Analyzing both recent events and one of my favorite video games led to an extremely bizarre dream combining a key gameplay function from Final Fantasy 10 with me as an apparent political candidate. I was selected as a suitable debate candidate, and at the end of our debate, we were ordered by the moderators to summon a creature of our choosing to battle against our opponents. My choice? The tragic entity, Anima.
I can still see her binding chains emerging out of the ground as she appeared before me. Boy, what a dream!
(Spoilers for Final Fantasy 10 will abound at this point in this post).
In Final Fantasy 10, through the resident summoner Yuna, the player can call upon powerful creatures called “Aeons” to help them in battle. Aeons are the manifested dreams of the spirits called “fayth“, who are essentially this game’s version of canonized saints. These individuals allowed for their souls to be trapped within stone statues, placed within temples found throughout Spira (the game’s world). For summoners such as Yuna, journeying to these temples and receiving the power of these fayth is essential for their pilgrimage to the lost city of Zanarkand, where they will meet the “Final Aeon“. In the game’s story, the “Final Aeon” is supposedly the only weapon capable of defeating the supernatural antagonist “Sin“, albeit temporarily.
Fun fact: according to the web, “Aeons” in Gnosticism are known as one of many “emanations of God”. This is a major tenant of “Emanationism“, which is based on the belief that all things are “derived” rather than “created”.
Anima is one such Aeon, although only one person was able to summon her: Seymour Guado, the leader of the Guado (FFX‘s version of wood-elves). He first displays her power during an invasion of monsters at the stadium in the city of Luca.
An important detail to pay attention to in the above cinematic is her crying tears of blood. As we find out later on, the entire fiend invasion in this stadium was set up by Seymour’s minions, to make him look like a Messianic figure. Anima was all too aware that he was using her for ill purposes, and it stands to reason that this isn’t the first time he abused her power.
It’s clear from her first appearance that Anima is a unique Aeon belonging solely to Seymour. She isn’t one of the main Aeons that Yuna obtains along her pilgrimage to Zanarkand. It’s clear that she’s immensely powerful, with enough destructive capabilities to wipe out dozens of fiends in a matter of seconds. Even for an Aeon, she’s obscenely strong.
Later in the game, we finally figure out why Anima is so mighty. The truth is that she’s a Final Aeon, created solely for the purpose of destroying Sin. Even more shocking, it turns out that she was originally meant to be the Final Aeon of none other than Seymour. The reason being, the fayth of Anima is Seymour’s human mother.
We first see her in a vision at the ruins of Zanarkand, where it’s revealed that Seymour’s mother led them there in hopes of giving their lives meaning. Although she and Seymour’s father, Lord Jyscal Guado, had married for love, their union and child instilled only revulsion among their separate races. Seymour was seen as an abomination instead of a symbol of unity between Guado and humans. At one point, Jyscal caved into the prejudices of his people and exiled both his wife and son to Baaj Temple, a remote place far out at sea.
Oddly enough, this is the same place where Tidus, the main character, finds refuge after arriving at Spira thanks to Sin. Of course, by this point, it’s been long abandoned by Seymour. He seemingly refused to tell anybody that he’d locked away his mother’s fayth statue here.
Seymour refused to go through with the Final Summoning. Instead of using his mother’s Aeon to destroy Sin, he returned to their home at Baaj and stayed there until his father finally called him home. He would use Anima’s power to further his own nihilistic goals, which were unfortunately affected by his mother’s wishes for him to find acceptance in the world.
When Yuna and her allies discover her fayth statue, Seymour’s mother sees an opportunity to atone for her mistakes. She offers Yuna her power, in a bid to destroy Sin and stop her son from obsessing over it. A bond is thusly formed between the two, and it shows in Yuna’s battle quote when she summons Anima for the first time. Instead of demanding that the Final Aeon “feel my [sic] pain” like Seymour, Yuna empathetically tells her, “I will share your pain with you.”
As one can see in her character design, there is a sort of duality with Anima. On one hand, she is technically one of Spira’s saints, as somebody who was willing to offer up their life for a chance at destroying Sin. This is evidenced by the reverent tablet hanging from her neck, looking suspiciously like a traditional Japanese portrayal of the Virgin Mary. On the other hand, due to her intense pain and sorrow over everything she’s suffered, Anima has a warped, monstrous appearance.
When Anima is summoned into battle, it appears as though she’s being dragged upward from a place of torment. This is both literally and figurativelly her domain, as Seymour’s mother suffered much in her quest to give her son a cherished place in the world. Pain is her weapon, and she can psychically lash out at her opponents using all of the torment she’s suffered. This is done by gathering dark energy at her exposed eye and lashing out with it accordingly, which ties into eyes being referred to as the “windows of the soul”.
There’s also an even more terrifying side to Anima, that’s only exposed if she’s able to unleash her ultimate attack, “Oblivion”. When activated, Anima drags her enemies down into the same abyss she was summoned from, where her hidden bottom half is seen. Instead of being bound by grief and pain, this other half of Anima is enraged and ready to destroy any hapless foes. Anima destroys the chains binding her wrists, rapidly pummels her opponents, and then finishes them with an explosion of dark energy. Her animation makes it look like she’s howling with all of the pent-up rage she’s hidden over the world’s mistreatment of her and Seymour.
Anima, at her core, is a symbol for the disenfranchised, for those who are seen as invalid by the rest of the world. Her voice was silenced for so long, but now, as a Final Aeon, her enemies will know her pain.
To me, Anima carries a tragic parallel with Izayoi, the mother of Inuyasha from the anime of the same name. While Izayoi lived a tragic life, reviled by humans for consorting with a supernatural lover, she and her beloved stood side-by-side for as long as time allowed them. With Anima however, Jyscal cast her aside out of fear of a civil war over their union and Seymour’s existence. Where Inuyasha’s father stood proud against prejudice, Jyscal bowed to it, and it’s a choice that would haunt him until his death.
In the end, Seymour’s mother accomplished her ultimate goals. Seymour was put to rest, and she herself found eternal peace after helping Yuna and her crew permanently end Sin’s reign of terror. We can safely assume that their entire family found the peace they desired on the Farplane, where nobody could stop them from loving each other.