“Final Fantasy XV -The Dawn of the Future-“ is more than just the definitive, true conclusion of the FFXV Saga (at least until a PS5 port of the game comes out with all the cancelled DLC restored) we all deserve, and hopefully the end of what would come to be known as the “Bahamut Saga”, it may very well be one of the most socially relevant pieces of literature ever released in our time. For one thing, Ardyn Izunia’s backstory and redemption arc, are just some of the engrossing, poignant aspects in which the novel clearly does not disappoint. It’s easy for us, these days to draw parallels between the fictional in-universe plague known as the StarScourge and the real-life Coronavirus, but what I really want to discuss here, is the awful truth about a powerful being that has been a key part of the “Final Fantasy” series since it’s proud beginnings in 1987; The Great Dragon King, Bahamut.
“I admired Megatron merely because he was powerful. I failed to see how he used that power.” ~ Optimus Prime, Transformers G1 S02-E43 “War Dawn”
Bahamut wasn’t always evil, but he was never truly good either, for his motives were born of a profound selfishness, as to destroy evil forces purely to earn the fear and respect of lesser life forms. He had this dangerous idea of authoritative privilege which suggests that power is all that matters, for it somehow confers the right to commit horrible actions (often under the excuse of serving a higher good) and still be considered a “good guy”; that a god can be exempt from all the moral rules which he enforces unto his subjects (you cant’t spell ‘mortal’ without ‘moral’!); So he used his “masters” throughout the series to amass enough power to one day become an all powerful god who can easily decimate any and all who would defy him, regardless of the innocents lost in the crossfire. It is this defining characteristic of Bahamut that has allowed me to conceive this in-universe explanation to his absence in Final Fantasy II (the one with the Evil Emperor, not the American SNES release of Final Fantasy IV); He wanted to destroy the Kingdom of Palamecia out of some fatalistic belief that it’s the only way to prevent the Emperor’s rise to power, but his friends, the other summoned creatures didn’t like the idea and banished him, and themselves from that world, leaving Leviathan behind. From Final Fantasy III (not the American SNES release of Final Fantasy VI) and onward, as punishment for his attempted genocide, Bahamut could only fight when the good guys asked for his help. He hated being their servant, hated being restricted by their morals, so he was fiercely determined to become a God at any cost, and by the events of Final Fantasy XV, he finally did.
As the Astral God of War, Bahamut came to embody selfishness, tyranny, hypocrisy, moral indifference, hubris, cruel fate, misanthropy, sadism, death, treachery, historical censorship, and bloodlust. He was the supreme ruler of his own fantasy land where everyone, even the other gods had no choice but to abide by his rules or lose everything. And his crimes even extended to the laws of time and space, as he misused the power of the Crystal to perpetuate a cycle of death and rebirth that Noctis can never escape, in an unprecedentedly morbid analogy to starting a New Game + on FFXV again and again. He was basically sending Noctis on a suicide mission to destroy a monster of Bahamut’s own making, as Ardyn is essentially the Kratos to Bahamut’s Zeus(something a God of War fan is certain to understand). When I was completing my first playthrough of the base story, I had to either accept that Noctis was doomed, or cling on to hope that ultimately he’ll make it somehow, even if it meant taking the game’s ambiguous post-credits scene to mean he and Lunafreya got the second chance at life they deserve. I should have seen Bahamut’s talk of sacrificing oneself as the first of many red flags to come, as an all too convenient excuse to save his own scaly hide. It’s like he literally thrives on death, destruction, and despair, and is actually only looking for trouble!
There was once a time when I was unable to do much to see a fictional character saved from a sad fate, but when I heard the second wave of additional story content coming for FFXV was cancelled, I knew I had to start a petition on the fly to convince Square Enix to finish what they started, because anything is better than nothing! I had to hold tight onto that last glimmer of hope, no matter what. Then with –The Dawn of the Future– announced and well on it’s way, I tried to come up with a way to disprove those who feel the events depicted therein are little more than an alternate universe fan-fiction, but it should stand to reason now, thanks to my “Versus XV” theory, that in the fourteenth cycle, the Crystal got sick of being Bahamut’s tool and rejected him, so the fourteenth cycle can end with the alternate conclusion as depicted in Episode Ignis Verse 2. You’d think Bahamut should just be happy the threat of the Ardyn Izunia is (“supposedly”) ended if that’s an implied result of this, but his self-centered fatalism would not falter. In yet another despicable act of toying with the timeline, Bahamut turned back time once more to initiate the fifteenth and final cycle. But without the Crystal’s power to give him control over the threads of fate, to protect him from the consequences of his hubris, Bahamut wound time too far back, to the end of Episode Ardyn. It was then, where all the lies the God of War had spun for his self preservation finally begin to unravel, and his fate would be sealed by the very powers he had set against one another. It would be the end of his final fantasy…
I would not be surprised if anyone started drawing parallels between Bahamut’s lying and cheating to get what he wants, and the radical leftists seeking nothing short of the complete destruction of our cherished freedoms, since the radical democrats are molding Joe Biden into their puppet president, just as Bahamut groomed Somnus Lucis Caelum to be king at Ardyn’s expense and utter disgust. And like a pedophile raping an innocent child to death, or a vain man dumping his wife/girlfriend for another when she’s too “old and worn out” for his tastes, Bahamut was perfectly willing to use Noctis as his ragdoll, all for the sake of his fraudulent mythology. Because Bahamut refused to realize how evil he had become, even as others tried so hard to point out that his mindset was unfair and his way of solving problems is wasteful. His mission was not solely to destroy evil, but more importantly, to protect the innocent, but no one is innocent in the eyes of Bahamut, who destroyed so many lives to fuel his horrific egotism. Through this harrowing disrespect for life, Bahamut had effectively proven himself unworthy of arguably the whole universe’s trust, faith, and respect. The fact that the Dragon King had allowed the godly power he craved so much to corrupt his already questionable beliefs is a gruesome, timeless reminder that divinity alone does not guarantee righteousness.
Considering that death is a major central theme in Final Fantasy XV and its related material, one can argue that Bahamut’s true motivation for committing all these terrible sins against even his own kind, for wanting to become a god, is as plain as to escape death; because he had clung to his power and self-imposed philosophy of “protection through oppression” for so long, he became utterly convinced, in his twisted mind, that he is the one being standing in between all that exists and complete nothingness. In other words, he thought the Warriors of Light and the entire universe are nothing without his power. So now, is it any wonder why Bahamut was perfectly willing to throw poor Noctis under the bus? Absolutely not! Even if going along with this game of fate does guarantee the end of the StarScourge, what’s to stop Bahamut from drumming up the next time of great sorrow for his own amusement, with or without the power to pull a Groundhog Day curse on the people of Eos? What could possibly give him the right to deliver his people from evil, only to inflict it on them anew?
With or without such questions in mind, Noctis ultimately chose his own path, at the encouragement of his late father, laying his insecurities to rest and forging ahead to bring forth the future he knows everyone wants to see, putting his friends and family at the foundation of his moral compass in stark contrast to Bahamut blatantly disregarding what his peers and everyone else would think of his horrible actions just because he is a god. Noctis’ rejection of the “supreme power” Bahamut says would banish the darkness in favor of the true ultimate power of hope and friendship really brings to my mind the moment in Final Fantasy XII when Ashe rejected the power of the Sun-Cryst, choosing to rely on her and her allies’ own strengths to defeat the man behind her suffering, the lesson of which had already hit me in a way I could somehow grasp the idea of long before I had the words to explain it. My brother would make it a point to finish the main story of a Final Fantasy game, or at least a boss battle as quickly as possible, if it meant an over-reliance on the strongest attacks available and thus squandering vital resources like elixirs and Mega-potions which would be most useful in later (side) quests and (optional) boss battles, putting him at a dizzying disadvantage. In contrast, I chose to grin and bear the tedious practice of level-grinding wherever and whenever appropriate so I can enjoy the game in question longer and get more done. And now I have effectively chosen to swear off using the power of Bahamut completely, taking after Noctis’ example(in the novel) of choosing the high road, especially.
That being said, despite Noctis, Luna, and their loved ones finally getting their much needed happy endings, Bahamut’s actions still had some major consequences, but the only one I’ll explicitly mention in this article, mainly to avoid spoilers, is the destruction of the Hexatheon’s image in the eyes of all mortals. Public opinion on the gods of Eos, both in-universe and in real life, is now divided between those who foolishly believe Bahamut did nothing wrong; those who deem the gods all guilty in their complicity with Bahamut’s evil ways and/or ineffectiveness in solving the StarScourge Crisis in a responsible manner that doesn’t involve so much needless sacrifices; and those who acknowledge the other gods’ redemption in defying the treacherous Dragon King, the Great Betrayer, as I will always come to know him. And yet, Noctis for one, will allow them the right to their own opinions as long as they don’t sink to Bahamut’s level by going around forcing their opinions onto or killing one another like Bahamut did. It will take time for the aforementioned two groups, at least, to adjust to a world free from the Dragon King’s tyranny, but to me, nothing will ever be more important than friends, family, and the value of precious life. If this really is the end of the “Age of Bahamut”, then I would like to see what new direction(s) the series could possibly take with the “Post-Bahamut Saga” beginning with Final Fantasy XVI, which I had already penned down my key expectations for. And I would love, even more, for Square Enix to let me in on the future of Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts as a creative conceptual director, working alongside the likes of Tetsuya Nomura to deliver more successful titles as well as help the company not to make the same mistakes during the long and arduous development cycle of FFXV.
The biggest lesson of the Final Fantasy XV Universe as a whole, is that not everything is as it seems. It is quite often for fictional deities and even entire pantheons to be depicted as morally iffy at best and totally corrupt at worst, and some would rush to mistake this provocative method of story-telling for an attack on real-life religions, authorities, philosophies, etc.; I, after much thought and research, would much prefer to look at this sort of thing as an analogy to the corrupt powerful and elite in government and even Hollywood(as I keep hearing lately) who not only exploit the masses for their own gain, but also, more often than not, give things that are meant to be for good a terrible name. These such works are, in fact, meant to enlighten, to encourage critical thinking, to re-evaluate the moral standing of individuals in power, and look into what they actually do and how their actions affect others, before making a strong opinion of them. Just as I’d always warn my own father, if you don’t have all the facts about someone like Donald Trump, with his outrageous “locker room talk” and policies with the potential to upset and make enemies of the wrong people; if you don’t have the feasible proof that what he does is at least mostly right AND for the right reasons, you may strongly regret being so stoked on him. “What if all the good he does are just stepping stones towards a more questionable agenda?” or “If he suddenly decides to provide funding for abortion clinics, is he still a hero in your eyes?” are just some of the big questions we should be asking our elders who view such reckless cockiness and unjust authoritarianism as necessary evils for the good of our respective nations. The more I hear about the self-righteous, power-hungry control freaks and the dirty secrets they work so tirelessly to hide from us, the more strongly I feel it is and always should be our moral obligation to fight for what’s truly right in any way we can.
Reality is only harsh and disappointing if we do nothing to change it for the better.
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