Kindred Spirits

This page is a place for my unabashed video game nerding a bonus that draws parallels between Rose and several JRPG characters that I feel are similar to her. In part, it serves as a lead-up to The Female Narrative, as Rose's many roles in the game are usually assigned to male characters – especially her role as an older and very knowledgeable companion who has their own secrets and story to tell, and who acts as the group's guide and the main character's mentor due to their experience and strength. The official blurbs listed below do not contain spoilers, but the analysis and comparison to Rose do. Included are links to existing shrines for those interested.

Click on the names to reveal the sections.

Kratos Aurion (Tales of Symphonia) He is a mercenary, hired to accompany the Chosen on her journey of regeneration. He is a skilled swordsman – Lloyd's swordsmanship pales in comparison. His cool demeanor and logical approach of handling situations irritate Lloyd, who tends to handle things completely the opposite way.

If you cannot sleep, you should count the stars. Although, a human life is far too short to count them all...

I think out of all characters on this page, Kratos shares the most similarities with Rose – not in his narrative, which is starkly different, but in his introduction, personality, back story and role. Kratos joins a group that mostly consists of characters far younger than him, teaches Lloyd (the protagonist) more about the way of the sword and guides the group with his experience and knowledge, which is varied, deep and includes that of the ancient world. The party may appreciate his presence, but isn't particularly close to him, as he is strict, serious and aloof, if not downright cold in his fixation on the task at hand. All of this is corresponds with Rose's mannerisms early on, but the similarities go further.

Kratos holds a hidden interest in Lloyd and from the start, there are hints that there's more to the mysterious stranger. At a crucial part of the story, Kratos betrays the party by revealing that he's had his own agenda all along and has been acting under orders. What's more, he has lived for over 4000 years – as a human who has gained immortality by making the transition to a Seraphim. And like Rose, he's a legendary hero from the past who travelled with a group of his own to put an end to an ancient war. Like Rose, Kratos has lived for a long time after losing everything that mattered to him; like Rose, he holds many regrets about the past, struggles with survivor's guilt and eventually sees the passion of one of his former comrades in Lloyd – who also turns out to be his son, which must have reminded him of the woman he loved and lost as well. (Compare this to Rose seeing Zieg in Dart.) Kratos, too, thought that he had lost all meaning in life and barely attempts to show his emotions openly anymore, believing that he isn't deserving of anything, but his betrayal and the sins of his past are eventually forgiven by Lloyd.

However, Kratos and Rose's narratives differ in a significant way: Whereas both grew tired of living after having lost everything, Rose never stopped believing in doing the right thing and acting upon those beliefs, no matter how much it asked of her. She continued fighting for the sake of the world even if her own life didn't matter to herself anymore. Kratos, in contrast, completely surrendered to fate and stopped making his own decisions. His narrative is about the paralysis caused by guilt and cowardice, whereas Rose's is about selfless solitary suffering at the cost of all else. Kratos has to realize his mistakes and find redemption, whereas Rose never was in the wrong. (Don't misunderstand, this is me strictly talking about their differences, not me evaluating their narratives – they're different, and they're both very powerful stories.)

Unlike Kratos, Rose doesn't have to deal with the disillusion of seeing someone she once looked up to spiral out of control and turning to cruelty. A Rose shrine of the past ("Dark Rose") that I've read does bring up an interesting point to consider though, even if it's not directly addressed in the game: It's possible that Rose joined the Dragon Campaign as an idealistic revolutionary and soldier, but after 11,000 years of dealing with the aftermath of war by herself, with all her comrades having given their life, her stance towards war and the Dragon Campaign itself may have changed. (There are several scenes of Rose talking about the power-hungry after all, and at the end of disc 1, Rose doesn't have much patience for the idealistic talk of a child that has been dragged into war.) This idealization and subsequent disillusion play a major part in Kratos' story, as when he stopped making his own decisions out of grief, he reverted to following the one person he has always followed. Even if Rose had been disillusioned by the war, in her narrative, there was no such person to turn to – she had always been on her own, as the sole survivor.

Kratos' change is also far more personal than Rose's change, as it hinges on Lloyd – his son – making him realize that in order to bring about change, he must stop running away and take things into his own hands rather than following someone else without question. Rose's change is largely initiated by Dart, but in itself is largely about being with the group and journeying with them in general, as her change is not about undoing mistakes of the past, but learning to appreciate life again. Even if the two differ in Kratos wanting to die and Rose not allowing herself to die, in the end, both their narratives are about healing.

We were incapable of correcting our flawed path. We gave up on correcting our mistakes. You didn't give up.

recommended reading: Count the Stars

Auron (Final Fantasy X) The legendary guardian who, together with High Summoner Braska, defeated Sin ten years ago. A man of few words, he guides Yuna and Tidus on their mission to vanquish Sin once more. He swings his gigantic sword with such power that even the toughest fiends are cut asunder.

I wanted to change the world, too. But I changed nothing. That is my story.

Auron's personality, back story, role, resolve and devotion have many things in common with Rose. He launches Tidus (the male lead) on his journey and later on guides him in a world unfamiliar to him, a world full of its own rites and customs. Auron is strict and doesn't talk much, but in the instances he speaks, he shows his vast knowledge and experience – but also his cynicism and impatience for matters unrelated to the mission. (And like Rose, Auron has no patience for discriminatory hate speech.) What differs is his introduction: He's no stranger to anyone in the party. To Tidus, Auron is one of the figures he's known from childhood, and he realizes right away that Auron knew his father. To the rest of the group, "Sir Auron" is a legendary guardian who accompanied Yuna's (the female lead) father on the last successful journey that brought temporary peace to the world.

Like Rose, Auron has a past of journeying with a different group for the sake of the world, and like Rose, he alone survived, ridden by regret and guilt – not just as he blames himself, but in the face of the futility of the world's system. Although he may not be considered a mysterious stranger within the current party, there are signs that he's hiding something. Late into the game, it is revealed that Auron already died ten years ago at the end of his comrades' journey and their death, but his spirit lived on due to his lingering regrets and unfinished missions. (In the world of FFX, that gives him a physical manifestation.) He clung to life in order to fulfill the promises he had made to his comrades, one of them being to watch over Tidus in Tidus' father's stead. Both Rose and Auron were unable to embrace death (partly) out of loyalty to their comrades, and both of them carry on living for a long time to see their missions through, even if the entire world and the very notion of joy became foreign to them. Auron, in a way, crossed worlds to watch over Tidus for ten years while most likely being homesick for his own world.

As he journeys with the Tidus and Yuna, he sees his former comrades (both their fathers) in them – but he also sees his old self in Tidus, just as Rose sees Zieg in Dart and is reminded of who she once was. To Tidus, Auron becomes not just a guide, a mentor, but perhaps also a father figure. Narrative-wise, Auron and Rose's stories are similar in that the two of them needn't change or question what they have done: Even with the regrets they hold, they have not done anything wrong. The horrors that happened weren't things they had control over, as much as they feel like they are to be blamed, which is also why the journey they go on with the present party doesn't serve to change their beliefs.

Over the span of many years, they both use their own life force to correct the mistakes of an entire world, refuse to die until everything they've set out to do has been taken care of even as they feel dead inside. And in the end, they are ready to part with the life that has been unnaturally prolonged for too long, happy that they've finished their mission – and thus, the will of their former comrades – and ensured the future at last.

It's all right. It's been long enough. This is your world now.

Noel Kreiss (Final Fantasy XIII-2) A young man who appears in Serah's village after the meteorite strike. He is straightforward and direct, but is unwilling to talk much about his mysterious past. He carries two swords into battle, an elaborate great sword and a smaller stabbing sword, and he likes to use them up close and personal.

Maybe somewhere deep down, below the layers of numbing pain, I wanted to fade away from this world completely.

Noel and Rose don't have a lot in common at first sight; after all, Noel's personality is decidedly bright, cheerful and soft-spoken, and he values life – including his own – highly. In the game, he is also introduced as the newcomer who is somewhat unfamiliar with the world, which is the opposite in Rose's case. This leads to another strong difference between the two: Rose is someone who stems from the distant past, having survived to the present day, whereas Noel, as it turns out, hails from the distant future – seven hundred years into the future, "at the end of days".

Noel's future is a dark world with few humans, eventually reduced to a group of three consisting of him and two of his companions: Caius, who he looked up to, and Yeul, the last reincarnation in a long line of seeresses whose life span is shortened with every vision of the future she receives. Noel was eventually abandoned by Gaius, who left to go on his own quest; shortly after his departure, Yeul's life came to an end too. Refusing to accept the bleak future, Noel embarked on a journey to gain the power to change fate itself.

What Noel and Rose share despite coming from vastly different times is their back story, resolve and loneliness as the last survivors, and how they emerge from loss, regret and helplessness with reborn determination to set things right – as the only ones who can still change anything. Their loneliness is not the loneliness in defeat (as in Kratos' case) or loneliness in repose (as in Auron's case), it's the loneliness of a journey long away from home: having lost everything and still walking on even as there's no end in sight. The task they set out to do isn't just for themselves or for the world, but first and foremost for the ones dear to them, with that devotion being their continued source of strength.

Noel and Rose's roles aren't that different at all, despite Noel being the one unfamiliar with the present. In a game that features dual leads, he is the one who encourages Serah (the female lead) to go on a journey to change fate. And as they encourage each other on their journey, he slowly remembers his past (due to partial amnesia), just as Rose gradually recalls the past that she has buried deep down. I think Noel must see some of Yeul in Serah, both young women who keep believing in a better future even as they are doomed by the world and fate itself, and he wishes to protect Serah – not just due to it being her sister's request, but because he blames himself for the past: for having let Caius go, for having been unable to prevent Yeul's death.

I think the loneliness, devotion and resolve conveyed in the vocal version of Noel's Theme, Last Journey, really captures him and Rose both.

All dreams have to end sometime. You've helped me wake from mine.

Lulu (Final Fantasy X) One of Yuna's guardians, along with Wakka and Kimahri. She thinks of Yuna as a younger sister. Her stoic and composed personality can make her seem aloof at times. She specializes in the art of black magic, using various dolls to help cast powerful spells.

I'm still not the person I wanted to become, not yet.

Lulu is one of the few female characters I've seen in JRPGs who not only hold a guide or mentor role, but whose personality is also harsh and cold (at least initially), with a tendency to keep a lid on their own emotions. She shares that role and personality with Rose. They are both very knowledgeable and guide the male lead in a new environment, and they're both older and romantically unavailable despite what the games may tease (FFX through its affection system and several seductive prompts, LoD through the dialogue prompts you receive at certain points). Tidus reminds Lulu of her former love Chappu, who died to the world's threat before he could propose to her, whereas Dart reminds Rose of Zieg, with whom she had marriage plans after the war.

Like Rose, Lulu's image colour black is not just meant to emphasize her dark personality and strictness, but also mourning. In the past, she has lost both her love as well as the summoner she was supposed to protect on a previous journey. She still regrets her personal failure from that time, and hopes to overcome her weaknesses on the current journey. As it is now Yuna who she has sworn to protect, I think accompanying Yuna inevitably reminds her of the summoner she once journeyed with. As far as parallels go, I think Lulu's protectiveness of Yuna resembles the bond between Rose and Shana in later parts, and her dynamic with Rikku is similar to the one between Rose and Meru.

Strange. I thought it would be sadder, somehow. Maybe I've gotten used to farewells.

recommended reading: Woman In Black

Aqua (Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep) A kind young woman whose sense of right and wrong never wavers. She studies under the same master as Ventus. Though she can sometimes be a little too serious, Aqua has a caring side and treats fellow students Ventus and Terra like a responsible "big sister". In battle, she is notable for her talent with magic.

I guess it's been so long, I almost forgot how to smile.

Aqua's journey doesn't resemble Rose's until you reach the end of the game, which isn't to be confused with the conclusion of her story as the series hasn't finished yet. At the start of Aqua's story, three friends each set off on a journey of their own. At the end of the journey, her two friends who mean the world to her have both entered a lasting state of unconsciousness, perhaps even beyond salvation. Aqua, the only one still capable of fighting, takes responsibility for the unfortunate turns of the three journeys and ensures both her friends' safety at the cost of her own life as she fades into the darkness. Her parting words, however, aren't those of defeat, as she promises that they'll meet again one day.

Aqua is on the list of characters who resemble Rose due to her being one of the few female JRPG leads I know who dominate the story and serve to weave together several storylines. Birth by Sleep's conclusion (including its follow-ups) is about Aqua first and foremost as she is trapped in darkness and keeps walking, keeps fighting for the day she will one day see the light and meet her friends again. Like Rose, Aqua deals with the aftermath of the climatic battle on her own, and she continues existing for ten years even if it can barely be called a life anymore. But her resolve remains unbroken, because the source of her strength is her devotion to her friends and their unbreakable connection.

As long as you're with me, I'll always find my way back. Always.

recommended reading: Stormfall

Vincent Valentine (Final Fantasy VII) A mystical man, stern and upright while at the same time dark and mysterious. His past connection with Shinra, Inc. is what made him join Cloud and the others. He may seem frail at first glance, but hidden inside his body lurks a fearsome power.

I couldn't stop her. That was my sin. I let the one I loved, the one I respected most, face the worst.

Vincent, like Rose, has become immortal, and has been sleeping for thirty years to atone for his sins by the time the party stumbles upon him. The big difference between their otherwise similar back story is that Vincent chose to enter stasis when faced with his guilt and regrets, whereas Rose channeled it into the strength needed to keep fighting. Their biggest similarity is their personality and their initial impression: Their signature colours are black and red, they hold secrets and knowledge relevant to the world's past, and they both still blame themselves for not having been able to save the person important to them. They're the cold type that skulks around in the back, silent and brooding, occasionally throwing in a few cryptic one-liners while leaning against things and generally being too cool for the party. The most important thing? They both do their ninja hopping at several points in the game.

Hmm... Being with you all is not so bad.

recommended reading: House on Haunted HillEven in Distance