|Final Fantasy worlds|
The fictional events of the Square Enix role-playing video games Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 take place in a world called "Spira"Supira (スピラ). As befits its name, Spira is characterized by cycles and repetition, such as the spiral of death that the world endures, the many spheres found in Spira, the blitzball sphere pools, the prayer to Yevon, the Sphere Grid, and Spira's cycle of life energy emerging from within the planet's core, granting life to all its living inhabitants, and then returning to the core when a life form dies.
As an invention of Square Enix, Spira is one of the first Final Fantasy worlds to feature consistent, all-encompassing spiritual and mythological influences within the planet's civilizations and their inhabitants' daily lives. The world of Spira itself is very different from the mainly European-style worlds found in previous Final Fantasy games, being much more closely modeled on southeast Asia, most notably with respect to its vegetation, topography and architecture.
Concept and creation
In speaking about the inspiration behind Spira, producer Yoshinori Kitase recounted that players had found fault with the sci-fi atmosphere of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VIII, instead desiring a "simple fantasy world". To Kitase, the word "fantasy" did not indicate a purely medieval-European setting, so he intentionally set out with the objective of redefining the stereotype held in players' minds. Conveniently, character designer Tetsuya Nomura had expressed an interest in designing a world with a dominantly Asian theme, and thus, the world of Spira was born in the minds of its creators.
For his part, Nomura identified the South Pacific, Thailand and Japan as major influences on the cultural and geographic design of Spira, particularly in regard to the geographic locations of Besaid and Kilika. He has also said that Spira deviates from the worlds of past Final Fantasy games most notably in the level of detail incorporated, something he has expressed to have made a conscious effort to maintain during the design process.
The main landmass of Spira is surrounded by small islands, including: Besaid, a tropical town serving as the origin of Yuna's pilgrimage; Kilika, a larger island featuring dense jungles and numerous conflicts during the games; and the desert island of Bikanel, which is also the location of the Al Bhed's headquarters — "Home". The ruins of Baaj Temple are on an island to the south of the Spira mainland; this is where Tidus begins his journey in Spira.
The mainland of Spira is where the bulk of Final Fantasy X takes place. The southernmost location, Luca, is a large city home to Spira's pastime, Blitzball. North of Luca is the mountainous area of Djose, which features a Yevonite temple. Connecting Luca and Djose are several roads: the Mi'ihen Highroad, a historical path that features Chocobos for transportation; the Mushroom Rock Road, home of the failed operation to defeat Sin; and Djose Highroad, a rocky path that forks north into the Moonflow and east to Djose Temple.
The Moonflow is a large river running through the heart of Spira, featuring shoopuff rides, ancient ruins, and a high density of pyreflies. A path from the Moonflow leads to Guadosalam, home of the Guado race and the gateway to the Farplane. North of Guadosalam are the Thunder Plains, which are the site of a never-ending thunderstorm controlled by lighting rods calibrated by the Al Bhed. The Thunder Plains lead into Macalania, a sparkling forest complemented by a frozen lake and a Yevonite temple.
Bevelle, the spiritual center of the Yevon religion, lies on a thin strip of land slightly north of Macalania. The city is built as a series of layers, with the headquarters of Yevon located at the top. The Via Purifico, located beneath Bevelle, serves as a prison for outcasts. Further north are the Calm Lands, a series of plains that have been the site of numerous battles in Spira's history; the Cavern of the Stolen Fayth, an equally historical area; and Mt. Gagazet, home of the Ronsos. Lastly, the sacred city of Zanarkand is on the northern tip of the Spiran mainland, reduced to ruins by the Machina War one thousand years before the events of Final Fantasy X.
Final Fantasy X-2 features several changes to the locations of Spira. The Djose Temple, abandoned by a faltering Yevon after Final Fantasy X, becomes the headquarters of the Machine Faction; likewise, the Youth League sets up their headquarters at the site of the failed operation on the Mushroom Rock Road. Bevelle remains the capital of the New Yevon faction, although the game introduces a large, technological area hidden beneath the city. Several new enterprises have been started, including: a new pastime in Luca called Sphere Break; a group of entertainers at the Moonflow; a tourist service at the Zanarkand Ruins; and machina transportion in favor of Chocobos on the Mi'ihen Highroad. Lastly, the death of the Aeons at the end of Final Fantasy X causes the Macalania forest and lake to melt, sinking the former Yevon temple and destroying the forest's life. Final Fantasy X-2 also introduces floating ruins atop Mt. Gagazet, and previously unexplored caverns at Bevelle and the Thunder Plains.
The Al Bhed language is a fictional language from the role-playing video game Final Fantasy X and its sequel Final Fantasy X-2. During the game, apart from the main protagonist who may learn it, the language is spoken only by the Al Bhed people themselves. Although it seems like a foreign language when heard spoken, its alphabet and written language is actually a simple substitution cipher, a system of transposing certain letters for others; however, within the game world, it is intended to be an actual language. It can be translated by using this link. It shares the same syntax and grammar of English.
Certain keywords are not translated into Al Bhed in the game. Most keywords are proper nouns, but some common nouns also are not translated, such as "fiend" ("Y fiend! Eh risyh teckieca!" / A fiend! In human disguise!), "magic" ("Ouin bnaleuic magic yht Aeons yna caymat" / Your precious magic and Aeons are sealed), and "airship".
In the game, Al Bhed words are differentiated from the common language of Spira by being printed in purple text (for non-translated words) or pink text (for translated words, represented here in bold). The player can learn the Al Bhed language by picking up items called Al Bhed Primers. Each Primer translates a single letter of the alphabet. This sometimes results in bizarre statements mixing English and Al Bhed in the same word.
The original Japanese version of the cipher uses the syllable-based kana system of writing where each symbol represents a combination of "consonant + vowel" (or simply a vowel). In general, each symbol is mapped to another with the same vowel, but a different consonant. As with the English version, proper nouns and game-specific concepts are not translated. Al Bhed is written in katakana.
The player does not need to decipher the Al Bhed language during the game, as the many Al Bhed primers found or given as gifts to the playable characters will automatically translate the spoken text in the game's subtitles. However, to decipher it without the benefit of a code book, one could use frequency analysis.
Creatures and races
Although it is predominantly populated by humans, Spira features a variety of races. The population of Spira is largely urbanized, with the majority of its inhabitants living in major town centers.
The Al Bhed differ biologically from humans in their bright green eyes with spiral-patterned irises and their blonde hair. As a result, they often wear goggles so they can walk among Yevonites (ironically, these goggles usually make them stand out even more). The Al Bhed are also the only group in Spira who openly oppose the teachings of Yevon, specifically the ban on machina and the use of the Final Summoning. For these reasons, they are often ostracized by the Yevonite majority. Despite this persecution, some Al Bhed have still managed to find acceptance, most notably Rin, who operates a chain of travel agencies throughout the world of Spira. They are also allowed to participate in the Yevon-sponsored blitzball tournaments. Rikku is an Al Bhed, and Yuna is part Al Bhed on her mother's side.
The Guado are an arboreal humanoid race. They are set apart by their long limbs and fingers, pale skin, veins visible on the temples and forehead, and wild, tangled hair. Their hair ranges in color from more normal browns, blonds, and greys to vivid greens, and blues. They are the keepers of the entryway to the Farplane, where the dead are sent. The Guado possess the unique ability to "smell the deceased". The Guado were converted to Yevon by their leader, Jyscal Guado (later appointed a Maester of Yevon), but were ironically led down the path of ruin by Lord Jyscal's own son, the megalomaniacal Seymour Guado. After Sin was destroyed, the Guado, despised by the rest of Spira for their allegiance to Seymour, abandoned their ancestral city of Guadosalam and took up residence in the dying forest of Macalania. Guado can breed with humans; Seymour was, himself, half-human, an effort on Jyscal's part to foster friendship between Humans and the Guado.
Humans do not have any overwhelming skill in magic or in fighting, but are suited to fit into whatever role they are needed in. Like most humans in fantasy fiction, they are described as an ethnically and politically diverse species.
The Hypello are a docile, amphibious race. They have blue skin and a characteristic manner of speaking which makes most of their speech sound slurred. The Hypello live primarily in and around the area of the Moonflow. Though extremely quick and agile swimmers, they are curiously the only race in Spira that does not participate in blitzball tournaments, as their "lackadaisical disposition draws them to less strenuous pastimes", or, put more simply, because of their laid-back nature. Many other people find it hard to tell Hypello apart, male and female. The male Hypello are all voiced by John DeMita.
The Ronso are a race of blue furred, lion-like humanoids who live on Mt. Gagazet, which they consider sacred and guard fiercely. Ronso are formidable warriors, being very tall and amazingly strong, and are known for their strong sense of honor and loyalty, as well as their pride and quickness to anger. The long, sharp horn sported by all adult male Ronso is a symbol of esteem and a source of great pride to the wearer, and to lose this horn is considered extremely shameful. Kimahri Ronso, one of Yuna's guardians in Final Fantasy X, is something of an outsider among his people, being of comparatively small stature and having previously lost his horn in a fight with one of his peers. Near the end of Final Fantasy X, Seymour Guado ravaged through Mt. Gagazet and killed all in his path in pursuit of Yuna. He killed many Ronso in his ascent up the slope, including Maester Kelk Ronso (the current elder). After the start of the Eternal Calm, Kimahri returned to Gagazet to help rebuild his home and restore his people's honor. He was named elder of the tribe by his kinsmen, and has been on Gagazet ever since. But the events of Seymour's destruction cause sparks of hatred and plans of revenge among the recovering Ronso tribe. Filled with hatred for the slaughter of their people, the Ronso youth despised the Guado, whom they felt were responsible for supporting Seymour as their leader.
Spira also features various animal species. Although most of these are drawn from real animals, such as cats, dogs, birds and butterflies, a few fictional species appear, such as the gigantic shoopuf and the chocobo. Both are used primarily for transport purposes. Most other unusual creatures encountered in Final Fantasy X are fiends, monsters created from the restless death by Pyreflies to devour the living.
During Final Fantasy X, life in Spira is simple, as technological advancement has come to a halt in the one thousand years since Sin's appearance and the rise of the Yevonite religion. For several hundred years the population's culture revolved around the temples of Yevon. A strict code of accepted social behaviours — such as distrust towards the Al Bhed race and their use of "machina", a perpetual fear of Sin, and atonement for past sins - were common characteristics of devout Yevonites.
Tensions between the various races exist, mainly with regards to the Al Bhed's ostracism from the rest of Spira due to religious beliefs. However, other hostilities exist. Midway through Final Fantasy X, the Ronso become hostile towards the Guado, due to the Guado leader, Seymour Guado, massacring many of the Ronso.
Blitzball, a worldwide sporting pastime in Spira, is one of the few ways that all the races in Spira can come together and find temporary escape from the hardships of the world. By the beginning of Final Fantasy X-2 however, the dismantling of the Yevon temples had resulted in each individual in Spira trying to adjust to a world without religion in their own way. The defeat of Sin also allowed the population to become more fun-loving and carefree, with many individuals now actively pursuing leisures such as blitzball, attending concerts (starring the former summoner Yuna), and taking part in a coin-collecting fad called Sphere Break.
One thousand years before the events of Final Fantasy X, there was a great war — called the "Machina War" — between the cities of Zanarkand and Bevelle. Yevon, Zanarkand's ruler, could see that his city's summoners were no match for Bevelle's machina (Latin for machines), but he was unwilling to allow his city to be swallowed up into the pages of history. He devised a plan to preserve Zanarkand's memory for all eternity, even if he could not save the city itself.
At Yevon's order, most of the surviving common citizens and summoners of Zanarkand gave up their lives to become fayth, whom Yevon would then use to conjure a summoned form of Zanarkand, using their memories as the basis for this massive summon. This summoned replica of the city was to be an ideal paradise, removed from conflict and those who would infringe upon this city's tranquility. This summoned version of the real Zanarkand is called "Dream Zanarkand" (夢のザナルカンド Yume no Zanarukando ).
To accomplish this, Yevon manifested the city out at sea in an undisclosed location, far removed from the Spiran mainland and the warmongering Bevelle. Furthermore, to prevent technology from allowing Bevelle or anyone else to easily locate his summoned city, and to protect himself while he summoned it, he created a magic armor. Using gravity magic to surround himself with pyreflies, he used them to create an invincible armor that would grip Spira in terror: the monster known as "Sin" (『シン』 "Shin" ). Not only would this armor protect Yevon while he summoned Dream Zanarkand, but he also "programmed" it to attack areas with high populations and advanced technology, thus bringing technological progress to a halt and keeping the people of the mainland from giving much thought to what may lie far out at sea.
Unfortunately for Yevon (now to be known as "Ebon-Ju", or "Yu Yevon" in English, meaning "the Curse of Yevon"), maintaining his summoned city and creating Sin was a greater strain on his human mind than even he — who was considered peerless amongst summoners — could handle. His humanity faded from him and all that was left was the instinct to maintain Dream Zanarkand's order, and to protect himself. Sin's first act as an instinctive beast, "programmed" to destroy advanced technology, was to decimate the original Zanarkand. Sin would then go on to bring dread to Spira's citizens for a millennium.
The teachings of Yevon — said to have been left by Yevon to his daughter, Lady Yunalesca — were implemented by Bevelle to maintain order through giving the people hope that Spira may someday be free of Sin should they atone for their "sins". In actuality, Yunalesca and Yevon are believed to have planned it this way from the start. Bevelle believed Sin to be an aeon summoned by Yevon as revenge for conquering Zanarkand's defenders. In a deal with Yunalesca to appease Yevon's wrath, she offered to provide them with a means to maintain order and hope in the common people (Yevon's teachings) in exchange for them ensuring that Yevon be praised and glorified. They agreed, and the temples of Yevon were born, teaching that machina were forbidden (another means of preventing advanced technology from revealing Dream Zanarkand's location), that Sin was a result of humanity's pride and use of machina in the first place, and that Sin could only be vanquished when humanity had attained purity and been cleansed of its past sins. Until then, it was said that only the ritual known as "the Final Summoning" would provide brief reprieves from Sin's terror, called the "Calm" (ナギ節 Nagisetsu , lit. "calm time").
Calms would come when a summoner managed to complete the summoner's pilgrimage, obtaining their Final Aeon from the unsent spirit of Yunalesca in the ruins of Zanarkand. Yunalesca herself was the first high summoner, transforming her husband Zaon into a fayth, and using him as her Final Aeon to defeat Sin. The Final Summoning requires that the bond between the summoner and the individual who becomes a fayth for the Final Summoning be a powerful, personal bond, such as that between siblings, friends, or spouses. Only then would the bond between the Final Aeon and the summoner provide enough power to shatter Sin's armor. Unfortunately, the art of the Final Summoning only ensured that Sin would return, as Yu Yevon's spirit would emerge from the cracked armor of the defeated Sin, and possess the Final Aeon that had destroyed the monstrosity, using that Final Aeon as the core for a new Sin, beginning the cycle anew. The Final Aeon, now in the control of Yu Yevon, kills the no longer needed summoner. Yunalesca herself faced this fate, but her conviction to pass on the Final Summoning kept her in Spira as an unsent. After the defeat of Sin, the Calm would then follow, providing a brief period of respite from Sin's destruction while Yu Yevon created a new Sin around the Final Aeon he had possessed.
Thus it was for one thousand years: Sin would be defeated, the summoner who achieved the feat would die, and Sin would be born anew, then defeated and born anew, again and again, leaving destruction and sorrow in its wake all across Spira. This repetition of death was known as "the spiral of death". The spiral of death had repeated itself at least five times before the beginning of Final Fantasy X.
Spira in Final Fantasy X
In the one thousand years that followed Sin's creation and the destruction of Zanarkand, Spira became a rustic land, almost completely devoid of large cities and higher civilization. Due to the actions of Sin, and the Yevon ban on machina, few territories reached larger than hamlet size, as they were destroyed by Sin and their populations decimated before they were able to develop. The only cities left larger than small villages were Luca, which houses the only blitzball stadium in Spira, and Bevelle, the center of the temples of Yevon. The people of Spira lived in constant fear of Sin, and yearned for the Calm, which daring summoners would set out to bring to Spira each time a new Sin emerged. However, the pilgrimage of Summoner Yuna at last brought this cycle to an end. The period that followed was known as the "Eternal Calm" (永遠のナギ節 Eien no Nagisetsu , lit. "calm time of eternity").
During their pilgrimage in Final Fantasy X, Yuna and her guardians came to learn of the corruption, hypocrisy and horrific internal workings in Bevelle. Their victory set the people free. As a result, in Final Fantasy X-2 the teachings of Yevon were no longer deemed valid, and association with machina and the Al Bhed people no longer sacrilegious. Spirans in general had a positive outlook with the onset of the Eternal Calm. Young people were especially quick to abandon Yevon and embrace machina, eager to change Spira for the better, while many of the older generation felt the changes sweeping Spira were happening too quickly.
Many new groups began to appear at this time, including the Youth League, the New Yevon Party, the Machine Faction, and various sphere hunter groups. Both the Youth League and New Yevon sought High Summoner Yuna's support in the hopes of bolstering their political presence, but she chose to remain neutral, instead becoming a sphere hunter. As time went on, tensions between the Youth League and New Yevon began building toward a violent head, but Yuna managed to prevent history from repeating itself by showing the people the folly of such conflicts. The coming of the Eternal Calm also brought the discovery of ancient ruins atop Mt. Gagazet, as well as a civilization of cactuars called the "Cactuar Nation".
Mythology of Spira
In the artificial mythology of Final Fantasy X and its sequel, many supernatural elements influence events in the fictional world of Spira, defining the life of the planet's inhabitants. Magic, spiritual energy, and the power of memories are heavily intertwined, and their effects manifest in a number of situations, including sporting events, religious practices, technology, and even in some of the native wildlife of the planet. As with previous Final Fantasy titles, Final Fantasy X borrows a number of ideas and names from past and present cultures, such as Japan and Southeast Asia, with additional influences from the ancient myths of India, Persia, Arabia, Greece, and Rome.
Pyreflies are a mysterious, naturally occurring phenomenon that heavily influence the events of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, as well as the world of Spira at large. Heavily prevalent throughout Spira, these "bundles of life energy" are closely associated with death and other spiritual events and entities. As they are depicted as floating, flickering balls of light, they are possibly inspired by the Japanese culture's long-standing tradition in which fireflies are regarded as a symbol of impermanence and the human soul.Though they have been harnessed to many uses, both good and ill, they appear to lack self-awareness and any identifiable agenda in their inert form. In this respect, they would seem to be nothing more than an aspect of nature, permeating everything and everyone in Spira. Pyreflies are usually invisible, but can be seen when a fiend is killed or when a summoner performs a sending (in which the spirits of the dead are sent back to the Farplane, Spira's core). Despite their rare appearances elsewhere, they are regularly seen around the Moonflow area of Spira or within the Farplane. The Al Bhed hold a theory that pyreflies are responsible for images of the dead that appear on the Farplane, believing that pyreflies react to a person's memories and show them images of people they knew. However, only images of the dead — and specifically the dead whose pyreflies have been sent to the Farplane — will appear.
Summoners are able to manipulate pyreflies in the formation of aeons — and in the sending of the souls of the dead — due to an inherent affinity for harnessing and channeling spiritual energy. Only a few people on Spira have "the gift" of being able to manipulate spirit energy to form aeons, although there are many humans and fiends around Spira who can harness this magical energy to perform magic spells. The Guado especially have an affinity for this, due to their race having lived in close proximity to the Farplane for generations. However, very few black mages and white mages are able to become summoners, and even fewer can withstand the hardships of a summoner's pilgrimage and become high summoners, the honorific title given to the summoners who completed their pilgrimage and defeated Sin.
Aside from X and its sequel, pyreflies have only appeared in one other Square-Enix game to date: Kingdom Hearts II. A similar concept however has been present in many earlier Final Fantasy games, most notably Mako and Materia in Final Fantasy VII. They also briefly appeared but without explanation at the death of Fickblix in Final Fantasy XI.
In addition to their spiritual affiliations, pyreflies are also associated with many commonplace technological innovations. Such innovations include sphere-shaped recording devices formed from the crystallized mixture of pyreflies and water (simply called "spheres"), and large, suspended spherical conglomerations of congealed water (called "sphere pools") that serve as the playing field for blitzball games.
Death and afterlife
In Final Fantasy X, when a person dies, his or her body cannot simply be laid to rest. First, the spirit or life force (which manifests itself in the form of pyreflies) must be released from the body and given "guidance" to the Farplane, the final resting place of departed souls. As experts versed in the art of manipulating pyreflies, only summoners can provide this guidance, coaxing the spirits of the dead from their bodies in a ritual known as a "sending" (異界送り ikai okuri , lit. "other world sending").
If the sending is not performed, the body's spirit may remain trapped in the physical plane. Depending on the circumstances of his or her death, that spirit may grow envious of the living. Eventually, this envy grows into hatred so strong as to cause the unsent spirit's pyreflies to coalesce in the form of a fiend, a fully substantial and dangerous monster. It is known, however, that someone who accepts death while still alive will travel to the Farplane after death without any assistance. This is seen in the cases of both Tidus' mother and Yuna's father, High Summoner Braska, a summoner who willingly gave his life in battle with Sin.
In rare cases, a spirit of the dead may resist the transformation into a fiend, even when not sent. If a deceased individual possesses a powerful will and strong feelings regarding an unfinished purpose in the world of the living, the spirit's pyreflies form in the image of their original body. These beings, who may act and function for the most part as they did in life, are referred to as "unsent" (死人 shibito , lit. "corpse" or "dead person") and may be benign or malicious, depending upon the nature of the individual.
The unsent are usually unwilling to enter the Farplane using the gateway in Guadosalam. This is believed to be because they may be physically unable to leave once they have done so and are wary of taking the risk. They are also vulnerable to the effects of the sending, which can banish the disembodied spirit to the Farplane and disperse their pyreflies, usually no matter how strong the will that binds them. There have, however, been two notable exceptions to the practice of permanently banishing an unsent. In the case of Maester Jyscal Guado, his spirit manifested in his living form twice after death and emerged from the Farplane, despite having been sent prior to both occasions (the first time by his son, Maester Seymour, and the second time by High Summoner Yuna). He first re-emerges when seen walking directly out of the Farplane gate in Guadosalam. His second return is discovered in Final Fantasy X-2 in the Via Infinito beneath the city of Bevelle. The other case of an enduring unsent is seen in Final Fantasy X-2, as the unsent known as "Shuyin" enters the Farplane of his own volition and displays no difficulty maintaining his form there. Auron, told his misfortune with Yunalesca after the final sending was complete, to Tidus that he was unsent in FFX. This idea is hinted Auron refuses to enter the Farplane. Auron is finally sent when Yuna performs the Sending of her Aeons, in order to defeat Sin. Yuna initially notices this and hesitates to continue, but Auron tells her to continue doing so, having finally fulfilled his promise to his friends.
The most notable difference between fiends and the unsent is that, while fiends are instinctual creatures whose primary behavior is to prey on the living, unsent are in control of their own minds as well as the pyreflies that compose their forms. This level of control enables unsent not only to keep their form, but also to alter it as they see fit. Despite their differences, both powerful fiends and powerful unsent can attract fiends or instill malevolence in inert pyreflies.
Aeons and fayth
The fayth (祈り子 inorigo , lit. "Child of Prayer") are humans who willingly give up their lives to have their souls sealed in statues. Their existence as a fayth allows them to commune with summoners with whom they have established a mental link. This link grants a summoner access to a fayth's dreams and enables him or her to physically realize those dreams as aeons (召喚獣 shōkanjū , lit. "summon beast"), powerful creatures which may be employed to aid the summoner in battle or in a time of special need.  Aeons bear some resemblances to their corresponding Fayth statues, suggesting that the appearances of the fayth statues themselves may be "blueprints" for each Aeon. Moreover, the game seems to build on the ancient meanings for the Greek word "aeon", such as the meaning used by Plato, who used the word "aeon" to denote the eternal world of ideas and the Gnostic who call aeons the various emanations of their gods.
During the events of Final Fantasy X, the fayth of the aeon Bahamut (housed in Bevelle) serves as the chosen representative of the fayth as a collective. The fayth aids High Summoner Yuna and her guardians in bringing the spiral of death to an end, which results in their own passing. In Final Fantasy X-2, the fayth return in their aeon forms, this time having been overcome by the despair and malice of Shuyin, rendering them his unwilling puppets of chaos. Yuna and her allies must unite to free both the fayth and Shuyin from the darkness that has consumed them.
Ten aeons are identified in Final Fantasy X: Valefor, Ifrit, Shiva, Ixion, Bahamut, Anima, Yojimbo and the three Magus Sisters. Each one of these aeons has a fayth associated with it, but there are many more fayth on Mt. Gagazet, being used by Yu Yevon to summon Dream Zanarkand. The game builds on mythological figures through the inclusion of the aeons (see list of aeons), such as the Arabic Ifrit, the Hindu deity Shiva and even the Jungian figure Anima and the demon Valefor. Although both Valefor and Anima are generally thought to be male, they are both revealed to be female (Anima, according to Carl Jung, is the feminine side of a male's unconscious mind). After obtaining the airship and re-visiting the chamber of the Fayth at Besaid Temple, Valefor's fayth, a little girl, appears. As for Anima, she was Seymour Guado's mother before sacrificing herself to become the fayth for his Aeon and can be found at Baaj Temple.
Pyreflies as an energy source
Aside from the various commonplace technological applications of pyreflies seen in Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2, within the latter game's story these "bundles of life energy" are used as a source of raw energy to empower the giant machina, Vegnagun. Furthermore, Shinra of the Gullwings suggests that the life energy flowing through Spira on the Farplane could possibly be harnessed for the purpose of supplying electricity to a city. This use of spiritual energy to power technology has been used in several other games of the Final Fantasy series, most notably Final Fantasy VII, where the planet's Lifestream (the massive collective of that world's spiritual energy) takes the form of tendrils of flowing green energy. Through both natural and artificial processes, the Lifestream condenses into mako (魔晄 Makō , lit. "magic light") and is crystallized into a solid form called "materia" (analogous to Spira's spheres). (It should also be noted that the producer of Mako in FF VII is a company called Shinra) Also of note are interviews with scenario writer Kazushige Nojima and producer Yoshinori Kitase in the Final Fantasy X Ultimania Ω and Final Fantasy X-2 Ultimania guidebooks, which revealed that Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy X-2 share a plot-related connection, in which the Shinra corporation in Final Fantasy VII is founded by descendants of Shinra of the Gullwings in Final Fantasy X-2.
Religion has remained a part of life for many of the peoples of Spira, with a large majority of the population describing themselves as "Yevonites". Though no longer in existence by the end of Final Fantasy X, the teachings of Yevon were millennium-old and heavily influential. The Yevonite clergy taught that Sin was a divine punishment set upon the people for their pride in the use of machines (known as "machina"). As a result, the temples forbade the use of modern technology, and promoted a culture of atonement for past sins in the hopes of appeasing Sin. The only other method of defeating Sin deemed acceptable by the temples was the use of the Final Aeon.
Yevon picks and chooses what machina it allows the people to use. The general rule is that any machina that has applications as a weapon are forbidden. This means that benign machina, such as the blitzball stadium and the shoopuf lifts on the Moonflow, are allowed by the clergy. Yevon holds that the reason no weapon-based machina are allowed is that they will reignite the war one thousand years ago that brought Sin to Spira in the first place (choosing to leave out the fact that Sin was created by Bevelle’s enemy, Yu Yevon, a Zanarkand summoner, as a means of destroying Bevelle). While this explanation is partially true, the real reason the church keeps checks on machina is to control the denizens of Spira, as the church freely uses machina weapons for its own purposes. Since the church is the only power in Spira with machina weapons, it can easily squash any rebellion its citizens might try to enact, ensuring its dominance. It is for this reason that the Al Bhed are so dangerous to the Yevon clergy: since the Al Bhed also freely use machina as well, they are a threat to the church’s previously uncontested control of Spira.
Late in the game, it is revealed that the Final Summoning has no true hope of ever defeating Sin, and is simply a ruse to keep the clergy in power and the people ignorant as to Sin’s true nature. The maesters (with the possible exception of Kelk Ronso; it is never revealed how many of the church’s secrets he does and does not know) know full well of this deception, but continue to instill it in the people to remain in power. It is also revealed that Yo Mika, the man who has been Yevon’s grand maester for the past fifty years, is actually an unsent. Likewise it is revealed that Yevon set up the disastrous Operation Mi’ihen as nothing more than a means to instill further loyalty to the teachings. By making the Crusaders use machina that the church knew would never win against Sin, the church set them up to fall. The plan was that the Crusaders who used the machina would be ex-communicated; then when the Operation was a disaster any survivors would come to the conclusion that the only path to destroy Sin lay in the teachings (using forbidden machina clearly didn’t work), and that any path that deviated from Yevon would lead to ruin. Through several clever manipulations such as these, the church has continued to remain in power.
By the end of Final Fantasy X, the Yevon religion was effectively disbanded once evidence of its corruption was discovered and its remaining priests volunteered the truth. Half a year later, the moral teachings of Yevon were revitalized in the form of the New Yevon Party, later led in Final Fantasy X-2 by Praetor Baralai. Although technically a splinter group of Yevon, the New Yevon party was not a religion, but a simple philosophy, their motto and position on Spira's advancement being "One thing at a time".
At the top of Yevon’s hierarchy is the grand maester (総老師 sōrōshi , lit. "complete sage") an office similar to that of a Pope. As of the events of Final Fantasy X, Grand Maester Yo Mika had held the position for fifty years. The Grand Maester is both religious and political leader of Spira, being in command of a large army of warrior monks with which Yevonite government is enforced.
Below the grand maester are three positions simply referred to by the title "maester" (老師 rōshi , lit. "sage") a station similar to that of a Cardinal. The maesters have many duties within the Yevon order including making laws, presiding over Yevon’s High Court, and overseeing Yevon's civil, military, and spiritual affairs. A representative of each of Spira's three main races serves as a maester: Maester Wen Kinoc represents the regular humans; Maester Seymour Guado represents the Guado; and Maester Kelk Ronso represents the Ronso tribe.
The next step down are the priests of Yevon. Their job is to attend to the temples throughout the land. Each temple has a high priest who presides over the temple and its staff, much like an abbot or head monk. Maester Seymour himself is the high priest of Macalania Temple. Many priests are summoners or former summoners, and tend to wear multicolored vestments of white, green and orange. Additionally, with the exception of Maester Seymour, male priests bear shaven heads while female priests retain their hair.
Below the priests are the summoners (召喚士 shōkanshi ), a position that is something of a cross between a saint and a miko. Summoners are charged with the greatest responsibility of all: to journey to Zanarkand, obtain the Final Aeon and destroy Sin, and thus giving Spira a decade of Calm before Sin returns. Summoners also perform the sending, the ritual that guides the souls of the dead to peace on the Farplane. The title of "high summoner" (大召喚士 daishōkanshi ) which was always given posthumously until High Summoner Yuna brought the Eternal Calm, refers to summoners who have defeated Sin.
Warrior monks serve as protectors to the maesters and the temples, stationed primarily in the city of Bevelle. Maester Wen Kinoc was once a warrior monk, as was the "legendary guardian" Auron.
The Crusaders (formerly known as the "Crimson Blades") were a loosely-knit army that existed to protect towns and temples from Sin. The group was founded by Lord Mi'ihen, who made a journey to Bevelle 800 years ago to calm the maesters' fears that he was assembling an army to conquer them. Mi'ihen managed to win their trust, and the Crimson Blades were thereafter inducted into the Yevon clergy as the Crusaders. The road Mi'ihen had walked was renamed the "Mi'ihen Highroad" in his honor. Unlike guardians, Crusaders are directly related to the temples. No non-Yevonite is permitted to serve as a Crusader, although there are unofficial chapters composed entirely of people who have been excommunicated. All of the Crusaders were excommunicated, however, when they set up Operation Mi'ihen, a joint Crusader-Al Bhed attempt to destroy Sin with a giant machina weapon. The operation failed and the Crusaders were decimated in the process. Those that survived either joined the Youth League or the Leblanc Syndicate.
The Crimson Squad was formed around the time of Operation Mi'ihen. The temples of Yevon intended to create a group that would be an elite unit to replace the recently excommunicated Crusaders, and conducted a training and selection process for the Crimson Squad, of which the best candidates would be assigned leadership of Crusader chapters across Spira. However, only three candidates survived the final exercise – Baralai, Nooj and Gippal, all of whom would eventually lead one of the three political factions during the events of Final Fantasy X-2 – all of whom were targeted for execution thereafter due to what they had learned of Vegnagun, a giant machina relic of Bevelle's hidden past with power enough to destroy the whole of Spira if used improperly. With the three candidates in hiding and the rest dead, the group was never put into action. Unlike the Crusaders, non-Yevonites (such as Gippal) were allowed to train with the Crimson Squad.
Guardians are similar to bodyguards, and are the protectors of summoners, though not directly related to the temples. A summoner chooses any number of guardians to accompany him or her on the quest for the Final Aeon, and the guardians are not required to be Yevonites – although choosing non-Yevonite guardians is not only rare, but also looked down upon by some – as was the case with Rikku, who was Al Bhed. The unofficial title of "legendary guardian" was used in reference to Auron and Jecht, both guardians to High Summoner Braska and Auron who was also a guardian to his daughter, High Summoner Yuna.
Chocobo Knights is a group of crusaders that you meet in the game: Lucil, Elma, and Clasko. Their main duty is to protect the Mi'ihen High road and to fight Sin. When the Eternal Calm became, The Chocobo Knights disbanded and joined the Youth League.
The gesture of prayer to Yevon is a gesticulation that begins with one holding their hands out to either side, then bringing them in front of their chest, as though holding a sphere, and bowing. This is the traditional greeting of Yevonites one to another, especially among the clergy. The gesture evolved from the blitzball sign for victory.
Additionally, summoners are obligated to perform a sending for the deceased, preventing the pyreflies of the dead from manifesting as fiends.
Aside from these two practices, the most well known practice is that of singing the "Hymn of the Fayth" (祈りの歌 Inori no Uta , lit. 'song of prayer') . During the entire millennium before the Eternal Calm, the fayth residing in the inner sanctum of each temple could be heard singing the Hymn of the Fayth. It is initially described as a gift from Yevon himself, given to soothe the hearts of the faithful and the souls of the dead. However, it is later revealed that it was in fact a song sung by the people of Zanarkand in defiance of Bevelle. After the defeat of Zanarkand and the creation of Sin, those groups of people who still stood in open defiance of Bevelle and the newly formed temples of Yevon, continued to sing the song in protest. After initially placing a ban on the hymn, the temples decided — in an attempt to bury the fact that Yevon had been an enemy of Bevelle — to claim the song as their own, and it eventually became a part of Yevon's official dogma.
Though the Hymn's words apparently have no discernible meaning within the context of Spira, their lyricist and scenario writer, Kazushige Nojima, composed a small puzzle with the lyrics, using Japanese syllables. Their co-composer, Nobuo Uematsu, also composed the music while co-composer, Masashi Hamauzu, arranged the music as well. When properly deciphered, they form sentences that translates thus:
Pray to Yu Yevon. Dream, fayth. Forever and ever, grant us prosperity.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 Maechen: Ahem! The Farplane is the place where pyreflies born from a sending gather. They appear in the shape of people who've died and gone to the Farplane. Quite the phenomenon: how I wish I understood it more fully! The Al Bhed have a theory, you know. They say the pyreflies are just reacting to visitors' thoughts and dreams. But only the dead appear on the Farplane. No image of the living has ever been seen. Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 Square Enix North America site staff (2001). "Behind The Game The Creators". Square Enix North America. http://www.square-enix-usa.com/games/FFX/btg/creators.html#1. Retrieved April 12 2006.
- ↑ Fayth: Long ago, there was a war.... A war between Zanarkand and Bevelle. Bevelle's machina assured their victory from the start. Spira had never seen such power. The summoners of Zanarkand didn't stand a chance. Zanarkand was doomed to oblivion. That's why we tried to save it – if only in a memory.... The remaining summoners and the townspeople that survived the war... They all became fayth – fayth for the summoning. Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Studio BentStuff, ed (2001) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy X Ultimania Ω. DigiCube/Square Enix. pp. 84. ISBN 4-88787-021-3.
- ↑ Studio BentStuff, ed (2001) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy X Ultimania Ω. DigiCube/Square Enix. pp. 82. ISBN 4-88787-021-3.
- ↑ Mika: Spira has lost its only hope. Destruction is inevitable. Yu Yevon's spiral of death will consume us all. I have no desire to watch Spira die...." / Rikku: "Wait, gramps! Who's Yu Yevon?" / Mika: "He who crafts the souls of the dead into unholy armor. An armor called Sin. Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Fayth: If you defeat Yu Yevon, it will end. Tell me, what do you know about Yu Yevon?... / Yuna: Sin is his armor. It protects him. / Fayth: Yu Yevon was once a summoner, long ago. He was peerless. Yet now he lives for one purpose: only to summon. He is neither good, nor evil. He is awake, yet he dreams. But... maybe not forever. Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Maechen: Rumors flew in Bevelle about Sin's sudden appearance. They said that the people of Zanarkand became the fayth, that they had called Sin. And that the man responsible... was none other than the summoner Yevon, ruler of Zanarkand! Yes, the lord father of Lady Yunalesca. On the eve of Zanarkand's destruction, Lady Yunalesca... had fled to safety with her husband, Zaon. Later, the two used the Final Summoning to defeat Sin. Yet the people of Bevelle still feared Yu Yevon. It was to quell his wrath that they revered him, and first spread his teachings. And so were born the temples of Yevon. I suppose it's possible Yunalesca had planned it that way from the start! A fair trade, she defeats Sin in exchange for her lord father's honor. Of course, there's no proof. No, the facts are lost in the mists of time. And who'd admit Yevon was an enemy of Bevelle? You can bet the temples had a hand in covering that one up! Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Tidus: What's the calm? / Lulu: The Calm is a time of peace. It comes after a summoner defeats Sin, and lasts until Sin reappears. Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Fayth: Even if you defeat Sin with the Final Summoning, Yu Yevon will live. Yu Yevon will join with the Final Aeon. He will transform it into a new Sin.... Then, protected by this new Sin he has created, Yu Yevon continues the summoning. Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Tidus: Why is it... everything in Spira seems to revolve around people dying? / Auron: Ah, the spiral of death. / Tidus: Huh? / Auron: Summoners challenge the bringer of death, Sin, and die doing so. Guardians give their lives to protect their summoner. The fayth are the souls of the dead. Even the maesters of Yevon are unsent. Spira is full of death. Only Sin is reborn, and then only to bring more death. It is a cycle of death, spiraling endlessly. Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ A boy in Final Fantasy X-2: The priests taught me all about the high summoners. There were... um, five that came here! Square Co. Final Fantasy X-2. Square Enix U.S.A.. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2003-11-18.
- ↑ Studio BentStuff, ed (2001) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy X Ultimania Ω. DigiCube/Square Enix. pp. 80-81. ISBN 4-88787-021-3.
- ↑ Tidus: I thought every town was little--you know, like Besaid and Kilika. / Yuna: Towns don't usually get bigger than that. Because when a lot of people start to gather... / Tidus: Sin...? Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Studio BentStuff, ed (2001) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy X Scenario Ultimania. DigiCube/Square Enix. pp. 59. ISBN 4-88787-010-8.
- ↑ Maechen: Ahem! They may be called 'pyreflies' but they aren't really "flies," you see. They're those lights you see whenever a fiend dies. The little fellows are responsible for a few fantastic phenomena. Visions of the past, spheres, fiends--these are all the pyreflies' doing. In fact... pyreflies have something to do with aeons, too. The dreams of the fayth reach through the spirit of the summoner... And that which is unreal becomes real for all to see! Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Lulu: The dead need guidance. Filled with grief over their own death, they refuse to face their fate. They yearn to live on, and resent those still alive. You see, they envy the living. And in time, that envy turns to anger, even hate. Should these souls remain in Spira, they become fiends that prey on the living. Sad, isn't it? The sending takes them to the Farplane, where they may rest in peace. Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Tidus: Mom? It's her! ... Wait. No one ever performed the sending for her. / Yuna: She must've accepted death while she was still alive. Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Lulu: The fayth are people who gave their lives to battle Sin. Yevon took their souls, willingly given from their still-living bodies.... Now they live forever trapped in statues. But when a summoner beckons, the souls of the fayth emerge once again. That's what we call an aeon. Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Yuna: What are you looking at? / Shinra: Farplane data. The more I study it, the more fascinating it gets. There's limitless energy swirling around in there.... The life force that flows through our planet... I think. With a little work, we could probably extract the energy in a usable form.... / Yuna: Think how much Spira would change if we ever got it to work! Maybe one day we could build a city full of light, one that never sleeps! Square Co. Final Fantasy X-2. Square Enix U.S.A.. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2003-11-18.
- ↑ Morrow, Glenn (a.k.a. "Squall of SeeD") (2005). "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Plot Analysis; essay entitled Spirit Energy and Memories: The Magic of Final Fantasy". IGN. http://faqs.ign.com/articles/657/657331p1.html. Retrieved 24 February 2006.
- ↑ Studio BentStuff, ed (2001) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy X Ultimania Ω. DigiCube/Square Enix. pp. 191. ISBN 4-88787-021-3.
- ↑ Studio BentStuff, ed (2003) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy X-2 Ultimania. DigiCube/Square Enix. pp. 723-724. ISBN 4-88787-021-3.
- ↑ Star Champion (2001). "The Final Fantasy Connection - "Different Planet Theories"". Willamette. http://www.willamette.edu/~ejohnson/nojima.htm. Retrieved 13 March 2006.
- ↑ Morrow, Glenn (a.k.a. "Squall of SeeD") (2005). "Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Plot Analysis; section entitled Are Spira and Gaia connected?". IGN. http://faqs.ign.com/articles/657/657331p1.html. Retrieved 24 February 2006.
- ↑ Tidus: Yuna, why does Sin always come back? / Yuna: Sin is our punishment for our vanity. And it will not go away until we've atoned. Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Studio BentStuff, ed (2004) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy X-2: International+Last Mission Ultimania. DigiCube/Square Enix. pp. 583. ISBN 4-7575-1163-9.
- ↑ Paine: Yevon created the Squad and started training members two years ago. It was supposed to be an elite fighting force. The best were to be assigned leadership of Crusader chapters across Spira... Square Co. Final Fantasy X-2. Square Enix U.S.A.. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2003-11-18.
- ↑ Maechen: Let me tell you about the Hymn of the Fayth. It was once a Zanarkand song sung in defiance of Bevelle! Of course, the Yevon clergy of Bevelle forbade it. Then, as these things often go, those who disliked Yevon began to sing it. The Al Bhed, for instance. The Hymn of the Fayth became the symbol of defiance against Yevon. Yevon could do nothing but capitulate. They lifted the ban on the song and spread a new story. They said the hymn was a song sung to soothe the souls of the dead. And so saying, they took the song and made it scripture. Square Co. Final Fantasy X. Square EA. PlayStation 2. (in English). 2001-12-20.
- ↑ Studio BentStuff, ed (2001) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy X Ultimania Ω. DigiCube/Square Enix. pp. 84. ISBN 4-88787-021-3.
- Spira — detailed explanation of the locations of Spira on the Final Fantasy Wikia
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Plot Analysis; essay entitled "Spirit Energy and Memories: The Magic of Final Fantasy" — Detailed analysis of magic in the various Final Fantasy titles
- Meaning and Emotion in Squaresoft’s Final Fantasy X — Graduation thesis by Glen R. Spoors, Edith Cowan University - Australia
- Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 at Wikicities
- Final Fantasy X story translation
- Final Fantasy X timeline at the Final Fantasy Compendium
- The Ancient Library — A-Z dictionary of all things Final Fantasy related
- English to Al Bhed/Al Bhed to English translator (with phonetics)
- Simple substitution cipher generator preloaded with Al Bhed.
- Final Fantasy Wiki: “Illustrated Guide to the world of Spira (FFX and FFX-2)”
- Final Fantasy Compendium
- Article at the Spanish Wikipedia
- Article at the French Wikipedia
- Al Bhed language article at the Indonesian Wikipedia
- Article at the Italian Wikipedia
- Article at the Japanese Wikipedia
- Article at the Portuguese Wikipedia
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