A Hidden Tragedy in Final Fantasy X
Auron’s story is both compelling and unique in the JRPG world
Final Fantasy X is one of the most well-known JRPGs of all time, thanks to its groundbreaking gameplay mechanics, but also its wonderful story of love, loss, and how coming together to answer questions we thought should never be asked could be the key to a better tomorrow. Most of the main characters of the game find the resolution they’ve been looking for eventually.
All but one, that is.
It’s become one of the gaming’s signature opening sequences. Tidus and the Zanarkand Abes are playing a game of blitzball (a fully submerged water-polo type of sport) in their home stadium when suddenly an enigmatic figure wearing sunglasses appears standing over a ledge and raises his arm. In the background, you can see a strange mass begin to take shape and from there on, chaos ensues. Countless beasts attack the stadium and Tidus struggles to grab on to a ledge, only to fall to the ground.
Eventually, we find out that the man in sunglasses is named Auron and he has some form of connection to the protagonist, although the true nature of their connection remains a mystery until later in the story. After the attack of the monsters, Tidus is thrown into an unknown world called Spira and tries to find his way out of the mysterious new location. Spira is a world devastated by a colossal flying whale-like beast called “Sin” that comes and goes every few years, leaving nothing but disaster in its wake. He meets a few people, including a young female summoner named Yuna, that promise to take care of him until he can find his way home. Yuna is on a pilgrimage to Zanarkand in order to gain the abilities necessary to put a stop to Sin’s rampage.
His blitzing skills get him a place on a team and a spot on a grand tournament that will take place in one of the biggest cities of this strange new world. That’s where he meets up with Auron again. Only in this world, Auron is one of the most well-known and highly-respected figures, thanks to his many great deeds and efforts.
After some convincing from Auron, the main character decides to follow his group on their journey. Yet some people begin to question things. Rumors begin to spread about Auron and what happened to him since he was last seen. When the truth is finally revealed, it’s difficult to imagine the struggle this character has gone through.
Auron officially reveals himself to the players as a calm, stoic, and highly experienced character, who rarely speaks but whose words and actions have a deep impact on the rest of the group. He has obviously been through many walks of life to reach this point and he is focused, to the point of obsession, on getting Yuna to the end of her journey.
He watches from the background and lets the group interact as they’re meant to, while he even acts as a guide to Tidus in his attempts to get to know this new world. Auron rarely jokes or fools around, although he can be seen to be sarcastic or even angry at times.
At this point, you may want to avert your eyes if you haven’t played the game and you want a new experience when you play it for yourself, as we’re going into heavy spoiler territory.
Eventually, the player comes across a number of spheres that reveal the story of Auron, showing that he was a guardian of Braska, Yuna’s father, on his own pilgrimage. In a strange twist of fate, they also had Tidus’ father Jecht join them on their journey.
But what is also shown in those spheres is a much different, timider (not to mention younger) side of Auron, who spoke his mind a lot more and adhered to the rules or teachings of the Yevon faith, a religion followed by most citizens of Spira. This came in total contrast with the current, older version of Auron, who didn’t seem to be all that religious.
Auron continues to guide the group and act as their advisor along their way, although not interfering too much with how they decide to do things like when Yuna decides to marry one of the high-ranked maesters (priests) of Yevon, Seymour. Even though he voices his opposition to this decision, he points out that as long as it doesn’t interfere with her journey, he will not stand in the way.
After a long and arduous journey, the group reaches the ruins of Zanarkand, which is now nothing but the ruins of a city that was laid to waste in a war that took place over a thousand years ago. A number of truths about Tidus and Yuna are revealed. But to him, there’s nothing new here.
It’s worth pointing out that in the world of Spira, people don’t necessarily pass on to the next realm if they have strong regrets before they die. They can remain in the world with their bodies intact and interact with everything around them as normal. They won’t die again, they won’t age, they cannot reproduce, it’s all over. They will stay at the point in which they lost their lives until they either decide to pass on, or they are filled with such regret that they turn into monsters. The deeper the regret, the stronger the monster they’ll become.
And so it is revealed that, after Auron reached Zanarkand the first time (with Braska and Jecht), he found out the sad truth that both his friends gave up their lives for nothing in a never-ending cycle of violence and death. In a fit of rage, he attacked the undead version of the one responsible for this, former summoner lady Yunaleska, and lost his life. But, with so much bitterness and regret nesting inside of him, Auron couldn’t leave things unsettled. He remembered the words told to him by his good friend Jecht, who had asked him to take care of his son just before he died. He found a way to reach the old version of Zanarkand and looked after Tidus until it was time for the young man to make the journey across worlds to Spira.
Auron carried that bitterness around with him for years. He journeyed across the world, was betrayed by his own beliefs, watched as his master and his best friend both gave up their lives and was struck down for not being able to handle it. He was killed on the spot and still, even after he died, he went on taking care of his best friend’s son and his master’s daughter until they came of age and were able to save the world on their own.
Auron’s story doesn’t end in a good way. After the beast terrorising the world (Sin) is defeated, he simply fades away. His only solace being that he leaves the world a better place and that his life didn’t end in vain. His entire story arc and the stoic nature of his character after his death are just two of the many reasons why he still remains one of the greatest characters to come out of this beloved franchise.