoushi.” Opening credits. You might be wondering what “Madoushi” means: according to the Japanese voice credits at the end of the ep (which are included in English with transliterated names in the English version), it’s “Magic Daoist.” What this has to do with swordplay is honestly lost on my poor, Western ken. (Ed. I later learned that it would more properly be translated to “Magic Warrior,” so not all that different from “Makenshi,” to be honest. If you didn’t care to follow the link, “Madoushi” is the word FFVI uses for what English fans call “Magi.”)
When we arrived at the monastery, we got the worst possible news from the GUI itself: the monastery had a location submenu. It was worse than I thought: like the battle at Lionel, we were soon about to encounter a series of battles, wherein you weren’t allowed to leave to grind or restock, only to spend AP and swap equipment between battles until all the battles in the series were complete. So far, at the time of writing, we’ve only seen these series run three battles deep, but I expect worse in the future. They’re already nightmares.
Alma arrived at the monastery only for Ramza to follow her in about five steps behind. Uh… hey Big R, didn’t you two have a plan about this? A plan that involved you, the heretic and your heretic followers… not entering the monastery? In any event, the two of them arrived at the monastery only to find nearly everyone dead on the ground. Sure enough, we later find that the church was responsible for this, but why they felt the need to butcher their own people is left to the imagination.