Part 41: Episode 19 - Three Minutes of Peace and MusicEpisode 19 - Three Minutes of Peace and Music
Welcome back. We're putting on a concert for real this time. Even though nobody knows it, it's Yuna's first, so let's go down the checklist to avoid making newbie mistakes.
Singer: check, mostly. Yuna will of course be relying on the Songstress dressphere to bolster her skills and her confidence.
That way, even people way in the back will be able to see you.
A/V equipment: check.
Practice: ...um, yeah, let's go do some of that.
This gets presented as a kind of rhythm game, but there's no penalty for a bad note, and it's not difficult to triple the highest score threshold by mashing all four buttons as fast as you can. I was going to include a video, but it would be painful both to watch and to listen to.
It's almost time. Do you think people will show up?
But what're you gonna sing?
Yuna hums an unfamiliar tune.
Wow, did you write that?
It's more like I felt it. I can hear it echoing inside me.
I think so. I don't know much about her, but I'm learning more and more. Bits and pieces of her memories keep pouring in. It's like... it's like I can feel what she was feeling!
So what was once a possession is now a strange kind of symbiosis. I like that Yuna is strong-willed enough to do this; once she figured out how to tell her own emotions from Lenne's, she was free to use what she needed without losing control of herself. This is important because Yuna doesn't really know what she's doing. A life of seclusion has not well prepared her for public singing.
Thus shall Lenne's scattered thoughts be woven into bittersweet song... Something like that?
Hey, that was poetic.
Song list: check.
After Buddy drops us off, he and the others will go pick up the spectators.
So we won't be able to board for a while.
You got it.
Audience: check? We'll see.
On to the second and final mission of Chapter 4, where we clear out of the venue.
Really, the biggest problem with this chapter is when it feels like the game is scrambling to give us something to do between cutscenes, also known as the Xenogears Disc 2 Effect.
Naturally, the crowds that have already arrived block us from leaving the Thunder Plains. Better than an invisible wall, I suppose.
It's another boxy corridor dungeon, but what makes it feel even more like a hack job is that the boss is just a palette swap of the Besaid boss from Chapter 1, abilities and all.
It's immune to magic this time around, though, so we have to shake up our strategy a little bit.
Zalamander has its predecessor's Flame Breath attack, and since it's not Oversouled this time around, we don't get to see any of the abilities that might have made the fight more interesting. Its accuracy is higher than before, but darkness and Matador's Song are still the key to invulnerability.
Video: Boss: Zalamander
Since this is kind of lackluster for a chapter end boss fight, I tried to spice it up by showing off the more unconventional victory strategies. Zalamander can be bribed by Lady Luck and is vulnerable to Eject, both of which you'll see in this video. Bosses are expensive to Bribe, though; 80,000 Gil was only enough for about a 50% success rate. Zalamander also has reasonably low resistance to Zanmato, but since my levels are kinda low right now, I wasn't able to get it to connect even after about sixty turns.
Video: Boss Fight Deleted Scenes
I also took on the challenge of beating the boss with three Lady Lucks, operating under the assumption that Bribe was not actually an acceptable way of fulfilling the challenge. It was pretty hairy early on until I remembered that Luck does almost the same thing as Evasion. Still, the fight went on long enough to warrant warp speed in the video. My strategy was to use Attack and Item Reels, with Paine on Dice to keep things from taking forfuckingever, but looking at the attack list, I probably would have been better off sticking entirely to Item Reels, as most of the stuff under Attack is stuff the boss is immune to. I also kept aiming for Supreme Gem or Light Curtain+ and getting Mega-Ether by mistake, which was completely useless considering that I spent most of the fight in critical status with zero MP cost. And of course I shot myself in the face with Dud a lot.
Still, keep an eye out for the Gil award in the last few frames of the video. Zalamander is only supposed to be worth about 900 Gil. I got over 7000. That's the power of the Lady Luck.
Video: Blooper Reels
We're now stuck on the parked airship until it's time for the concert. No CommSpheres, no side quests, nothing but our teammates' opinions.
Oooh, I'm gettin' kinda nervous...
I hope our audience behaves long enough to listen. What could be going on out there?
Hey, we brought in people from New Yevon and the Youth League. They're all outside, on the concert grounds. Yuna, now it is all up to you!
One thing worries me. The two groups are already locking horns. With their leaders gone and everything, people are just a little bit edgy. Hm. I hope it doesn't get violent out there. Well, let's just pray your song is enough to stop the fighting.
Let me pull the video up.
Uh-oh. This could get messy.
I'll pick up the audio.
The Yevonites are here, too? How am I supposed to enjoy the concert with them stinking up the air?
Hey! You Youth League dogs will never be worthy of hearin' the high summoner sing!
If the praetor were here, he'd never let these maggots walk around, spouting their nonsense.
What I wanna know is, where'd Nooj go? It's his fault that Spira's falling apart!
The spectators are making a spectacle! I don't even want to speculate... Please! Do something, Yuna!
I cut this part down because it runs a little too long. It's the climax of the piece in a lot of ways, though, so I can't blame them too much.
Spira was torn in two, divided by a terrible war. This was Spira's great mistake. Out of the rift left by this terrible conflict, Sin was born.
As cheesy as it is, we're now starting to see why a concert was a brilliant solution. Just as with the Ronso, hatred is self-perpetuating. Yuna's dilemma is that she has to deescalate the conflict on both sides simultaneously, or one would just see the other's apparent weakness as an opportunity for a preemptive strike. And each side is basically beyond the point of logical arguments, ready to go to war based on nothing but fearmongering and wild speculation.
Now, Spira grows brighter with each passing day. That light is our strength. I don't want to see it fade. Do you?
But music's great strength is its unique ability to carry an emotional payload. You can wrap it in something apolitical enough that anyone will listen, then hit them sideways with an emotional argument to interrupt that feedback loop of hatred. Do it hard enough, and they'll forget why they were mad in the first place.
But our hearts can and should always be one. Believe with me: Even if we're torn apart, our feelings will unite us.
This musical number is just as J-pop as the opening sequence, but better for two reasons. First, the song is just less obnoxious. Second, the lyrics are relevant on multiple levels and tie a lot of the game's themes together, to the point where it feels like a completely different game than when we started. I'll be transcribing the lyrics as we go, but if you want to listen along, you can watch the video. And if you want to sing along, well... you can watch the video too.
Video: 1000 Words
I know that you're hiding things
Using gentle words to shelter me
Your words were like a dream
But dreams could never fool me, not that easily.
I acted so distant then
Didn't say goodbye before you left
But I was listening
You'll fight your battles far from me, far too easily.
At this point, something happens to the sphere screen behind Yuna. Similar to when we visited Guadosalam in the prequel, a vision of Zanarkand before the war appears all around the ship and the audience.
"Save your tears, 'cause I'll come back"
I could hear that you whispered as you walked through that door
But still I swore
To hide the pain I when turned back the pages
Pyreflies from Yuna's costume fly up and open an image of Vegnagun in the sky.
Shouting might have been the answer
What if I'd cried my eyes out and begged you not to depart?
But now I'm not afraid to say what's in my heart
Somehow, Yuna transforms on stage, similar to how Leblanc impersonated Yuna at the beginning of the game. I think we can all guess who this is. Images now begin to flash by, showing scenes we only somewhat understand.
'Cause a thousand words
Call out through the ages
They'll fly to you
Even though I can't see
I know they're reaching you
Suspended on silver wings
Oh, a thousand words
one thousand embraces
Will cradle you
Making all of your weary days
Seem far away
They'll hold you forever
In the instrumental break, we see something reminiscent of Yuna's dream from the beginning of Chapter 2, interspersed with frantic cuts between disorganized memories. There's actually a lot of little things to find in this sequence.
Sadly, it ends the same way Yuna's dream did.
Oh, a thousand words
Have never been spoken
They'll fly to you
They'll carry you home
And back into my arms
Suspended on silver wings
And a thousand words
Call out through the ages
They'll cradle you
Turning all of the lonely years to only days
They'll hold you forever
And as quickly as it came, the visions are gone.
A thousand words...
Video: 1000 Words (non-karaoke version)
That was unexpected. First priority: make sure Yuna's okay.
I'm all right... I'm fine, really. It's passed now.
Yunie's dressphere and the sphere screen reacted with each other and, uh... the consciousness burned into the dressphere was projected onto the screen! Or something like that.
Okay, but that doesn't explain why it happened.
When I asked, he said, "I'm only a kid."
So the people we saw were Lenne... and Shuyin?
Second priority: figure out what all the images meant. If only we had someone with a command of esoteric historical knowledge...
Oh, would you look at that. Thanks, Exposition Man.
If it brings Spira together - even a little - then I'm glad.
Indeed, I believe it shall. As you sang, not a soul could help but realize the folly of their tiresome squabbling. Fists once raised in anger became welcoming hands offering solace to a tearful neighbor. I must admit that I, too, shed my share of tears the moment Lenne appeared.
You know Lenne?
Yes! Tell us!
I like games that are willing to get a little meta about themselves.
Where to begin? About a thousand years ago, Lenne was a popular songstress in Zanarkand. The talk of the town, you might say. In a more peaceful age, she might have lived out her years as a performer. But the times - and her talents - did not allow such a thing to be.
When then Machina War began, all summoners were sent to the front lines. Zanarkand was hopelessly outnumbered, and Lenne knew she would not return home alive. Nonetheless, she was prepared to lay down her life to protect her people. Yet there was one person who refused to let Lenne die. Yes, he would do anything to save her. He was... a young man, Lenne's lover.
I... don't know. His name has been lost to history. Whatever his name, the youth endeavored to steal the enemy's machina weapon and save Lenne.
It didn't go well.
The lovers met a truly tragic end. Those images we all witnessed are most certainly a record of their last moments.
Having fulfilled his duty, Maechen wanders off. Only Shinra seems to notice that he seems a tad pale.
And so that means the weapon that he tried to steal to save her must have been, umm...
I think I can kinda understand how he felt... trying so hard to save someone.
That was enough. Knowing that you were on my side... I'll always be grateful to you.
Maybe Lenne felt the same way. The man she loved, he struggled to save her. He fought till his very last breath for her. I think that Lenne's final words might have been happy ones:
Now that the mystery is basically solved, we can pick the song apart a bit. It's a love song, obviously, so there's that level. But that vicious cycle rears its head again. There's anger, and guilt and regret for having held back words of love in that anger. There's also a pretty stark condemnation of Shuyin's actions, both then and now. A thousand years ago, he walked away from Lenne to fight, when all she wanted was to spend what time they had left together. Now, he's trying to erase the world's hate with his own, not realizing he's only continuing the cycle. And finally, there is forgiveness, a chance for redemption.
It's obvious when you think about it, but that doesn't stop it from hurting.
Sheesh, she's like a bad rash. Let's go see what she wants, I guess.
It shows my Noojie-Woojie! For some reason that chump Baralai is there, too. But it's from some years ago. I'm afraid it's not much help now, loves.
They are just throwing these things at us now.
How about you? Have you tracked down my Noojie yet?
Nooj is on the Farplane. I saw him there with Gippal.
The Farplane? What is he doing in a place like that?
I think he's searching for Baralai and Vegnagun.
Oh, so Baralai is the one pulling Vegnagun's strings! I should have known!
No, that's not it. How do I explain...
Never mind, I don't have time for this.
Anything but that, boss!
We're no match for that sort of opponent!
It's decided. We're going to save Spira!
Well, going to the Farplane is a brave idea, but how? And what does she hope to be able to do against Vegnagun than Nooj and Gippal can't?
The team putters around aimlessly for a minute until Shinra speaks up.
Looks like a transmission, but it's pretty weak.
Hm. I'm getting signals from the CommSphere we dropped in that hole, but I can't seem to connect.
Oh God, what now?
Enough, little boy, Move aside!
Leblanc smacks the console until it starts working. She must be part Al Bhed.
See? It connected.
Oh, look, somebody's still alive down there!
An invention like this could change the world. Whoever came up with this is a genius. Guess I'm a genius, too, for fixing it! Anybody home?
I don't think he can hear us.
No response. Hm.
Lost your nerve?
Hey, we're talking about Vegnagun. How the heck do you fight that thing?
Or making it mad. But I've got a plan.
If it doesn't work?
Death will be my apology.
Whatever, man. When a Deathseeker dies, that's no apology. What about Leblanc?
Why did it cut off like that! Just when he was getting to the juicy bits!
It's not my fault.
What about the Gullwings?
I think that we should help Nooj. But first...
What? That's a terrible idea!
No, wait, that's a great idea!
Speaking for the dead is a great plot hook. It doesn't really matter whether it's done in fantasy or sci-fi, with ghosts, recordings, or simulations, because the dead always want the same thing; the closure they never got in life. Lenne's song was borne from her desire to break the cycle of hate. It worked on the Youth League and New Yevon. If she can speak directly to Shuyin... well, it's worth a shot, right? If we can stop Shuyin, we don't even have to worry about Vegnagun.
How? We can't exactly make an appointment.
We'll just have to jump into one of those holes.
Together, this time!
Roger. Gullwings! We move out! Celsius, full speed ahead!
Here ends the tiny but significant Chapter 4. Perfectionists will stand at 75.6%, two restarts, and three broken controllers. The world's about to open up again, and we're going to shove an emotional payload right up Shuyin's Farplane.
Next time; Zen and the art of motorcycle-airship maintenance.