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View Full Version : Just something I wrote a few years ago.



Yubel-Lover
10-24-2016, 11:53 PM
So... I registered yesterday and was looking for something to post when I remembered about this, and I thought it would be a good idea to post it here now that the ps4 remaster has been announced. It's nothing new or revolutionary, just my two cents on why I like Ashe so much. In fact, she is my favourite female characters from FF, second only to Celes. Since I wrote this a few years ago, there might be inaccurancies, so please tell me if you see something wrong. Also English is not my first language, so apologies if there are language mistakes. :D
There will be spoilers.

Final Fantasy XII has always been one of my favourite FF games. Despite many people criticizing it for various reasons, to me it still remains one the best entries in the series.
I liked the story, the world, the combat system, and obviously the characters. Among them there was one who stood upon the others in terms of leadership, plot relevance, development and overall characterization: Princess Ashelia. Even though the developers tried so hard to make Vaan the main character (especially during the first part of the game), it's very easy to see throughout the game that he actually isn't. In fact, as soon as Ashe joins the party, she immediately takes the leading role, she is the one who decides where to go next, what to do and how to do it. And the rest of the party mostly follws her decisions.


Like every other main character in a Final Fantasy game, Ashe has to face and defeat enemies, make choices and overcome obstacles and troubles that force her to review her ideas, opinions, and believes. However, there is a factor that differentiates Ashe from a standard Final Fantasy heroine. And that factor is her goal (I mean, sure she wanted to protect her own country and people, but she also wanted to bring vengeance upon the Archadian Empire) and the path she chose to achieve it, as she was ready to leave a mountain of corpses behind herself. The conflict between vengeance and peace is constant throughout the game and it's one of the most defining features of Ashe's personality. It also put her in direct competition with Vayne Solidor, as they both wanted the same thing: the power to crush their enemies. While Vayne tried to obtain it using both magic and science to manufacture the Nethicite, Ashe went on a journey to reclaim her ancestors' powers. The two of them rivaled with each other throughout most of the game in a race to put their hands on the Stones as soon as possible, and at the same time trying to anticipate each other's moves.



The “darker side” of Ashe's personality is also reflected in her musical theme, which is not her own. Instead of creating her own theme, the developers used a combination of “Giruvegan's Mystery” and “Pharos at Ridorana, Subterra”, which are two of the most important places in the main story, where Ashe finally realizes (and takes control over) her destiny. The interesting part is that Square Enix chose to use the Subterra's theme instead of a different one of the Pharos'. This underlines how close Ashe was to become pretty much the final antagonist of the game and how she didn't know what to do until the last moment.


Now let's backtrack a little bit. Two years before the events that take place during the game, the Archadian Empire declares war on Dalmasca. Rasler, Ashe's husband, dies in battle and soon after her entire family is massacred by the hands of the Empire. Only her uncle remains (Marquise Ondore) and although he saves her life by faking her death, he seems to be interested in her only from a political and diplomatic standpoint, while not treating her as his niece and without showing her any kind of affection. Despite being basically alone, Ashe became one of the most prominent members of the resistance in order to fight the Empire on the frontline with all herself, showing strong will and determination. The weapons she uses initially (sword and shield) also serve to underline her propension to fight to regain her country and throne. We also know that in these two years she was being protected by Vossler, one of the captains of the Dalmasca army. And although she trusted him, I think their relationship was mostly professional, like the same type of relationship that an employer has with a good emplyee, but that's really it.
For all these reasons, it shouldn't be surprising that Ashe was at first being cold and cautious towards her new companions: she simply needed time to accept them and to start trusting them.


This doesn't necessarily means that she remains a cold character for all the game, as she also shows a softer and more opened side of her personality. In fact Vaan feels comfortable enough being with her to talk about his brother's death. Balthier on the other side reveals to her, and to her only, fragments of his relationship with Dr. Cid. In other words she appears to be concerned about other people's problems without being vulnerable, as she never becomes dependent on someone else. Even her clothes suit her very well: they don't show too much of her body (looking at you Fran), but her femininity and beauty still shrine through them.


A lot of people didn't like FFXII because it was mainly centered around politics and war, at the same time leaving almost no space to romance. While it's true that none of the main characters deveolps a romantic relationship, there is one “love story” that is of great importance to the main plot. And I'm talking about the relationship between Ashe and Rasler. In fact, even though they married for political reasons, they had strong feelings for each other. This is clearly shown during the course of the game, throughout Rasler's numerous apparitions. And although we later discover that it was just an image created by the Occurias, it's easy to see that Ashe still mourns him. Her face becomes tense, she sighs, she follws his advices and trusts him despite her cautious nature. These moments are very important not only to Ashe's development, but also to other male characters in the party. No one actually tries to conquer Ashe's heart because they all understood that it wasn't the case to do so, given her situation. In my opinion it's also a matter of respect: they respected her decision to focus all her attention towards her country and her people.
Having said that, it's possible to argue that Ashe may have a light crush on Balthier, but that's mostly because of his attitude, as he flirts with pretty much anyone.


Now, I don't think Sqaure-Enix ever released any official information about this specific aspect about Ashe, but I might be wrong. Therefore from here on it will be all speculation.
What I'm talikng about is our Princess' name. In fact I don't think the name “Ashe” was given to her casually. First of all it can be linked to Thomas Patrick Ashe. Long story short, he was a founding member of the Irish Volunteers who fought against Britain in several occasions. After becoming the commander of the Fingal Battalion he was defeated in a five-and-a-half-hour battle and eventually arrested (all information is taken from Wikipedia). The similarities between him and our Princess revolve around fighting against a more powerful country to gain freedom, and the fact that both were arrested and imprisoned.
More importantly though, the name “Ashe” is related to the concept of Ashè in the Santeria, a syncretic religion of Caribbean origins that developed in the Spanish Empire among West African descendants. The word Ashè has two levels of meaning. The first one is the literal meaning in the Cuban language, which is “luck” or “charisma” (and it goes without a doubt that the latter perfectly suits Ashelia).
The second one is a lot deeper and it refers to an ontological meaning about a force with the task of maintaining order and balance in the universe. When problems arise, balance falls and it's necessary to consult oracles to determine the source of the problem and to find a solution. Something to note is the presence of the Orishas, which are manifestations of God and the ones who give the power to fight the imbalance. In FFXII, Ashe can be considered as the one able to restore the lost balance in the world of Ivalice. This can be seen in the game, as her actions have an incredible influence on everyone, including Vayne and Archades, and the Rozarian Empire. It is not an exaggeration to say that she holds the reins of almost every person's destiny.
In order to gain power, she goes to the Garif people to find a way to use the Stone she possesses, as descendant of the Dynast King. The “old sage” (forgot his name, sorry) however is unable to give her a proper answer, and she is forced to reach the Occurias to actually find the power she seeks.
Now this may be a stretch, but the Garif could be interpreted as the oracles, while the Orishas are obviously represented by the Occurias (the name is also similar). It is also worth noting that the Orishas choose a “priest” to whom they give the power to understand his destiny and therefore to maintain balance. Pretty much the same thing happens in FFXII when Ashe reaches the deeper level of Giruvegan and meets the Occurias.


And that's finally it! Thank you if you had the will and patience to read this far! :D

Bubba
10-25-2016, 12:57 AM
This was a really great read! Good job :D

Yubel-Lover
10-25-2016, 01:26 AM
Thank you very much! Glad you made it through the end :D