Headscratchers: Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII
So since time was destroyed in the previous game, nobody ages or dies, yet there is still a day and night cycle, people can still move, and things still happen. And Lightning can travel through the time that does not exist anymore. ...Huh?
Day and night are caused by a planet's rotation about its axis as it revolves around a star, and time has nothing to do with it. The Earth has rotated on its axis and revolved around the sun ever since it was formed, billions of years before there were any humans to record "time". "Time" is an abstract concept created, defined, and used only by mankind, and only after the human brain had developed enough to create and understand a concept such as "time." The Earth had a day and night cycle before we were around to measure time, and that cycle will continue even after we are extinct and not around to measure time. In the game, time was "destroyed" in the sense that the aging process has frozen, and so living organisms cannot die from old age. Just as the planet still rotates about its axis without "time," humans are still able to move without "time." As for Lightning, it has never been stated that she is able to travel through time in the game; rather, she turned to crystal in Valhalla at the end of XIII-2, and because Pulse became Valhalla, she remained in the world as crystal and awoke five centuries later, with a century being defined as one hundred years' worth of day and night cycles.
That really depends on how you view Time. Time can be considered a fourth dimension that touches the three dimensional world we live in- We can move up and down, side to side, forward and backward, essentially in an X,Y,Z grid. The fourth dimension comes into effect where we move from one point to another. At least that's one way to look at it, different scientists will tell you different things. Time has always been part of the universe before the Earth came into existence in this sense. So the idea that Time has been destroyed, but the concept of days and centuries is still around makes very little sense. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that Age has been destroyed.
The fact that it says centuries have passed is purely telling us how long it WOULD have passed if time hadn't been destroyed. It's also there to give us a frame of reference, so we don't get too confused. Or something similar to that.
Here's a better answer: Caius killed a goddess and shattered the space-time continuum. Of course time is going to do things that don't make sense, and there wouldn't be a story if people couldn't move.
Simple answer: What Caius did was stop birth, death and Entropy. Everything continues on just like it has, except nothing new comes into existence and nothing already there decays and/or leaves.
This is shown to be false. It's entirely possible for people to die through injury or sickness, but cannot die from old age and nothing new can be born. A major plot point is that because of this setup, it means that every person who dies is irreplaceable and humanity's population has been slowly, irreparably waning with each death.
Not so much false as partially true. Basically, time as a measure marches on. Days, weeks, months, etc have passed. However, time as an effect has halted. No one ages, there's no decay. External sources still cause death, but aging and growth is taken out of the equation.
Measures of time?
So Caius destroys Time itself. Lightning wakes up "five hundred years" later. By what measure of time?! This isn't a question of abstraction. The fact that Valhalla explicitly lacks linear time is the reason why Lightning and Caius can get away with so many temporal shenanigans in Final Fantasy XIII-2 (like Caius continuing to exist even after he is killed by Noel). Of course, it is possible that Caius' plans didn't have the exact result he intended...
Five hundred years relative to the individual. Valhalla may be timeless, and the aging process may have come to a halt, but Lightning, Hope, and the rest of humanity are still capable of perceiving the length of their existence as equivalent to five centuries.
Well, it might just be Lightning, considering the other characters don't seem to have changed much in five hundred years. Destroying time probably meant more than halting aging; perception of time would logically be altered, and everyone might be "stuck" in time in a sense. The five hundred years is probably a subjective measure of time, feeling roughly the same to Lightning/Lightning's prison as five hundred years would in a normal time-friendly universe, and meaningless to the world at large. This is of course based purely on pre-release material and conjectural logic.
But Hope also said that when Chaos was unleashed the day lost its 13th hour. If time is just a perception, how can earth "lose" an hour?
They're saying it's five hundred years, even though Lightning's narration at the end of the previous game claimed this was after eternity. Don't ask me how "after eternity" makes any sense. Time is broken.
She said that in a way that it meant that from HER POINT OF VIEW, it seemed like an eternity. Its hard to judge how long you sleep for if you don't have something to tell you the time. She could've also meant it literally, as after eternity means after the end of time, and Caius destroyed Time. The point is, from the perspectives of the people living in Nova Crystalia, its been 500 years since the ending of XIII-2.
Is the ending supposed to make any sense, or tie into anything, or even mean anything, or is she just in France because she has a French name and the Japanese have a big love of France? Even for a Gainax Ending it seems strange, if only because there's no real leadup or connection to it. I have beaten the game myself and have at least most of the sidequests done, but at no point does anything in the game imply that this end is coming. It just feels...random. If the answer is "well it's not France, it's just the reborn world", ok I mean that's kinda obvious. My question is, why is it an actual pinpointable location in the French countryside?
Homage maybe? Also, it kinda makes sense that the new world wouldn't form the same way as the old one (before OR after Chaos merged it with Valhalla). It looking like France is random, and a bit of a stretch.
Ok so after playing it a second time (this time in English), the text wasn't as vague and it clears it up: it is France, apparently their world was reborn as our world. Which is, if nothing else amazingly dumb (but leave it to Toriyama to find a way to put his waifu into the real world). As for how we shouldn't dwell on it too much...where do you think we are?
It's pretty obvious the world at the end is Earth: we get a darkened but still visible shot of North Africa and southern Europe, and the camera lingers quite a bit on Spain and Morocco, giving us a good look at the Gibraltar Strait. As for what design decision led to this, I'd say the production team was taking inspiration from the endings to Xenoblade and Asura's Wrath, which both ended similiarly (killing God and creating a new world that turns out to be Earth).
So Sazh has been searching for his son's soul fragments for hundreds of years and never found a single one... despite that one of them is literally right out his front door?
He knew his son's soul wasn't in his body, but it wasn't until recently that Lumina clued him in on it being split into five pieces. And much like some of the ruins in the Dead Dunes, he might not be able to see/handle them normally, but the savior can.
For what it's worth, the chest containing the fragment that's right outside the front door actually does not appear until Lightning talks to him and he leaves. So it may very well be something that only responds to the Savior.
The Philiana sidequest
Was it ever explained exactly how Philiana is the one person in the world who aged and died naturally? I feel like I missed something during this quest...
It was implied to be a freak thing, and no one in-universe fully understood how it happened anymore than we do.
I was hoping it wasn't going to be that... sigh...
The Oracle Drive Prophecy
The Prophecy that Noel sees in the Oracle drive is what drives him to try & kill Lightning, & he even tries to make sure that the act matches what he sees as closely as possible, but the Prophecy showed Lightning destroying the world before her lying dead at his feet in that alley. If she destroys the world, then the alley & Noel himself would be gone, so how could he kill her as shown?
Because the Oracle Drive is showing what will supposedly happen unless he kills her?
It was also heavily implied that the Oracle Drive prophecy was set up by Lumina, for the fun of it. And since this girl has good control over Chaos - the unwitting creation of the seeress Yeul - it probably wasn't too much trouble to create.
Just who the heck was Lumina? The game seems to offer three explanations that contradict each other to various degrees: she's an Enemy Without of Lightning that somehow gained sentience when she was in crystal stasis; she's a Soul Jar for Serah's soul; she's a heartless fake created by Bhunivelze who somehow grew to love Lightning anyway. And if Lumina was a Soul Jar, then Serah's soul should have returned to Lightning when they reintegrated... so how can Sazh find Serah's soul in the endless Chaos?
She's merely an Enemy Without of Lightning, or more specifically, the repressed child version she was before she forced herself to grow up too fast for Serah (unintentionally given form through the Chaos). And she was a Soul Jar for Serah, but only until she merged back into Lightning... then it's implied Serah's soul was consumed by the Chaos, which Sazh made sure to take care of, as we saw. The Serah image that kept appearing to Lightning was the 'heartless fake', not Lumina.
The Clavis is the keystone of the Soulsong (and Bhunivelze's plot)... so what would have happened if The Order had failed to retrieve it? Lightning is given no instruction or motivation to retrieve it, despite the fact that it is locked within a labyrinth that only the Saviour could unseal. The plan would have failed without the Contrived Coincidence of Lightning coming across a quest to retrieve the Clavis while performing unrelated Saviour duties. Even then, The Order needed the sudden aid of Lumina (a proven Wild Card) to know when to make their move! This seems like an awful lot of coincidences for a plan so critical that Bhunivelze is willing to destroy the goddamn world if it doesn't succeed.
Assumably it was just an Ace in the Hole. Remember, Lightning couldn't save the dead, while Vanille could. So finding the Clavis to get Vanille to purge their souls ties up two loose ends rather neatly. The Clavis just in case Lightning goes off track, and keeps Vanille from realizing her true potential as well.
Maybe it was all a Batman Gambit on Bhuny's part. He figured that Light would draw the line at mass genocide of souls, so, instead, he had her meet her old friend Fang. He may have known that Fang was the bandit Queen, and that she was the source of the chaos point in the Dead Dunes. So, Light helps Fang recover the Clavis, which is indestructible unless it's opened. Frustrated, yet determined, Fang takes the Clavis back to Ruffian. Light eventually leaves to do some other stuff, and then the Order launch a full-scale assault on the base, kill everyone, and then take the Clavis back to Luxerion. Even Fang has her limits. This gives Bhuny some plausible deniability. I mean, no one blames Etro for what her fanatics did. And it mostly worked, save for Lumina's intervention. And you know what? This seemingly trolling act may have saved the lives of everyone in Ruffian, which, considering she turns out to be Good All Along, seems likely to me. Alright, that was a lot of Fan Wank, but I think it's sort of plausible.
Who WASN'T saved?
Hope says that the majority of souls will not be saved. But Vanille guided all the souls in Chaos to the Ark and were thus saved. And at the end, Lightning used the strength of all of humanity to defeat Bhunivelze. So does it matter who you rescued during the plot, if every soul of humanity has been released from Chaos? What was the point if they all are going to be reborn anyway?
We have to remember, Hope has been possessed by Bhunivelze himself for 169 years or so. And his plan involved only the 'pure' humans going to the new world anyway, so of course he'd say that.
What exactly is Chaos?
We're given several explanations. First it's an indestructible force of nature. Then it is : the combined total of all the Yuels and their love for Caius. Then it is the stuff human souls are made of, and every human carries Chaos in their heart. At this point, what isn't made out of Chaos?
I'm gonna take a stab at this, but this is largely conjecture. Lightning makes a distinction with Yeul's chaos, calling it the "Unseen Chaos." It seems to me, it's a different force, or breed, I am guessing granted by Etro herself. So while basic chaos is essentially the sum of the human souls swirling about, Yeul's Chaos seems to be a nearly, if not outright divine force.
My guess is that Chaos is "will" or "emotion". When the game talks about human souls being made of Chaos, what it means that is Chaos gives humans the will to act as people rather than emotionless dolls. In this way, "the soul of Serah" is "the Chaos containing the emotions that comprise the person known as Serah". This is why the "surges of Chaos" that you have to deal with in the main storyline are connected to individuals with powerful emotions and regrets. It explains how Lumina was able to take form even though she was just a mass of repressed emotions. And most significantly, it explains why Lightning (as the Savior) is tasked with destroying Chaos: because Bhunivelze makes it clear that he is against emotion and free will, and wants to purge it from his new world.
The whole point of Lightning Returns is for Bhunivelze is create a new world for humans. But Bhunivelze can't actually see human souls, nor can he seen into human hearts, nor can he understand human emotions. So he's creating a world for creatures whose hearts can't see, whose souls he cannot create, through the use of a savior whose mind he cannot read. He's flying blind. And at the end, he plans to destroy the new world anyway since it was tainted with souls who still have memories of their old life. He wants to create puppets who he can inhabit. If that's true, why didn't he do that in the beginning? He had the option to create the pure perfect world he always wanted, but instead went through convoluted and unnecessary means to create a world for beings he can't understand.
Better to try and get use out of what already exists, then destroy and create everything from scratch, at least at first? Granted, he could very have done so, but perhaps felt it was less effort this way.
He needed a human with a chaotic soul in order to become the Goddess of Death. Otherwise, the Chaos would just destroy the new world he was making. And he can't create a human soul without tainting himself in Chaos like Etro by dying (or at least that's what I figured), something he really doesn't want to do. Hence, his complex machinations. If Lightning failed as the saviour, I imagine he'd have tried again with a different human from the new world he made. He also makes an effort to understand humanity with Hope, probably so that he can manipulate Lightning and his worshipers better. There's also the Ultimate Lair, which implies God was going to replace humanity with his "superior" creations eventually anyway, once he tired of humans. Also, I believe it's outright stated in the final confrontation that Bhuny finding a new goddess was his top priority, and everything else was just gravy. Gravy that Light stops God from pouring, but that's OK, because the meal's still good.
So...entropy has halted. People and animals no longer age or produce no new life. However, plant life seems to be progressing unfettered? Literally, you plant a seed and six hours later you have a fully grown...key word here, "grown"...Gysahl green. So the life and death cycle only applies to fauna?
Actually, only people no longer age; animals still seem to mate, given the sidequest where we discover 'Sheep eggs'. Why they're not affected? Well, as far as they say, Etro's cycle of rebirth job only seems to apply to souls... and while we've seen souls from things that shouldn't have them, animals/plants don't appear to have them, period, and thus appear to 'grow' independently of her absence. How they're unaffected by widespread entropy is another (good) question though...
Why is Chocolina's bird form still a chick instead of a fully grown chocobo? Does having a human form give her a soul which prevents her from aging?
If I recall, in the Sazh DLC for XIII-2, Chocolina claims she got lost in time but was rescued by Etro, who gave her the ability to take a human form and travel through time and junk. So I'm guessing she got her soul from that interaction, meaning she is still a chick when the Time Crash happened.
I think that might be why; because she was given a human form, she was unable to age.
Alternatively, maybe it was because she was at Ground Zero when Chaos overtook Gran Pulse: while Dajh's soul was sucked out of him because of his own proximity to the cataclysm (which was an anomaly, as he should have just stopped aging), Chocolina also became a separate anomaly; instead of aging like a normal chocobo, she instead stopped aging herself.
Or, another scenario is this: because of their rather unique qualities (IE: A young, crystallized Sanctum l'Cie and a chocobo blessed by a goddess), they were affected in markedly different ways than others who were also at Ground Zero and suffered few ill effects (IE: Sazh, Noel, Mog, and Hope). No matter what, it's already established that Chaos does weird shit to living creatures, so it's not out of the realm of belief to think that it could have affected both of them differently because of their circumstances.