Part 48: Part II: Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy X~Final Fantasy Extended Universes Part 2: Final Fantasy V and Final Fantasy X~
So it's only been a short time since Part 1 of this series, but Tidus was the last cast member from X that we needed to start this discussion and he's here now, so it's time to take another dip into the pit.
Although the previously mentioned Final Fantasy X-2 would be the first direct sequel to a Final Fantasy game, there was another title in the franchise that had received a follow-up of sorts.
In 1994 there was a four part OVA released called Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals. It was technically a follow-up to Final Fantasy V, although the series took place 200 years after the events of that game. It was more like fan-fiction in that way, sharing a few common traits of the original and some references to it, but not directly involving the original cast.
Some of the characters are descendants of the FFV party members, the FFV party shows up as force ghosts at one point--
but other than that, it was mostly its own thing.
It wasn't especially good, though. The series was kept short and sweet rather than packed with a bunch of filler, and the animation wasn't bad, but overall it was pretty disappointing. The plot retreaded ground that FFV had covered (including a villain wanting to control the Void and a group of pirates that the party tries to steal a ship from), the music wasn't especially noteworthy (when you could hear it. Several parts of the series just didn't have any music at all), and it had a weird focus on fan servicey moments (granted it was 1994 fanservice, which looks tame as shit compared to today).
It also had some--
But again, it was only slightly related to Final Fantasy V. If you were a fan of V then the anime was so far removed timeline wise that it couldn't really mess with the original game or characters.
-Final Fantasy X-
Which is more that can be said about Final Fantasy X's extended universe.
As mentioned in the introduction of this series, Final Fantasy X came out in 2001 as Square was just about to merge with Enix. It released in the same month as the ill-fated Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within movie, the failure of which made Enix take a step back and reconsider hitching their wagon to Square. It would be another year and a half before Enix went through with the merger, and roughly two years before the merger would actually officially happen.
Thankfully for Square, Final Fantasy X proved to be a hit and they avoided what could have been a one-two punch for the merger plans. Despite X's amazing success (it hit over 1 million copies in Japan within launch week and would hit 6.5 million copies by 2004), Square was still hurting a bit from the $130+ million that Spirits Within had sucked out and was in no hope of recovering.
Final Fantasy XI would hit shelves in 2002, but Square didn't have any way of knowing how that was going to shake out (XI would go on to be a success, but it would take about a year after release before they broke even on it). In addition, as mentioned in Part 1, Final Fantasy XII would end up getting delayed by two years and not be released until 2006.
All of that combined to put Square in kind of a tricky spot. The Final Fantasy series had essentially struck a pothole that fucked up one of the tires, and while they were fortunate enough to have a spare, it was a long way to the next service station.
Then, a glimmer of hope. Final Fantasy X: International released in January of 2002 and contained various extras, including a sequel bait cutscene called Eternal Calm (or "Another Story" in some regions). Eternal Calm picks up two years after FFX with Yuna trying to practice holding her breath long enough to maybe play Blitzball someday (no, that's not magic fantasy water in FFX. Some people, like Blitzball players, have just trained to hold their breath for like 10+ minutes while also managing to perform strenuous sports. Really. That's the canon explanation.)
Anyway, Yuna can't really enjoy her peaceful life much since everyone wants to see her (she is kind of the doom whale destroyer) and get her advice about whatever inane shit they happen to think up. Rikku eventually shows up with an ancient video recording of some dude that looks an awful lot like Tidus. This results in Yuna immediately dropping everything to join Rikku in trying to find him.
Fans apparently went batshit for it, which gave the developers the idea to go ahead with a sequel game.
In early 2003, Final Fantasy X-2 was born. The team was a third of the size of X's, but through the magic of recycling assets it only took them about a year to pump it out.
It picked up with Yuna, Rikku, and some new girl named Paine (who looks like she had spent some time stalking Squall from VIII) forming a sphere hunter trio called the Gullwings.
The game's tone was very different than X's. It was lighter, more bubbly, and mostly sillier. One of the main mechanics was Sailor Moon-esque costume transformations, there were J-Pop concerts, the Gullwings airship looked like a chopper, and the group fought Final Fantasy Team Rocket for ownership of ancient VHS tapes. Although I'm not a big fan of the X series, I do believe that this shift in tone worked well, even if it was a bit too much for my taste. The events of FFX had been over for two years. The people of the world didn't have to worry about a giant doom whale gently swimming up to a coastline and wiping a village off the map, the Al Bhed were no longer vilified and were able to start hanging out with all the cool kids, and people could start developing and restoring machines since the Church was no longer around to condemn them for it. Sure, not everything was sunshine and rainbows. The collapse of the shady world religion created a bit of a power vacuum and the Guado basically became the new Al Bhed. Also a bunch of summoners had their entire profession eliminated because there were no more summons. But for the most part, everything was looking pretty good for the world.
So it makes sense that people would be a bit livelier and people like Yuna could let loose and enjoy life. Compare that to what happened with Advent Children, where Meteor had been stopped from destroying the world, the planet decided not to eliminate everyone, the evil mega-corporation's hold on the world was gone, and the giant roaming Kaiju monsters were no longer on a warpath. Yet despite all those reasons to be hopeful, we spend most of the movie watching people sulk or brood in mostly dull, grey, washed-out environments.
Which isn't to say that it didn't have issues. The game fell into the typical sequel trope of there secretly being an even bigger threat to the world than the previous major threat to the world. In X-2's case it was a secret super-weapon called Vegnagun which was chilling out in a big complex hidden underneath the capital city (the exact same plot point they'd later use in Dirge of Cerberus). The antagonist's motivation to activate the doomsday weapon and destroy the world is that him and his girlfriend got killed when he broke into the complex in the past and tried to activate the doomsday weapon to destroy the world (the old "War is horrible, so I'll kill everyone to stop all war"). The Aeon's also come back and get corrupted... somehow.
But all told, it was a game that FFX fans could be happy with. They got more story with the characters they grew to love, relatively little retcon bullshit was dumped in, and in the good ending Tidus is somehow willed back into existence so that Yuna/Tidus shippers could have a happy ending.
But as we saw with FFVII, nobody is ever content to just leave things be. Here is where the X extended universe starts to take a nosedive.
Released in 2004 in Japan, but not seeing an English release until the HD Remasters in 2014, Final Fantasy X-2: Last Mission was a small sequel add-on that took place a few months after the end of X-2. The Gullwings all get back together to explore a tower that was recently discovered and along the way they talk about what they've all been up to. It's kind of like the FFXV bro-trip.
Similar to the FFXV bro-trip, the girls gossip and talk about what they want to do with their lives, then eventually break down into arguing with each other. Paine eventually comes clean that she was the one that orchestrated this little reunion because she wanted things to be like the good old days... of a few months ago. The girls eventually get to the top of the tower and decide to part ways, but then the thing at the top of the tower activates and I guess that's reason enough to force themselves to stay together for a bit longer despite the fact that their relationship isn't really working out too hot.
So once again, FFX fans dodge another bullet with an add-on that is mostly feel-good and doesn't fuck around too much with their favourite characters. It's mostly just an extended discussion about growing older and growing apart from friends when their lives inevitably start to diverge. You could argue that the characterisation of Yuna/Rikku/Paine was off, but it was nothing drastic enough that it couldn't be easily corrected or glossed over.
Unfortunately, things wouldn't stop there for X fans. The man you see above is Kazushige Nojima. He worked on various Final Fantasy titles as a lyricist and scenario writer, including X, X-2, Advent Children, and Crisis Core. He left Square in 2003 to do his own thing, but he left on good terms, so he was regularly brought back to work on Final Fantasy products.
One of those projects was to commemorate the release of the X/X-2 HD Remaster collection. In 2013 he collaborated with Square to write a sequel novel to X-2.
This sequel novel. Final Fantasy X-2.5 ~Eien no Daisho~ (Price of Eternity), picks up from the good ending of X-2 where Tidus inexplicably returns and ends with the 100% Perfect Ending of X-2. Remember that happy ending we talked about where Yuna and Tidus get to be together and everything is great? Yeah, that doesn't jive with Square's "Unnecessary Drama" policy.
So after Tidus and Yuna reunite, the whole village turns out to greet them (and by them I mean they were there to see Yuna since she had kind of pissed off for a while for the events of X-2). Wakka introduces his kid to Tidus who asks who the mother is, then Lulu gets her introduction by Tidus turning around to see who spoke and being met with Lulu's huge tits. I'm not joking about that, her boobs are explicitly mentioned as the first thing Tidus sees of her (there's also a part where Tidus seems to joke about Rikku's boobs not having gotten any bigger when she tells him "You haven't changed"). I mean, how else are readers supposed to know it's Lulu? It's not like there's any other aspect of her design that stands out. There are people claiming (and posting quotes) that Tidus makes jokes about his dick being totally huge as well (stuff like "Something THIS big can't be an illusion"). I can't (try to) verify that last part because I can't find the Japanese text of the novel, but the fact that it sounds completely plausible really speaks to the writing on display here.
If this is already sounding like bad fanfiction to you then strap in, because this is only the first few paragraphs, we still have roughly 240 more pages of this.
Moving on from that, everyone heads back to the village while filling Tidus in on all the shit that's happened since he disappeared two years ago. Since Yuna's initial reason for going on the adventures of X-2 was to find Tidus and he's back now, all of her character development from that journey is basically undone and she lets the village elders shove her back into the High Summoner role of listening to tourists ask for advice and being demure (they basically guilt-trip her into this by saying she owes them for essentially tearing down their entire religion). Tidus gets a little miffed at the fact that he's being cockblocked and complains to Wakka about not getting any respect despite the fact that he was one of Yuna's guardians. After spending the night without getting to speak to Yuna at all, Tidus falls asleep on the Auroch's (Besaid's Blitzball Team) boat that they use for training. He wakes up to find that it has drifted from the shore, but finds out that Yuna had actually sneaked on board and sailed it out so that the two of them could spend time alone.
They proceed to fuck. Possibly. The only English translation of this novel is translated from French by some people online, so it's slightly unclear in that there's no explicit details. The two of them do go to sleep in a small room and Yuna is described as collecting her clothing and getting dressed when she wakes up later. Japanese reviews for the novel also mention that it contains sexual content. I can't find a Japanese language copy online to compare with, but it seems fairly obvious.
After that, the two of them get caught in a storm, boat gets wrecked, and they managed to make to an island. Tidus tries to get some glad-to-be-alive action on the beach, but Yuna rebuffs him since someone might see (they think they washed up back on Besaid). They later realize that the island they are on is apparently Besaid from 1000 years ago.
Also, there's a scene where Tidus talks about how it's hard for him to concentrate because Yuna's running around in a little bikini and he can't keep it in his pants.
By the way, while this is happening, the story is flip-flopping between two other stories. We occasionally check in with Rikku and the chaos going on in Besaid after the storm and Yuna's disappearance during it. There's also some new character that's supposed to be a priest from Bevelle. The other story we check in with is some kind of story from the war 1000 years ago that has a love triangle. These stories eventually start converging after one special moment.
Something hits Tidus in the back of the head and he turns around to discover that it's a ball. It kind of looks like a Blitzball in fact. Yuna then has a panic attack and some kind of overbearing feeling of dread causes her to huddle up on the ground.
Tidus goes towards the strange ball (either to kick it or pick it up, there's some debate), then it explodes and kills him. Oh, and then his head lands next to Yuna's feet with an "OH SHIT!" look still plastered on his face. Yuna proceeds to blackout from the trauma. Click here to see The Dark Id's interpretation of the scene.
Yuna has a dream talk with somebody that claims to be able to suppress her trauma and bring Tidus back, which she goes through with. She wakes up with Tidus in what looks to be a temple, they meet with some lady summoner and a guy (the two from the love-triangle war flashback), Yuna is asked to get Tidus to kill a certain girl so that the two of them can be returned to their time, and Yuna has to grapple with all of that shit as she wanders around the beach by herself (the memory suppression is causing her to have head pains when it comes to Tidus related memories, so she goes for a walk).
This culminates in a few insane revelations. First of all, the weird old guy reveals to Yuna that the island they are on is just an illusion (it's being "summoned", similar to Zanarkand). Second, fayth are created from two people that have a very strong bond (the guy shows her what is implied to be a sex scene, but states that there are other ways to make a fayth as well). Thirdly, summoners can use a power called "beckoning" to just create shit from pyreflies by wishing really hard.
These revelations lead to the big one for this novel: When Tidus got blown up, Yuna freaked out and "beckoned" him in her grief-stricken panic. If Tidus realizes that he died and Yuna summoned him back, then he'll poof into pyreflies.
Also, while this is going on with Yuna, Tidus meets the summoner lady and she just decides to skip the middleman and ask Tidus to kill the girl directly. She gives him Goku's instant-transmission ability and he returns to Besaid to rally the village into tracking down the girl so that they can get Yuna back.
Anyway, they find the girl (who was actually just a beckoning herself), the priest guy turns out to have been one of the flashback love-triangle people, he reunites and sorts everything out with the girl and they disappear, which takes away Tidus' instant-transmission and sends him and Yuna back to their Besaid.
The novel ends with the "Perfect Ending" from X-2, where Tidus and Yuna have travelled to the Zanarkand Ruins and are standing in the place where FFX's bonfire scene took place. Tidus contemplates his existence (whether he's real or just a dream) and Yuna tries to reassure him while praying they'll be together forever. Of course, she's hiding the fact that she knows he'll vanish if he ever finds out the truth about what happened on the island.
Hot damn, that was some garbage-ass fanfiction, wasn't it? The novel was received very poorly in Japan, and English speaking fans spent months trying to suss out what the fuck based on some shaky fan translations.
Unfortunately, it's not over. That novel ended with a "To be continued..."
And continue it did. Final Fantasy X -Will- is an audio drama that was also included with the X/X-2 HD Remaster. It takes place a year after X-2 (which places it last in X's current timeline). Unlike Eien no Daisho, this one has an English version floating around.
It's only about half an hour long, but that doesn't make it any less bad than the novel.
The audio drama follows two new characters: Chuami, who is a 17-year old girl that claims to be Auron's daughter and narrates the story. As well as Kurgum, Chuami's childhood friend who has a crush on Yuna and was going to become a summoner before summoning wound up becoming obsolete.
So now that we've got our Mary Sue and Marty Stu, we start getting into what has been happening with the X cast in the year following X-2. Tidus has become a big Blitzball star--
--and a part-time waiter at Blue Bayou, apparently.
While Yuna has gone back to being FFX Yuna (pretty much in both character and appearance).
The two new characters meet Tidus and note that he seems weirdly injured and tired for some reason. Then they go to Yuna to show her a video of some weird shit going on at the Moonflow, namely the fact that a transport animal (a Shoopuf) that was supposed to have died 30 years ago is now back. Yuna thinks that it must be getting "beckoned", which we established in the novel.
The newbies want Yuna to go talk to the Spira council about this, but she doesn't want to. So they twist her arm by mentioning that "Hey, Tidus seems like he's not doing so hot." As Yuna and Wakka head for Bevelle, they witness some strange shit happening at the Moonflow, where dead people are interacting with each other (the Pyrefly illusions of dead people aren't supposed to be capable of responding or interacting as though they were alive). So the Farplane (the location of the afterlife, basically) is clearly fucked up and that is not a good thing.
When Yuna and Wakka get to Bevelle, they find out that Sin has reappeared. That's right, they brought back Sin, another bullshit EU plot point that they stuck in Advent Children.
Seeing this, Yuna rushes off to Tidus where the new characters overhear the two of them fighting. Yuna is (supposedly) jealous of some chick that keeps hanging around Tidus, he maintains she is just a friend, Yuna does the "Whatever, I don't even care anymore. I've got a new boyfriend. You don't know him." Kurgum, seeing his chance to pounce on Yuna, immediately ditches his childhood friend to go with her in her new fight against Sin. Chuami heads back to Besaid with Tidus where Lulu basically tells him "I'm not telling you who Yuna likes, you should be a mind-reader and know her better than that". Tidus then decides to go after Yuna even though he essentially got dumped, because he promised to stay with her. Yuna meanwhile delivers a speech claiming that "No, this time we'll kill it for real. Promise."
You can probably guess what all this crap was leading up to. Despite fan insistence that all of this was hinting at a X-3, Square said that they had no immediate plans to develop one. It's incredibly obvious what the truth was, though. Square was hoping to build the same positive fan reaction that Eternal Calm had so they could gauge the success of a Final Fantasy X-3. When all of this extended material turned out to be horrid fanfiction that the fanbase hated, Square decided to slowly push those plans back behind the curtain in the hopes nobody would notice.
Which isn't to say that they've learned their lesson. All indications point to the novel/audio drama material being the basis for a possible X-3. The best thing X fans can honestly hope for at this point is that Square simply doesn't ever look at making X-3. Considering that the HD Remaster is still getting released on new platforms (it hits the Switch/XB1 in April 2019), there's no guarantee that we've passed that possibility yet.
So there you have it. I apologise that this update was largely just a summary of material, but I honestly can't find a way to tear into this shit. It's horrible fanfiction that, through some machinations of the Devil, managed to get turned into official material. It was written by one of the writers for X, a guy who has a long history with the Final Fantasy series. The company behind the series released this with their logo stamped on it. Some of it was included as part of an HD re-release, as though Final Fantasy X fans would be jazzed for it.
The FFVII Compilation is bad, but as a major FFVII fan I can at least be content with the fact that (at least for now) the story still ends with Cloud and Tifa being together and the world recovering and there being a generally bright future. The X series doesn't end like that. It did end like that, but then Square unnecessarily reopened it for X-2. X-2 turned out actually pretty good and the ending ended up getting happier. But then Square decided to reopen the X series TWO MORE TIMES and now the story of X ends with Sin being back, Yuna restarting her journey to kill it again, and Tidus and Yuna's relationship being dragged through the mud (it's implied they still love each other and Yuna is pushing him away to protect him, but they still have clear issues in their relationship). Also, Tidus is dead (again), he'll cease to exist if he ever realizes the truth of him having been exploded to pieces and him being basically a summon creature, and also he might disappear anyway because the afterlife is borked (this is implied to be why Tidus is described as injured and tired in the audio drama, because he's just pyreflies at this point).
Please stop, Square. Just fucking stop. Just let us enjoy things that you make without having to worry about you coming back to jam in J-Pop stars and dick jokes and previously non-existent threats to the world and previously dealt with threats to the world and insulting characterisation regression and uuuuuuggggghhhhh...
At least it produced some funny gifs.
This has been Part 2. We're still not done with this. We've still got The After Years and Interlude for FFIV, Revenant Wings for XII (which will actually be a peaceful reprieve from the horror), and the thread has decreed that the XIII sequels totally count as Extended Universe so that means we'll have to explore that in depth once one last character appears.