• From the High Seas to Fran's Booty: A History of Final Fantasy Pirates

    Throughout the ages people have viewed Piracy in many different ways. It’s been romanticized, symbolic of adventure and freedom. It’s been scorn as thieving, murderous, scrupulous. Pirates have been heroes, anti-heroes, and villains. For as many tales and legends there have been, there have been variations of the Pirate Mythos.

    The Final Fantasy series has its own interpretation of it, as well. The first Pirates to appear in the series were members of Bikke’s Crew, who invaded the port town of Provaka. The heroes quickly dispatch of the large but seemingly inept crew and are awarded by the cowardly Bikke with his SHIP.

    Bikke’s Crew represents the theme of Pirates being vicious and untrustworthy. Here they show typical Pirate traits such as plundering, harassing the locals, and most likely, getting drunk. Pirates represented in this vein tend to be swarthy outlaws, many times foreigners, who are only out for trouble.

    This view of Pirates often emboldened xenophobic views. Barbary Pirates, whom operated along the northern coast of Africa, where thought to have invaded European towns, kidnapping Christians for the Ottoman Slave Trade.

    Europeans had long before that used piracy on each other. Whether independent of government control or Privateers, Europeans had used Piracy as far back as Antiquity. Outside of the outlaw pirates who’d plunder and pillage, the Privateers worked for the various governments during times of war. They’d invade trade ships from enemy nations, kidnapping the crews and inhibiting trade, hence weakening the enemy. Privateers were viewed favorably, as long as they were on your side.

    But being a Pirate isn’t all about blood and guts. There’s booty to be had, too. Pirates are most popular for their sense of adventure and their love of treasure. Nobody knows this more than Vaan, from Final Fantasy XII.

    Vaan dreams of escaping his hard-luck life as a street urchin in Rabanastre, to take flight in the clear blue skies on an airship, just like a Sky Pirate. Fortunately for him, he came across two of the best, in Balthier and Fran.

    Balthier and Fran seem to live a carefree, adventurous life. Scouring the skies for treasure, in their own epic airship, they seem to live the perfect life for Vaan. However, both really are constantly on the run, in fear for their lives, both literally and figuratively.

    Ba’Gamam and his crew of Head Hunters are constantly nipping at their heels. They also have the pesky Arcadian Empire to worry about. But it’s not only the immediate danger they run from.

    Balthier escapes his past, watching his father Dr. Cidolfus Demen Bunansa seemingly driven to delirium due to the nature of his work. Balthier, who quickly rose into the status of Judge at a younger age than most, couldn’t stand to see his father deteriorate, and grew to hate everything about the Empire.

    Fran, on the other hand, isn’t running from her past. She’s constantly running from her present. Having broken ties with her homeland, a close community of Viera in Eruyt Village. She’s lost her connection with the Woods, unable to “speak” to it anymore. This has left her an outcast within her family. The price for her freedom, it seems, is the cost of everything she cared for.

    Fran isn’t the only female pirate of note in the Final Fantasy series. Faris Scherwiz, from Final Fantasy V, was the first female Pirate in the series. The daughter of the King of Tycoon, Princess Sarisa Scherwil Tycoon was lost at sea. Found by the dragon Syldra and raised by Pirates, she was raised as a boy, mainly to protect herself from any drunken lechers.

    It’s possible that Faris was inspired by the tales of female pirates, many of whom publicly identified as men. One such was Mary Read, one of the only two women to be convicted of Piracy in England in the 18th century. The other was Anne Bonny. She became the mistress of Captain Calico Jack and herself under him, a notorious Pirate. At the time, Pirate Code forbade women from even being on a Pirate ship, as it was seen as a form of bad luck.

    Faris, just as Mary Read had, proved to be as adept as any male pirate. Faris had grown in ranks to become the Captain of her crew. Mary Read, on the other hand, had a stay of execution due to being pregnant, and then died of fever in prison.

    Anne Bonny, before her capture, had left Jack and settled with her family. Likely grown bored, she left her husband and married Jack, who with Read started their own crew. Faris had a similar transaction. After finding her sister Lenna and her recently deceased father, Faris rejoined the Royal Court. However, being stuck in a dress in a stuffy castle wasn’t to her liking. Like Bonny, she escaped her life of mundane and set out again for adventure.

    Whether they are reckless fiends, free spirited adventurers, or constantly on the run, the Pirates of Final Fantasy are some of the most interesting characters in the series. They, as the legends before them, will live on through eternity.
    This article was originally published in forum thread: From the High Seas to Fran's Booty: A History of Final Fantasy Pirates started by Colonel Angus View original post
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