Game Theory: Why Final Fantasy is Anti-Religion

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Please, please, PLEASE don't say "Christian" when you in fact mean Catholic. Catholicism reveres the Pope, the broader general "Christianity" does not necessarily agree. Catholicism has a Purgatory, Christianity at large does not. The Pieta is a Catholic work; protestant Christianity would take the stand that while a masterful sculpture, it's either not Jesus and Mary (They were Jews, not white people, and she probably didn't look like she was 25 when her son was dying at the age 32,) or that it's an idol and that God would rather have you doing the things he says (Be good to each other, don't kill or steal or covet, work hard but then be sure to take a break and appreciate the good things!) than worshipping a damn stupid rock that's not even one one-thousandth as cool as even the smallest cell in your body. That's probably my only complaint.

Oh, and Final Fantasy Legend was actually part of the SaGa series, wasn't it? And not a proper FF title?

But yeah, nice insights. I doubted from the first that it was any overt hostility toward any actual God, if He Is. I mean, if there is a God, he's by definition better than we could comprehend, so you can't really be in rejection of that idea, but rather just the way human beings represent Him, if He Is. So it's good that in the end you seem to think its less that and more a denunciation of blind idiotic violent zealotry.

Ha. Just Final Fantasy? This is a common trope of almost all eastern RPGs. In fact, I used to say that its not a proper JRPG unless you are killing God at the very end.

Alterego-X:

sir neillios:

[quote]Japan enjoys full religious freedom based on Article 20 of its Constitution. Upper estimates suggest that 84-96 percent of the Japanese population subscribe to Buddhism or Shinto

I'm talking about degrees of religious practice here. On "How important is religion in your life" questions, Japan is dragging in the negative top 10. (although atm I can't find the one where it was exactly negative #1).

Shinto is pretty much a series of folk traditions and superstitions with no binding creed, holy book, or chuch hierarchy. And the Japanese branch of buddhism is known as "funeral Buddhism", because that's the only thing people want from it.

Having a binding creed, holy book or church hierarchy are mostly Western religious phenomena. Even if you take Eastern religions like Shinto in their golden days they'd still not look like 'religions' to most Western standards. And almost no Japanese person is going to say religion is important in their life, doesn't change that they turn to Shinto traditions when they need to pass an exam, pass a wayshrine, celebrate newyear etcetc...

Alterego-X:
Why Final Fantasy is Anti-Religion? Maybe because it's from the least religious country on Earth?

Not Christian =/= Not Religious.

OT:

Neat ... um ... why are we getting the old GTs? couldn't we get the newer ones as well instead of releasing them in order?

Bluestorm83:
Please, please, PLEASE don't say "Christian" when you in fact mean Catholic. Catholicism reveres the Pope, the broader general "Christianity" does not necessarily agree. Catholicism has a Purgatory, Christianity at large does not. The Pieta is a Catholic work; protestant Christianity would take the stand that while a masterful sculpture, it's either not Jesus and Mary (They were Jews, not white people, and she probably didn't look like she was 25 when her son was dying at the age 32,) or that it's an idol and that God would rather have you doing the things he says (Be good to each other, don't kill or steal or covet, work hard but then be sure to take a break and appreciate the good things!) than worshipping a damn stupid rock that's not even one one-thousandth as cool as even the smallest cell in your body. That's probably my only complaint.

Oh, and Final Fantasy Legend was actually part of the SaGa series, wasn't it? And not a proper FF title?

But yeah, nice insights. I doubted from the first that it was any overt hostility toward any actual God, if He Is. I mean, if there is a God, he's by definition better than we could comprehend, so you can't really be in rejection of that idea, but rather just the way human beings represent Him, if He Is. So it's good that in the end you seem to think its less that and more a denunciation of blind idiotic violent zealotry.

Weren't Christianity and Catholicism the same thing up until the Protestant Reformation?

Since we are speaking Judeo-Christian mythologies...

Sephiroth's attempt to become a god aside (Kaballah's Tree of Life or Luciferian doctrine, dependant on to whom you speak), how does one explain that the central figure of FFVII, Aerith, is in fact, a parallel of Jesus. She allows herself to die, in order to save the world. BTW, Jenova in this case is Lucifer, the fallen one. Sephiroth is the Anti-Christ.

And I don't agree with the FFVI analysis that Kefka becomes God. I'd argue that Kefka more closely resembles Lucifer than God. The story is nearly a parallel to the book of "Revelations". This works within the context of the last battle against against the seven layers of hell. Isn't Lucifer, the Angel of Light, star of the morning, ruler in Hell and on top of the pile?

No argument in FF:Tactics and FFX though - those are spot on.

Cantehman:

Having a binding creed, holy book or church hierarchy are mostly Western religious phenomena. Even if you take Eastern religions like Shinto in their golden days they'd still not look like 'religions' to most Western standards. And almost no Japanese person is going to say religion is important in their life, doesn't change that they turn to Shinto traditions when they need to pass an exam, pass a wayshrine, celebrate newyear etcetc...

My point exactly. Final Fantasy, and japanese media in general are not so much anti-religious, as putting an entirely different importance on religion, and portraying WESTERN style organized religions as something scary and alien.

It's a mistake to overanalize FF's "shocking" take on religion, where there is only culture shock between two different expectatios of religion.

Lunar Templar:

Not Christian =/= Not Religious.

I know. If I would have wanted to talk about the least Christian country, I would have named Iran or Afghanistan. Japan is one of the the least *religious* ones.

Oww. New found respect for Final Fantasy then and almost makes me want to play them. Almost.

It just seems to me that the Japanese have no problem using religious imagery for their antagonists. And I'm pretty sure this isn't exclusive to Final Fantasy.

Reading the comments here makes me think back to when Jim was first uploading videos to the Escapist. Man, everyone hated that guy. Then, he causally states that he is playing a character and suddenly everyone was in on it and knew it all along.

Oh, and members of the Escapist calling out the narrator of a video for being smug. Man, I just find that too funny.

Anyway, I saw this Game Theory a long time ago. I still enjoyed it, though. I knew about FFX's and FFT's obvious dislike of organized religion already, but it was still interesting to hear someone to explain it. And even if Final Fantasy Legend is not part of FF, it's still fits the theory. Rather nicely, really.

I got about a minute into the video before I turned it off. Nope. Game Theory is still too annoying for me to bother.

I dunno, is schadenfreude part of the appeal here?
People comment about how annoying it is and then others get to laugh at said comments?
What is the appeal of presenting a subject by being extremely annoyingly smug?
I don't get it, and I certainly don't want to watch it.

So it's time for a new rule on my end: I'll watch the Escapists' shows (and their ads) when their "style" isn't based entirely on being intolerably smug and insufferably annoying. The subject and message are fine, by the way, I wouldn't have clicked the video if I wasn't interested in them.

Say what you will about Yahtzee and his endless fits of cynical condescension and smugness, at least he offers comedic wit backed by a strong, creative grasp of the English language. He's proven more than capable of sharing and explaining his thoughts in a way that doesn't immediately make me regret watching/reading.
He's even offered great commentary before in lieu of mindless cynicism a few times.

A cheap animation of kicking someone in the balls complete with annoying commentary isn't entertaining or particularly informative. This is the sort of presentation I'd expect to be a fake show in Idiocracy.

So until the Escapist realizes that "Deliberately, insufferably smug" is an unacceptable way to pitch any show, let alone its "smart show", I'm not watching until then. And no, I don't care if that's Game Theory's schtick. The schtick adds nothing to their message and overtly subtracts from it.

The Internet is a big place, and I'm tired of lowering my standards just to tolerate content that barely elevates itself above clickbait and trolling. Seriously, the Escapist used to be better than this.

That said, I will attempt to be fair. So here's my take on the first minute of the video.

*fanboy caricature battle segment*
I seriously doubt many (if any) gamers, let alone FF Fans, are going to actually be upset over this.
Why? Because the 90s came and went already. Sorry I had to ruin the joke, but this was old hat back in 2004, let alone 2014.

Japan has crapped out YEARS worth media that exploits religious references.
All religions even, not just the Abrahamic and India-Hindu religions.
(Some of them are even respectful towards the religion in question, but that's going further afield than intended)

Square, in their creative heyday, were no exception.
I have no idea who in your audience would be shocked or angry at this, but the vs fanboy disclaimer segment comes across as needlessly defensive and immature instead of preemptively clever.

~1:10
"I don't think FF fans have actually realized how religious references are used."

Damn near EVERYONE figured that out over a decade ago.

Square wasn't exactly being subtle.
The endgame content for FF6 and FF7 both end with you killing a mad "God" and a "Fallen Angel" respectively, all set to music with heavy, obvious divine overtones (Sephiroth's famous god choir, the first 3 movements of Dancing Mad).

FF Tactics is even less subtle and beats you over the head repeatedly with the Glabados Church's corruption and it's PAINFULLY OBVIOUS twisted repainting of Christianity (right down to the 12 disciples and Germonick, er, Judas).

You, the HERETIC, is the hero because you "lost your faith" (read the Germonik scriptures; that's a literal quote) because you learned the truth.

And those are three of the most popular games in the FF series.

medv4380:
Stupid Western concept of Religion. Most Religions outside of Western Judao-Islamic-Christian religions don't have a concept of "Our god is the one and most perfect god there is". FF6 was a good example of Christianity vs Japanese Spirit worship. Unless you're going to claim that Spirit Worship isn't religious the claim that it's Anti Religious is clearly false. The expert explained it right Game Theory got it wrong, and Game Theory clearly didn't understand the experts explanation.

Under Game Theory's logic you'd have to conclude the Norse Religion was Anti Religion because Odin as one of the most untrustworthy figures to the point of being called Odin Oath-Breaker. However, the Norse Religion is a religion and can't exactly be Anti Itself. Clearly having evil manipulative creator gods doesn't make you anti-religion. In fact, given the trace record it's almost a prerequisite.

So very much this. The video suffers greatly from lack of knowledge of general religion and as consequence its very Christian-centric position. One thing that must be understood is that many faiths actually make use of flawed and even evil deities as part of their pantheons, and more than a few mythologies include deity deaths in their repertoire. You ever hear of Egyptian deity Osirus? Killed and mutilated by his brother Set (god of storms, disorder and violence, among other things) out of envy. The Shinto goddess Izanami? Died giving birth to Kagu-Tsuchi (who in turn was then killed in a fit of rage by Izanagi). Most of the Norse pantheon? Fated to be slain during Ragnarok. Special mention, however, goes to Baldr, the god whose murder earned Loki his bondage until Ragnarok. Cronos? Attempted to kill each of his children before ultimately being killed by Zeus.

Point being that there's a longstanding history in the various religions of treating deities as very humanized individuals who can and are killed as part of their mythology. And this is before we even get into the context of the stories themselves, before we so much as touch on the idea of false prophets and gods, or even those who misuse their power (How did it go in later Stargate seasons? "It is not their power we doubt, but their worthiness as gods"?). That's not anti-religious, that's culture shock.

Alterego-X:
Why Final Fantasy is Anti-Religion? Maybe because it's from the least religious country on Earth?

It doesn't stop them from having a tooooooooon of religious (and more relevant, Abrahamic) iconography, and often in a positive sense.

I mean, you don't have to be religious to use iconography. I'm an atheist who uses a ton of religious elements and references in basically any art I do (mostly written). Doesn't mean I love Jesus, but at the same time, being secular or non-religious doesn't mean you're going to create anti-religious messages.

AmberSword:
I really don't like the game theorist, like someone said they present valid opinions, but they act so smug like their the first ones who figured it out and everyone else was in the dark.

See, I've never picked up on the smugness. I have, however, noticed several of the theories are half-baked and poorly rationalised. I still think the series is fun, though. I mean, I can get why some of the issues, especially ones like these, might be of a sensitive enough nature to set someone up, but I don't get the smug comments. It's infotainment presented in an infotainment style.

seiler88:
What gets under my skin is that "Nuke the Church" is the only plot we ever seem to get.

I mean is it too much to ask for a Good monotheistic religion in a game?

In an FF game or in games in general?

Because I could swear I've seen positive (monotheistic) religious messages in games before, but as I try and name one, I do find myself coming up blank.

Oh wow, I had totally never thought of this before... Oh wait - yes I have. 'cause ya know, I'm a person that plays story-based games, and having played every Final Fantasy game available, it was a pattern that's pretty easy to pick out. Bravely Default, which is basically just another game in the FF series as far as I'm concerned, also had this aspect going for it. I mean, they basically beat you over the head with it in Final Fantasy Tactics. Anyone that has missed this endlessly recurring theme across the series has either only played a game like VIII, where it isn't incredibly prominent, or just hasn't been paying attention. So, ya know, thanks for the year old video about stuff we've all already known about for a really long time.

What I would like to see is for Final Fantasy to go down a less obvious route in future games since this theme is getting a little old. I mean, even in Final Fantasy 14 you join up with an organization who's main purpose is slaying the Primals, who are, for all intents and purposes, gods of the various beastmen tribes. I know organized religion can become corrupt and all, and it's not that I don't disagree, I just think Final Fantasy could really stand to tackle a less trodden theme, but I also understand that organized religion is an easy target that makes it simple to raise the stakes by making you face off against the "One True God" at the end of the game. But I'm getting kind of bored with that.

Japan has always had a "no foreign beliefs", ultraconservative approach to other religions (most notably "Abrahamic ones") within their society. I recently read an article on how Japan views the wars in the Middle East. They saw it through the eyes of a hands off observer. Look at how they saw Christian missionaries back in the day. It's an eye opener.

- Sephiroth represents the Judaic Moschiach run amok and against the world.
- Kefka was a Greek-esque personification of a mortal man becoming a god.
- St. Ajora in FFT directly paralleled Yeshua Christos and was seen as an inhuman monster threatening man in the form of an ancient demon.

This article comes as no surprise.

>Claim Final Fantasy 10 is your favorite in the series.
>Use intentionally awkward scene out-of-context to get a laugh.

SO ORIGINAL! I'm so sick of people referencing this as a terrible scene. It's intentionally awkward. Seriously, look it up in the Japanese. It's just as awkward sounding!

Oh, and... Rawr, video against final fantasy bad... or something. *shrugs* I guess just insert FF Fanboy rage here or something to that effect.

Depends which Final Fantasy. FFX where you literally fight against a corrupt church that tries to keep everything in a endless spiral doomed to repeat itself, yeah I can see why a religious person might take that as anti-religious. Particularly the organized type of religion with temples and services and clergy. But generically anti-religion? Not really, most Final Fantasy games have a lot of references to actual factual gods that really exist. And in some of them gods actually show up and do things.

It doesn't really matter it's not like those games are meant to further some political motive, I don't think they're meant as anything more than entertainment.

Some interesting points, though I'd heard a few before, FF has always had broad references but FF6 is much more blatant then I remember and so I may have to replay it out of curiosity.

Just one more thing, why did he saying Final Fantasy "X" instead of Ten?...

Raika:
There's a way to present a theory that everyone figured out years ago without coming across as infuriatingly, intolerably smug. Let me know when you figure it out.

Yeah...this was pretty awful overall :\

If you are interested, a similar thing happens in the old game Guardian Heroes.
In one of the ending you go to heaven, kill god (who bizarrely looks a lot like Yu Yevon from FF8) and return to earth.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=5rDNPascaRc#t=656

I always interpreted these "kill god" storylines as having more to do with
free will,
the indomitable spirit of man,
love of freedom,
breaking the chains that bind you,
screw "the man",
always move forward,
root for the underdog,
what a twist,
etc. Also, what is cooler than killing god. Killing a king, an arch-mage, or godzilla, that's all well and good, but killing god is a step up. Granted this is the American point of view rather than the Japanese creator's but there should be a little cross over. The reason's given in this vid are great.

medv4380:

Nieroshai:

medv4380:
Stupid Western concept of Religion. Most Religions outside of Western Judao-Islamic-Christian religions don't have a concept of "Our god is the one and most perfect god there is". FF6 was a good example of Christianity vs Japanese Spirit worship. Unless you're going to claim that Spirit Worship isn't religious the claim that it's Anti Religious is clearly false. The expert explained it right Game Theory got it wrong, and Game Theory clearly didn't understand the experts explanation.

Under Game Theory's logic you'd have to conclude the Norse Religion was Anti Religion because Odin as one of the most untrustworthy figures to the point of being called Odin Oath-Breaker. However, the Norse Religion is a religion and can't exactly be Anti Itself. Clearly having evil manipulative creator gods doesn't make you anti-religion. In fact, given the trace record it's almost a prerequisite.

Judaism, islam, and Christianity are middle-eastern religions. Catholicism and all of its spawn are western. I don't mean to nitpick, but misspeech tends to beget misinformation VERY easily here on the webz.

Maybe you should bother to look up what are Western Religions before you claim to nitpick. Or would you have preferred the Abrahamic reference?

Judaism, founded in a currently unknown location, probably in Mesopotamia. Christianity, founded in Israel by people claiming to have known Jesus in life. Islam, founded in Mecca, by Muhammad. All of those locations lie roughly east of anything we would even call "West."
EDIT: Before you continue to "correct" me, please make sure all you're doing isn't just reading off of a list.

seiler88:
What gets under my skin is that "Nuke the Church" is the only plot we ever seem to get.

I mean is it too much to ask for a Good monotheistic religion in a game?

Do Kid Icarus, Painkiller, League of Angels, and Diablo count? I have never played any of these games but I think they count.

It's not hard to make a good monotheistic religion, but it is much easier and cooler not to.

In almost all fiction you need an underdog. A good guy going up against a more powerful enemy. If the main character is part of the good monotheistic religion there isn't much that can stand up against them. Especially if its a Christian-ish god because then you could just have god auto-win the game for you. It would be like making a Human vs Alien story where humanity is stronger than the aliens. Not saying its impossible, since you could be fighting an equally powered demon army or tracking down hidden cultists could be cool (like playing as a soldier tracking down evil Lacee in FF13). Just that its way easier to make the religion evil and have the hero fight them.

Likewise, the forces of good are actually good and just winning is kinda bland. Its way more interesting to have sinister forces within a good organization. A little moral ambiguity can go a long way.

endplanets:
Do Kid Icarus, Painkiller, League of Angels, and Diablo count? I have never played any of these games but I think they count.

-Kid Icarus: The first one, yeah. Though Palutena doesn't really do anything but damsel duty.
In Uprising, she definitely has a bit of a control freak mean side to her, though she ultimately works to protect humanity.

-Diablo: "...the machinations of heaven are unfathomable. ~Deckard Cain"
Tyrael seems to be the only angel who openly acts to protect humanity and Sanctuary. (as of Diablo 2 anyway, I didn't touch Diablo 3 because fuck Diable 3 and its always online bullshit)
I should note that Tyrael isn't really God either.

-Painkiller. Haven't finished it.
-League of Angels: Never heard of it.

Zachary Amaranth:

It doesn't stop them from having a tooooooooon of religious (and more relevant, Abrahamic) iconography, and often in a positive sense.

I mean, you don't have to be religious to use iconography. I'm an atheist who uses a ton of religious elements and references in basically any art I do (mostly written). Doesn't mean I love Jesus, but at the same time, being secular or non-religious doesn't mean you're going to create anti-religious messages.

There is a difference between being secular, and being a throughly secular culture to which organized religion itself is foreign.

Christianity is to Japanese works, is what voodoo or buddhism are to Hollywood. A cool exotic "magic system", portrayed with little care about respecting the spiritua beliefs of it's actual followers.

I'm just saying, FF s pretty run of the mill in that regard. After all, wasn't Evangelion infamous for it's meaningless iconography too? And there was

I read exactly this argument in an article at least a couple of years ago. Now I have to go find it. This has already been done.

Oh, and I'm back on the hatred for the Capcha thing just to get permission to post a message here. The one below wants me to enter a phrase glorifying Time Warner Cable where I used to work and who do not deserve it in the least. If I were a more petty individual I would declare that I am never going to read the Escapist again if it is being paid for by Time Warner Cable. Because they are evil. You know how Harry Potter felt about Dorothy Umbridge? That's how I feel about Time Warner Cable. And there is a woman who works at TWC who is the physical and spiritual twin of Dorothy Umbridge. Believe me, she is real and she exists to make people miserable.

Double post -.-

Holy. Shit.

Are you telling me, O wise one, that FF games have religious themes in them? I have been enlightened. I shall go forth and spread to word to those that still live in the dark.

...Seriously? That is as shocking a statement as "Magic exists in FF".

While his assessment of modern-day Japan stands reasonably well, I feel the need to correct some of the historical facts pertaining to Japan's Shogun era expressed by the video's cultural expert, Gaijin Goombah. Apologies if this information is already common knowledge, but, since no one has yet brought it up, I thought it might bear discussion.

The main error here is that the year given for Hideyoshi Toyotomi's "banning of Christianity" is 1857. Hideyoshi issued his directive to purge the Jesuits in 1587. This remarkable oversight of two and a half centuries obscures Hideyoshi's motives, rendering Gaijin Goombah's theory, that Hideyoshi considered Christian worship incompatible with reverence for the Emperor, as extremely flawed.

In truth, the Emperor as political expedient was a very Meiji, i.e. late nineteenth-century, idea, itself conceived by opportunistic samurai from Japan's southern provinces. Hideyoshi, who never formally accepted the mantle of "Shogun" and lived in an era of fragmented authority, would have been unlikely to behave in such a way. Rather, his actions reflected the more direct needs of his time: to put down the threat of armed rebellion, to end rumors of Japanese slave trading, and to limit the influence of foreign powers. His decree of 1587 did not ban Christianity outright, either, but merely expelled the Jesuits, only one of several types of missionaries active in Japan at the time. Even this edict was not widely observed, which may have led to Hideyoshi's more extreme statement of crucifying twenty-six Christians to put his message through.

Christianity *was* eventually outlawed in Japan, by Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder of the Shogunate which brought an end to the Warring States Era. However, directly linking this ban to the dearth of Christians in modern Japan, as the video does, is problematic. It is more likely that Christianity's foreign values simply never took root in Japan, though, granted, they were never given much chance. A parallel can be seen in Japan's attitude towards socialism in the Meiji era. The oligarchic leaders of the time were fearful of socialism's potential impact on their power, and so took steps to discourage it, yet there was never any great outpouring of support for the movement to begin with. Its values were simply not popular at that juncture.

The above observations are meant to counter the simplistic notion that Christianity failed to flourish in Japan merely because "the Emperor forbade it," or that any decree would be so final or blindly followed as to utterly quash a religion for hundreds of years. This conceit carries the echoes of Western bias, the stereotype of a god-king suppressing his people and the "one true faith." The reality is somewhat more complex, human, and subtle.

As a final note, though quibbling with dates and technicalities may seem pedantic to some, it is important to recognize that Hideyoshi Toyotomi is one of the most prominent figures in Japanese history, a quintessential samurai and founding father, and were a Japanese author to casually assert that Americans owe their democracy to a bill passed by King Washington in 1492, they would almost certainly take exception.

EDIT: Since watching the segment again, I should note that Gaijin Goombah does address the cultural factors I mention throughout my post; in that respect, we are in agreement. My criticisms of his facts remain, as does my contention regarding his position on the Emperor, though I am pleased he chose to mute himself somewhat on this point with broader arguments.

Killing false or evil gods is a standard sci-fi and fantasy story. Hell, the Stargate franchise is built on it. Doctor Who does it at least once a season. The Archdemon from Dragon Age is a god, the Reapers from Mass Effect are insulted by the comparison, and the entire Greek pantheon is wiped out in God of War.

Saltyk:
Reading the comments here makes me think back to when Jim was first uploading videos to the Escapist. Man, everyone hated that guy. Then, he causally states that he is playing a character and suddenly everyone was in on it and knew it all along.

Oh, and members of the Escapist calling out the narrator of a video for being smug. Man, I just find that too funny.

Anyway, I saw this Game Theory a long time ago. I still enjoyed it, though. I knew about FFX's and FFT's obvious dislike of organized religion already, but it was still interesting to hear someone to explain it. And even if Final Fantasy Legend is not part of FF, it's still fits the theory. Rather nicely, really.

Agreed, sometimes I think the users here are too uptight and at times, stuck up when it comes to entertainment. I mean just like with Jim, if you can't tell that MatPat acts and sounds this way for comedic purposes, then sorry, you're too serious and have no sense of humour whatsoever in my opinion.

I don't think I've ever seen such a poorly executed video idea. Final Fantasy uses a wealth of complex and nuanced religious ideas and terminology, from a variety of religions. Asking if Final Fantasy is "Anti-Religion" or "Anti-God" sort of misses the point. It's like saying that Evangelion is bad because Shinji is a wuss. I understand that MatthewPatrick would like to give us more discussions on this topic, but he's clearly demonstrated he's not competent to handle them.

Final Fantasy advocates deicide? What is a statement like supposed to mean?

If how is Yevon becoming Sin an Adam and Eve metaphor?

Don't you think a Four part battle based on Dante's Divine Comedy deserve a little more unpacking?

Why do you have a Gumba explaining why your question is wrong at the end? Couldn't we have started with him and talked about something interesting? Does the Gumba have a video series, that I can watch instead of Matthew Patrick?

Wouldn't it have been a more interesting video to dissect the Eastern and Western religious themes going on in these games? Couldn't we have started there?

"We now know the how and why of Final Fantasy being anti-religious" Don't you think a statement like that is borderline offensive considering the expertise you just got handed?

Seriously, if your resident expert explicitly says he doesn't want anyone thinking Japan hates religion, why do you title your video "Why Final Fantasy is Anti-Religion?" Don't you think that's a little cheap and disingenuous, especially considering the Gumba's ultimate point?

FFXI is QUITE anti-religion....

Though I believe it to be accidental...

In FFXI, according to The Church, the world was empty... then there was a Giant Crystal emitting super awesome light...
From that light the world arose... and gods arose from that world as well.
The greatest of these gods (which are the elemental avatars summoners summon), is the Twilight God Promathia and the Dawn Goddess Altana.
For some reason that no mortal can really agree on (presented as different sects of The Church of Altana), Promathia died.
Altana was very sad at this, for they love each other, so She shatters the super awesome "Mothercrystal", thus creating the world of the game, Vana'diel.
Then she sheds 5 tears on this new imperfect world... and those tears became the 5 "good" races (ie playable).

With the first expansion, it's revealed that there was a precursor race... who planned on recreating the Perfect Mothercrystal, thereby making the world Perfect... And turning all their species into gods.
This was thought up by the eldest Prince of the Zilart after he touched one of the Mothercrystal shards and saw a vision of how the world was before Altana broke it.

It's also revealed that the reason why the "5 races of Altana" and the Beastmen exist... is because when the Kuluu (Zilart who have lost their special ability, a slave race) and the "Terrestrial Avatars" conspired with the Dawn Maidens (the Zilartian Church.... who due to the Zilartian ability to speak via soul... actually talk with Altana directly... She even is the one who told them how to thwart the world being reborn.)... the resultant magical fallout tainted all the worlds Kuluu and Zilart... eventually mutating them into all sentient races in the game.
(and making any Zilart "souldeaf")

In the second expansion, it's revealed the reason WHY Altana stepped in to stop Her "childrens'" plan.
And why the so-called "gods", the Terrestrial Avatars, were on board with this.
The basic plan was to reforge the Giant Mothercrystal... but smooshing the 5 pieces back together via magic.
This would have made the universe Perfect again... and while the Zilart believed that they would become gods, as in equal to the Celestial Avatars and Altana, they were slightly mistaken...
For they would indeed become divine... just... as cells for the reborn Promathia.
The Terrestrial Avatars would be returned to simple common animals... and the Celestial Avatars would be awoken.
But so too would the corpse of Promathia... And He would take back His fragmented body...
For when He died... Altana broke the Giant Mothercrystal and from His body, created the Zilart. (and thusly all intelligent species indirectly.)
The 5 Terrestrial Avatars were just 5 random animals who escaped the "imperfecting" via some method that led to them being giant crystals in the imperfect world. (A bird, a wolf, a dragon, a bunny, and a demon btw... Phoenix, Fenrir, Bahamut, Carbuncle, and Diabolos.)
Hence why they don't want to go back to being ants... and want to maintain their Divinity... even if it's only Divinity in an imperfect world...
It also hasn't really worked out that well for them... because Phoenix's crystal is shattered... making her a fragmented being living on the souls of sacrificed people... Fenrir's crystal was either destroyed or he never made one... making him "dead"... and Carbuncle broke his crystal so that he could trick mortals into awakening the real gods so that the perfect would would be made without Promathia... (which wouldn't have worked btw.)

And further, in the fourth expansion, it's revealed just what REALLY happens when Altana cries tears...
They turn into kitties.
Either that or She cries kitties...
She's an Ubergod... so... who the fuck knows.
Either way, it's just ONE MORE nail in the coffin that is the Church's teachings.

And I say it's unintentional for two reasons:
1) the game is about racism. The Church's teachings about the 5 races being holy, unlike the Beastmen... even going so far as to say Beastmen lack souls... is fundamentally racist.
The game's creators chose to disprove that racist ideology with a Truth... it's just that said Truth fundamentally alters the Church's dogma as well.

2) The belief that there IS a higher power that loves you and wants you to live (Altana) is presented as fact.
She even interacts in the plot multiple times... and not any of that "maybe it was God maybe it wasn't mysterious ways" shenanigans either... She literally is the one responsible for twarting the Zilart's plan. She is in CSs. She talks to Promathia. She cries Kitties who play a major role in the story (Cait Sith)...
She IS real.

Normally when people tackle the "anti-religion" angle in stories, they do so by showing that what is believed is false.
As was pointed out in X, Yevon was just a dude from Zanarkand who hatched a plot to get revenge on Bevelle by turning all of Zanarkand into a single Faith to keep it "alive" while creating a monster to kill Bevelle.
In other words, the religion is false and bad because its beliefs are lies: God does not exist.
In FFXI, the religion's beliefs in Altana are real and legitimate... but it's dogma about the racial superiority of certain peoples is wrong.

Too bad most people will never get this story... it really is one of the best plots in ANY FF...

VVThoughtBox:

Weren't Christianity and Catholicism the same thing up until the Protestant Reformation?

Every Protestant religion and the Catholic religion are all STILL Christian. Not sure what has the other poster's panties in a twist. His rant also has very little to do with the video and seems to have more to do with artistic interpretations than anything else.

Ah well. I don't really understand why we all just can't get along but some people just have to hate on something. Funny how most of the time, it tends to be something very similar and only very slightly different than themselves (like Protestants Vs Catholics)

seiler88:
What gets under my skin is that "Nuke the Church" is the only plot we ever seem to get.

I mean is it too much to ask for a Good monotheistic religion in a game?

It is quite a cliche at this point but it also doesn't help that organized religion, Western religion in particular, pretty much hands it's critics ammunition to use against it. Especially religions/sects who are very dogmatic and can't abide the idea of "live and let live" but must eliminate anything they consider heresy or sin or apostasy. Which often means torture and/or murder.

Catholicism itself is a massive target both because it's heavily bureaucratic and hierarchical, so unlike a lot of religions/sects, one man is ultimately responsible for everything that the church does(or doesn't do). It doesn't help that the church has, in so many cases, acted like things that go on beneath it's roof somehow isn't it's problem. A couple years ago, Pope Benedict downright claimed that people criticizing the church were "anti-catholic" and "influenced by the devil", as if to say "We are the church. We can do no wrong".

So it's really not surprising that the Catholic church ends up being the bad guy in games/movies/books so often. The church leadership pretty much invites it.

It's not anti-religion, it's using religion as a whipping boy more accurately, because it's an easy target. More accurately, it's using western religions. And it's far from just Final Fantasy. Breath of Fire 1-4 were all about murdering some sort of God figure, though 3 handled it the best; if BoF3 there are two endings, one where you kill the God of the world, and let the ever growing desert slowly consume the planet, or bend to her will and kill yourself for the good of the world. That was some pretty dark territory for a PS1 game.

But as I was saying, you can look to most JRPG series and see this. Shin Megami Tensei games always deal with religion somehow, even aiming at their own mythologies with titles like Persona 4, where the big bad is Izanami, a Japanese goddess of creation and death. You can't actually believe that practicioners of Shintoism are mocking their own religion? It's more about using them as a vessel to tell a story, or in some cases get a broader point across on topics such as zealotry (FFT) or distorting the faith (BoF2).

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