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:icongenesisarclite: More from GenesisArclite




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March 8
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I've been thinking about this subject for a while - how to word it, how long it should be, how many reasons I can come up with - and finally decided to just take the plunge and find out what I can cough up. Life's gotten better, much less stressful, and I'm able to dream again about the things I want to do in life now that some more immediate crises have been taken care of. So, here I am, wasting a little time writing this up, not trying to change any minds or turn any worlds upside down (but if I do, hey, that's cool too) and relax a little before I go off to do some actual work.

Caius is different. Completely different. A lot of people say he's a purple Sephiroth, or that he's just like Kefka, or Kuja, or whatever. I disagree. He's unique in my eyes, unique within at least the majority of the FF games that I have seen, played, or read about. Vanille used to be my favorite character from the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy, but come Lightning Returns, Caius has become my favorite of not only the trilogy, but the entire series. I still love Vanille, pre-Crisis Sephiroth, Zack, Fang, Tidus, and others, but Caius managed to blow past them all. This is just an examination of why I think so, and it probably took more effort to think of a title for this darn journal than to actually write it up. There are LR spoilers below.

1. He's a lot like Lightning...
I never really realized this until I started discussing it with bretanne, but as I worked through it with her, I started to realize just how many similarities there are between he and Lightning, more than I'd originally seen. And I'm not saying I like him because he's "just like Lightning". Not at all. I'm saying that the way he guards his heart, exudes a carefully controlled and stoic exterior, but sometimes cracks and lets the passion burst through, reminds me of her. He's just as emotional as she can be, but the trick is finding the proof of that. He became emotional about Yeul and eventually his passions consumed him to the detriment of everyone around him, but just like her, he did his best to fix the mistakes he made. He's also just as hard on himself as she is, if not even harder, going so far as to eventually accept and allow himself to be consumed in the Chaos as atonement for his mistakes. He'll spend eternity there amongst those girls and be responsible for safeguarding the new world against the destructive Chaos.

2. ...but not.
At the same time, despite sharing these similarities, he's not quite like her. He's just different enough: where Lightning realized her mistake in going to destroy the whole world and how it would fix nothing (her revelation in Palumpolum), Caius went ahead anyway (the revelation from Noel in Valhalla). He's emotional and passionate, and after so many centuries of pushing forward toward a singular goal, he cracked at the revelation. What happened, I believe, is that at that moment, he lost his mind and flew into a mindless fury. Nothing mattered except saving Yeul.

3. His devotion to Yeul... and its price
And leading off of that, he's absolutely devoted to the people he cares about. Canonically, those "people" were the many incarnations of Yeul, and her alone, but that could easily be extended to other people if it ever came to that. Caius was essentially Yeul's father, her only family, and believed she had been suffering for centuries. That's why he kept pushing himself forward - even Lightning describes his heart as being heavily armored, his only way to protect himself, likely from getting hurt or ever slipping from his goal - was because he had to save Yeul. At the cost of his own life (and, ultimately, his desires and happiness), he had to save her. When Noel dropped the bombshell of her being more than happy to return because she could be with Caius again, he's devastated that she would willingly "suffer" just to come back to him. He can't even comprehend the idea of someone loving him that deeply and doesn't want to face it. He doesn't like that his adoptive daughter gladly went through the pain of death and rebirth just to be with him. He couldn't stand to see her suffer, and now he's torn. So he goes and does it anyway... and the price he had to pay was grave indeed.

4. His ultimate fate
I must come back to Lightning here, just for a moment. Reading Fragments After and playing her DLC will give a clear idea of why Lightning chose to stay in Valhalla: to atone for her "sins". Remember what Valhalla is: a realm of death and life, shrouded in the darkness of chaos, where she is permanently cut off from her family, her friends, and her entire normal life, fighting an endless war. In the end, Caius suffers the same fate. They're both very hard on themselves and ultimately maybe push too far to try and make up for their mistakes, but where Lightning gets another chance, Caius never can. He exchanged his own desires, life, happiness, and future, first for the sake of Yeul, and then for everyone.

5. Many layers
Caius is a tough character to uncover. He seems simple and straightforward, a true villain, at the start of the game, and even the whole "destroying Cocoon to open the Gate" seems pretty awful. Then you realize how old he is, how many girls he's had to see die, how it must have chipped away a little more of his sanity each time one died, how he can no longer be attached to anyone other than Yeul because he'll inevitably lose them, how a Yeul will be born only for him to lose her again, how he can never see her grow up or live a full life, and you understand. It doesn't make what he did any "better", or any less horrible. What he did was wrong, but at the same time, look at the things some absolutely devoted fathers have done in the past. Terrible things. For their family. Caius is no different. Under that powerful warrior shell, painted with stoicism, cracked from centuries, is an aching heart and a beaten soul. He lashes out and turns everyone away and pushes onward toward his ultimate goal no matter what, but it doesn't change what's inside.

Caius isn't truly evil. He's hurt, tired of seeing his charge/adoptive daughter suffer and die at such a young age, and tired of being powerless. If he has to take drastic measures to save her - knock over Cocoon, kill Etro (or Lightning, if she gets in his way), or kill himself - then he will. That's just how he is. He's too passionate for his own good, had to pay the ultimate price for it, but at least he learned from his mistakes. In fact, when he meets Lightning, all the way to the final cutscene, I get the impression that he's cold and cynical because that's the front he has to put up to protect himself. Look, he knew killing himself wouldn't mean staying dead. Which, as I figured out almost immediately, means he's tried to kill himself before. How many times has he tried? For how many years?

In the end, Yeul chained him to the darkness, but he put on a brave face, suppressed all his emotions and desires, and went with it. The man is incredibly layered and fascinating to both watch and write about. On the one hand, we have this...



...and from the same man, we have this.



6. Development
At the start of XIII-2, Caius is a complete mystery. An enigma. And as elaborated on in Fragments After, even Lightning doesn't get him. He's loud, angry, and a genuine threat, but he's also crushed by sadness and she's caught him crying. These are our hints. By Lightning Returns, he's become an incredibly strong person, and that armor around his heart is complete. Yeul won't let him go, and he's finally accepted it. From the warrior with a broken, armored heart to the Guardian of the entire universe who no longer had any choice but to throw himself into his new job. I sometimes think, if he didn't constantly keep a cap on his feelings, how much harder would it have been to keep from succumbing to his anger? I'm fairly certain he hates himself and might not even be able to forgive himself.

7. Physical appearance
What initially drew me to Caius, though, before I really started digging into his character (back when the first trailers were being released), was his physical appearance. Back then, I'd initially found Sephiroth attractive (looking back now, he's too effeminate for me as my tastes have changed). Caius nails all the things I find attractive about men in real life, from the athletic build to the full lips to the dark hair and eyes. Let's be frank here, I think he's pretty freaking gorgeous, and I'm not ashamed to admit it. Sure, he's a bundle of (very purple) pixels, but darnit if he doesn't make purple look really nice. I didn't even like purple before he became my favorite character, and now it's one of my three favorite colors. I mean...



...I can't get over his physical appearance. It's amazing and I'm fairly certain he was intentionally designed to be very much attractive (at least, to Western tastes). I wonder if they had a meeting like Disney did when designing Flynn Rider from Tangled (you know, asking all the women to describe the most attractive elements of the most attractive men, and then slapping them together to make Flynn). Lightning Returns filled him out a little, though, and good thing, too - he was almost freakishly skinny in the previous game. Lightning, how do you ignore this man, srsly

But he is definitely pretty sexy. I mean, come on. Look at that picture up there.

8. That beautiful smile
And even though Square Enix changed it for the Western release, I'll never get over Caius's beautiful smile in the Japanese release at the very end of the game. That we have never seen him truly smile before in the entire trilogy really drives it home. And just to prove what I mean...



9. He's not really like any previous Final Fantasy villain
I mean, yes, he shares certain similarities (mostly with Ultimecia and Kuja for me), but he's not a world-destroying terror like Sephiroth or Kefka. He stayed human to the end (in every way that matters, let's be frank), and after he committed the horrible crime of destroying time and causing the end of the world, he owned up to it. In exchange, he's going to protect the whole universe from the Chaos for the foreseeable eternity.

10. Dichotomy
Something that's really interesting write about him is that, underneath all that warrior stoicism and masculinity, he's got a real soft and vulnerable side. Thing is, he doesn't show it off to just anyone. Only Yeul could've really known about it. Lightning caught a glimpse in the temple after the battle, though he covered it well. Meanwhile, Noel would've seen it in his last smile. He's not going to show it off to just anyone. He's going to protect it, hide it, bury it, however he has to, and make sure nobody sees him weak. He is weak in some ways, but no one's going to seem them unless they're close to him. I believe the only person he'd be vulnerable with other than Yeul is a lover, and even then she'd end up being the only person who could see it, and he'd make very sure not to even hint at it where other people could possibly see. Look how well he held himself together throughout the third game, even though we know his spirit must be completely crushed. I barely recognized him at first in English, to be honest, but the more I looked, the more I realized how broken, vulnerable, and even weak he could be given the right circumstances. Very specific ones, though. It would not be easy to uncover that soft side of his.

11. Passion
And then there's the fact he's so passionate about everything he cares about, from Yeul to holding back the Chaos. Everything he throws himself into, he does with gusto and singlemindedness, and when put to the right force (good), one has to wonder what he could do with all that power.

I could probably find many more reasons why I love Caius... but then this would turn into a long essay-rant on him and inevitably include some Cairai/OTP nonsense and we needn't go into that if we can help it. Besides, many of my reasons have already been discussed in my journal here and this journal here. So yeah, read those too! Thanks for reading!

Gif source: Time and Memory on Tumblr
  • Mood: Content
  • Listening to: Hey, Brother by Avicii
  • Playing: My PS3
  • Drinking: Water
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:iconbretanne:
bretanne Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2014
'Tis a great piece of journal. And I'm being referenced. /blush

About the 5th point you made, I've been thinking about it lately. Caius seems to use the prophecy of Cocoon falling as a ruse to get Noel and Serah to Valhalla and thus to get Noel to kill him. His masterplan from the beginning was to get Noel to kill him. When Noel and Serah go to 500AF Caius is already there waiting them on top of the Academia buildings. He would've had the chance to blow up both Cocoon and the new Ark into thousands of pieces had he so wanted in the meantime. And in xiii-2 you learn that Cocoon will inevitably fall because it's deteriorating and only a Fal'Cie can hold it up, thus the Ark project. So Cocoon does indeed fall, but on its own accord, after Vanille and Fang get saved, and most people being on the Ark. So I don't think Caius was seriously planning on wrecking neither Cocoon or Ark, he just used it as a bait to get Noel to the right place at the right time. He even warns Serah about changing the future anymore because he knows it'll cost her her life. Although who knows what he could've done if his plan about Noel killing him would've failed (he made sure it wouldn't) but it'd be mere speculation.

And all the yes to point 6. He has an incredible character development. He goes all the way from a man raging against the fate of the Yeuls and himself to realising and accepting there's nothing he can do, they're all doomed. Not to mention he's totally broken, remorseful, and even hates himself for what he did. Then in the end he just accepts all this and seems to be stronger and determined to take up the task of being the eternal guardian of the universe and the chaos. What a change. What a man.
LOL
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:icongenesisarclite:
GenesisArclite Featured By Owner Mar 12, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I've been thinking about the whole "knock over Cocoon" thing, too, and I think you're right. It's hard to tell without any canon confirmation, and I don't want to excuse him in case he really was planning to do it, but considering how he waits for them, leads them through the sky, then confronts them personally and tries to get Noel and Serah all riled up, it makes sense. He even visibly hesitates before bringing his sword down on Serah, which tells me he was giving Noel just enough time to intervene (barely). Noel was the crux of his plan, after all, if he couldn't get past Lightning.

Caius is fascinating. He is a dangerous, manly warrior, but he also has a soft and vulnerable side buried under all that armor. I love that the person he really is, is really hidden, so you have to dig into his character to uncover his layers. They're not immediately visible. He has changed so much over the trilogy and I still think he deserves the happy ending he never got, but as it is, at least he knows all the people he hurt are safe.

What a man indeed. :heart:
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:iconstarpowerwoman:
starpowerwoman Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2014
After finally getting to play the game and getting through the Wildlands, I left quite dissatisfied with how short Caius' appearance in the game was. I even went back to the Temple to see if you could see him again, but the way was blocked. :0

I agree with everything you have said in all your journals. I honestly wish it was different for Caius.  He suffered so much, and got a crappy ending. Sure its great that he decided to stay behind and all, but...gah! It's all Yeul's fault. Everyone else, I mean everyone got a happy ending except for him. It's so frustrating.
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:icongenesisarclite:
GenesisArclite Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
It was pretty short, yes. He had a huge role to play, for sure, but his appearances were short. Did his screen presence make up for it? Mostly, I think, anyway. I do feel like he got shafted in the end, but at the same time, I can't think of another way Square could have brought him to the new world. Yeul can't be alone (and come on, when you put yourself in her place, it's no wonder she's so scared of being alone) and he can't be reborn because he's full of Chaos and Yeul would just follow him wherever he tried to make his new permanent abode. It's frustrating, though, that there simply wasn't an out for him, or the Yeuls, in any way.
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:iconstarpowerwoman:
starpowerwoman Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2014
I wish he could have been cleansed of the chaos somehow and saved. Yeul got her happy ending, at least the very last Yeul did. If I remember correctly Etro picked Yeul and made her reincarnate because she was lonely or something like that right? I wish when Etro died that Yeul could have truly been free and all her past souls just rest somewhere in peace and not cause any problems. Then Caius would have been free too.

You're right though, with the lore of FFXIII universe I guess there wasn't a way to save Caius without Square totally pulling stuff out of their butt.
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:iconkkl4261:
kkl4261 Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2014
GenesisArclite, how about writing a fanfic in which Caius is reborned in the new world? Or would it be too much like "Hearts in Chaos"?
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:icongenesisarclite:
GenesisArclite Featured By Owner Mar 10, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I've thought about that, to be honest, and I have ideas. Whether or not they are actually ever finished is another matter, though. I mean, HiC alone is taking a really long time to finish, where it shouldn't...
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:iconkkl4261:
kkl4261 Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2014
Maybe you can write an one-shot for that setting instead of a long story.
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:icongenesisarclite:
GenesisArclite Featured By Owner Mar 11, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I was thinking about that. I have some free time this week, so I might write something up. I have an idea for a post-LR story that doesn't involve Caius, too, that I might work on. I'm so behind on my writing...
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:iconprimavistax:
primavistax Featured By Owner Mar 9, 2014  Hobbyist General Artist
I dont know how I didn't notice it before, but reading this and seeing some photos
C really looks lot like Vincent Valentine from ff7?:))) long dark hair bandana and all,
(maybe that's because I'm reading this crazzyxlongxstupidxaddictive fanfic nibelheim.rusted-icon.net/snow… in order to "improve" my writing like that would help!:)))))
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