Maniacal Monday: Seymour, from Final Fantasy X

The Final Fantasy game franchise is widely regarded as one of the best RPG series’ of all time. And with over thirty game titles to their name, it’s certainly one of the largest. The first Final Fantasy was released in 1987 in Japan, as a last-ditch attempt to save the Square company from bankruptcy, and it quickly grew one of the largest fanbases in videogame history. Each new title in the main series brings an entirely new story, a new battle system, and new characters. Like any good story, however, it needs good antagonists. And one of the most intriguing is Maester Seymour, from FFX.

Final Fantasy X revolves around a young athlete named Tidus who is sucked into a land called Spira. Spira is home to an entity named Sin, a harbinger of death, who can only be defeated by summoners. Tidus joins a party that is escorting the summoner Yuna on her pilgrimage to defeat Sin, and along the way, they encounter Seymour. Maester Seymour is also a summoner, but does not actively seek to destroy Sin, serving as more of a figurehead within the government/faith of Spira, named Yevon. This is only a cover, though we do not discover this until much later. While Seymour at first seems to be a person that genuinely cares for the people, albeit one who acts somewhat suspiciously, within due course his insanity is unveiled. The party discovers that Seymour murdered his own father in cold blood as an act of retribution for forcing Seymour and his mother to grow up in exile. They then fight and defeat Seymour, but his followers refuse to believe Tidus and company, forcing them to flee. Seymour eventually kidnaps Yuna, and while the party saves her and are brought before the Yevon high court, an even more stunning truth is revealed; that the highest order of priests in the faith were aware of this murder, and are themselves already dead, merely ghosts wandering the lands of Spira. The entire religion upon which their world survived was nothing more than a way to keep Sin alive, perpetuating a circle of death. Seymour himself sees death as inevitable, wishing to take control of Sin and using it to vanquish all life in Spira so that their suffering might end. The party escapes once more, continuing on their pilgrimage, with Seymour soon catching them up, slaughtering an entire race in the process. He is defeated once more, but shows up for one last boss battle in the final dungeon as he attempts to join Sin. Thankfully, the party defeats him and is able to successfully send his soul into the next world.

Now, while most of what makes Seymour evil has already been mentioned, let us recap on his crimes.

1. Murders his father. 2. Unleashes a horde of fiends onto an unsuspecting populace to gain their trust by killing the fiends. 3. Actively participates in a cult centered on the destruction of the world, knowing its intentions. 4. Actively lies to his followers. 5. Attempts to kill the party on FIVE separate occasions. 6. Attacks an entire city of Al Bhed. 7. Kidnaps Yuna. 8. Kills fellow Maester Kinoc. 9. Commits genocide upon the Ronso race. 10. Attempts to personally destroy the entire world and all its inhabitants.

Wow. Just wow. That’s quite the laundry list of offenses. Add to this list his natural charisma and the ease at which he can manipulate the populace with his honey-scented lies, and it’s practically the Hitler of video games. Seymour is powerful, cunning, and intelligent, a very dangerous combination. If it had not been for his devout fanaticism towards his end goal to the point of insanity, he could very easily have succeeded in his goals. In fact, I’m often surprised at how he wasn’t more successful, considering how easily he got his way about everything; it doesn’t make sense that Tidus and company constantly bested him. The only explanation of which I can think is that he either wanted to toy with them and pushed his luck too far, or that his insanity and blind rage caused him to become overconfident. I’m more inclined to believe the former, considering how many chances he had to merely kill them all off without having to lift a finger, especially with hundreds of Yevon troops at his disposal.

Regardless of his faults, however, it’s impossible to deny that Seymour was certainly a well-developed character. He was a child of mixed race, born of a Guado Maester, Lord Jyscal, and a human mother, who was never named. Their marriage caused racial strife, however, and he and his mother were exiled to the isle of Baaj, where his mother sacrificed herself to become an Aeon for her son, believing that if he could defeat Sin, he would gain acceptance from the world. However, Seymour never challenged Sin, living alone on the isle of Baaj until he reached 18 years of age, when his exile was revoked. His years of solitude had warped his mind, however, leading to his twisted views on life and death. He uses his new position as a priest of Yevon to slowly infiltrate and poison the minds of the populace, killing his father for revenge and so that he might gain even more influence. His character is portrayed in a very believable manner, his simmering resentment and crazed view always just below the surface, while he maintained a cool exterior to the masses. Even his voice contributes to his character, which is soft and almost demure, but when he reveals his true colors, it gains almost a snake-like quality to it.

Seymour also has several distinct musical themes throughout the game, all of which are very dissonant, reflecting his madness. While his original theme is more apprehensive than sinister, it does still hint at what lurks beneath his pleasant demeanour. With every encounter, Seymour is accompanied by a new theme that slowly grows more and more menacing, making use of strings and synth, staccato, and dissonance, all of which are musical techniques meant to portray abnormality. “A Man Who Murdered His Father” in particular stands out to me, as it incorporates a harpsichord as well as synthesizer sounds, the juxtaposition of old and new instruments adding to the torment Seymour feels, even hinting at a possible schizophrenia or other similar psychological condition that would certainly be appropriate considering his actions and past. The final two battles with Seymour also use different battle music, but use many of the same techniques while increasing the tempo, emphasizing Seymour’s rage in battle, as he strikes quick and often, inflicting status ailments all the while.

Going into this post, I was not expecting to come out of it with the outlook I did. It’s been a while since I’ve played the game, which has its fair share of hate from the fanbase, but upon reflection, Seymour is a truly terrifying villain, and I understand why he inspired such fear in me when I first played the game back in middle school. His madness, his power, his constant attempts to defeat the party (which took me several attempts to win my first playthrough) and even the music that accompanied him, all turned him from a slightly ridiculous looking character into an antagonist that would haunt your nightmares for weeks to come.

Next week: Frieza, from Dragon Ball Z

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