Gametrailers Top 10 Final Fantasy Characters

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Squirrel Emperor

Nuts
Moderator
Sep 26, 2013
1,612
626
#21
Kefka's joy for destruction and disinterest in human life eventually turns him into a nihilist, which we learn towards the end of the game. You just don't really see him deep in thought and trying to make sense of it as he just cuts to the chase and wreaks havoc on things throughout most of the game. His back-story is simple and not complex but helps us understand why he's so insane and easily snaps at things.

But I imagine most people like Kefka because he makes being a villain fun. And unlike most villains. He succeeds.
 
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gaiages

:<
Moderator
Site Staff
Sep 26, 2013
110
28
33
Florida
#25
Oh man, that's number 1 reveal was great.

But yeah, this is actually a pretty great list. Course, any list with Zack Fair in it is pretty great, anyway, but these options don't all really seem the 'norm', either.
 
Likes: yeah_93

UNKLE

Red Wings Commander
Oct 26, 2013
109
7
33
#26
Well
1, Lightning is successful, famous but only in japan.
2,FFXIII and 13.2 is successful, famous but only for japan.
3. Thts pic about lightning and Hope and kefka laugh well yeah GT hate ff13 trilogy.....
 
#27
No, but seriously guys. These posts are just assertions made without explaining why or how you came to that rationale.
Well, I'm not Kagari or Squirrel, but I'll put forward my own personal thoughts about Lightning. Bear in mind also, since I'm just recollecting from what I remember playing through the two games, I may well have misremembered parts, or even downright misinterpreted others. But oh well, let's do it anyway.

It's easy to conceive a basic archetype for a character. And on paper, it must have sounded snappy and appealing when Lightning was first drawn up. A disgruntled and standoffish ex-cop (that's essentially what the Guardian Corps sort of were) who starts off giving everyone else the cold shoulder, who is exhibited as being independent, cool and strong because she can solo an army if she so wishes, having enough time to take names as well. Later on, circumstances will change and Lightning as an ice queen thaws, melting enough to eventually maybe even smile around others, and treat them as genuine partners, sharing the same common fate and a common threat ahead of them to tackle.

But in retrospect, I feel that while the writers knew perfectly well Lightning's basic archetypical qualities and tropes, they hadn't, and probably still haven't, a proper grasp of what her character actually is. Heck, I'm willing to bet that in most topics about Lightning, she's remembered as a character archetype, not necessarily as a character per se. She's essentially advertised for her archetypical qualities, because the word "strong" or "strength" (which is unfortunately coupled with the word "beauty" a few times. Bear in mind however, a character's looks and how he or she is designed does virtually nothing to advance that person as a character.) is always constantly brought up when discussing her. And it's used in a way that comes off as particularly superficial. I think this is where the word "depth" should be brought up. Lightning is judged to be shallow because we only know her well as a blueprint of a character, and not necessarily as a character herself.

I get what FFXIII was trying to do, I suppose. Lightning has this well-defined veneer about her, but is in reality emotionally broken by everything that has recently happened, while casting partial blame on herself for the sad fate of her sister. I know fans of her attribute her initial behaviour (her initial desire to storm into Eden and dish out hell to the Sanctum, with no thoughts nor consideration of what that would do to the psyche of the general population - plus raining hell on Eden the Fal'Cie herself was theoretically half a step away from outright destroying Cocoon anyway. It's just really irrational) to that emotional brokenness, confusion and as a vision of justice, but it...rubbed me off the wrong way. It might not have been an explicit desire to wreck Cocoon as she expected her Focus to be, but it might as well have been. Still, it's a big attempt to go beyond her archetype and to portray her being an internal wreck, still vulnerable and fallible despite the surface badassery.

What I think troubled me next is the sudden heel turn. She walks into Palumpolum still determined to dish out hell to the capital, but has an abrupt and forced epiphany that immediately breaks her out of that fight-blindly stupor and as someone firmly on the fight-against-fate camp just like that. As a bonus, it also urges her to look at Snow differently. It's hard to properly convey in words the exact reason why, but the Nutriculture scene in Palumpolum is simply an unconvincing character development sequence because that was all it basically took to derail Lightning from her previous position, and passively prompt her with enough self-realisation and self-examination that she goes back outside virtually a whole new person, with the bonus of believing that hey, maybe Snow's not that much of an idiot after all. It's contrivance at its finest; there's virtually no accumulative build-up towards this realisation and it basically happens in all of two minutes. I think more than anything, I chalk it down to the execution and the quality of the writing.

For the rest of the game, Lightning seemingly becomes...passive. There's no sense of primus inter pares about her, because if you want to be technical about it, the story has basically become Vanille's story. She's essentially the unintentional kickstarter and catalyst for virtually everything to allow the story to occur. As every party member by Gran Pulse are virtually united in fate and intentions, Lightning simply melds into the rest of the cast, lacking much of a commanding presence anymore as the game takes a turn to an ensemble cast. I think therefore, it's fair enough to question Lightning as an actual main character (when Kitase appears keen to fail Terra on the criteria test), outside of the fact that she's clearly advertised as that, but that will depend on what your metric is of a main character. I really can't sufficiently describe her character by Gran Pulse, other than perhaps how a tsundere archetype may conventionally end up. She's still "strong" in the simple kick-arse sense, but as a character? She's...more accepting of others? More optimistic? She occasionally smiles a bit? Determined to shove a middle finger up to fate?

At the end, she does lead the commentary against Orphan, telling it to stuff it despite it being the very thing the game's villains have wanted them to do, because they've...supposedly abandoned rational thinking in exchange for a belief in the power of friendship miracles? If the story hadn't fallen apart yet, it certainly did at that point, because that was fifty shades of stupid. But anyway, that's more of a major gripe I have with the story, and not necessarily strictly to do with her character.

In FFXIII-2, she's supposed to be less stoic and more open to expressing emotions and to seek for help when needed. That's great and all, except for the fact that Lightning barely appears AS a character in the game, preferring to appear mostly as a narrator, and a distant one at that, when much of it is abstract chatter about time, paradoxes and all that. And when she does appear, she barely expresses an emotion. It's a perpetual look of apathy in her face. As well as her voice, to be honest.

And for Lightning Returns, if I recall correctly, Kitase and Toriyama want her to come off as being vulnerable and mor...human? Either that's just me misremembering what they actually said, or misinterpreting it, OR it's a curious case of: you're still trying to properly determine her character now? What were you doing with her for the last two games? I thought she was already fallibly vulnerable. I presume in the game she will be less cooperative when it comes to serving deities, which makes her quiet, unconditional acceptance to serve Etro in the second game a bizarre turn of events, divorced from the Lightning at the end of the first game who was telling demigods that humans weren't simply pets or automatons to be commanded or controlled - that fate could be overcome if you...believe?

To start closing off, let me just say that I really don't know Claire Farron, or the woman behind the veneer of Lightning. Lightning is this facade, an identity, that the writers of the trilogy have worked to push at us, but they have done virtually nothing to show us Claire Farron as a person. Lightning is the adopted alter ego - a mask - but we know about Claire as a person as much as we know about other NPCs like Rygdea and Hope's father as people. I am only told that Lightning and Serah are sisters, and also because they have similar physical aesthetics. Beyond that, very little else drives home the idea that they are sisters, and close ones at that; we barely ever see Lightning and Serah interact on screen, and even when we do see them together, sans the ending to FFXIII, I have never got the impression that it's Claire Farron with Serah Farron given how they talk and behave towards each other. It's just Lightning as the alter ego with Serah Farron. There is a whole character behind the mask that is still an exoskeleton and unknown.

Unlike many others, I don't hate Lightning. There were many moments in FFXIII when I would silently applaud her, either because she seemed to be one of the least irritating characters in the game, or because she decked Snow (it's funnier when I imagine Lightning as an alcoholic. It would have helped characterised her and why she initially behaves like that). However, I only really "like" her for the superficiality. Lightning as a whole - as a fictional entity - is incoherently written, and overseen by writers - who in my eyes - can't properly work out what her character actually is beyond the tropes of her archetype, and is only "strong" because she operates on this archetypical veneer, and because we are constantly told by the creators that she is strong.

So in a way, I kind of agree with the people who suggest she has little depth. Sure, maybe not for the same reasons, but I can see where that might be true.

(Moderators, yeah I know, this would have been better off in its own Lightning-dedicated thread, but I just wished to have this out given that the woman herself is mentioned a lot in this thread.)
 
Likes: Chevalier
Oct 5, 2013
37
33
29
#28
But in retrospect, I feel that while the writers knew perfectly well Lightning's basic archetypical qualities and tropes, they hadn't, and probably still haven't, a proper grasp of what her character actually is. Heck, I'm willing to bet that in most topics about Lightning, she's remembered as a character archetype, not necessarily as a character per se. She's essentially advertised for her archetypical qualities, because the word "strong" or "strength" (which is unfortunately coupled with the word "beauty" a few times. Bear in mind however, a character's looks and how he or she is designed does virtually nothing to advance that person as a character.) is always constantly brought up when discussing her. And it's used in a way that comes off as particularly superficial. I think this is where the word "depth" should be brought up. Lightning is judged to be shallow because we only know her well as a blueprint of a character, and not necessarily as a character herself.
That's a good observation. Would you consider this exclusive to Lightning? Or do do you this there's more Final Fantasy protagonists that share this?

What I think troubled me next is the sudden heel turn. She walks into Palumpolum still determined to dish out hell to the capital, but has an abrupt and forced epiphany that immediately breaks her out of that fight-blindly stupor and as someone firmly on the fight-against-fate camp just like that. As a bonus, it also urges her to look at Snow differently. It's hard to properly convey in words the exact reason why, but the Nutriculture scene in Palumpolum is simply an unconvincing character development sequence because that was all it basically took to derail Lightning from her previous position, and passively prompt her with enough self-realisation and self-examination that she goes back outside virtually a whole new person, with the bonus of believing that hey, maybe Snow's not that much of an idiot after all.
When we first encounter Lightning, her emotions are spiked. We are introduced to her in the middle of conflict. Therefore, her overall demeanor isn't just angry ice queen.

Originally, she's pretty annoyed that she's basically been placed on a death sentence and that she was powerless to help herself or her sister. During one of the narrations, Vanille mentions that Lightning was crying for help in her own way. So she goes on her suicide mission which was a mistake induced by her inner turmoil.

She then mentors Hope and sees how wrong he is to blame snow and recklessly killing everything around him. She remarks that it wasn't Snow who killed his mom. During this, she begins to understand her sister a bit more (through the flashbacks).

It's contrivance at its finest; there's virtually no accumulative build-up towards this realisation and it basically happens in all of two minutes. I think more than anything, I chalk it down to the execution and the quality of the writing.
To be honest, the Nutriculture scene was sort of eh mainly because the Fal'Cie are never really reasoned by the group in-depth. She just infers that they're merely pets (but why would they even do that? There's no afterthought.)

But that's my main gripe with it. Not that she made a turn. Which I don't think is actually a heel-face turn.

Remember that before meeting again with Snow, she's being all pessimist about everything and grumpy. When they meet in Palumpolum, she's had a chance to cool down and step back a bit from the shock. By this point, she's reasoned a bit with understanding her sister, and also seen how her advice was wrong--which she experienced through Hope.


For the rest of the game, Lightning seemingly becomes...passive. There's no sense of primus inter pares about her, because if you want to be technical about it, the story has basically become Vanille's story. She's essentially the unintentional kickstarter and catalyst for virtually everything to allow the story to occur. As every party member by Gran Pulse are virtually united in fate and intentions, Lightning simply melds into the rest of the cast, lacking much of a commanding presence anymore as the game takes a turn to an ensemble cast. I think therefore, it's fair enough to question Lightning as an actual main character (when Kitase appears keen to fail Terra on the criteria test), outside of the fact that she's clearly advertised as that, but that will depend on what your metric is of a main character. I really can't sufficiently describe her character by Gran Pulse, other than perhaps how a tsundere archetype may conventionally end up. She's still "strong" in the simple kick-arse sense, but as a character? She's...more accepting of others? More optimistic? She occasionally smiles a bit? Determined to shove a middle finger up to fate?
This is a fair observation. The game was always narrated by Vanille, though. I think the cast was more an ensemble cast and Lightning was the face of the game...because she's the badass one? Idk.

I don't think it would have made sense to use anyone else. Just like Terra is the main face of VI, Lightning also fills that role, I suppose. I don't understand why Terra 'failed' in Kitase's eyes.

However, Lightning at the end is more open to the possibility of fighting the odds. The game has a heavy emphasis in miracles. And by the time they reach Pulse, Lightning really wants to believe.

HOWEVER, you're right. The ending segments fall apart because once all the issues are resolved, the character development drops. Which I guess wouldn't be so bad if the ending wasn't so...out of the blue.

At the end, she does lead the commentary against Orphan, telling it to stuff it despite it being the very thing the game's villains have wanted them to do, because they've...supposedly abandoned rational thinking in exchange for a belief in the power of friendship miracles? If the story hadn't fallen apart yet, it certainly did at that point, because that was fifty shades of stupid. But anyway, that's more of a major gripe I have with the story, and not necessarily strictly to do with her character.
The ending is absolutely rushed and to be fair, it didn't make much sense to me. It was reckless, we had no idea what was going to happen, they had no way to win.

I like that the odds were -actually- supposed to have crushed them. There was no way they could have done anything to stop the plans of the Fal'Cie. More than anything, I think this was Vanille's closure. She was always praying for miracles in the game, and by the end, it does happen.

And for Lightning Returns, if I recall correctly, Kitase and Toriyama want her to come off as being vulnerable and mor...human? Either that's just me misremembering what they actually said, or misinterpreting it, OR it's a curious case of: you're still trying to properly determine her character now? What were you doing with her for the last two games? I thought she was already fallibly vulnerable. I presume in the game she will be less cooperative when it comes to serving deities, which makes her quiet, unconditional acceptance to serve Etro in the second game a bizarre turn of events, divorced from the Lightning at the end of the first game who was telling demigods that humans weren't simply pets or automatons to be commanded or controlled - that fate could be overcome if you...believe?
From what I've gathered about Lightning Returns, she wakes up and takes the role of Savior but as the game progresses, she'll begin regaining her emotions. I hope this is correct. If you need actual sources I can dig around, but needless to say, this is from memory.

As for Lightning, there's no quiet acceptance. It's not simply a 180 spin from hating gods to suddenly working for one.

The game explains this in a CG cutscene. She enters Etro's temple and receives a mental vision of how Etro helped them and the danger the world is in. So she decides to become Etro's guardian. Tbh, it would have been dumber if Lightning gave the middle finger to everything related to the gods even if they were trying to help her or benefit her.

Moreover, the very reason she crystallized herself at the end is because she wanted to believe that there was still hope ("keep hope alive"). Not at all different from trying to defy fate in the first game.

To start closing off, let me just say that I really don't know Claire Farron, or the woman behind the veneer of Lightning. Lightning is this facade, an identity, that the writers of the trilogy have worked to push at us, but they have done virtually nothing to show us Claire Farron as a person. Lightning is the adopted alter ego - a mask - but we know about Claire as a person as much as we know about other NPCs like Rygdea and Hope's father as people. I am only told that Lightning and Serah are sisters, and also because they have similar physical aesthetics. Beyond that, very little else drives home the idea that they are sisters, and close ones at that; we barely ever see Lightning and Serah interact on screen, and even when we do see them together, sans the ending to FFXIII, I have never got the impression that it's Claire Farron with Serah Farron given how they talk and behave towards each other. It's just Lightning as the alter ego with Serah Farron. There is a whole character behind the mask that is still an exoskeleton and unknown.
I don't...I don't want to say you're wrong. But I also think this is all a matter of your opinion. I don't think Lightning is just a flash (you can all laugh now), but I also think that XIII and the little we saw in XIII-2 have shown us a cool chick, that's prone to getting mad. She makes mistakes (in both games), she has compassion for her friends, and is willing to move heaven and earth for those she loves.

Unlike many others, I don't hate Lightning...
I don't think you do, and to be honest, I would have felt really bad not replying to you after you made such a long post explaining your points of view. I also don't have much of a problem going further if need be, but I somehow doubt opinions can be changed. It's all a matter of taste, methinks.

I know your points have merit in them and they're not just drive-by comments taking jabs at something you don't like.

(mods I realize this is off-topic. So if you'd like to move the posts, I have no problem with that. Sorry ; v)
 
Likes: Sapientia

Shin Kazama

Sphere Hunter
UFFSite Veteran
Oct 30, 2013
240
42
#29
I'm okay with it since Zack and Sephiroth are on it. Who are, in my opinion, the best hero and the best villain.
 
Sep 26, 2013
1,612
626
#30
For the rest of the game, Lightning seemingly becomes...passive. There's no sense of primus inter pares about her, because if you want to be technical about it, the story has basically become Vanille's story. She's essentially the unintentional kickstarter and catalyst for virtually everything to allow the story to occur. As every party member by Gran Pulse are virtually united in fate and intentions, Lightning simply melds into the rest of the cast, lacking much of a commanding presence anymore as the game takes a turn to an ensemble cast. I think therefore, it's fair enough to question Lightning as an actual main character (when Kitase appears keen to fail Terra on the criteria test), outside of the fact that she's clearly advertised as that, but that will depend on what your metric is of a main character. I really can't sufficiently describe her character by Gran Pulse, other than perhaps how a tsundere archetype may conventionally end up. She's still "strong" in the simple kick-arse sense, but as a character? She's...more accepting of others? More optimistic? She occasionally smiles a bit? Determined to shove a middle finger up to fate?
It has always been Vanille’s story. She’s just not an appealing character to market and not something consumers want in a main lead. Can you imagine a genki girl being the face of Final Fantasy XIII? Bahahahahaha!

So in comes Lightning, who was basically designed to be a female Cloud, to fill that role. She’s not important anymore after a certain point in the game. She takes the backseat as her story is done. Her level of importance is not much different than Snow, Sazh and Hope. The only difference is they made her the face of the FFXIII saga.

As for FFXIII-2, that should be self-explanatory. She wasn’t in most of the game but was false advertised because there was a need to link the player to a character they knew and felt interest on. Her role was to get people to buy FFXIII-2. This was not by accident.

As for Lightning Returns? We’ll see. Seems like she’s only in it because SE doesn’t want to miss out on potential sales. Can’t take that risk since she wasn’t in FFXIII-2, something that pissed off a lot of Lightning fans.