Final Fantasy Unlimited After – Hypothetical Adventure!

ffu-a-1.jpgContinuations

For a series that was cancelled before it was even finished, one might be surprised just how much spinoff content Final Fantasy Unlimited actually has. The FFWiki lists no less than seven unique spinoff products, none of which were ever officially released in North America. Thankfully, there are detailed fan summaries of four of the spinoffs, and we’re going to piece them together to get a look at the lost second season.

While we’re mostly going to be focusing on the second season in these articles, FFU has three other spinoffs that took place during the main narrative, and I’m going to… ah… shove them under the rug before we get started. For all I know, they may not even be post-cancellation? In any event, I wasn’t able to find any detailed summaries about these three spinoffs, which is a convenient coincidence, but there are reasons that no one ever bothered.

Final_Fantasy_Unlimited_on_PC_Adventure_-_LabyrinthThe first of the three “lost” spinoffs was Final Fantasy Unlimited with U, a cell phone game with a monthly subscription service (315 yen according to WARMech’s Domain) but we know virtually nothing about it save that it had traditional RPG battles (yes, including the twins) and maybe mini-games. As a subscription game, it probably relied on server-based downloads and is likely lost forever at this point. Final Fantasy Unlimited on PC Adventure – Labyrinth is completely unknown in the West, save for its release date and the fact that it’s a Windows game. It’s a total dead end! I know nothing about it! The last untranslated product is the light novel, Sō no Kizuna (lit. Twin Bonds) which took place during the events of the show. All I know about this is the title and a single sentence summary on the FFWiki that does little more than imply the novel takes place before Fungus’ death. I’m serious, if someone translated the photo I have of the book’s front and back covers, we’d have ten times more information about this stupid thing than the English internet apparently already has.

But enough about the truly lost content, let’s look at the stuff the fans did salvage. The “sort-of second season.” The “second season” products are as follows: Final Fantasy Unlimited Before, which is an audio drama that’s technically part of the second season but is 95% flashback; Final Fantasy Unlimited After, a strange combination of manga and script; Final Fantasy Unlimited – After Spiral, a text-based web series; and Final Fantasy Unlimited After 2, another audio drama. One fansite also lists an “Unlimited After Zero” as an additional webseries, but they provide no additional info on the matter, so it’s possible this was little more than a typo. Because so many of these products are called “Unlimited After,” that’s the title I’m going to use for these posts, and to avoid confusion, I’m going to refer to the original “Unlimited After” as “Unlimited After 1.”

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In the interest of keeping things illustrated, I’ll be dotting these articles with DVD production stills from the original show, from soiruichi’s Photobucket

Most of my information on this subject comes a defunct fansite called the Makenshi Shrine, run by the mod of defunct LiveJournal community the_comodeen. As per the Makenshi Shrine’s pre-written request, I’ve linked the site’s main page rather than the content pages, but most of the info you’ll want to see can be found on the pages “FF:U Translation File” and “FF:U Before Script.” I’ve also tapped the Photobucket account of a user named soiruichi, who hosted the images for The Makenshi Shrine, and may have been its operator. Most of the pertinent information from The Makenshi Shrine comes, in turn, from a user named Ai No Kareshi (“Ai’s Boyfriend,” no comment) at someplace called “the FF-U Forums.” I don’t know much about these forums, as they’re sadly not linked, not even a dead link.

Now, before we get started, I’m going to have to remind you that these summaries were put out by fans. Normally I have good faith in fan efforts, but since I’m one of the only people who have read this stuff in the past seventeen years, I admit there might be a certain… shall we say… “lack of rigour” on this particular subject. If it turns out I’m summarizing Ai No Kareshi’s long-forgotten fanfics, well, that’s yolk in my eyes. That said, I wouldn’t be summarizing this “Season 2” stuff if I didn’t have some confidence in its authenticity: the content matches up perfectly with promotional material that I can comprehend (like official art), everyone is perfectly in-character, and it picks up some easily missed plot hints from the original that make it feel like the original authors were probably involved (and if they weren’t, we’re at least covering a quality fanfic!). It even has a similar authorial feel to the first season, which is hard to duplicate, especially considering FFU wasn’t… *cough* wasn’tverywellwritten.

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Spin! Spin! Spin!

Our composite Season 2 starts with Final Fantasy Unlimited After, the manga/script hybrid. Unfortunately, while I do have Ai no Kareshi’s summary of the book and that’s great, I haven’t been able to find scans of more than a few pages of this book, which is definitely too bad. There’s only so much I, someone who can’t comprehend Japanese, can do with Japanese web novels and audio novels, but it sure as hell would have been nice to see a few pictures! The Makenshi Shrine provides a very early-stage, very brief incomplete translation of the script book by Ai No Kareshi, followed by a summary of the rest of it. I’ll be paring down the summary even further to make it worth your while, but if you want to see the original, feel free to follow the links!

Oh, and word of caution before we get started: the anime’s credits epilogue should be considered non-canon with this continuation story, though they are close. Chiefly, this means no PochePocket with an Omega Crystal, and the closing detail of Lisa with Kaze’s earring isn’t quite canon either (although everything that happens to the earring in Season 2 is minor to the extreme, so that’s neither here nor there). The Comodeen did manage to get their airship working, though.

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“The 3 bullets and the power of soil combine with Kaze’s blood inside here” “Inside Kaze’s heart beats wildly”

FFU After begins a few minutes before the end of the anime, but these rewind events are mostly redundant and seem to exist only to remind us how the show ended. The new content really picks up after Chobi arrives on the scene and rescues the humans from the big explosion, just as Chaos is destroyed. After some chat, he takes them back to the Comodeen. Everyone talks about the people who have been lost– Clear, Kaze, Makenshi, Lou, and Kupo – but there’s not much time to grieve, as things are still exploding. Cid says something incomprehensible, half because Ai No Kareshi’s translation is in a very early, rough state, and half because that’s just how Cid fucking reads. Thankfully, Ai No Kareshi steps in with an author’s note to explain that Cid is saying that Chaos couldn’t be destroyed without the loss of both Kaze and Makenshi anyways… for some reason. I have no idea why this is the case, even with the author’s note.

While the good guys make their escape, Cid and the Hayakawa parents discover that all of Wonderland is collapsing. Yes, the entire blasted dimension! Remember: Wonderland was just made up of surviving bits of worlds that Chaos had eaten to begin with. This is when we get our second mention of the term “God’s Egg.” Remember that from Episode 13? This time, it comes from Cid, and he doesn’t clarify what it means! Dammit, Cid!

This is also where Ai No Kareshi’s brief, unfinished translation ends and we go into summation.

Wall_U_09

Official wallpaper of the Silvia

We pick up as the Silvia, Cid’s new airship, is knocked aside by a claw resembling that of Earl Tyrant’s (Ai No Kareshi doesn’t say as much, but I assume he means Tyrant’s final, mutated form). The next thing we know, Ai is speaking to Fabula again, this being Fabula’s third in-universe appearance. Nothing about this conversation appears to have any bearing on the events that follow. Thanks, Fabula. Thanks for nothing as usual.

Ai wakes up to find herself in the real world, back in her island hometown of Sado. You’ll remember that this is where the Pillar of Darkness struck down at the start of the series. Yu, Lisa, Chobi and the kids’ parents are there as well, but there are no sign of the Comodeen or the rest. Here, we learn the Hayakawas live in what Ai no Kareshi describes as a mansion (book sales from their extradimensional physics text, perhaps?), and the party goes there to try to settle down. As this is happening, Lisa considers contacting the shady organization she works for, as you may remember from forever ago, but she ultimately doesn’t. Unfortunately, Lisa’s shady organization shows up all the same, arresting the party only a few minutes after they arrive.

Lisa’s organization is identified as “C2,” and we find ourselves at one of their headquarters in Russia. The translation doesn’t specify where in Russia, but it’s worth noting that there’s official art of Ai in Russian-style winter clothes, whereas scenes in Japan seem to be temperate (rain is described at one point), so we’re probably pretty fair north. Lisa is in hot water for not contacting C2 the moment she arrived, and is barred from seeing any of the Hayakawas. While we’re with her, she learns that there’s a strange memorial obelisk in the headquarters, supposedly erected around the world in memorial for the fall of the Pillar of Darkness near Japan. Why these memorials were erected so long after the fact, while Lisa was in Wonderland, with no reason for anyone to have done so, is left mysterious for the time being.

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“His arm is regenerated”

At this point, there’s brief scene that shows us that C2 has gotten their hands on the Magun (the scene also gives us a short look at a new character, but I’ll address him in a few scenes). While this is happening, Kaze has revived from his seeming death at the end of the anime, and has fallen, still in dragon form, into the Sea of Japan next to the Pillar of Darkness. Hey, on the subject of “Kaze without the Magun,” did you know that Kaze is an amputee of sorts? Yeah, this information comes from some concept art on the DVD, which explains that Kaze’s right arm is restored by magic when the Magun is “thawed!” In hindsight the show really does depict that during the thawing animation, but I just couldn’t tell that that’s what was happening!

This scene with Kaze in the water is important, as this is where Ai No Kareshi believes Final Fantasy Unlimited Before is set. I’m inclined to believe him, so let’s hop over to Unlimited Before, our first audio drama. Unlimited Before opens with Kaze in the water, thinking back on the destruction of his homeworld, “Windaria.” We begin our flashback with Windaria already levelled. There are few survivors: we only hear the voices of Kaze and a Moogle named “Pepo.” Of course, we already know that Kupo, the Moogle from the TV show, has also survived the destruction of Windaria, and Pepo mentions him here just so the audience isn’t confused. Pepo indirectly informs us about the origin of Kaze’s Soil bullets during this sequence: apparently Moogles in Windaria were born to die and become Soil, alarming as that sounds! Unfortunately, Kaze is now out of Soil and almost out of Moogles.

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One of several sketches of “The Apathetics,” who showed up in Episode 3, but are fairly prominent in early concept art!

Makenshi arrives, carrying Kaze’s sister, Aura. Aura has presumably been wounded in some capacity, though as an audio drama, the nature of the wound isn’t specified, save that she’s unconscious. Makenshi seems to have a fuller picture of the situation than our grumpy hero, and explains the origins of his feud with Kaze: apparently Chaos, afraid to battle the “Unlimited” (that is to say: Makenshi, Kaze, Makenshi’s now-late brother Madoushi, and possibly others), tricked the Unlimited into battling each other via illusions, in hopes that they’d kill one another first. Makenshi has only recently learned that they were being fooled, but it’s too late: Chaos has already consumed his homeworld of Mistaria in its entirety, and it’s far too late for Windaria. Kaze and Pepo aren’t inclined to believe Makenshi at first, what with the fact that Makenshi was attacking them until recently, but Aura wakes and backs him up. During this section, we get a look at a plot thread that was never explored in Season 2, suggesting that Kaze was raised in isolation and only recently discovered he had a sister, but that’s going to have to remain unexplored, at least outside of the land of fanfic. Sadly, this is not the last such plot thread that’s going to fall dead.

At this point, Chaos arrives on the scene, and Aura offers up her own Soil to defeat him, as we’ve seen in flashbacks in the anime. Pepo does the same, and Kaze provides the final bullet. If this sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the same as the anime’s finale, the implication being that since this didn’t work on Windaria, it didn’t work in Wonderland, either, and so Chaos must still be alive in season two! Or at least… that’s my generous interpretation. The audio drama doesn’t make that explicit. Hell, getting the same finale twice must have felt like a bit of a rip-off for anyone who actually bought the CD!

Image31The flashback continues. This time, Makenshi fires the Magun, and this time around Chaos absorbs Kaze’s energy instead of Makenshi’s, transforming into the red Gun Dragon instead of the Sword Dragon. Makenshi then transforms into the Sword Dragon and destroys the weakened Chaos

At this point, we return to the present, with Kaze still in the Sea of Japan. This scene is special: it occurs in both FFU Before and FFU After 1. As Kaze is drowning, Lou appears in a vision made of soil to encourage him. There’s a difference in the Before version of this scene, however: in the Before version, multiple Moogles appear in the vision alongside Lou (including Kupo), and encourage Kaze to use their soil. This will be important in a later part of Unlimited After 1, which makes it strange that Unlimited After 1 was the version that cropped it!

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Soljashy

Sorry about that chronological ping-pong! Thankfully, FFU Before is now over, and we’ll be following a relatively straight chronological line for the rest of the season. It’s time to go back to After 1 full-time, and to meet that new character that we glimpsed in the scene with teh Magun. He’s a man in a suit with improbable, crescent-shaped hair, and he crosses Lisa’s path by accident. Lisa mistakes him for a friend who works at C2, named Dolk (really, her friend’s name is “Dolk?”), and approaches him. The man insists he’s someone else, and introduces himself as Soljashy (really, his name is “Soljashy?”), “the Wonderland Consultant.” The implication is that he’s C2’s consultant on Wonderland matters… but in Ai No Kareshi’s summary, Soljashy never specifically says that, which means this might actually be a clever lie of omission, as we later learn that he doesn’t work for C2 after all! During this scene, Soljashy is seen constantly playing with a keychain, which will be important later.

In a scene I’d actually like to see in visual form (if only because I can’t imagine how it works), Kaze emerges from the Sea of Japan in his human form, but the humans only see him as the “Cannon Beast” dragon. As a result, they attack him, and he begins murdering his way through the Japanese Self Defence Force. Our hero. During this scene, Ai No Kareshi specifically describes Kaze doing human things like firing his shotgun despite appearing to be the dragon to the humans, and I’d like to see how an artist would take that!

Image6Sojashy decides to help Lisa with the fact that she can’t see the kids or their parents, and takes her to see Dr. and Dr. Hayakawa. Ai and Yu’s parents tell Lisa that they’re being forced to work for C2 with their children held as hostages. Geeze, these two can’t catch a break, can they? Soljashy hands them a business card, which is a something of a character tic for him, and then takes Lisa to see the two kids, which even their parents haven’t been allowed to do. Despite being warned that she’ll be recorded, Lisa apologizes to the kids, and confesses that she works with C2. Lisa also tells them that she and others were spying on the twins after their parents vanished before the start of the series, and the only reason Lisa ended up on the train with them was because it just happened to be her shift! The kids aren’t exactly happy to hear all of this. Among other complaints, Ai brings up that thing she made up about Lisa “looking for her boyfriend,” wondering if Soljashy is the boyfriend she was talking about. More on that in a minute, because the rabbit Ai that pulled from her hat for in the show’s first half-hour is finally about to turn into flowers.

Meanwhile, Kaze has somehow made his way to C2, apparently on the scent of the Magun. C2’s administrators watch him enter via the security cameras, and put the question of how to deal with him to their higher-ups, the “Privy Council,” even though they don’t seem to trust the Council very much. While they’re waiting for the Privy Council to respond, C2’s local administrator confronts Kaze through a screen and tells him the Magun has been booby-trapped in such a fashion that if he goes for it, the whole facility will be destroyed! Kaze doesn’t give a fat shit, and triggers the trap deliberately, since he’s not only a jackass who doesn’t care who gets hurt, but he’s the protagonist and so obviously can’t be hurt himself!

Image25With the building now shaking with explosions, the twins show some unusual initiative and decide to run for it, only to be stopped when Soljashy gets a call from their father (remember that Soljashy gave him his business card). Soljashy passes the phone to the kids, and they get to say goodbye this time before their parents are caught by a guard and escorted away from the attack. Thankfully, Soljashy agrees to help the kids and Lisa escape from the facility. The party rescues Chobi and Poshepocket, and accidentally bump into Kaze in the hall. It’s only now, when the party steps in front of a camera, that the C2 administrator finally sees Soljashy and the readers are informed that Sojashy doesn’t actually work for C2.

The party doesn’t get this information, but perhaps they don’t need it, as Kaze just flat-out starts taking shots at Soljashy, saying he “reeks of Chaos.” Soljashy shows some impossible agility as he dodges the bullets. At this point, he admits that he knows some of the Lords of Gaudium, and the party realize he must be a leftover henchman of the Earl. Unfortunately for everyone, C2 security arrives at just this moment, and Soljashy is able to use his business cards to mutate their weapons and vehicles into monsters (yes), which combine into a bigger monster that he dubs… “Carguns.” Ugh. Okay, so… it turns out that the name is supposed to be pathetic, but this didn’t become clear to me for a while. Despite not showing it prior to this point, Soljashy turns out to be an incredibly silly, goofy villain nine times out of ten, and the silly names he gives to his monsters are part of that joke. It’s got to be said that it’s hard to tell deliberately shitty in-universe writing apart from unintentionally shitty real-world writing, especially when… well… when it’s Final Fantasy Unlimited.

Image24Carguns makes a mess of the guards, and Soljashy points out that Kaze can’t stop the monster even with the Magun, because Crux destroyed his bullets in the finale of the anime and he fired his only remaining shots. Unfortunately for him, the dream Moogles from FFU Before seem to have restored Kaze’s bullets, and he’s is ready to fire. And guess what? We can still play “Guess the Summon” because the summon sequences are on the FFWiki! Guess it if you can!

The soil charge triad to use on you has been decided!
A heat that will scorch all creation, Fire Red!
To freeze all things, Ice Blue!
The light that penetrates darkness, Lightning Yellow!
Howl! I summon you, Tri-Disaster!

Actually, the Wiki suggests that he’s summoned Valigarmanda, the Esper trapped in crystal from FFVI, whose attack is Tri-Disaster. I’m not sure why After 1 swapped the names about, so maybe the wiki is misrepresenting the situation? Carguns is destroyed, and we see that this scene is being observed via cameras by the shadowy Privy Council, one of which is identified as “Tsar Pacifist,” aka the same last name as Lisa.

Prev: Final Fantasy Unlimited – Rainbow Connection
Next: Final Fantasy Unlimited After – Dualcast Summon Bazooka

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