I was thinking about the feedback that I got from the Kuja post, and I was amazed by the response; I’m glad I got people to look a little further into the character of Kuja, and see that he wasn’t all pomp and flair, and could actually stand on his own as a great Final Fantasy villain.
That said, I was just talking with a buddy of mine, and we were talking about the end of FFIX. We are both huge IX fans, and the subject turned to the final boss, Necron.
“Yeah, the less said about Necron, the better,” he said. “He was definitely just thrown in there.”
Now, I think this was the first time we had truly disagreed on something FFIX-related.
“Wait, what? What are you talking about?” I sputtered, and we proceeded to have a heated debate about Necron’s purpose for a few minutes.
After these few minutes, my friend said, “y’know, I think this would make a great blog post.”
SO HERE I AM! :D
Anyway, here goes:
Yeah. Necron. Gets shit on by pretty much everybody, right? You may think he’s one or more of the following: useless; never referenced; no purpose in the game?
Let me begin, like I did with my Kuja post, by saying that I don’t expect to turn you into a huge Necron fan. I’m just trying to give you a bit of my perspective on why I think he’s fantastic. Maybe I’ll even get you thinking that there is a bit more to him than you previously thought. That’d be great.
From what I’ve read, it seems like Necron may be mentioned once or twice throughout the game, but these claims seem shaky at best. My question is, how is one supposed to know of the existence of an entity that exists outside of normal spacetime? This, of course, is kind of a flimsy excuse for making a final boss, but, in Pixar’s “22 Rules of Storytelling“, #19 says “Coincidences to get characters into trouble are great; coincidences to get them out of it are cheating.” Again, not saying that this is a great excuse to just throw a final boss into the mix, but this is the perspective with which I look at the final battle.
I’ve read that Necron is “summoned” by Kuja’s hate and fear. I have a different perspective.
Now, here’s what I see in the above gif:
- The main characters disappear. The only time you see that in-game thus far is when someone or something dies.
- The Crystal is no longer behind Kuja.
So, here’s what I’m thinking:
- When Kuja casts Ultima, it destroys the Crystal. The Crystal’s destruction is what prompts Necron to come start kickin’ ass, not just Kuja’s massive amounts of butthurt.
- The heroes were the first people to die after the destruction of the Crystal, which is why they’re in this weird quasi-death-realm thing.
- When Necron is defeated, the crystal is restored due to the “nothingness-vacuum” caused by his absence. Because Necron is the personification of oblivion/nothingness, when he is defeated, he’s gotta be replaced by… something, right?
Huh. Weird. Anyway, what I’m trying to say is that Necron made… some sort of sense existing, at least. He’s also a great foil for… well, every protagonist in the game.
These characters have been through hell. Homelands have been laid to waste. Family members, loved ones, and thousands more have been slaughtered, many of which were at the hands of Garnet’s own mother, gone mad with greed. Freya’s lover, Sir Fratley, who she has been searching for for years, has no memory of their past. Eiko’s family was dead or missing. Steiner and Amarant’s most long-standing philosophies, one of blind loyalty to another, and one of blind loyalty to self, that had kept them alive through the most dire of circumstances, are dissolved before their eyes; the same thing happens with Vivi and Zidane, except instead of their philosophies, they face an even more harrowing question: the status of their humanity itself.
I don’t think Necron is a useless, no-purpose final boss. Quite the contrary – I think he’s the linchpin of the game, the story, and the transcendent theme of Final Fantasy IX. Without Necron, the game would cease to have the exact quality which I think makes it the greatest video game in history: the absolute, against-all-odds, blindingly-bright love of life itself that finally answers the great question that each of our protagonists face when they are staring down the seductive peace of utter oblivion: “is life worth the pain it brings?”. Each of the characters above have fan-fucking-tastic reasons to say, “Hey, nothingness sounds pretty great, compared to the shitstorm that I’ve been through!”.
Not one of them does.
After everything they’ve been through, each and every one chooses life.
I think this has a two-pronged effect. If thought of in this manner, the choice shows more starkly than ever before the fortitude of the heroes, as well as making Kuja slightly more sympathetic and less villainous. He’s just scared, guys. He’s been dealt much the same hand as Zidane, and he’s scared. He doesn’t want to die; more importantly, he doesn’t want the fear of death. Who can be blamed for trying to escape fear? Not that Kuja went about it the right way or anything, but still, he was misguided and scared, and I can’t blame him for that.
Maybe Necron could have been referenced more in-game; maybe he should have been somehow hinted at, if only for the player’s knowledge; maybe it’s not an original idea. But Necron is the character who poses, once and for all, this final question to the protagonists of Final Fantasy IX, providing the single most intense experience I have ever felt from a piece of media in my life. I was 11 when I experienced this; it was the first time I had encountered such a question, and Zidane’s response left me in tears.
“I’m gonna live!”.
I can’t call that useless.