Final Fantasy X takes a different narrative approach than its predecessors, having our protagonist tell the story from his own perspective and by doing so allowing the player to be involved in the plot more so than as a third party. This in turn helps ease us into the more complex ideologies that have ruled over Spira for a millennium. However the purpose of this narrative isn’t to assimilate us into this world and its customs, but to cast it aside and ultimately rid it of such archaic traditions. This is made evident by Tidus’ narrative as he represents a state of being that has been all but lost on this world, one where the weight of Sin does not pervade every corner of existence.
Tidus’ personality wonderfully captures the energy and enthusiasm lacking in the inhabitants of Spira, instantly garnering the player’s trust once he arrives in this new world. A Blitzball star in his hometown of Zanarkand with the crowds flocking get his autograph; the character had the potential to be a cocksure individual that could have grated on the player with ease. Instead he is one of the few truly open characters in the game and thus the only one who can fathom any kind of alternative for Spira’s future; telling Yunalesca “Then we’ll find Spira a new hope!”. It is this confidence, which left unabated in Zanarkand could have been his undoing, that actually saves Spira from its sorrowful existence. Our interest in him isn’t grounded by any tragedy that has befallen him in the past or will do so in the future; rather it is his willingness to be open and positive against the odds that we find striking. Thus his character is exceptional, and worthy of his role as central protagonist, because by defying a millennium of sorrow, he becomes precisely the person needed to turn Spira around.
Conversely, his fellow guardians are separate to the narrative in a way unlike any other party members within the Final Fantasy series as they do not invite the player’s confidence. Instead their role seems to be to enforce the practices of this world on Tidus, and thus the player, who have been adopted in a sense like a younger sibling requiring some education before he makes a fool of himself. To them, the supposed Toxins affecting Tidus’ mind ought to wear off eventually, dashing his positivity in favour of this one and only remorseful reality. This is evident when Lulu tells Tidus aboard the S.S. Liki “I don’t know who you are or where you came from,” revealing his character is indeed foreign and therefore dangerous until he supposedly ‘regains his senses’. Only Yuna seems to break tradition and it seems her brief time with Jecht is the cause of this. Her intrigue in Zanarkand and her willingness to believe it is truly Tidus’ home, reveals she is still toying with new possibilities within a positive, welcoming outlook despite the fate she has signed herself up for. Thus Tidus’ role becomes even more significant to us, because he is to guide Yuna, who is perhaps the game’s true protagonist, into a world of new possibilities, where perhaps she can truly defeat Sin once and for all. However without Tidus around, it seems clear her guardians are stalwart in their believe the right thing to do is for her to give up her life for Spira for one short year of peace, and thus they must stamp out any other ideas before they take root in Yuna’s mind. Thus they encourage a lingering look over Besaid as if it is the final time she’ll see it, they tell her “this isn’t a vacation”, reminding her of the grim fate in store for her. Without Tidus’ enthusiastic approach to life, one lacking in almost every other corner of Spira, then the spark left behind by Jecht would never have come to fruition.
Ultimately the narrative structure of Final Fantasy X needs Tidus and the player to bring these characters into a new age, one without the weight of Sin choking every aspect of their lives. By the time the group come full circle around the campfire on the outskirts of Zanarkand, we have all the ammunition we need to defy the teachings of Yevon and finally get the other characters on board to face Sin head on. Tidus’ narrative is thus effective as a whole because it allows us to understand this world’s ideologies and turn them around into something positive, that we the player feel compelled to fight for.
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