WARNING: Obvious spoilers of multiple Final Fantasy games below.
I'm not a dad just yet, but with the way things are looking in my life right now between my marriage, my age, and the rate at which friends are helping further our species, it could be a reality in the not too distant future.
I have two good role models in my life who luckily have given me some examples on how to start parenting, but other than that, I have no idea what to do or how to be "Dad." Just let it come natural, I suppose, and hopefully the kids won't be too messed up.
For the smaller details, though, I have my ever reliable Final Fantasy franchise to help me fill in the gaps. We're going to take a look at a few Final Fantasy dads today and see what they do and don't do correctly.
I guess we'll start off with the most awesome Dad in Final Fantasy as a solid place, that being Final Fantasy Tactics' Cidolfus "Thunder God" Orlandeau, or "T.G. Cid" for short.
With Orlandeau, we have the most basic "Do" of them all which is: Be as awesome as possible in front of your kid. Indeed, we are immortalized by our children, and they will be the closest links to our legacy as they pass down family stories and tales through the generations. In Orlandeau's case, he is the stepfather of the game's narrator, Orran Durai, one of the few noble and trustworthy characters in the game.
Final Fantasy Tactics is based on the memoirs of Orran, and he represents his father as the most kick-ass, game-busting party member in the entire series. Once Orlandeau enters your party, the game becomes a cakewalk thanks to him having every single Heavenly Sword skill at his disposal. Why? Because his stepson obviously saw him as superman and decided to cement his legacy as such.
From there, we'll tackle what is a pretty obvious "Don't" with another popular character from the series. Final Fantasy VI's Shadow teaches us the obvious rule of: Don't abandon your kid! Even if you leave a daughter in the arms of a kindly yet slightly kooky old man magician, you'll always regret it and have recurring nightmares about what could have been.
Of course, we don't know this from the outset of Final Fantasy VI, but over the course of the game, we learn that the mysterious ninja is actually the father of Relm, a young painter and the last plot character to join the team. With her in the party, his act of abandonment catches up with him, and he is constantly forced to confront leaving her to pursue his life of crime.
Shadow breaks down over the course of the game and begins to show emotion towards the end, but, ultimately, he can't live with himself. Once again, he takes the cowardly way out instead of living to make amends with his daughter. Make peace with your children if things happen to go astray could also be seen as a major "Do" through the eyes of Shadow and indeed many father figures throughout the history of storytelling.
Nobody wants to live with the regrets of not knowing their children or not having forgiveness in their lives. Why Shadow, such a strong character throughout the entire game, commits to his final act is beyond me, but Relm shows herself to be a strong and understanding young lady by the story's end. Surely, with time, her and Shadow could have started the healing process.
On a more positive note, Final Fantasy VII's fatherly figure Barret is a loving parent… when he isn't out blowing up factories and acting like a terrorist. He listens to his daughter Marlene's problems and experiences and dedicates the majority of his free time to her whenever he is available.
However, Barret isn't perfect. Seriously, there is a huge "Don't" surrounding this man, and that is: Don't let your four-year old daughter run the local slum bar.
Four-year old girls shouldn't be selling alcohol.
Compared to the other father figure in Final Fantasy VII though, Barret is an angel. We have none other than Hojo to look towards the ultimate "Don't" which is: Don't inject the blood of mythological demons into your unborn child and create the bane of humanity.
Seriously, just don't do it man!
Perhaps Final Fantasy's most complex father figure is Jacht, father of Final Fantasy X's protagonist, Tidus. From him, we learn both a "Do" and "Don't" in the same action, which are: Push your kids to strive but at the same time don't belittle them when they fail.
Because of the relationship he has with his father, Tidus is forever crippled with a sense of inferiority. His flamboyant and cocky nature as a superstar athlete is only a front as he hides many of the insecurities his father bestowed upon him underneath. Even after obtaining all that his father pushed him to be, he never feels pleased with his achievements because his father is not around to witness the man he has become.
Of course, Jecht didn't abandon his kid and was actually swept up into his own Final Fantasy adventure. Tidus gets whisked away into following his footsteps, eventually learning of his father's cruel fate and forgiving him in the end.
There are plenty of other Dads in Final Fantasy as well. The old man Tellah from Final Fantasy IV who flings into a revenge-fueled rage against the man who killed his daughter, or old man Galuf from Final Fantasy V who sacrifices himself to save his granddaughter Krile.
And even on the horizon, we have King Regis Lucis Caelum CXIII in Final Fantasy XV, who I think will be a fascinating character. A man torn between wanting to give his son a happy, easy life and being forced to burden him with a kingdom being ripped apart by war. The pain of inflicting so much agony on such a sweet boy is written entirely in his face in the "Dawn" trailer as he struggles with the decision.
Happy Father's Day, especially to my own father, who has never played a Final Fantasy game in his life. And, hey, I turned out okay in the end!