In the world of Final Fantasy VIII, the sorceress plays an important role. Descended from the Great Hyne, a sorceress possesses a fraction of Hyne’s godlike powers and is able to use magic without the aid of Guardian Forces. A sorceress is either born with her power, or it is gifted to her by another sorceress at the time of her death. It’s unclear where Ultimecia received her power from, but she has a tank load, and her power is amplified by her use of junctioning.
Junctioning, a sort of telepathic link with another person or creature, is a game play mechanic as well as an important story element. In normal humans, junctioning with Guardian Forces allows them to use magic and augment their physical abilities. Alternately, Ultimecia can junction with other sorceresses regardless of their placement in time. Once she has junctioned with the other sorceress, she has complete control over their actions and magic. From the moment Edea is first mentioned, it’s important to remember Ultimecia is the one driving her. The main question is why.
Power. Ultimecia’s endgame is to achieve Time Compression. By traveling far enough back in time, she can pull all eras together into one, resulting in the death of all living creatures except for herself. Most of the events during the game propel her towards this end, but this still doesn’t answer the question of why she’s doing this. It’s because of this motive that leaves many scratching their heads at the end of the game, struggling to accept a main villain who has no depth.
This couldn’t be further from the truth, although it takes some digging to get there. One of the most argued theories about Ultimecia is that she is an older version of Rinoa Heartilly, a main character and known sorceress. Rinoa is Squall’s love interest, and she struggles with her own role as a sorceress, not to mention receiving powers from Adel, Edea, and Ultimecia on top of being mind-controlled. This bombardment of magical energies could very well cause Rinoa to snap and become the cruel and power-hungry Ultimecia. The Guardian Force Ultimecia uses during the final fight is none other than Griever, similar to the lion ring of the same name that Squall gives to Rinoa. Ultimecia’s Castle is positioned close to Edea’s orphanage, which shares a close proximity to the field Rinoa promised Squall she would meet him. Time compression could in fact be a means for Ultimecia/Rinoa to return to this one place. I could go on (even might, in a future post), but many dispute this theory citing differences in appearance and motive, not to mention the era Ultimecia comes from.
Even if the Rinoa/Ultimecia theory is wrong, there is still depth to Ultimecia’s character. When you take the events of Final Fantasy VIII, namely persecution and imprisonment of sorceresses, you can very well see how that might affect the future. Squall’s SeeD mercenary group is tasked with defeating the sorceress, a direct result of the events in-game. Ultimecia comes from a time where she seeks to escape her destruction as the hands of SeeD, and her desperation in doing so could very well be rooted in years, if not centuries of persecution at the hands of SeeD. The sad realization comes into play at the end of the game when Ultimecia, on the verge of death after her confrontation with Squall, travels back in time and passes her power onto a younger Edea. At the same time, Squall gives the past version of Edea the inspiration of SeeD, thus sparking the chain of events which leads to the persecution and imprisonment of sorceresses. In other words, Ultimecia is a product of her own failures, a victim of her own Time-Loop.
In the end, the motives of the main antagonist in Final Fantasy VIII are left up to the player to decide. Ultimecia could be nothing more than a cookie-cutter villain, a final boss for the SeeDs to fight at the end of the game. She could also be someone of great importance, a character who reminds up that our actions in the past could one day haunt us in the future. Either way, she remains one of the most ambiguous characters in the most ambiguous game in the Final Fantasy series. It isn’t very often that we, the players, get to decide the past, present, and future of the characters in a game.
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