Final Fantasy VI: The Penultimate Post (FFVI-12)

Up to this point I have covered (pretty in depth) all but five of the heroes of this story. These last five characters are met much closer to the game, and are given much less of a character development or none at all. With this in mind, instead of going on in the manner I have, I will instead bunch these five characters into one post under the topic of Nobuo Uematsu’s use of leitmotif and A B form in this game.

The Others

Mog Strago Relm Gogo Umaro

I feel kind of bad bunching up these characters into one title and especially one as demeaning as “The Others”. However, only two of these characters really have any form of interesting plot. Two of them are actually complete extras.

Umaro, one of the extras, is a yeti in the mountains… so nothing really interesting there. The only way he joins you is if Mog is in your party, and Umaro just straight up listens to Mog’s command to join you. That’s the end of that (Well, in gameplay it’s not. He is actually pretty hilarious as a fighter for some specific mechanics and he makes the game more fun with them).

Gogo, the other extra, is also mostly searched for because of a gameplay mechanic. However, no one knows Gogo’s origination, and some of the theories are actually pretty cool. My personal favorite is that Gogo is actually Darill (the one who crashed her airship in Setzer’s story), and I think part of her theme could be a tip of the hat to that.

Mog is sort of a silly character, and sort of not. There is a bit of implied plot with Mog, but nothing very specific. Mog is mostly there as the signature Moogle. If you didn’t know, Final Fantasy games while having completely different worlds and stories between number titles (FFVI, FFX, etc. There is an exception to this but that is Final Fantasy XV and it isn’t even out yet.) have certain things that always return in each game. For example there is a person named Cid in almost every game, and Moogles, one of the made up cute fantasy creatures, can be found in most every game. Mog is basically how that takes form in Final Fantasy VI.

Strago. The old man. The legend. Yeah, not really. Strago is an old man, but not that “wise mentor” kind of old man often found in stories. He’s kind of crazy and restless, but the one thing that matters to him, is taking care of Relm. Strago is given a very short, and pretty lack luster story. In the end of the world, Strago is even lame enough to join The Cult of Kefka which is a Cult driven to worship Kefka in fear of his power. The only way he joins the party is if you bring Relm along and she reprimands him (she does this often).

Relm was the one character of this group that I really considered doing her own post. Relm is the other child of the party, and her theme and her interactions stop one in their tracks more than Gau does. Every time Relm has an important role her theme pops up and pretty much feels like a smack to the face with calm, peaceful, pretty music. Oh, and she paints her way into winning fights. Her character and her theme definitely have the most to talk about out of this group, but brings similar things to the table that Gau did, so I decided it would be best to move on. The main thing of her story, is in a series of flashbacks and notable one can discover that she is in fact Shadow’s left-behind daughter. The story brings this about in a both very sad and heartwarming manner. For example, the only person Shadow’s dog Interceptor is friendly with is Relm. The main sad example is an item called “Memento Ring” that is said to be empowered by a fallen mother. Only Shadow and Relm can equip it.

##Musical Character Development

The main thing that brings me to love the soundtrack that Nobuo Uematsu created for this game SO much, is how much farther each character is developed by the music. Specifically for this game, Nobuo Uematsu found a GREAT way to do this. The first thing he did is created a small theme, known as a leitmotif, for every main character in the game. From there he could use these themes in other parts of the game, and just by changing the accompaniment or the harmony to each leitmotif, he could make a different statement in his music. He made it a really powerful tool, and it’s seen throughout the whole of the game. For example, When Setzer’s leitmotif is played with different instrumentation and with a minor harmony rather than major in the song Epitaph it creates a very emotional moment while the fallen Darill is reminisced. He even puts every hero’s leitmotif in the finale, Balance is Restored.

Another really powerful tool used by Nobuo Uematsu is the A B form that he used for every character’s theme. This is really where he further develops each character in the music. Every single character has this same form, but bent towards expressing each character. Let me use Relm as the final example of this. The beginning and A section of Relm’s theme really has the slap-in-the-face calming affect that her whole character has with it’s very slow tempo, simple accompaniment, light instrumentation, and slow moving melodic lines. When the B section comes in about 40 seconds in, suddenly there is a different feel. It starts to move more, and has a thicker texture; not enough to change the feel of the piece as a whole, but enough to contrast it well. It also brings a different mood into the mix. It sounds more sad and pensive. Pain can even be heard in the harmonies, and this is just what was needed to both express Relm’s character, AND develop it IN MUSIC. Every important moment that Relm has in this story, she brings a calm into the mixture of it all with her childish spirit and drive to want to help. The sound of her theme just adds to that with how calm it sounds. THAT is what is expected of a composer in the situation. THAT is an expression of the character in a form of a theme that sounds like it should in the given situations it is played. However, Nobuo Uematsu takes that next step into developing this character farther. Relm honestly has a depressing background. Her father couldn’t bare himself enough to consider himself a good enough father for her, and her mother died at her birth. She was brought up only by old man Strago in a very small town. No child her age wouldn’t question this. These are the kind of things that affect how someone thinks for the whole of the life, and the things someone her age would struggle a lot with. Well, all the story has time to show is that happy/spirited faced mask that Relm puts on for people, but if you think through it, there’s no way she couldn’t feel the pain of her story in her thoughts. The contrast of the B section of her theme really shows this. It suddenly brings in those affects of pain and sadness in contrast with the completely calm A section. That is powerful!

Looking back at this project now, and realizing I have only one post left to finish it off, I wish I went about it with a much bigger focus on these ideas of leitmotif and the power of the A B form that Nobuo Uematsu uses. However, this is the very reason I am writing these posts, to develop both my analysis skills and my writing skills on analysis. Hopefully, if you did spend the time to read through all of this and go to this point, you can see how it applies to all of the characters and theme’s I wrote about, and even more importantly I hope that I showed you how great each of these characters and story(s) are.

Next on the list and final post in this series: Dancing Mad, the final boss theme, climax of the story, and my current personal favorite piece written for video games.