How Vivi Helped Me Come to Terms With My Own Mortality
Many of you might know this about me already, but Final Fantasy IX is my all-time favourite video game. The characters, the story, its music, how it depicts various relatable issues… all of it clicked with younger me, and has stuck around to inspire me as an adult.
Below will follow spoilers for some key plot points in Final Fantasy IX, so feel free to return later if you’re looking to play the game for yourself sometime!
A big part of how this game has helped me is the story of Vivi Ornitier. A black mage around 9 years old, Vivi was created for the purpose of joining an expendable army, and he comes to learn that he doesn’t have long to live. Throughout the game, Vivi and many other black mages learn about death, which they refer to as “stopping”, and they slowly come to terms with that not a single one of them will live more than a couple years after the events of the game — if that long at all. In fact, Vivi dies shortly after the team’s final battle against Necron, who represents death itself. Vivi is rad for a lot of reasons, but slapping death around, knowing he’ll die shortly himself anyway, is high on his list of being pretty darn great.
I’ve been afraid of death, ever since I was young. I suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder (fittingly abbreviated as SAD), but I tend to get it over Summer rather than Winter. The long days and extended sunsets make me uncomfortable. I’m not entirely sure why this is, but it is.
Vivi questions his reason for being, and this is something that humans have done since the dawn of time. Why are we here? Are we here to do something specific? I believe we make our own reasons for being here, and those reasons change and grow with time. I know mine have, and I’m much more fulfilled because of it.
Being able to relate to Vivi’s story from a young age, and then learning about the intricacies of the plot, as well as the other character’s stories and how relatable they are, has brought me comfort time and time again. Vivi is a star, and he always looks forward with a boundless optimism to do his best, regardless of his short lifespan. He detests death, and the idea of his loved ones dying or losing someone, and does all he can to fight for them with the little time he has left.
I know, it’s easy for you to perhaps read this and say, “but Mitch, Vivi is a fictional character”, and, well, you’re right! But Vivi’s character was written by real people, with real anxieties, and real experiences. For all we know, a lot of Vivi’s character and dialogue might be inspired by someone’s own experiences. Regardless, Vivi being fictional doesn’t make his plight feel any less real.
Like Vivi, although my fear of dying sometimes stops me in my tracks, it’s also a good reminder that I have so much to live for. Family, friends, a loving partner, and some incredible work experiences. Of course, there’s more reasons than I could count. Like Vivi, I want to make the most of my time here, as I’m unsure what may or may not come afterwards.
Final Fantasy IX’s core themes focus on life and death, existentialism, identity, and friendship. This is something that we can all relate to. Final Fantasy IX is a special game, and it tackles these themes without holding back. It can be brutal, but it always shows that there’s good in people, and there’s so much to be grateful for. I hope that you too can find inspiration from Final Fantasy IX.
“You taught me that life doesn’t last forever. That’s why we have to help each other and live life to the fullest. Even if you say goodbye, you’ll always be in our hearts. So, I know we’re not alone anymore.”