This is my current Final Fantasy Friday post where I’ll be discussing which characters I think exemplify each card of the Major Arcana. If this is your first time here, please head over to my Final Fantasy Tarot page for explanation. Now onto the next card!
Emperor Gestahl from Final Fantasy VI is my pick for The Emperor card. So I was being a bit disingenuous last week, but I need to keep you on your toes!
Before I even say anything else, I think it’s a pretty safe assumption to believe SquareSoft (now Squeenix…unfortunately) took some inspiration for the Major Aracana card itself just from looking at the pictures side by side up. Like wow…it’s pretty obvious (or a really convenient coincidence), and once I go into the card’s symbolism, it will make even more sense.
So despite the Emperor clearly being the Emperor (I’ll let you figure out which one is which *cackles*), I actually was a bit torn on which character would best fit the mold.
The Emperor sits on a ram-adorned throne, a symbol of Mars (mythology). He holds an Ankh scepter in his right hand, and a globe, symbol of domination, in his left. The Emperor sits atop a stark, barren mountain, a sign of “sterility of regulation, and unyielding power.” He symbolizes the top of the secular hierarchy, the ultimate male ego. The Emperor is the absolute ruler of the world.
The bolded words not only made me think of Gestahl from VI, but also President Shinra from VII; however, since they’re equivalent characters in numerous ways (greedy, power hungry despots killed by the the “villains” they helped create) and since I haven’t yet used FFVI, I decided to go with the eponymous emperor, though President Shinra is just as good of a fit.
I really don’t have to say much else. The words in bold do it all for me. Ego, greed, despotism, war, domination. Gestahl and Shinra encompass them all, and they’re both cast down and destroyed by their own hubris/”creations.” I do so love stories where avarice begets the authorship of destruction, and justice is meted out in the most karmic of ways.
Alternates: Baku (IX)
When I first conceived of this list I initially picked Baku, Zidane’s surrogate father and the leader of Tantalus Theater Troupe. At the time I was only thinking about the Emperor as the quintessential father figure and didn’t consider the other aspects, which informed my better choice(s) above. Baku doesn’t really fit this mold, which would equate more with Queen Brahne in this particular game anyway, though it could be argued that he is at the “top of a secular hierarchy.”
Well, well, Mr. Panda wins again in guessing a character from the same game as my pick! He went for Kefka, which in examining the descriptions of the Emperor isn’t a terrible choice, but it wobbles a bit at the “secular” bit. Kefka actually achieved apotheosis! That’s more than we can say for any Final Fantasy character even my beloved Sephiroth.