The Anti-Existence
04-03-2008, 12:47 AM

Quistis: I guess I was right. You and Seifer are in a class of your own. You both have amazing strength and potential.

This is my documentation of the character development, or lack thereof, of two characters from Square�s game Final Fantasy VIII. Obviously the characters are Squall Leonhart and Seifer Almasy. As you can see, their faces, along with Rinoa Heartily�s, are featured most prominently on the cover of the game. Coupled with the dramatic opening FMV of the game you might guess these three are closely tied and will be of major importance through the story. You�d be right but not as right as you thought because at the end, the whole Squall/Seifer relationship was kicked to the curb and we had possibly the most anticlimactic conclusion in the history of video games.

But let�s get beyond that. I want to cover the course of these two character�s progression through the game and analyze the key point most fans identify: they are total opposites. Everything from their cards to the various official art of the two seem to support this theory. I maintain that, while they are definitely not alike, they start of relatively the same and it is their build-up in the game that makes them the opposites.

I hope I�ll be able to illustrate my point in this little write-up. Enjoy!

1. The Beginning

Quistis: Yes! That's right! Seifer was a kid who always needed to be the center of attention. But Squall always used to ignore him... But eventually they would end up fighting. Squall could have easily walked away from it, but always took up the challenge. He should've just ignored him, but Squall, almost in tears, would say... 'I gotta do my best by myself. Or else I won't be able to see Sis'.

This is basically the best summation of what we know of young Squall�s and Seifer�s early life. They were orphans, raised by their Matron Edea. Seifer sought confrontation as way to fill his own self-esteem void while Squall attempted to shut out everything for his own emptiness after he lost �Sis�. Perfect demonstration of the �polar opposites� in these two. Though it�s good to note even with Squall�s attempt at detachment, he would not back down from Seifer. He was compelled by something far stronger than he and so was probably Seifer. We�ll see this laid out more later on.

2. Disk 1
So now we actually get to the start of the game and well, where do Seifer and Squall stand emotionally?

Seifer: Who cares. This must be your first real battle. You scared?

Squall: ...I don't know. I try not to think about it.

Seifer: I love battles. I fear nothing. The way I look at it, as long as you make it out of a battle alive, you're one step closer to fulfilling your dream.

Squall: What!? Your dream?

Seifer: You have one too, don't you?

Squall: ...Sorry, but I'm gonna pass on that subject.

Not much emotional progression over those years in the Garden. Seifer still seeks out conflict as a means to an end while Squall simply backs away from it, denying the thoughts that might disturb his, perhaps not happy, but peaceable little world.

Seifer leads Squad B into Dollet but defies orders which results in his failing the SeeD Exam...

Seifer: D'you hear about the communication tower in Dollet? We would've been heroes if it weren't for that withdraw order.

Quistis: You were only looking for a fight.

Seifer forever seeks glory and appreciation and by all accounts someone of his notable skill should receive it. But that�s the ironic twist of the game that I�ll also go into further down the line.

One thing that should be stressed is that, however strained their relationship was, Squall and Seifer were not mortal enemies from the start.

Seifer: You want to wreak some havoc too, don't you?

Squall: It's a good opportunity to test my training. Thanks to you, I feel like I can take on anyone. Even if they do fight dirty, like you.

Seifer: You'll thank me when the time comes.

I wouldn�t say they are bosom buddies but they�re far from disliking one another at this point.

We also get a good look into Squall�s mind at this point where he has a little discussion with Quistis.

Squall: Are you done yet...? I don't wanna talk about it. What am I supposed to say about other people's problems?

Quistis: I'm not asking you to say anything. I just want you to listen.

Squall: Then go talk to a wall.

Quistis: Aren't there times when you want to share feelings with someone?

Squall: Everyone has to take care of themselves? Idon't want to carry anyone's burden.

Quistis: Squall. It's not like everyone can get by on their own, you know?

Squall: ...Says who?

An unlikeable jackass yes. Much like Seifer. This is why I say the two are actually pretty alike to start off with. Both simply output their own internal angst in different ways with Squall being stoically unfriendly while Seifer is �in-your-face� unfriendly.

So time passes and due to his violation of orders, Seifer was to be disciplined. Hearing about Squall�s and the other mission to go help Rinoa and the Forest Owls, he breaks out of Garden and attacks the President of Galbadia. Holding the man hostage, Seifer is confronted by �The Sorceress.�

???: ...Poor, poor boy...

Seifer: Stay away from me!

Edea: Such a confused little boy. Are you going to step forward? Retreat? You have to decide.

Seifer: Stay back!

Edea: The boy in you is telling you to come. The adult in you is telling you to back off. You can't make up your mind. You don't know the right answer. You want help, don't you? You want to be saved from this predicament.

Seifer: Shut up!

Edea: Don't be ashamed to ask for help. Besides, you're only a little boy.

Seifer: I'm not... Stop calling me a boy.

Edea: You don't want to be a boy anymore?

Seifer: I am not a BOY!

Edea: Come with me to a place of no return. Bid farewell to your childhood.

This little bit of dialog is key in examining my personal feelings on how Squall and Seifer are very different. These quotes in particular...

The boy in you is telling you to come. The adult in you is telling you to back off.

My childhood dream, fulfilled.

Seifer is not a little boy. He�s a full-grown man and that adult in him is best cited as logic or reality... Perhaps his natural instincts cautioning him to the danger. However, his �ROMANTIC dream�, his fantasy ever since he was a youth exerts a stronger pull than anything else and he heads off with Ultimecia/Edea.

Later on before the party reaches Galbadia, Squall has a very nice bit of insight that further distinguishes him from Seifer.

Squall: (Think what you want. ...Reality isn't so kind. Everything doesn't work out the way you want it to. That's why...As long as you don't get your
hopes up, you can take anything... You feel less pain. Anyway, whatever wish you have is none of my business

Squall�s darker view on reality is perhaps not accurate but far more grounded than Seifer�s �dream�. Seifer would throw away everything for that dream, the chance to escape the reality and find what he longed for. Squall will push away all notions of a dream, all notions of what isn�t reality out of fear those things will hurt him.

Squall also has an interesting though, disagreeing with the �Polar Opposites� idea...

Rinoa: Any kind of encouragement will make...

Squall: (That's just to ease your mind. Am I the only one who thinks that? No, I'm sure Seifer...)

So it seems, or at least Squall thins it is, that encouragement and perhaps hope itself are just bandaids on the gaping wound of reality. Oh god...I�m gonna throw up on the wieght of my own emo analogies...

Anyway, Squall seems to think Seifer would prefer a more grounded approach to things, like himself. Though I tend to disagree.

And the party progresses to Galbadia Garden where we hear Seifer was executed. Some interesting insight into both of them...

Quistis: I don't have any good memories of him. I've seen some troubled children, but he was beyond troubled. Well, he wasn't really a bad guy.

Rinoa: I...really liked him. He was always full of confidence, smart... Just by talking to him, I felt like I could take on the world.

Selphie: Your boyfriend?

Rinoa: I don't really know. I... I think I was in love. I wonder how he Felt...?

Selphie: Do you still like him?

Rinoa: If I didn't, I wouldn't be talking about it. It was last summer... I was 16. Lots of fond memories..

I always found this interesting. Rinoa lists Seifer�s confidence as an attractive quality and by all means Seifer was very confident, bordering on...or who are we kidding? He was very arrogant.

She does a complete 180 in putting her heart out to Squall who, again let�s not kid ourselves, is almost exactly like his father. Whatever his attitude to the contrary, Squall is as scared of rejection and loneliness as Laguna was with Julia.

Speaking on that...

Squall: (I liked him... wasn't really a bad guy... He was one of us... Seifer... You've just become just a memory. Will they... Will they talk about me this way if I die, too? Squall was this and that. Using past tense, saying whatever they want? So this is what death is all about......Not for me. I won't have it!!!)

Squall really just doesn�t want to be left behind...He may also be scared of death though that�s not the root of his issues and is more like a needle on the cactus of his torment.

Okay I�ll stop that now.

However, as we all know, Seifer is not dead. He�s alive, well, and literally �living the dream�.

Seifer: Well, this is how it turned out.

Squall: So, you've become the sorceress' lap dog?

Seifer: I preferred to be called her knight. This has always been my dream.

Squall defeats the new Sorceress� Knight and is rewarded by being impaled by magical ice.

3. Disk 2.

So, now everyone is captured in a prison and Squall is being tortured. His interrogator is none other than Seifer. This is perfect validation that FFVIII�s core ideal is �Fate is Ironically Cruel.�

Seifer: This is the scene where you swear undying hatred for me! The tale of the evil mercenary vs. the sorceress knight... The fun's just started, Squall. Don't disappoint me now!

Seifer�s dream...his budding delusion is in complete opposition with reality. What has Seifer always wanted? To be a leader, to be the Sorceress� Knight and the hero. Fate however has seemingly chosen him to play the role of the evil mercenary or something similar. His dream is a reality...but it�s not really his dream anymore.

That�s where Squall comes in. Impersonal, unfriendly Squall. A natural-born leader he may not appear but it is his destiny however much he may fight it.

Cid: This is your fate. It is your destiny to lead the way in defeating the sorceress.

Squall: Don't talk about this like it's been decided since by birth! (I don't mind fighting the sorceress. It's unavoidable as long as I'm a SeeD member. What? AS long as I'm a SeeD member? What if I quit? Quit... Then what? What do I have left? Don't even want to think about it. Just stop thinking...)[/I]

Again, the ironic hands of fate are unfolding the drama. The dream becomes reality with the roles reversed as Squall, however unwilling, was destiny-bound to be the hero.

Squall hasn�t grown much emotionally yet but he is starting to think. He�s coming to terms with the fact one can�t simply turn off the light and hide under a blanket, wishing his doubts and fears away.

Squall: (I'm fine by myself now. I have all the skills I need to survive. I'm not a child anymore. That's a lie. I don't know anything. I'm confused. I don't want to depend on anyone. How can I do that? Someone tell me...Someone? So I'll end up depending on others after all.)

Whatever rhetoric Squall spouted earlier about reality was, as we all could�ve guessed, nothing more than a lie. Squall himself seems to do his best to avoid reality, much like Seifer. They just, again, do it in opposite ways.

At last Squall finally admits to himself what is the real issue at hand...

Squall: (Am I that untrusting...? Maybe I'm this way because I'm scared. Nothing lasts in this world. It feels great to have friends who believe in you, and adults you can rely on. That's why it's so dangerous, especially if you become used to it. Someday you're bound to loose everything. Everybody around you will be gone. Then what are
you left with? Nothing. Nobody... It's so miserable. And it's inevitable. It's so hard to recover from something like that. I never ever want to deal with that again. I can't even if it means being alone...)

His losing of �Sis� Ellione has dominated his way of life for over a decade and he just refuses to change on the grounds change will only make him feel that way again. He doesn�t like to be alone but loneliness is preferable to the pain of loss apparently.

Moving away from Squall�s mind, we get to learn about everyone else�s mind! That�s right, it�s the Trabia Garden scene with everyone realizing they�re from the same Orphanage!

\Squall: I don�t think I was adopted because of the way I am. Probably the same with Seifer, too. You two must have been at Garden by the age of 5 or so...

(Who wouldn�t want these two bundles of joy?)

So, after that whole revelation, Balamb and Galbadia Garden begin to battle. Dr. Kadowaki makes a comment I remarked on earlier: fate being the ultimate director of Squall�s and Seifer�s rivalry.

Dr. Kadowaki: Seifer is with them, right? You said yourself. There's no way you can run from him... It's kind of like your destiny to face him. ...Looks like it's now or never! You've come this far already. What is there to think about? You're not gonna run away are you?

Whatever Squall�s personal feelings, Fate demands Squall and Seifer fight and so he does, again, on Galbadia Garden.

Squall: It's too late, Seifer. You can't mess with our minds. To us, you're just another enemy, like one of those monsters.

Seifer: You're comparing ME to one of them? I ain't no monster. I'm the sorceress' knight. And look at you. Attacking like a swarm. You guys are the monsters.

Squall also commented earlier on Seifer being �just a rotruer�. Now he�s �one of those monsters.� Both times Seifer takes great offense, stressing his importance and what he believes is his role and purpose in this tragic tale.

He further separates from reality as Squall further embraces it. This is the ultimate difference between these two characters.

So, the party defeats Edea and she�s free from Ultimecia�s control. But Rinoa goes into a coma...

4. Disk 3

Squall: (I've heard enough. I understand that listening to what Matron has to say is important, but Rinoa...) Matron, do you know what's wrong with Rinoa?

Headmaster Cid: Did Rinoa die!?

Squall: NO!!!

Squall seems to finally be opening up, to re-establishing normal emotional connections with a human being. Something he hasn�t done since Ellione.

However timidly, Squall is indeed emerging from his shell.

Squall: I worry too much about what others think of me. I hate that side of me... That's why I didn't want anyone to get to know me. I wanted to hide that side of myself. I hate it. Squall is an unfriendly, introverted guy. It made it easy for me when people perceived me that way.

Using Ellione�s power, Squall goes back into the past to the point Rinoa was possessed by Ultimecia. We enigmatic line from Ultimecia to Seifer.

???: Oh, my loyal knight, Seifer. The sorceress is alive... The sorceress demands.
Find the legendary Lunatic Pandora, said to be hidden beneath the ocean. Only then shall the sorceress provide you with dreams again.

What does she exactly mean? Is she exercising some form of mental control beyond simple manipulation now? I can�t figure it out personally and it�s one reason I wish I could read Japanese as maybe FFVIII Ultimania sheds more light on this.

But in good news, Squall has finally reached the pinnacle of his character development.

Squall: I don't know what to do... This is just another crossroad in my life. But, for the first time, I don't know which way to go. I've come this far because I've...fallen for you. ......Rinoa...... I just supposed to let you go...?

Squall has taken the emotional road less-traveled for himself. He�s going out of his way to be with someone and overcoming his fears. To enforce a point of how Seifer and Squall are different, I�ll say Squall has �stopped running.� More on that later.

If this quote doesn�t support my claim of Fate is brutally ironic I�m not sure what does.

Squall: (Rinoa......Even if you end up as the world's enemy.I'll...I'll be your knight.)

Squall Leonhart, a man who�s spent his life in a self-imposed exile from feeling and attachment to others, who never asked to be the leader or te hero, has finally accepted his role. He is the knight to the Sorceress Rinoa and will stand by her against the world.

The one thing Seifer dreamed of most has been handed to his unwilling perpetual rival.

We come finally to the �showdown� with Seifer. As I said at the start, it sucks. But let�s get pased that and listen to Fujin.

Fujin: POSSE... We are. We always will be. Because we're a posse, we want to help you. Whatever it takes to fulfill your dreams, we're willing to do. But... You're being manipulated, Seifer. You've lost yourself and your dream. You're just eating out of someone's hand. We want the old you back! Since we can't get through to you, all we have now to rely on is Squall! It's sad... Sad that we only have Squall to rely on... Seifer! Are you still gonna keep goin'?

We all know this. We know Seifer is being used and not fulfilling his dream. The real impact of this sccene Seifer has literally lost the only friends he had in the world. The only hope his posse had left for their leader was for Squall to beat sense into him.

Squall: Are you going to continue with this knight thing?

Seifer: The knight has retired. I guess you could call me a young revolutionary.

Squall: What do you think you're doing?

Seifer: I've always gotta be doing somethin' BIG! I don't wanna stop. I'm gonna keep running! I've come this far... I'm gonna make it to the end, to the goal! There's no way I'm sharing
it with you!

Remember I said Squall had stopped running and that was another real difference between Squall and Seifer? Well, there it is. Seifer won�t stop running, he won�t accept reality. Squall has grown beyond himself but Seifer won�t let himself see past his childhood fantasy.

The party beats Seifer...then he gets up and takes Rinoa to Adel.

Rinoa: Seifer! Stop it! Haven't you done enough!? I know you're not like that!

Seifer: Can't go back now! I can't go anywhere! The sorceresses as one! That is Ultimecia's WISH!

Rinoa: ......Seifer.

Seifer is, understandably, cracking up. He has nothing left but his dream which is crumbling around him. It�s a life preserver in a sea of nothing.

5. Disk 4

Now this scene I always found very interesting.

Rinoa: .....Seifer. No more... Please?

Seifer: Rinoa...

[Squall runs into the room just then.]

Squall: Seifer!!! NO!

Watching this scene, it really did seem to me like Seifer was listening to Rinoa. Then Squall ran in and whatever chance Rinoa had at making Seifer stop was lost. He tosses her to Adel and we don�t see him again till the end of the game.

No more quotes to be posted really. We see Squall stumbling alone through a dessert, strangely resembling Rinoa�s nightmare. He collapses and his lover happens upon his unconscious form.
We then see Seifer with his two friends, laughing and smiling as he looks at them and then Balamb Garden.

What happened between the events at Lunatic Pandora and then? Who knows. Stupid Square.


The real difference between Seifer and Squall is that Squall progressed and Seifer regressed. Squall outgrew the scared little boy he was and matured into a (presumably) healthy, well-adjusted adult. Seifer clung to his boyhood ideas, unwilling to hear or listen to anything that threatened what he felt he deserved and more importantly what he wanted. Even if it meant he was being used, he�d play at the dream.

It�s not really his fault in my honest opinion however. Squall was just as emotionally crippled at the start and had Ultimecia chosen to manipulate him, I�m pretty sure she could have. Seifer was just the unlucky pawn in her scheme and while Squall bore the luxury of fixing his fractured ego, Seifer was abused both mentally and physically by his �Sorceress� and even by the woman he might have loved at one point. I don�t expect anyone to improve mentally under these circumstances.

At the end, Fate chose Squall as the Sorceress� Knight and Seifer as the evil mercenary. Both men had no choice in the matter.

That�s about it. I hope this has been intriguing and if you stopped reading a long time ago, I can�t blame you.

04-03-2008, 01:03 AM
I only read that last line.

The Anti-Existence
04-03-2008, 01:07 AM
Very good.

execrable gumwrapper
04-03-2008, 07:08 AM

And who gives a damn?

The Anti-Existence
04-03-2008, 08:50 AM
Apparently you do since you:
A) Entered the topic.
B) Posted in said topic.

It never ceases to amaze me how people will waste time, commenting on how the topic is a waste of time.

execrable gumwrapper
04-03-2008, 09:35 AM
I never said it was a waste of time, I said who gives a damn.

The Anti-Existence
04-03-2008, 10:01 AM
People. Myself and a few others who have read it.

04-03-2008, 10:03 AM
I never said it was a waste of time, I said who gives a damn.

Fans of FFVIII I guess

execrable gumwrapper
04-03-2008, 10:38 AM
People. Myself and a few others who have read it.

I suppose.

Well, enjoy! :)

04-03-2008, 08:57 PM
What`s the point... Everyone will construe it in their own way anyway.

execrable gumwrapper
04-03-2008, 09:04 PM
It never ceases to amaze me how people will waste time, commenting on how the topic is a waste of time.

What`s the point... Everyone will construe it in their own way anyway.



04-03-2008, 09:05 PM
oh wow..

04-03-2008, 09:28 PM
Well not bad.

04-04-2008, 10:11 PM
You illuminated some points i had no knowledge of and i particularly liked the emo analogies, they amused me.

Dot Centaur
04-08-2008, 10:15 AM
I saw this same thread on FFrepublic. It's an excellent essay and character analysis imo, but major spoilers if you ask me XD.

04-08-2008, 10:23 AM
I like the analysis, but I hate how the image for the cover art is so damn huge!