Maybe it's because it's nearing the end (of the year) or maybe sleep deprivation has gone to my head, but yesterday as I was walking around the kitchen waiting for my noodles to boil, it suddenly hit me:
Yuna is Jesus Christ.
Before you think I've inhaled too much noodle steam, hear me out:
What I've always liked about the Final Fantasy series are their complexity: The games are not like Super Mario, where you go from check mark A to check mark B. They captivate and move you. Each Final Fantasy game contains such great amount of intricate plot elements, metaphorical details, and deep, underlying messages that it takes you a good amount of time and imagination to really notice and appreciate them all. So while for some of you this essay might seem far-fetched, that is only if you interpret the game literally. But with an open and analytic mind, and perhaps a good dose of noodle steam in your face, you might also see what I saw when I looked into my pot of delicious imagination.
As we all know—assuming that you've played the game—Final Fantasy X revolves heavily around religion. It's one of the most apparent themes in the game although it was convoluted by mystical creatures and corrupt politics. The first thing Tidus learns about Zanarkand, beside that it's destroyed a thousand years ago, is that the ruins, according to some Yevon thing, have become a "holy place." So straight from the bat, we know we're dealing with some spiritual matter in this whole new world we've arrived in.
So, point one: Existence of a religion. Check.
In Spira, Christianity obviously doesn't exist. Instead, this cult-like school of thought called Yevon spans over Spira, functioning as some sort of philosophy of hope for many zealous followers all over the continent. Tidus, who comes from a different time and culture, is dazed by this unheard religion because it never existed while Zanarkand was alive. In fact, it was created due to the very extinction of Zanarkand.
In many ways, the religion of Yevon does mirror Christianity, such as the existence of Bevelle, which functions similarly to the Catholic Church; the concept of sin and a higher power governing it; and the movement of Crusaders .. the name itself—'nuff said. However, Yevon does draw inspirations from other real world religions as well, particularly Buddhism with the whole ritualistic aspect of it. Other school of thoughts seem to also prevail in Spira, most notably Seymour's delusional philosophy, which can be considered a religion in itself; and the Ronso's, who has a completely different, more sacred perspective of life altogether. Nonetheless, they all tie together to meet at one inevitable point of junction: Sin.
What is Sin?
Wakka explained it very clearly when Tidus sought for explanation behind the sacredness of his destroyed blitzball city.
"Long time ago, there were a whole lot of cities in Spira. Big cities with machina—machines—to run 'em. People played all day and let the machina do the work. And then, well, take a look."
"Sin came, and destroyed the machina cities. And Zanarkand along with 'em. Yeah, that was about a thousand years ago, just like you said. If you ask me, Sin's our punishment for letting things get out of hand."
"What gets me, though... is we gotta suffer, 'cause of what some goofballs did way back when! 'Course, we must always repent for our sins! That's important! It's just that, it's hard to keep at it sometimes, you know?"
Credit: Final Fantasy Worlds Apart
Doesn't this remind me you a bit about this one story where some girl ate some fruit despite not being allowed to do so—therefore ended up getting both herself and her boyfriend expelled, and this apparently ended up with the rest of us having to suffer the rest of our lives due to their lack of judgment? Hmmmm?
Sin is the manifestation of immorality, a personification of Spira's sin.
So, point two: Humans are sinful.
Now, where does Yuna play in?
There are two things that immediately come to mind when we talk about living beings that walk on water: First one is Jesus Christ, and the second one is Jesus Christ lizard, but let's focus on the more graceful walker here.
When Yuna first walked on the water, I immediately thought about Jesus Christ. Beside from the fact that Jesus pretty much is the O.G. when it comes to water-strolling, the whole atmosphere and theme of life and death made the connection really strong. I didn't think more about it for the rest of the game, but in afterthought, I'm quite fascinated by how closely Yuna's role in the game functions as the Messiah of Spira.
"The summoners are practitioners of a sacred art, sworn to protect the people of Yevon. Only a chosen few become summoners, who call forth entities of great power: the aeons. The aeons hear our prayers and come down to us. They are the blessing of Yevon."
Ok, so aeons are described "entities of great power" and a "blessing" that can only be drawn forth in temples, and Yuna is the direct contact person between those holy creatures and the normal, sinful people. In a way, the aeons function as some kind of holy creatures, closely resembling divine powers of God. Now, based on the numerous Final Fantasies we've gone through, we all know that "God" doesn't really exist in the universe of Final Fantasy. Instead, it is a giant, floating piece of crystal that wields immense, destructive power with defense level -9999 as it seems to always be either shattered or stolen or both.
But back to topic: the aeons function as holy divinities that protect the people of Spira. So indirectly, the summoner wields holy power that ward off evil spirits. There are only a few people who can become summoners → Yuna is a "chosen one."
So, point three: There's a chosen one with spiritual power.
Moving on the topic of divine powers: The summoner also perform the sending, which is a type of ceremony for the dead: To rinse their body of the evil before they lay to rest.
"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.
The summoner performs a ritual that "saves" people from turning worse than just dead—as if that's not bad enough—but also to prevent them from being engulfed by evil thoughts and turn into fiends that can possibly hunt on their friends and family. (By that definition, defeating fiends is also some sort of sending ... or well, more accurately, an exorcism). So Yuna is kind of preventing a zombie apocalypse. Kinda.
"The sending takes them to the Farplane, where they may rest in peace."
On the note of theology, we can also make the parallel that the Farplane mirrors Heaven, where people rest in peace. The ultimate end-stop for people in Spira is to end up at the Farplane, but if they are too engulfed by darkness, they can no longer be sent there. An example is when Tidus and company faces Lady Ginnem and Yuna fails to send the latter into the Farplane because she's been in the cave for so long and has been too affected by the evil spirits surrounding her. Also, perhaps she felt too angry about her failed pilgrimage and her anger consumed her humanity.
"There is no human left in you now, is there?"
And to connect this back to Christianity: Yuna is not only on a mission to bring peace to Spira, but also to guide the death to Heaven on the way. Doesn't that sound like a known someone who travels around the world on a mission to save humanity and purify it?
Point four: A pilgrimage is involved.
"Lady Yuna, are you going to bring us the Calm?"
In retrospect, this is one of those lines that you didn't think much about in the game but which
completely breaks your heart after the game. Can you imagine Yuna's thoughts when she hears the hopefulness in the child's voice, asking her if she can bring the Calm, something of which the child innocently associates with happy and peaceful times while being completely ignorant the pain and sacrifice behind the summoner's promise to do so?
Yuna has the power to defeat Sin, the consequence of humanity's wrongdoings, thanks to the holy power she borrows from supernatural deities. She's on a quest to defeat the sin of humanity, and she has to sacrifice herself in the process of doing so.
When talking about sacrifice for humanity, it's hard to ignore the story of Jesus Christ who died on the cross in order to repent for the evilness of humanity. Summoners sacrifice themselves to bring the Calm to Spira ... almost as if they are repenting for the wrongdoings of Spira. The only issue here is that the Calm is temporary.
Point five: Sacrifice to repent for humanity.
Now, I know that almost every hero in every fantasy out there follows the same guideline as Yuna. Naruto has had his fair of saving and sacrificing and a holy divinity inside of him. Harry Potter is the chosen one with a fancy scar to prove so. However, not every hero deals with spirituality and complete selflessness, which I think sets Yuna apart from most heroes. For most heroes, it's been about a personal gain, some kind of goal or ambition, to learn about their past etc. and triumph from it. Jesus Christ was all selfless sacrifice: Born to be the Messiah, destined to die for the people. For Yuna, it's been about Spira and death since the beginning. A pre-destination to follow her father's path. A preparation for her own death.
Although the story and endings played out quite differently for Yuna (she never died, which is nice), she did end up sacrificing (and we all know what she sacrificed). The parallel between her and Jesus becomes more interesting because of the different twist at the ending: Final Fantasy X implies that a person cannot repent for humanity. As Yunalesca nicely put it:
"Will humanity ever attain such purity?"
No. According to Yevon, humans are sinful and always will be. But really ... what is Sin? In Final Fantasy X, it was created. And defeated. And in the process, the whole religion of Yevon fell apart with it alongside the deities. The whole cycle of death broken. So in a way, the concept of "sin" was created by the people of Spira, the human mind, and misused by the Yevon religion. Thus, a human cannot get rid of "Sin," only the concept, whatever that might be, and those who impose it.
I hope this essay wasn't too abstract?
I kind of wrote this in a rush but WHO CARES IT'S NEW YEAR'S EVE GUYS
HAPPY 2017 SEE YOU NEXT YEAR
I kind of wrote this in a rush but WHO CARES IT'S NEW YEAR'S EVE GUYS
HAPPY 2017 SEE YOU NEXT YEAR