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Manga / Final Fantasy: Lost Stranger

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He wanted to make the games, now he has to live them.

Shogo Sasaki is a struggling employee at Square Enix. A lifelong fan of the car-crashingly popular Final Fantasy series, he and his sister Yuko dream of heading the production of an installment in that legendary franchise. But after years of trying and failing to climb up the ranks, Shogo is getting ready to throw in the towel and resign himself to the adult world.

But while they're on their way home from a drink and a meal at a local restaurant, they accidentally stroll into the path of an oncoming truck. When he comes to, Shogo finds his face being tapped by a moogle. Shocked out of his stupor by the sight of one of Final Fantasy's mascots in the flesh, Shogo soon realizes that he's been transported to a world exceedingly similar to, yet incredibly different from the games he loves. Accompanied by the Black Mage Duston Volta, the Warrior Rei Hagakure, and the White Mage Sharuru Linkingfeather, Shogo and Yuko must navigate this new world in search of a way home.

Final Fantasy: Lost Stranger is a manga written by Hazuki Minase and drawn by Itsuki Kameya as part of the series' 30th anniversary. It is currently being serialized in Square Enix's own Monthly Shonen Gangan.

Not to be confused with Stranger of Paradise: Final Fantasy Origin.

Final Fantasy: Lost Stranger contains examples of:

  • Adaptation Amalgamation: Several places in the setting seem to be conglomerations of others from across the Final Fantasy series.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Despite being from another world, the residents of the Final Fantasy-esque world all speak fluent Japanese, a language Shogo and Yuko can understand. However, not all texts are written in Japanese, though Shogo can decipher them thanks to possessing Libra.
  • All Myths Are True: There's a myth that the Mysidia Royal Library has "nonexistent rooms" that one can enter but never leave. According to one of these stories, an archmage entered one such room, only for his corpse to turn up a few days later, decayed as though he'd been dead for years. While Palom and Porom pass this off as mere superstition, Shogo and co. have the misfortune of stumbling into one of these rooms. Even worse, there are monsters inside and none of the heroes have their weapons to defend themselves.
  • Attack Reflector: The secret royal magic supposedly only available to descendants of the first King of Mysidia is the spell Reflect, creating a barrier that instantly reflects any magic spell aimed at the user. This renders the Magus Sisters invulnerable to the magical attacks of the proud Mysidian Royal Guard, though keeping it up for so long taxes Cindy considerably and leaves her unable to move lest she break her concentration and dispel the magic. Shogo later turns this against them by grabbing the torn scraps of the royal veil and fusing it with his armor to create Reflect Mail, giving him the same properties without the energy cost, letting him Beat Them at Their Own Game with his knowledge that spells reflected by Reflect can't be stopped by another instance of Reflect.
  • Benevolent Boss: A supervisor of the Gold Saucer's maintenance team, the Machinaries, chastises Cid for pulling an all-nighter, demanding he take the rest of the day off lest he break down like the parts Cid was fixing.
  • Break the Haughty: Randolph and his crew are snide and condescending to Shogo's party, mocking Shogo's fear of being on the battlefield and expecting complete and utter obedience when they go on a raid together. But after Randolph's party is completely incapacitated by the Mist Dragon, N'elute begs Shogo and his friends for help.
  • Cats Are Magic: Sara's missing cat Lukahn is actually a new breed of magical cat known as a gaelicat. As a result, he's compelled to try to fly by creating hang gliders out of clothes hangers and T-shirts. Lukahn is also able to use the Levitate spell, which saves Sara's life when Shogo pushes her off the clock tower to get her away from the Magus Sisters.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • In the fight against the Mist Dragon, the beast bites off one of the adventurer's arms, torch and all. Due to being a magical torch that's still burning in the middle of a raging blizzard, it's still on fire even in the dragon's stomach. Shogo uses this by forcing the dragon to eat the bomb, causing the torch to ignite the Bomb Core and detonate the dragon from the inside out.
    • While trapped in the labyrinth of nonexistent rooms in the Mysidia Royal Library, the heroes stumble across the journal of a mage who perished in it. The mage laments that he wants to see his dead wife, and that all he has left of her is her magic ring. That ring turns out to be be able to cast Fire, allowing Shogo to finally defeat Byblos.
  • Court Mage: Palom and Porom are the court magisters of the Mysidian royal family, serving as voices of reason as well as personal bodyguards to the king and princess.
  • Creepy Doll: A particular kind of creepy doll is all the rage among women in Mysidia, who consider it Creepy Cute In-Universe. After escaping from the Magus Sisters' hideout, Shogo realizes that they were the ones who created the dolls, and the sisters activate them to attack the Mysidian Royal Cathedral. Even worse, they turn out to be a version of Calcabrina created en masse, meaning that they will simply fuse together into a giant monster when six of the same type are defeated, and split back into six when the giant version is defeated.
  • Cruel Mercy: When Sara announces her desire to spare the Magus Sisters despite their crimes, Cindy scoffs at her and asks if she wants them to suffer even more. Sara replies that she indeed wants them to suffer, but also to atone so they can work together to produce a better Mysidia.
  • Death Is Cheap: Subverted. Raise, a common resurrection spell used throughout the Final Fantasy series, is a spell only spoken of in fairy tales within the context of this story, and there's no bringing someone Back from the Dead. Shogo learns this the hard way when Yuko dies saving a young girl. He begs Sharuru to cast Raise to save her, only to break down when he realizes that this is not like a Final Fantasy game and that Yuko is well and truly gone. However, after realizing that he possesses Libra, another "lost spell", Shogo speculates that Raise may exist after all and seeks it to revive Yuko.
  • Door Stopper: An In-Universe example. The Mysidia Royal Library is so huge that the map is a textbook thicker than Shogo's skuil and heavier than an Ultimania.
  • Embarrassing but Empowering Outfit: When Shogo is ushered into the Sap Inn, he's given the employee's ochu-themed uniform to wear while he's working there. He is immediately floored by the uniform's stats, including uncapped 20% boosts to STR, DEX, and VIT. But he soon realizes that a lanky, almost-thirty salaryman Dragged into Drag like him can't make the look work the way a cool guy like Cloud can.
  • Expy: Catters, Mahlwohns, and Hyuuj are clearly based on the previously playable races of Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV.
  • Eye Scream: Cindy plucks out the eyes of Count Borghen as part of her gathering materials to access Holy from his family's secret texts. Given how he enslaved and abused her and her sisters, it's hard to feel bad for him.
  • Fantastic Caste System: In Mysidia, the people are divided into social strata based on their position of birth, with royalty at the top, the nobles beneath them, followed by high-ranking scholars and merchants. The rest are categorized into the lower-strata, the poor forced to do dirty jobs in the city and trampled on by those in the upper-strata. While Mysidia is ostensibly a meritocracy, the system is rigged in favor of the rich blue bloods, who bar any means of rising in social or economic status and are willing to enslave members of the lower-strata.
  • Fat Bastard: Count Borghen is a portly and power-hungry Mysidian noble who only looks out for himself. He has no qualms with using slave labor for his own ends and supports terrorists' efforts to topple the Mysidian royal family to install himself in a position of power. So no one mourns when Cindy plucks out his eyes and nearly kills him to gain access to Holy and avenge herself and her sisters, and he's only saved by Sharuru's compassion and timely healing.
  • First-Episode Twist: Yuko, who is set up as the Deuteragonist of the story, becomes a Sacrificial Lamb before the first chapter even ends when she dies to save the life of a young girl from the Mist Dragon. From that point on, the focus of the plot shifts from the Sasaki siblings trying to figure out how to get back home to Shogo and the rest of the party trying to find a way to bring Yuko Back from the Dead.
  • Foreshadowing: G-Senpai is bizarrely interested in information, making note of the heroes features and agreeing to trade them information in exchange for new information and by bringing his friend Alus back. All of these are things done by Grede Treid, whom G-Senpai is either a past or future version of.
  • Half-Identical Twins: Palom and Porom make an appearance as as the Mahlwon court mages of the Mysidian royal family. They look identical aside from their hairstyles and outfits, and they both share an incredible gift for magic.
  • Holy Hand Grenade: The ultimate offensive White Magic, Holy, makes an appearance as the secret prized magic of Count Borghen's family. It uses holy light to inflict massive damage across a wide area. Cindy uses it in an attempt to wipe out that heroes at the Mysidia Royal Cathedral. They're only saved by Palom and Porom's quick thinking to shield themselves with rapid-fire Quaga spells.
  • Horse of a Different Color: In the grand Final Fantasy tradition, chocobos are the primary beast of burden in the setting, pulling carts and carrying people to and fro.
  • Kangaroo Court: Shogo and his friends are accused of Princess Sara's attempted murder after Shogo pushes her off the clock tower to get her out of the Magus Sisters' grasp, knowing full well that Lukahn's Gaelicat Levitate magic would slow their fall in time. But after Sara tries to clear their names, Gershwin storms in with a direct order from the king for their capture, and the court ends up completely skipping the trial altogether and sentencing them to hanging. Due to the Mysidian nobility's disdain for outsiders, they don't even think of hearing them out until Sara once against intervenes on the heroes' behalf and calls out her father for his complicity in this.
  • Kick the Dog: Rodolph and his companions leave a bad impression on Shogo and the audience when Randolph verbally and physically assaults Shogo for attacking the Dawnless White Dragon. N'elute outright mocks him for it, as his reckless actions indirectly caused Yuko's death while she was trying to save a young girl. To add insult to injury, they do this at Yuko's funeral. Rudolph's companions mock Shogo again after he fails to react in time to a coeurl, saying that he'd only be suited to fight dodos and laughing while he's clearly suffering from PTSD from the last experience.
  • Kick the Son of a Bitch: Cindy plucks out Count Borghen's eyes and drains a significant amount of his blood both to access his family's tome containing Holy and as revenge for years of abuse and slavery at his hands.
  • Knowledge Broker: Grede Treid deals in only the latest and best information on any given topic, becoming fabulously wealthy for it. His services are so valued that he and his clerks can easily charge 600 million Gil as an upfront payment without blinking, an impossible price for most to pay. And yet, his word is so valued that the fact that he's willing to put a price on information about Raise only bolsters Shogo's hopes that it exists and that he'll be able to use it to revive Yuko.
  • Look Both Ways: Shogo and Yuko are sent to the fantasy world after being struck by an incoming truck on their way out of a bar.
  • Magical Incantation: Much like the games, mages have to chant in order to use spells, particularly when using powerful magic like Firaga. Especially powerful mages, like the Magus Sisters, can skip the chant all together and invoke a spell nigh-instantly.
  • Magic Staff: As per standard for mages, Duston and Sharuru both use one to focus their magic and can't use it without a staff in hand.
  • The Magocracy: Mysidia is a city of mages and magical study, ruled by a royal family and a web of aristocratic nobles.
  • Medicinal Cuisine: Shogo draws on his knowledge of Final Fantasy XIV to invoke this trope, as Libra allows him to see that food can provide notable increases in certain stats. He tests this theory by swapping his party's meals around to better reflect their chosen professions. Everyone is surprised at how much better they're doing afterward. Sharuru also brings up the idea of sommeliers at ultra high-class restaurants recommending dishes tailored to the clients.
  • Mid-Season Upgrade: Princess Sara knights Shogo, Rei, Sharuru, and Duston to justify their presence in her palace after they agree to stay and protect her. To go along with this, she replaces their lost gear with weapons from the Mysidian armory, giving them all a much needed upgrade in time for the Magus Sisters to besiege the Mysidian Royal Cathedral with Calcabrinas.
  • Mythology Gag: References to the Final Fantasy games are everywhere, something that Shogo, a Final Fantasy Otaku, is quick to bring up.
    • Shogo is excited to see Miqo'te and Lalafell from Final Fantasy XIV walking around Nylpo, though he's shocked to learn that they have different names in this world: Catters and Mahlwohns.
    • Sharuru's surname is one of the possible names automatically generated for the Warriors of Light in in the first game.
    • Shogo speculates about all the possible Final Fantasy-related reasons they could have ended up in this world: Falling into a Voidgate, touching a Gran Grimoire, or just plain summoning. Though he ultimately nixes all of these possibilities.
    • Sara, the crown princess of the magic kingdom of Mysidia, shares her name with the original princess the Warriors of Light set out to save from Garland in the very first Final Fantasy game.
    • As noted by Shogo, Count Borghen shares his name with a minor antagonist of Final Fantasy II, possessing the same pompous personality and greediness.
    • The Magical Incantations recited during spells are lifted straight from Final Fantasy Tactics.
    • While breaking down in despair at his helplessness against Byblos, Shogo somehow uses Libra to invoke the Power of the Void, quoting Exdeath's famous line, "All existence, memories, and dimensions shall be returned to nothing."
    • While visiting the Gold Saucer that is situated on the Big Bridge, Shogo marvels at all of the Final Fantasy memorabilia he sees on display, including Excalipoor, an ornamental materia replica, and Triple Triad cards. There are also ads for a play called "the Jidoor Opera House" and a bar called the Waking Sands.
    • The Gold Saucer is run by "Don Leone", a Ronso-esque version of Don Corneo, the mafia don of Final Fantasy VII.
    • Cid Bright's alias is "Ulaka Bunansa" while working at the Gold Saucer, a clear sendup to Mustadio Bunansa, one of the Zodiac Braves and a skilled machinist in his own right.
    • Shogo conspicuously notes that the Sap Inn is not unlike the Honeybee Inn from Final Fantasy VII, only with a much tackier ochu-inspired aesthetic instead of a honeybee aesthetic.
    • Shogo squees when Cid Bright uses a magical gun loaded with special bullets to invoke summoning-like magic as Kuroki does in Final Fantasy: Unlimited.
  • The Needs of the Many: A recurring theme in the story is how much is one life worth versus that of the many, and if it's worth risking many lives to save one. For most part, Shogo defies with this notion after the Heroic Sacrifice of his sister, always trying to Take a Third Option to save as many people as he can even if it means risking his own life.
  • No Ontological Inertia: All of the injuries and Clothing Damage the heroes suffer while trapped in the nonexistent rooms of the Mysidia Royal Library vanish the moment they escape.
  • Not a Game: Randolph coldly tells Shogo to stop treating adventuring like a game after Yuko dies to the Mist Dragon. Of course, all of this was a game to Shogo until recently.
  • Punny Name:
    • Grede Treid, the infamously expensive information broker. Say his name very slowly. "GRE-de TRAY-De". Greedy trade. Real subtle.
    • An even less subtle example are the Roegadyn expies in this manga who are called "Hyuuj" (rhymes with "huge").
  • Recurring Element: Everywhere as part of the laundry list of Mythology Gags.
    • In the first chapter alone, Shogo runs into chocobos, moogles, Miqo'te (called Catters in this world), and Lalafell (called Mahlwons in this world).
    • Crystals also appear constantly throughout the story. When people die, a soul crystal is formed that is said to contain the remnants of the person's spirit.
    • The magic city of Mysidia is another recurring name in Final Fantasy. Here it's a place of magical scholarship and ruled by a royal family and the aristocracy.
    • The Magus Sisters of Final Fantasy IV appear as the Arc Villains of the heroes' time in Mysidia.
  • RPG Mechanics 'Verse: The world the Sasaki siblings find themselves in is incredibly similar to a Final Fantasy game, down to many of the species and the magic system. But Shogo is the only one able to see status screens describing objects, which is later revealed to the lost spell Libra. That said, Shogo's encyclopedic knowledge of the boss fights proves essential when facing tough foes, who possess many of the same habits as the monsters from the game.
  • Self-Deprecation: The story opens with Shogo, an overworked Jaded Washout of a Square Enix employee, drunk on tea and screaming for Naoki Yoshida and Hajime Tabata to let him work on a game already, taking potshots at Square Enix as a company and Japanese work culture in general. Yoshi-P's foreword at the end of the first volume even says that he'll have to remain diligent in his work, lest Shogo comes home shouting about how he's taking over the company.
  • Shockingly Expensive Bill: Shogo asks the clerk of Gread Treid, for information on Raise, a lost white magic for bringing the dead back to life. He and his friends are floored when she asks for an upfront payment of 600 million Gil, an impossible amount for all but the wealthiest people to pay.
  • Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Although the story gets dark in places, introducing notions like child slavery, assassination of public figures, and Yuko's death, the story firmly falls on the idealistic end of the scale, rejecting notions like The Needs of the Many.
  • Theme Naming: Every chapter is named after a music piece from the Final Fantasy series.
  • Tragic Keepsake: When people die in the fantasy world, their body produces a crystal representing their life essence. While this is usually buried with the person, some family members instead take it as a keepsake to remember them by. Sharuru places Yuko's life crystal in a pendant for Shogo to wear so he can literally keep her close to his heart.
  • Trapped in Another World: In true isekai fashion, Shogo and Yuko are transported to another world after a wayward encounter with a speeding truck.
  • Uniqueness Decay: Raise, a relatively common spell in the Final Fantasy games, is considered a spell that's only heard of in fairy tales in the Final Fantasy-esque world Shogo and Yuko find themselves in. But Shogo is unimpressed when he learns that many other common spells, like Invis and Reflect, are also considered highly-guarded secrets or more fairy tale magics, wondering how many of these spells he's familiar with are lost.
  • We Help the Helpless: The "adventurer" professsion consists of taking on all sorts of quests for profit, be they little things like delivering parcels to slaying monsters.
  • Wham Line: The biggest bridge is dropped at the end of the first chapter.