Did you know there are no podcasts on this planet older than 10,000 years?
This podcast contains adult language and spoilers for Xenogears and Final Fantasy VII.
2:46 – Xenogears is a 1998 RPG by the Squaresoft dream team. It features a scenario by husband-and-wife team Tetsuya Takahashi and Kaori Tanaka, originally written as a proposal for Final Fantasy VII. It also features a badass score by Yasunori Mitsuda. Xenogears hit at the peak of certain story trends in JRPGs: amnesiac protagonist, schizo tech, religiosity. It’s much more complex even than the standard level of convoluted for JRPGs of the time, though – so complex, in fact, that the 10,000 years covered by this game and the history its heroes delve through are only Part 5 of the 6-part story Takahashi and Tanaka originally envisioned.
7:06 – Ancient Gears are important. The most powerful Gears used in the war are relics from the Eldridge (some of which have been found and used and lost again), but Aveh and Kislev have the technology to build basic Gears and have been putting it to good use.
10:26 – This is important. There are other cities on other continents.
11:11– Citan is also important.
11:43 – His name was Lee! Way to go, drunk Sean! Lee apparently dies in the explosion that consumes Lahan (although his death is not shown), as he never appears again.
13:22 – Here’s a nice video compilation of all the combo moves in the game.
15:58 – We stop for a brief discussion of what constitutes a dirty line.
16:40 – Elly is important. But we definitely come back to her.
17:37 – Weltall is German for “cosmos,” which is the name of a major character in Xenosaga. But I’m not sure that has any real significance.
17:52 – This is important: Weltall tells Fei that he sucks? Oh, this is Grahf. Grahf appears here in his Gear.
19:09 – We really enjoyed Forgetting Sarah Marshall.
21:48 – This is important: Fei knows Elly’s name before she says it.
22:56 – The purple-haired woman is still important.
23:26 – This is important. If you took a drink every time we said “This is important,” you’d be drunker than we were!
24:25 – Fei still knows Elly’s name before she says it. It’s still important.
25:46 – Grahf is important.
26:19 – Shevat is important.
29:55 – Old Man Bal’ will come back later.
31:48 – As will Melchior and Gaspar.
35:29 – This is important: At this early point in the game, Citan deploys the concept of reincarnation. Actually, to be more accurate, Xenogears isn’t about reincarnation, it’s about “eternal return,” a concept from Indian and Egyptian religion adopted by guys like Friedrich Nietzsche and Arthur Schopenhauer. The key difference, for our purposes, is that eternally returning individuals are reborn in their own bodies, which is why Fei and Elly are immediately recognizable in each iteration.
Originally, eternal return was a purely physical hypothesis, with no concept of souls, but Xenogears cheats a little through the idea of “waveforms,” entities which are capable of surviving in the form of information (like a Weeping Angel). The two rival waveforms in Xenogears – the Wave Existence and Miang – are programmed into the “junk DNA” of every human on the planet. Thus, each incarnation of Fei is able to make contact with the Wave Existence, and every woman on the planet can be transformed into Miang at need. Grahf’s contact with the Wave Existence may also give him the ability to become a waveform, thus explaining his body-swapping power.
36:43 – There’s another one-eyed man. That’s important.
37:33 – Bart and Sigurd’s missing eyes are important. I guarantee we didn’t explain this one, because I had to look it up just now. It turns out Bart and Sigurd were both injured about two years ago in an accident aboard the Yggdrasil.
39:15 – The capital of Aveh is called Bledavik, by the way.
41:42 – It’s important that there are Solaris troops all over Aveh. Well, not really.
43:12 – Everyone loves Big Joe. And that’s important. Again, not really.
44:49 – Okay, Wiseman is the masked man who brought Fei to Lahan. And he’s important.
46:50 – Ramsus and Miang are important. Spacepants are not.
47:08 – Miang is even more important than we just said she was.
52:08 – PK is referring to a minor villain named Vanderkaum, an Aveh commander fighting for Shakhan’s government. He’s the pilot of Dora, which we mention in a few moments. I had to look that up, because he’s not very memorable.
53:35 – Id is important.
54:57 – Elly’s five friends (Renk, Stratski, Broyer, Vance, and Helmholz) are actually her subordinates in a Solaris special ops squad. Despite appearing as a boss fight here, they survive to give Elly some thoughtful advice on her relationship with Fei much later in the game.
55:15 – Nortune, the capital of Kislev, is not actually a prison city. One of the massive city’s four “blocks” is isolated as a prison.
55:52 – Destrega was a 1998 fighting game for PS1 featuring large, three-dimensional arenas and brisk free movement. Most attacks were homing energy blasts, and the game emphasized a “paper-scissors-rock” dynamic between fast, powerful, and long-range attacks.
56:22 – As you can see, Rico looks exactly like Blanka:
56:55 – Mutants are important.
57:30 – Indeed, Rico’s biological father is Kaiser Sigmund, ruler of Kislev.
58:14 – PK is a huge fan of Danny DeVito. Don’t get him started, he’ll talk your ear all the way off.
59:23 – Angels are important. Actually, even though I just said it wasn’t interesting, this is one of my favorite parts. In the Nisan cathedral, Margie shows the party a pair of angel statues with only one wing each, reciting a legend that God made humans imperfect so they would be forced to depend on one another – like angels who can only fly in pairs. Citan points out that the statues clearly depict one male and one female angel, making men and women dependent on each other as well.
1:01:25 – Hammer is not important.
1:01:59 – Fei wins his freedom in the arena (which gets his bomb collar off), then the party uses a train tunnel to sneak into the arena’s garage and steal back Weltall.
1:08:20 – It’s not actually clear if they’re the same church or not. The Ethos was definitely created by Solaris as a means of controlling the surface-dwellers, and we eventually find out the guy running Solaris was once a loyal member of the Nisan sect. So I’d put it down as a maybe.
1:08:43 – I’m not sure what “wels” comes from. Given the religious themes of the game, it might not be a coincidence that WELS is the Wisconsin Evangelical Lutheran Synod, a Christian denomination. Then again, that’s not something I’d expect a Japanese writer to know. It’s also a German word, but it means “catfish.”
1:10:32 – The Ethos has some control over the wels. That’s important.
1:12:41 – It’s actually probably closer to Ze-bo-im or Ze-bo-yim. The name is taken from several cities in the Hebrew bible, the relevant one probably being one of the “five cities of the plain” that were destroyed along with Sodom.
1:14:02 – At this point, the Ethos’ world headquarters has been destroyed by a Solaris team under Stone’s command over a failed attempt by the Ethos to hoard ancient technology (including that of Zeboim) and break free from Solaris’ control. The party goes to Zeboim to try and beat the Solaris forces to the McGuffin they want from Zeboim, which turns out to be the nanomachine colony, Emeralda.
1:15:12 – Citan’s dry jokes are important.
The stats so far:
“This Is Important” Count: 25
“This Is Important” Explained: 5
“This Will Come Back” Count: 13
“This Will Come Back” Came Back: 1