[Archive] Romance

To the millions of people who have played this game and experienced the hardships of love, there is a message that Nojima is trying to send to his viewers; the versimilitude he is trying to confront. Although Romance has been known to play a small part throughout most Final Fantasies, the eighth installment was the first to adapt the theme full on as a main focus. Rinoa Heartily is Squall's primary love interest; she is the daughter of General Caraway, a Galbadia military commander, and Julia Heartilly, former singer/pianist. Much like Squall, Rinoa took up the last name of her mother. She heads the Forest Owls, a resistance group dedicated to liberating Timber from Galbadian rule. The relationship between Squall and Rinoa is one of the more famous out of the fandom, and even has a sort of a contemporary impact on modern pop culture. Every aspect of the game does not revolve around romance however-- there are bits and pieces of philosophy here and there-- but it does have its significant place.

Prelude

Before moving on, it's extremely important to recognize the romantic theme brought about the previous generation since it plays an important role to the game's storyline. Their parents met long before the two were even conceived; Laguna was a regular at Julia's performances. When Laguna managed to gather up the courage to talk to her for the first time, Julia comments about his remarkable eyes. All eyes on Julia, he rambles on about his experiences from seeing the world. As Julia absorbes his tales, she is able to observe the emotional impact it had on him. When Laugna asks about Julia, she reponds that she has a dream of not only playing the piano, but having the ability to sing. She was never able to write her own songs before, but with the help of Laguna's stories and motivation, she was able to find the inspiration to write "Eyes On Me". Even though it would be the final and last meeting between the two-- Laguna found Raine and Julia found Caraway-- their short, but sweet encounter would transcend time through this song. Fate has decided that they would not be together; however, their children will be able to carry on the love that they never shared.

First Encounter

The first time Squall meets Rinoa is during the famous ballroom scene of his SeeD inauguration. Before she approaches him, Rinoa motions to the sky, noticing that the both of them were gazeing in that direction. With a combination of her fragile beauty and playful determination, she convinces Squall to join her on the dance floor, despite his inability to, well, dance. But fear not, she teaches him how to, but not with out a few stumbles. In a final attempt to get it right, the two pull off a perfect waltz. As the music ends, their dance comes to an abrupt halt, the lights dim down, and sparks fly-- literally. She then takes off, without leaving a name. Unbeknownst to Squall, Rinoa is present at the ball on the account of Seifer, Squall's rival, with whom which she had a relationship with the previous summer.

Interlude: Background

In any case, I could go about retelling the entire story, but to avoid being even more seemingly overdramatic about the issue, I'm not going to. As explained in history, Squall's childish love for his sister was stunted upon her departure, thus distorting his psychological state, no less his ability to love. Because of that, he couldn't grow emotionally, and from the beginning of this game his seeminly overt lack of humanity stems from this experience. Squall recognizes his greatest weakness: getting hurt in the battle against love is not worth the pain. So now, his cold demeanor becomes his outer shell in order to protect himself. He can't risk another chance to get hurt, so now it's going to be all about him. Even if he has to become a selfish jerkface.

Continuation and Transformation

Now, I'm going to redirect you further down the story, to when Rinoa falls unconscious. This again becomes a repeat of what happened to him years ago, when Ellone left him suddenly, without warning. Now a bit older and mature, and has more power at hand. In a desperate attempt to save her, he does everything he can, even going to far as to risk his own life. His actions take him so far to render him almost obssessive. Although his love is still selfish, his rock-solid shell is slowly softening, making it much more vulnerable. Moreover, it's not about himself anymore, but for someone else, despite it only being one person. Things are starting to look up, even if it's just one step in the right direction.

Conclusion

The last scene of the game, after the defeat of Ultimecia, depicts an almost surreal, dream-like state. He is once again thrown into situation where Rinoa is not there. His feelings of abandonment resurface for the third time, and he is left alone. So now, what does he do? Where does his feelings of love go-- does it cease to exist?

Then, he finally stops denying the obvious, and comes to terms with himself: he cannot live without love. To do so would render his life meaningless. Now, everything seems more feasible. That last scene is very important: it serves as a parallel to Rinoa's dream, as well as a a representation of the struggle he had been fighting his whole life. He could only keep walking so far without love, until he collapses on the ground, in defeat. He wan't fighting love itself, he was fighting himself who avoided to love.

Reunion

At the very end of our story, Squall is reunited with Rinoa. He is given his second chance, and he learns to love again. This doesn't just include Rinoa in the picture, but his acceptance of friends-- something he's never had before. For the first time, he doesn't feel that selfish, childlike love he once had for his sister, but the kind of love that transforms him as a character. It's the unselfish, ideal love that allows him to open up and trust others.


About Antihero
Antihero is a fansite dedicated to Squall Leonhart, a fictional character from Final Fantasy 8. Started in August 2004, this site hosts a collection of analyrical essays and writings geared towards helping to understand the character on a critical level. All personal opinions are subject to debate. Also featured is an archive of images collected from various places over the years.
Dedication
To my brother, for allowing me to play this game on the console, otherwise I would not have. To all of my friends in the shrine community who have supported this dedication and up with its constant transformation. And to all of the visitors, old and new, who have come throughout the years: this site wouldn't be here without you.
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