March 25, 2007

Final Fantasy XII: Why Vaan

Filed under:Final Fantasy Series, Gender, Privilege, Videogames — Lake Desire @ 9:54 am

I recently started a thread on Final Fantasy XII on The IRIS Network forums and realized why it bugs me so much that the protagonist of FFXII is Vaan, a 17-year-old street kid: entitlement.

The story is told through the eyes of the supposed audience of the game. Even though the plot revolves around Ashe and role in international politics, we see it through a peasant kid. I really do enjoy stories about fighting imperialism told from the point of view of everyday people (hey, kind of like my life), but Vaan never justified why it deserved to be him. He’s got a grudge against the Archadian Empire because it’s their fault his brother died, but so what? Same with Penelo’s family. So of course the main character is a teenage boy. That’s taken for granted. It’s privilege that Vaan can just be the star, no questions asked, without having to prove why he is interesting enough to be the protagonist of the world’s most popular RPG franchise.



  1. Ya know what. This is damn true. Good point.

    Comment by Matt (1) — April 16, 2007 @ 3:09 am

  2. While watching my partner play, I keep forgetting that Vaan is the “main” character. He’s just sort of a doofus in the cutscenes, and my partner’s party always has Ashe, Fran, and Penelo in it.

    Although this isn’t a complete judgement, as I haven’t played myself, but I would have prefered the story to have been from Ashe’s point of view, or heck, even Penelo’s. Maybe Penelo isn’t the ideal point of view in this story, but really, neither is Vaan.

    Comment by Casey C. (1) — May 13, 2007 @ 8:09 pm

  3. Great work!

    Comment by Nicholas Bernabe (1) — November 10, 2007 @ 5:35 pm

  4. I remember a scene in FFXII where the adults point out Vaan & Penelo, as if to say ‘look at the kids’. That humor could have lead to some exploration of the perils of making war on childhood (as a war-making adventure party) or why young people deserve to make their own contributions, but they didn’t.

    Anyway, the persistence of Vaan annoyed me too. I wrote a longish comment on an older thread about why FFXII annoys me so so much for its ridiculous levels of fan-service, and Vaan provides just one more example.

    To be fair, I can’t blame everything that disappointed me with FFXII on fan-service. I wouldn’t liked to see Vaan’s story expanded further, but I imagine that would’ve conflicted with their focus on a MMORPG-esque interface. The aggregate party simply became an agency for the player as the game opened up.

    Comment by MacGuges (2 comments) — March 25, 2009 @ 5:00 am

  5. I Agree with your comments about Vaan.

    Do you think the Final Fantasy series is getting better or worse over time?

    Comment by Final Fantasy Fan (1) — April 18, 2010 @ 5:30 am

  6. This is like 5 years old, but anyway:

    I agree with your reasons why it’s vaguely annoying that Vaan was the main character, but also I *actually liked* how he was a street kid. It was sort of giving a positive message that poor people can change the world too. I mean, Ashe was a princess, born into her important position and she was fighting to re-establish her dominion over her kingdom using the divine right of monarchs as justification. Not only that, but a large part of the story was questioning whether or not she was ethically capable of wielding that power while remaining uncorrupted, underscoring for me at least the deep, deep flaws with that system. Fuck her quest to become Queen, unless her first and last act as monarch is to declare Dalmasca a democracy.

    If she were the main character it would have been just too much for me (one of the biggest problems I have with FF4 is the similar position of Cecil). Vaan on the other hand came from extremely humble beginnings and still managed to have as large as impact on politics as the aristocrats. That appealed to me.

    But yeah, there should definitely be more than two Final Fantasies with women as the protagonists.

    So how’s this compromise: Penelo as the main character.

    Comment by Chris (1) — June 14, 2012 @ 1:18 am

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