The Overthinker's Club [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]
The Overthinker's Club

[ userinfo | insanejournal userinfo ]
[ archive | journal archive ]

My introductory entry... [Jul. 26th, 2009|03:17 pm]

Because if this isn't a case of overthinkeritis in action, nothing is... *ded*
linkpost comment

A Brief History of Wutai [Jun. 4th, 2009|11:59 pm]

[music |周杰倫 [Zhōu Jié Lún] Jay Chou - 止戰之殤 [zhǐ zhàn zhī shāng]]

And behold, the revamp, edited, and expanded version of the first part of the world building I'm doing for all of Wutai and the history of Gaia, really. ^^;;

A Brief History of Gaia: Wutai

(link goes to my journal)
linkpost comment

Various musings on FF7 History and Sociology [May. 11th, 2009|01:32 pm]

[mood | calm]

Gongaga region.

There's a strong fanon tradition for making Zack Fair into a character who is at least bisexual, and is quite often involved in homoerotic relationships with various other male figures. Oddly enough, I can see how this might work in the context of Gongaga in a social and cultural sense.

One of the more annoying little monsters in the Gongaga region is the "Touch-Me" frog. As people who have played the game know, this amphibian's little trick is turning humans into frogs either through direct contact, or through their frog song. One of the few known remedies is a maiden's kiss. Humans settling in the Gongaga region would therefore have a certain interest in prolonging the maidenhood of all female children for as long as possible - simply in order to prevent people being irredeemably frogged. Combine this with a restricted gene pool (the Gongaga village is shown to be in the middle of a thickly wooded area, and gives the strong impression of being rather isolated as a result) and the concomitant risk of inbreeding and reinforced harmful recessive genes presenting as a result, and you wind up with a community which has a couple of strong social pressures working against teenage sexual experimentation with those of the opposite sex. Instead, there'd probably be a strong tendency toward encouraging homosexual relationships as the preferred form of "love" relationship. Marriages might well be arranged, in order to remove the risk of inbreeding, and while married couples would be expected to breed only with each other, and girls would be expected to retain their heterosexual virginity until marriage (possibly on some kind of community roster to deal with cases of frogging), there would be a strong social pressure toward ignoring both male/male and female/female homosexual relationships as a method of venting built up emotional and sexual energy.

Western Continent

The Western continent, between Midgar and Wutai, is likely to have wound up as something of a social, cultural and physical battleground for the two empires involved. There's at least some evidence of a Midgarian cultural colonial heritage, and certainly evidence of a Wutaian physical heritage in the people born in certain areas of the Western continent. Nibelheim, for example, is very clearly built along Midgarian cultural lines (and from the name at least, was likely created as a colonial outpost). The village itself is placed in a very interesting strategic location, controlling the only mountain passage between the Cosmo Canyon region and the area which was later named after Rocket Town.

It is likely there would be a certain amount of colonialist scorn (or at the very least, mild condescension) toward those people born on the Western continent from the population of Midgar in particular, and from the inhabitants of the eastern (Midgarian) continent in general. This would probably breed a certain amount of resentment from the natives of the Western continent, particularly since they're in a position of economic dependence on the Midgar continent for things like energy and the like (although it seems likely the first mako reactors were created on the Western continent - the Nibelheim reactor appears in canon to be at least one technological remove from the reactors in Midgar, if not more). This resentment might well be vented through some of the following: dumb rebellion (following only the orders given, not acting beyond them); "local yokel" tricks in places like Costa del Sol, where the colonisers come to play; hyperconsciously aping the colonising culture; hyperconsciously reinforcing the current culture. It seems believable that the best and brightest youngsters from the Western continent would see their future as being in Midgar, or on the Eastern continent, so there would be a steady "brain drain" from Western towns and cities.

Given this sort of history, I'd be basing cultural norms for groups on the Western continent on the cultures of other colonised places, as well as those around which the images are clearly based ("Costa del Sol" is a fairly clear pointer toward the Mediterranean resort towns, where tourists from the US and UK are cheerfully separated from the excess weight on their wallets).


From the way the Cetra were described in the game, and from subsequent information, it seems unlikely they were a separate species to the humans of Gaia (for a start, the definition of "species" indicates interbreeding between humans and Cetra would be impossible; yet Aerith exists). I suspect the difference to be more cultural than anything else - Gaian humans and Cetra share a similar genetic heritage, but the Cetra culture unlocked certain abilities, such as magic using and communicating with the consciousness of the Planet. This would explain why those who stepped away from the journeying became ordinary humans, since without certain cultural practices, their abilities would have become dormant. It is likely, prior to the arrival of the Jenova organism, that there might have been a certain amount of interchange between the two groups, with those human children with the strongest potential gifts being trained in the Cetra ways, while those children of the Cetra who weren't as gifted might choose to live as ordinary humans.

The coming of Jenova would have served as a devastating blow, since in one calamity, a large chunk of cultural and social knowledge was removed. The loss of so much of the Cetra knowledge reservoir meant certain Cetra abilities might well have become lost over time (it is possible the abilities relate to a lot of the various types of materia later created - so the "Steal" materia points toward a much more believable society for the Cetra than the rather idealistic notions of mythology) until the only ones which remained were the half-learned healing and empathic skills of Aerith Gainsborough.

Skin colour discrimination

This isn't as prominent on the world of Gaia as it is in our world, since Gaians don't have the warping effect of Christianity to justify prejudices. However, it probably does exist, although it's more likely to manifest as a form of xenophobia. I suspect there might be a certain amount of prejudice in the Midgar region toward folk from the Western continent ("foreigners coming over here, taking our jobs"), and that this would be more likely to manifest toward darker skinned foreigners, simply because they'd be more physically distinctive on first sight.
linkpost comment

A retranslation (plus notes) of the Loveless poem (prologue & pt 1) [Apr. 23rd, 2009|12:03 am]

While looking for "Loveless" to use in a fic, I came across the English version, and looked for the Japanese as well.

The English version is...errrrr in a few places. As a result, I'm going to retranslate it (slowly, because I'm sick bleh.)

First off is Genesis' interpretation, where he fills in the parts of the poem that have been lost.

Prologue to Loveless )
Prologue Notes )

Loveless, Part 1. )
Notes for Part 1 )
link3 comments|post comment

The Cetra Diaspora [Mar. 27th, 2009|12:42 pm]

[Tags|, , ]

This is based off of the original planning I did here. That needs, of course, massive updating since I wrote it over a year ago, but the basics are there.

This post mainly accounts for why the Cetra reach the point of no return and lose viability...or interbreed with humans so much that they loose their 'Cetra'-ness.

The thing with the Cetra in general is odd; it's never made clear if they wandered Gaia settling (and thus were native to the planet) or wandered the universe and some settled on Gaia. There are indirect hints either way; one thing I find kinda trippy about the Japanese is how everyone uses 星 ('star', 'planet') to refer to Gaia in FF7, which is really weird because why use the same word for your own planet that you use for others, unless there's some kind of subtle understanding that your planet is not the only inhabitable one? That could be a linguistic legacy of the Cetra if they were not originally from Gaia but ended up meshing with the human populations.

But that's a whole other thing right there. ^^;; This post is about why the Cetra went bye-bye, and my theory is that there had to be a Cetra diaspora. What I'm thinking is, is that after Jenova made everything go BOOM, the planet was in pretty shitastic shape. And what the Planet did in that case, when it was that threatened, was do whatever it needed to make sure there was more Lifestream available for it...meaning there needed to be a lot more death. Yeah, there were Weapons, but I'm also betting there were natural disasters and all sorts of fun times as the planet tried to generate more 'blood', especially if the Cetra found a way to seal up/cause the Weapons to "sleep". They'd be walking a tightrope to keep the planet from waking them up, and as the edge passed, natural disasters and climate changes would have been disastrous enough cause enough death for the Lifestream to replenish and the planet to heal. But.

The Cetra, of course, would have handled all that death badly, especially since they knew how to guide the Planet. Which makes me think a diaspora happened--many of them took up 'wandering' again, in this case leaving the City of the Ancients to go to other parts of the world to try and coax more, well, efficient ways of the planet using the Lifestream it had so there would be less death. It would have been a big job, more than a few people could handle, and especially in a time without cars or motorcycles or guns to make traveling a big world full of monsters (and Weapons) faster and safer. Entire groups would have set out, and in different directions, to canvass as much of the world as possible. Along the way, new Cetra would have been born, ones who would have closer ties to the places they lived and the humans they interacted with than their people halfway around the world, and interaction with humans and 'normal'--settling, having a family, working--would have been things they aspired to, not wandering the world on a quest that had little to do with them (especially if there's a big warring period like I speculated and am using as my personal fic-canon--it would have been dangerous to be a group of people wandering around.) The original plan might have been to return to the City of the Ancients, but something like that would have quickly turned into a "why?" and then to just a tale...the "Promised Land" where they wouldn't have to wander any more.

But many of them stopped wandering and didn't see a need to go back to a place they'd only heard about in stories, and they had lives and loves among the humans, and without a strong culture telling them to keep separate and only wed other Cetra, well, the ties would grow weaker and weaker as the blood grew thinner and thinner. Over the years, decades, and centuries, the number of pure-blooded or even half Cetra would dwindle and become smaller and smaller, and the abilities they had lost. Occasionally genetics would do funny things--the Cetra abilities would come out randomly--but by and large, they were gone save for a small, dwindling, and unsustainable population.

Which would by why, by the time FF7 happens, there is only one half Cetra left, and even had Aerith lived and had children, once she died, the Cetra would effectively be gone, because her children would only be a quarter, and their children an eighth, and by then, it's more or less genetically gone.
link3 comments|post comment

FF7 - Why Tifa Isn't Sane [Mar. 25th, 2009|11:23 pm]

[Tags|, , ]
[mood | overthinking!]

(This originally appeared as a comment in [info]stopthatgirl7's IJ. With her permission, it's moved over to here as well.)

When Tifa Lockheart was fifteen, her home village was destroyed, her father was murdered, and she was nearly killed by her father's murderer. We don't see what happened in the intervening five years, but between this event and the beginning of the game, she's moved to Midgar and become a bartender who secretly moonlights as a terrorist.

What I think may have happened in between is that she effectively had a massive breakdown. It's likely she was given a phoenix down in the Nibelheim reactor (either by Zack or Cloud - probably Cloud), but any subsequent healing magic would probably have been done by her sensei, Zangan. It is likely Zangan was also responsible for her vanishing from the Nibelheim reactor prior to the arrival of Hojo and his assistant Turks (when Zack, Cloud and the remaining population of Nibelheim were moved into experimental facilities below the Shinra mansion).

The actions of the Shinra company in replacing the people of Nibelheim with actors (probably carefully chosen for their resemblance to the original population, and briefed with every scrap of information available) and rebuilding the town to cover up Sephiroth's actions before his disappearance means they wanted the story hidden. They didn't want people asking questions about why Nibelheim burned, so it's likely traders (along the route between Nibelheim and Rocket Town) would have had any evidence of damage blamed on dragons (which were known to be endemic to the district). That a dragon tried to burn the town would be understandable enough; so would the deaths of a number of people in the resulting fire, and if there were any questions about the SOLDIERs who'd been dispatched there, well, they died fighting the dragon.

The end result of this is that there would have been absolutely no external validation for Tifa of what she'd experienced. Zangan probably would have encouraged her to remain silent about the entire matter as well (purely for her own safety) before he journeyed on to one of his other pupils. So, there's an event which Tifa thinks has occurred, but which she doesn't remember too clearly (an artifact of trauma, and probably an aftereffect of having landed head-first from Sephiroth's blow). There's no record of this event having occurred in the media - possibly a mention of General Sephiroth having died in the course of his duties. Maybe she just dreamed it up after the bridge snapped on the way to the reactor the first time?

I suspect by the time the game had started, she'd halfway convinced herself that what she could remember of the Nibelheim incident was all a dream, or a hallucination induced by a near-death experience after the bridge collapsed. This would have received a minor blow when she found Cloud at the station (but it would be explainable as Cloud having been elsewhere). The whole thing doesn't come to a head until she's confronted with Cloud's story in Kalm, where she receives confirmation that the main injury she received was from a sword stroke, and that what she remembers is apparently the truth. But then again, Cloud's been having memory issues as well... so maybe they're both crazy?

I don't think she gets any real resolution to the entire business until she and Cloud are both exposed to the Lifestream in Mideel (and I strongly suspect a certain green-eyed Cetra was involved in nudging things along there) and they both get to fill in gaps in their collective memories.
linkpost comment

Possible origins of the citizens of Nibelheim (a theory put together on the fly). [Mar. 16th, 2009|02:41 am]

[Tags|, , , ]
[mood | inspired]

This has been sparked by Joudama's latest installment of "The Things You Never Knew About People", which got me thinking once again about how the heck a small mountain village on the western side of the central continent of Gaia managed to produce someone who looked like Cloud Strife, and why he's apparently the only blond in the village. The history of Nibelheim is something I've been worriting over for a while now, so here's a whole heap of what I've pieced together.

1) Nibelheim and the Shinra Family
There are some very strong indications that the Shinra family got their starts as feudal "lords of the manor" in the Nibelheim region. The strongest of these is the presence of the (decrepit) Shinra mansion just outside Nibelheim. The level of decrepitude the manor has attained by the time of the game seems unlikely for a single generation's neglect, and it is also implied in both Crisis Core and Dirge of Cerberus that the mansion itself was never really occupied by Shinra's scientists. Instead, said scientists occupied an extensive underground tunnel complex (possibly with links to the tunnels in Mt Nibel itself).

The next major indicator of a long-term Shinra family presence in the Nibelheim region is the Mt Nibel mako reactor, which appears to be at least one generation removed from the later reactors in Corel, Midgar, Junon and elsewhere. It is highly likely that the Nibel reactor was the first one created, and its successful creation provided an impetus to the creation of further reactors. I strongly suspect the next to be created was the Gongaga reactor (the wreckage of the Gongaga reactor implies it was built along a similar design to Mt Nibel, but the explosion of this second reactor may have triggered a revision of the design).

Either way, it is fairly likely that the blond, pale-skinned, pale-eyed Shinra family have some form of ancestral connection to the Nibel region.

2) Invasion and colonisation
[NB: A lot of this is going off Joudama's fanon for the world of Gaia.]

It's been speculated there have been waves of invasion and colonisation across the three continents of Gaia, of which the Wutai War was merely the latest installment. In particular, it seems clear from the original game that there was a strong Wutain influence on the development of Midgar city, which may well have predated the creation of the Plate. Against this background, I'd originally postulated Nibelheim as being a Midgarian colony town, ruled over by a family adept in trimming sails with the prevailing political winds.

However, the mention of Modeoheim during Crisis Core (and the strong implication given that Modeoheim is actually on the Northern continent, in the Icicle region) gives me another possible origin for the people of Nibelheim, one which is probably a better accounting for the name of the town, and the distinctive paler skin and hair of at least two of the prominent families from there.

I had previously been wondering how one town with such an obviously Germanic name had managed to be on the same continent as a number of other places which clearly had names of Romantic origin (ie the core of the name is from a Romance language). The most obvious of these is of course Costa del Sol, but it includes Corel and Cosmo Canyon. I exclude Rocket Town from my candidates, since this town is clearly one manufactured by the Shinra corporation for a purpose (as the name implies). The existence of a single Germanic holdout would therefore be unlikely, particularly since the town is on the western (Wutai-facing) side of the continent, close to existing shallow-water waterways, and capable of being reached easily from the Wutain eastern coast.

It seems more likely that the town of Nibelheim is instead a relic of a far earlier wave of colonisation, possibly dating back some two thousand years, to the arrival of the Jenova calamity and the loss of a large part of the Cetra civilisation. It is stated clearly that the ancestors of ordinary humans "hid" when faced with Jenova, and the most straightforward way of interpreting this seems to be that they fled. Given Jenova's arrival on the Northern continent, it seems fairly likely they would have fled southwards - possibly first to the continent of Midgar, and then to the central continent. It may well be that the inhabitants of Nibelheim at the time of the birth of Cloud Strife were the final remnants of the last of the escapees from the Northern Continent - this would account for such artifacts as the gates of the town, its secluded (and strategic) location athwart the one safe passage through the Nibel mountains, and its clear isolation from outside influences: Nibelheim was intended to be either a last defence, or possibly a last stand.

This possibly also accounts for the locations of a number of other settlements on the central continent. Many of these are in mountainous regions, defensible areas, or isolated from other contact. Corel is located on the edge of the desert, Gongaga in the midst of thick jungle, Cosmo Canyon on a mesa with an excellent view of anything approaching, Costa del Sol on a peninsula. Each of these regions is separated from others by either mountains, strong rivers, or both. The placements of these settlements were deliberate: it was intended to escape unknowing infiltration by people infected with the Jenova virus.

While it's very hard to get an idea of what the cultural memes of Gaian society might have been from the little we were given in the games, I suspect there were some rather strong cultural aftershocks as a result of losing almost all of the Cetra in one fell swoop. One of these might have been a long-standing distrust of strangers; another a legend about something evil waiting in mountainous regions and cold places.

(As was stated earlier, this is a very rapidly put-together theory. If anyone can pick holes in it, or provide corroborative detail, feel free.)
link6 comments|post comment

Reflections on the nature of the relationship between Boromir and Faramir: [Mar. 3rd, 2009|10:37 pm]

[Tags|, , , ]
[mood | geeky]

The two of them form an effective unit, where their strengths each complement the other's weaknesses. Boromir is decisive, and reaches conclusions rapidly once he's got all the facts lined up. Faramir is quicker at assembling the facts, and is able to gather the wider ramifications of those facts when he has them. Boromir is physically dynamic, emotionally stable, and mentally focussed. Faramir is physically stable, emotionally focussed, and mentally dynamic.

Boromir is very good at dealing with the straightforward elements, and once he's got the ducks in a row, he's able to think his way to a conclusion very effectively. He comes across as being something of an intuitive thinker on the battlefield, but this is because he's better suited to that style of action, where the whole mental effort comes down to one simple matter - stay alive and kill the other bugger. He gets relatively easily bogged down in the intricacies of diplomacy (compared to his father or his brother - compared to most other people, he's a capable diplomat) and finds it confusing, simply because he's fighting to stay afloat in an area where his rather straightforward temperament is a disadvantage. It would take him a long time to integrate a large amount of new information into his master world view, which leaves him at somewhat of a disadvantage during the time that he's attempting to integrate this, as he's functioning with an incomplete picture. Once he's got everything sorted out, though, he's able to fit all of the elements together very securely, and thus he doesn't appear to be uncertain of his decisions. He'd come across as deliberate, but decisive. Boromir, mentally, is very much focussed on the concrete, the immediate, and the physical. Once Boromir knows something, it's basically a stone in a wall - it stays fixed where it is, and other facts are added in around it. Note: this does *not* mean that Boromir is stupid. Quite the contrary - he's actually a rather intelligent man. If he were stupid, he'd be dead by now. However, he's got a different style of thinking to either his father or his brother - he and Findulias probably shared a mental "style", in a lot of ways.

Faramir, by contrast, would be seeing the options inherent in each piece of information, and linking all the information into a mental map. He would be far quicker to integrate new information, and to function regarding all of that information, and would seem to almost intuit the big picture. However, he may come across as occasionally indecisive, as he can see too many options coming out of any one particular path to choose clearly before each of these options has been considered. Diplomacy and subtlety would come to him easily, however he would possibly seem somewhat aloof and distant in battlefield situations, because what would actually be happening while he was fighting would be a lot of background processing. He would come across as wily, but uncertain. Faramir, mentally, is very much focussed on the abstract, the past and future, and the intellectual. Knowledge, to Faramir, is more of a collection of pieces in a kaleidescope, where the various pieces can be shaken up to form new patterns, and each pattern is unique. In many ways, Faramir would be sharing a mental "style" with his father, and this is likely to be at least part of the reason why the pair of them do not get along too well.

The two brothers together would present an effective unit for handling the Stewardship of Gondor, as Boromir would be well suited to handling the day to day petty realities of economic and political wrangling on the small scale, as well as providing a direction on the larger scale. Faramir, meanwhile, would be an effective diplomat, while he would also be able to provide the details for future planning.

Effectively, changing Boromir's mind is a bit like turning around a supertanker. It's going to take some time and a lot of turning space. Changing Faramir's mind can be accomplished by presenting your information. However, getting agreement on a decision out of Boromir would be a quick thing, while getting agreement on a decision out of Faramir would require a bit more time, while he second-guessed his way through things.

It would be interesting, given this, to postulate what might have happened had Denethor decided that his two sons would form a more effective team if they *both* went to Imladris...
linkpost comment

Real-World Politics and Economics in a Fantasy Setting (or "Was the Relief of Minas Tirith Worth the [Mar. 3rd, 2009|10:27 pm]

[Tags|, ]
[mood | geeky]

This is an essay sparked by a few discussions on the Henneth-Annûn mailing list. One discussion began harmlessly enough, with a question as to how the Rangers paid their shot at the Prancing Pony. It quickly intensified into an examination of the rather complex politico-economic underpinnings of the Northern Kingdom. Further imeptus toward writing this has come from Anglachel's essay "Writing a Green Sun" and her comments about likely economic, political and sociological situations in the Shire. I've also had some rather urgent nibbles from a plotbunny, wanting me to deal with the whole mess as well. So here goes. Imagine this as a preiminary briefing for King Elessar Telcontar from his economics advisor (a rather dry and dusty academic who is normally located somewhere in the bowels of the archives of Minas Tirith, but who has lately been out and about having a look at things, and demanding information from any of the newcomers who'll stand still long enough to be interviewed).

Lots more under the fold )
linkpost comment

[ viewing | most recent entries ]