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View Full Version : I actually really like Vaan



Edge7
07-11-2017, 11:38 PM
Or: How I Learned to Stop Hating and Love the Ratsbane

In the build up to the remaster's release, I always find it weird how most people who praise FFXII are like "I love this game, but Balthier/Basch should've been the main character. Vaan's the worst, lol". Ignoring the fact that Ashe is the main character of FFXII's story (the game starts with her wedding/subsequent widowhood and the second and third acts are her trying to gain the means to reclaim her homeland), I find Vaan's role in the story to be... largely inoffensive at worst? Like sure, once they escape Nalbina, he's irrelevant to the plot, and the [few] moments the story tries to make him relevant are really jarring, but... really? I say this having hated Vaan until my most recent playthrough of the game 2 years ago.

Honestly, I like having a more plucky optimistic character to tag along with the otherwise jaded, embittered cast. Vaan's the only character in the party I could believe would take hunts, help lost cockatrices find their owners, help the Chief Stewards out of arranged marriages, and so on. Ashe is obsessed with revenge, Basch lives only to serve her, and the Sky Pirates would've left the game altogether had Ashe not used her wedding ring as payment. If nothing else, Vaan makes sense as the player's avatar for a game so rife with side content.


I think Vaan's strongest aspect as a protagonist is just how radically his life is changed by FFXII. As the player, the first proper dungeon you enter is a sewer as the first step of robbing Dalmasca's national treasures. Vaan's character is vindictive and self-serving. His actions are self-destructive and are born from a sense of helplessness living just above rock bottom of Dalmasca's caste. Even then, what little privilege Vaan has is because he was taken in by an influential shop owner who kowtows to the Empire. In contrast, by the end of the game, Vaan becomes an altruistic top member of Clan Montblanc. Even if you ignore the side content, Vaan still canonically becomes a budding Sky Pirate, friend to the Dalmascan throne and has enough money to his name to purchase an airship after Balthier and Fran take back the Strahl. I'm also pretty sure there are a couple mandatory quests in which you help people from Archadia, and depending on whether or not FFTA2's Ivalice is canon, he may even have a shirt now! It's a character arc that feels reinforced by the gameplay; with every hunt you slay, every dungeon you explore, every license you buy, Vaan goes from disenfranchised urban youth to capable, seasoned adventurer. If Ashe renouncing violence and choosing diplomacy to regain her throne is the plot of Final Fantasy XII, I'd argue Vaan renouncing thievery and exercising heroism to gain his agency is the heart and soul.

But that's just me. What do the people of EoFF think about FFXII's controversial not-protagonist?

maybee
07-12-2017, 02:07 AM
Same here, I like Vaan !

Though as a main character, he does feel a bit empty and shallow. There's not that much depth to him. As a character he's fine. but as the main lead, he's not so great. Think that's why so many people want somebody else to be the main lead instead.

You can tell that Vaan was created to be the main lead to attract fangirls.

Yubel-Lover
07-12-2017, 10:50 AM
I agree with maybee.
I've never had a single problem with Vaan as a character. AsEdge7 pointed out, he's not a bad character by any means, and certainly has his own development.
What I didn't like was how he was "forced" to be the main character, while in fact he's... not.

@Edge7: Good job writing all that about Vaan though :D

qwertysaur
07-13-2017, 07:55 PM
I always viewed FF XII with the lens that you (the player) are only looking at one piece of the world of Ivalice, and Vaan is the lens you look at it through. We do see small parts of other areas like the interactions between Drace and Gabranth, but aside from that there is a lot of things going on that you never encounter because the party never encounters them.

Similarly, the story is that of Dalmasca, and Ashe is the main character. But we experience that through Vaan's eyes.

Laddy
07-14-2017, 10:32 AM
Vaan is perfectly inoffensive; he's just not the main character.

Edge7
07-14-2017, 06:36 PM
Right as many of you have said, I'd never pretend that Vaan's the main character, and the fact that he's pushed as such is FFXII's biggest flaw. That being said, I do appreciate the unique perspective his story has. One of the shared things FFXII has with FFT is the disenfranchised common people who suffer at the result of war. I'm not saying Vaan is anywhere remotely as sympathetic as The Corpse Brigade/Death Corps, but I like the fact that it's a primary focus of the first third of the game. It's a really mixed feeling where I liked following Vaan's perspective even if in the long run, Vaan's a bit player. Like, when the story treated Vaan as a protagonist, I honestly believe he's a pretty solid protagonist. Nothing ground breaking, but he's has a clear arc with decent pathos.

I guess to make an analogy, one that's really only gonna make sense for Hip Hop fans, there's a distinct good kid, mAAd city narrative to Vaan's journey (it's a common Rap narrative, but GKMC is a modern example), at least as close to that kind of narrative as a T rated Fantasy JRPG can get. Like Kendrick Lamar:

-Vaan starts poor and gets through the day rocking a false set of bravado. He makes destructive decisions (robbing and picking fights with imperials),
-Daydreams about being a big-time celebrity (a Sky Pirate rather than a rapper, both are shown to be equally glamorous and of equal notoriety) despite the nagging of his family-figures.
-He gets in over his head in an event that causes him to rethink the trajectory his life is headed (Vaan goes to jail and Penelo gets kidnapped, while Kendrick's friend dies in a shootout).
-With new resolve, Vaan uses his new connections (Clan Montblanc and arguably Balthier's mentorship, for Kendrick it would be his record deal) to not only transcend his socioeconomic status, but also struggles to improve the community, with Vaan taking hunts and playing his part in restoring Ashe to the throne, while Kendrick forgoes commercial rap in favor of writing about his experiences, and giving back to the community.
See also: CREAM or Life's a B**ch

Like, I know that's the framework for a common rags to riches story, but I like it a lot more than the standard "Vaan is a poor man's Luke Skywalker" comment I see EVERYWHERE. Luke is a farmboy who goes on an adventure. Vaan is a war orphan who manages to escape a life of poverty.

BreakfastGrilledCheese
07-22-2017, 08:09 PM
I really, really appreciate that Vaan gets over his hang up with another of the main cast pretty quickly in the beginning. As mean as I feel for saying it, I turned to my hubby and said, "Oh, no. I don't remember. Does he Hope (FFXIII) it up for the next couple of hours or does he move on?" I'm glad he didn't Hope it up.

I find value in Vaan's existence playing through this again. He was a little bratty for me in the beginning, but he really hits his dynamic motions fast. His presence afterwards is just a nice reminder of the innocence of youth - along with Penelo. I r

LunarWeaver
07-22-2017, 11:40 PM
I've always been indifferent to Vaan and Penelo. I am one of those curmudgeons who complains they lack any urgency to the plot. The game doesn't care about him, so I don't either.

I've used him in my party for his baller as hell stats though.

Ffamran mied Bunansa
07-22-2017, 11:59 PM
I always liked Vaan, he might not be the main character, but he's a good kid and not a bad character.

Yar
07-24-2017, 11:33 PM
Vaan is okay. He certainly isn't as loathesome as other lead characters, like Squall, Tidus, Noctis....

He does demonstrate a level of maturity and does grow, even early in the story. One of the big moments I remember that really proved this to me was after he holds a grudge against Basch, he does think about the entire situation logically and comes to forgive him rather quickly.

So he certainly isn't a bad character. I just think the game would have been better if it weren't so focused on him. He does prove irrelevant rather quickly.

BustaMo
08-05-2017, 02:49 AM
THe only part of the game where I found Vaan to be extremely annoying was the very beginning. He seemed kinda on edge and shakey about a lot of his decisions, actions and fear appeared to take over until someone gave him an encouraging push from behind.

Now I know he was also young and less experienced than some of the other characters in that party like Basch and Balthier, but comparing him and his age and experience to other characters in the franchise who were thrust into mega-roles, he fits the description perfectly.

I actually ended up liking Vaan and believe he was the perfect character to co-lead the game along with Ashe. As the game progressed you saw his improvement, his courage stepped up to the plate, and he meshed well with those battle-proven warriors he teamed up with. Not the guy I'd want leading my army, but I'd take Vann as a comrade along side me toward the end of the game.