Part 6: Interlude 1 - Drawing LeblancWhenever I'm in a deconstructionist mood, I'll post one of these Interlude updates. They'll contain no important gameplay, they're completely optional, and they won't count as an "update" for the purposes of my proposed schedule. I might just be nerding out about something in particular, I might get philosophical or metaphysical, and I have a couple of these planned which reach back to the prequel and pick out retroactive foreshadowing. With that in mind...
Interlude 1 - Drawing Leblanc
We've now had to deal with the Leblanc Syndicate twice. The genre-savvy in the audience know what's going on. They're being established as that most frustrating of anime villain tropes: dangerous enough to be a credible threat, but never competent enough to actually win. It's worth taking a moment to unpack our interactions so far.
When I first played the game, I couldn't take Leblanc seriously at this point because I could not answer the following question: Having successfully stolen from Yuna, someone famously proven to be a competent adversary, why would Leblanc then do the one thing guaranteed to advertise her position? It makes more sense once you remember that the Syndicate is organized much like a mafia organization, with its fingers in many pies, and gil is more than just a way to get Hi-Potions.
Yuna's already got the popularity of a rock star, and making her a literal rock star can only amplify it. This is what economists like to call an inelastic demand. Multiply a ridiculous ticket price by a ludicrous attendance and you get an embarrassingly large sum of money. The concert is basically a giant bootleg operation, which is why it's a win/win-slightly-less situation for Leblanc. She's clearly prepared for Yuna to show up, and it'd be nice to put the upstart in her place (Yuna's the newbie in the sphere hunting field, after all) but even if that's not possible, Leblanc still wins by fleecing all of Luca and making off with the gate receipts.
There's a slightly alternate path for the Gagazet mission where you don't beat Leblanc to the summit. It changes none of the plot; Yuna still fights the boss and gets the Black Mage sphere. I didn't go that way because I wanted the Muscle Belt, but I have to consider whether it would have made the story stronger. A legitimate rival who manages to win even while losing is much more fun to watch.