Too long title, but I hope you understand what I want to convey about Squall, Rinoa, and theory between them in Final Fantasy VIII. First of, let’s start from Squall. Squall introduced as fearsome warrior in training with his unique weapon called Gunblade, which only he and Seifer as far as I know, can mastering it. Despite his greatness, Squall is lone wolf, often times detached to his friend or other colleague around him, supress his emotions to people and loyal to his own duty as SeeD. In simple way, Squall good at doing his job as SeeD but bad in building social relationship with other people, including his SeeD teammates. He even easily said things harshly to or detached himself from his friend because he didn’t want get involved to their personal problem or hate just being social like normal people.
Squall, the reluctant hero, didn’t become full cold person without any reason. In the game, you can see him doing internal monologue, conflicting himself that he know his cold attitude is wrong to people but he didn’t want to admit it. The reason is, he hate being lonely after separated with person he liked or loved that already happened in his childhood when he left out by his step-mother, Edea and his step-sister, Elone, so he choose to avoid any intimate relationship with his friend in the beginning rather than suffer the same loneliness later on. Most his friend (Quistis, Selphie, Zell, Irvine), even the headmaster himself, Cid, always give him friendly advice to express his emotion, but he reject it.
Then comes Rinoa, a cheerful, expressive, and spirited young woman who had any opposite personalities from Squall. It is fun to see when Rinoa always get agitated everytime Squall become full cold and closed person mode as he is. Their relationship developed when Squall saved Rinoa from Edea’s attempt to murder her. Rinoa know that Squall strong enough to protect her from the fear that always she hide from her heart when battle goes on.
Rinoa understand Squall problem of expressing his emotion so she always being pushy, and clingy sometimes, to help him, even Squall didn’t like it at first. Little by little, Squall starting open his heart to Rinoa and his friends, which made him emotionally stable when he appointed as new leader of Balamb Garden/SeeD. His emotions even ‘explode’ when Rinoa got into comatose, which I think is interesting moment because you can see Squall soft side in there. They both love each other in the end. The dramatization also start when Rinoa becoming sorceress after getting posessed by Ultimecia, which is the main target of SeeD, but Squall didn’t obey what SeeD destined to do and choose to protect Rinoa instead sealed her in Esthar.
Like I said, I enjoy their relationship and development, but I hate to say that I didn’t like the execution that made me always feel disconnected after the main plot strikes. Every Rinoa, and other Squall’s friend, attempt to open Squall’s heart, it is done with very ‘teenager way’, like ask him to prom-dance, watch the band, and love triangle thingy, which sometimes annoying. I mean, it breaking the immersion when your main character rolling on some romantic-comedy event while they are on their mission to save the world from evil sorceress. I believe it can be executed better without throwing the impact of the main plot, which thankfully happens before fight Adel.
Squall and Rinoa relationship almost take a lot of portion in game-story, although I feel the result of that many events somehow forced to impact indirectly the main plot and made Ultimecia role solely to ‘that evil sorceress who hate human just because’. There’s a interesting theory that Ultimecia is Rinoa and Griever is Squall. As crazy as it sounds, it can potentially right and can made FF VIII story and Ultimecia more depth, even though there’s some problem in that theory.
If FF VIII themes about love, the Ultimecia is Rinoa theory can be implemented like this in my perspective : Squall dead, either when he attempt to save Rinoa or passed away because age, left Rinoa into grieve and made her sorceress skill conquer her sanity. It is explained that Sorceress need her ‘knight’ to stabilize her emotion from the consequences of sorceress skill. Moving on, Squal Soul become GF, which is Griever and protect Rinoa who gradually become Ultimecia, the mad sorceress, in the future because her grieve and most human hate her in every generation. Ultimecia then travel back time by using machine that had same power like Elone in future to Edea and choose her as person who will she control. Edea and Cid make SeeD because they know the danger of Ultimecia, which is basically Ultimecia plan all along. Ultimecia plan to make Squall and other SeeD succeed in new universe so ‘Rinoa’ in that universe can survive defeating herself in her own castle later. After Ultimecia defeated, she transferring her power to Edea once again in past time to make sure her pre-destined lost will be repeated and ‘Rinoa’ in new universe still alive happily with Squall, her beloved. It become bitter sweet ending to this Ultimecia version. Atleast it is suceed make Ultimecia as sympathetic villain if you put convoluted and confusing time travel and alternation universe aside.
I played the game around 10 years ago and I barely remember the story, except how cool Squall’s Limit Break and how intense when fight Omega Weapon by relying on Limit Break to damage and fast strategic move to not getting killed by his Terra Break.
Anyway, the main plot started from the ‘eeevviilll’ sorceress called Ultimecia, the sorceres from future who travel back to past to changed her fate that she will be killed by Legendary SeeD, kinda like Terminator Story. The different is, Ultimecia can’t take her body back to the past, only her consciusness, so she need another person body in the past time. The ‘person’ that selected is Edea.
Edea, who realize that she can’t fight back Ultimecia mind control, decide to made special organization with his husband, Cid, called SeeD, to kill her, in attempt to stop Ultimecia. In that time, Edea nurturing orphan child who will be the main character of the game, which is Squall, Zell, Irvine, Quistis, Selphie, and Seifer. They later on become SeeD in Balamb Garden, special forces that lead by Cid as Headmaster.
The main character grown and become a fully pledged SeeD under Cid supervision. Why they didn’t remember Edea when Edea reveal in international Television that she is a ‘Peace Representative’ by the president? Because they use Guardian Force, basically a summoning monster, that made them had past memory loss. Seifer, however, took diferent path to becoming ‘Knight of the Sorceress’ so he rebel from Balamb Garden.
There’s some ‘mercenaries stuff’ in the beginning that Squall and his friends rolling at untill their mission becoming to kill the evil Sorceress in the present time, Edea who get possessed by Ultimecia to be precise. Rinoa, the main heroine, is the key character that take them to this primary mission. They failed in their first attempt, which made them jailed by Sorceress Troops, Galbadia to be exact, and start ‘SeeD hunting’ to kill the potential SeeD who will kill Ultimecia in future. The secondary mission of the sorceress is find Elone, the girl who can, somehow, manipulated man’s mind to past event.
Elone is step-sister of Squall, which unfortunately forgotten by Squall because ‘GF thingy’s’. In about the game, she made Squall and some of his friends magically sleep to see Laguna past. Laguna past basically telling about some background story of many places that you will visit later in present times, backstory about Rinoa and Squall parent’s (I strongly feel that Laguna is Squall Father even the game didn’t mention it explicitly), and lastly the story about how he trapped Adel, ‘some’ old Sorceress in the past, to moon with her monster. The final journey of Laguna is he, suprisingly, become a President of Esthar.
Elone as a key person who tell about the memory that Squall and his friend forgotten made them strongly believe that their destined mission to kill Ultimecia by defeating Edea must be done. Rinoa also decide to help them to fulfill the mission. Their second attempt is succeed. But right before Edea defeated, Ultimecia consciusness move to Rinoa, made her comatose for awhile.
Long story short, Rinoa awakened in possessed state by Ultimecia, then go to the moon to freed Adel and the monster. Ultimecia succeed ‘move’ to Adel and Rinoa left out to the space. But Squall come to save her and get back to earth by using cool loking ship called Ragnarok. They later on, finally, meet Laguna. From there, everything confusing about space-time-travelling somehow explained. Laguna also set a strategy to defeat Ultimecia in future. How? By defeating Adel, and made Elone ‘calibrate that frequency-thingy’ so Squall and his friends can travel to future, in Ultimecia castle in exact, to defeat the evil sorceress once for all.
After Ultimecia defeated, Squall and his friends must go back to their present time, which force them to ‘sail’ the river of time and space. They made a promise in spesific time and space so they didn’t get lost in that ‘river’. Everyone managed to get back, except Squall. Thankfully, Rinoa saved him and back together to present time. Ultimecia dead and everyone happily ever after. Yeayy…..
That being said, I’m not a big fan of time travelling, fatalism and amnesia as plot device. I feel it made the story full of unecessary complicated event and multiple universe that potentially may convoluted. Here’s some thing that bothering me about the story :
Ultimecia primary objective is to kill the ‘Legendary SeeD’ who will defeat her in future, which obviusly is Squall. Why she didn’t realize it’s him when she possessing Edea? Why she bother to jail Squall, not execute him, after she succeed defeat him? She instead wasting her time to find Elone, which I know she had their own reason, and massacre the other SeeD. If there’s reason, I think it’s because she using GF too so she forgot her killer but then again, it would be stupid if she come back to past and forget what to do.
I understand that ‘mercenary thingy’s’ is somehow an introduction of Squall to his friend and Rinoa, but I feel that part is meaningless. Squall, Rinoa, Zell, Quistis, and Selphie presented very bland in this introduction story, except Seifer. Thankfully it’s starting get interesting when their mission is to kill Edea. Back to the SeeD, if SeeD is made for kill the sorceress, why bother to do the mercenary? Is Adel, the Sorceress in past, had a big threat to mostly the world because her power and monster that she summoned? Why Cid must hide the true SeeD purpose? I know Cid is somehow lack of fund so he should do that mercenaries, but it is dumb if the world safety is at stake. Why Cid didn’t ask help to another kingdom for his noble purpose? I bet world will help him if his purpose to defeat the most dangerous threat in that universe.
The definiton of ‘Sorceress’ is kinda vague. I don’t know where to start, but Rinoa is sorceress neither because her heir or Ultimecia possessing. There’s lack of explanation. Even Ultimecia and Adel is not explored. It’s unfortunate because if the sorceress is defined clearly plus Ultimecia and Adel backstory explained, they will be an awesome main villain. Their main reason to ‘conquer the world and time’ is told simply because mostly human hate sorceress without any exploration.
There’s scene where Edea (possessed by Ultimecia) killed the president in front of public speeching and then the people still ‘watching’ her as it is normal event, which make my mind kinda frozen for a moment. It made lack of tension because the people in the world presented like they didn’t care about the sorceress, except SeeD and other Garden. I know Galbadia, the garden that conquered by Sorceress, sometimes go to other the city to spread the terror, but it’s somehow didn’t include the Sorceress presence in there.
There’s ‘High School’ theme’s in Balamb or other Garden, which to me, is unecessary. Why bother made the military system who purposelly to kill evil sorceress like academic school? I know the concept ‘somewhat’ fit, but shoving the ‘high school’ themes with prom-dance, school festival, and teenagers love made the SeeD forces seems only know to joke around.
The very reason Elone made Squall see Laguna past because Elone missed Laguna so bad and want see it, even it is in memories. Funnily, she didn’t realize that Laguna still alive and exist as President Esthar untill she get caught by Galbadia and saved by Esthar. I understand Squall forget Elone because using GF, but she can explain it normally to retell the story to Squall if she remember Squall that much. It made unecessary event for Squall to grasp his purpose.
In the ending, you will see dying Ultimecia who travel to the past and transfer all her power to Edea before she dead. It is somehow explain that Ultimecia choose Edea not randomly and that was her fatal mistake because Edea and Cid later on make SeeD who will defeat her in future. The whole story, if you do rightly, is kind see the time loop about fall of Ultimecia. It is expected in kind of fatalism story. But, the question arise when Edea explained that sorceress can’t die before she transfer all her power to someone. If the dying Ultimecia come from the future with condition fully knowing that people who defeated her is Squall, including Edea, why she still insist to choose Edea? If she choose another person, Edea won’t make SeeD, probably not have bigger motivation to do so, and she didn’t have any risk to defeated in future later on.
Despite it’s flaws, I still enjoyed it because Squall and Rinoa relationship in game (I will write this separetely), even that thing also had their own problem. For the battle system, I just realize that junction system can broke the player stat even in their low level (I watched full playthorugh in YouTube that he finished perfectly the game just by lv 10-30 each character). But if you do conventionally, you will enjoy the battle, especially when boss battle, either is storyline or optional. The animation, sound effect and soundtrack in battle really engaging and memorable for me.