Princess! No need to worry. I hope you haven't forgotten my role in this little story. I'm the leading man. You know what they say about the leading man? He never dies.Balthier to Ashe
Balthier, real name Ffamran mied Bunansa, is a playable character in Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings. He is a sky pirate who globetrots Ivalice on his airship, the Strahl, with his partner Fran. During an attempt to steal from the Royal Palace of Rabanastre, Balthier encounters Vaan robbing the palace treasury. When his plan goes awry Balthier finds himself a part of a conflict between political forces that could lead to war.
Balthier is six feet tall and has short brown hair with blond highlights, sharply styled sideburns, and green eyes. He wears an embroidered golden and olive vest over a high-collared shirt and tight black leather trousers with leather shin pads, and steel, open-backed sandals. He wears two crossed, gold-buckled belts with two pouches attached to either side and a collection of brightly colored rings and bracelets on his left hand, and has a set of earrings in both ears. In his official render for Final Fantasy XII, Balthier holds the Betelgeuse. Artwork and renders of Balthier for several spin-off appearances depict him with this gun.
Your mistakes were twofold, I'm afraid. You sprung your trap without looking to see if the game you hunted was the one you'd snare, and you sold me short. I'm no thief; I'm a sky pirate.Balthier to a Brigand, Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions
Balthier is charming, dashing, cunning and cynical. He comes across as cocky and self-centered but his trust in Fran is complete. While the story is told from Vaan's perspective, Balthier certainly seems to think it is his story, referring to himself as "the leading man." Despite this, he is far from selfish, proving himself in the events aboard the Sky Fortress Bahamut. After he joins Vaan and the others Balthier comes to realize he has been running away from his past, and it is implied his theatrical personality exists in part to mask his vulnerabilities and to cast aside the person he used to be.
So I ran. Free at last... Then I met you. All that running and I got nowhere. It's time to end this—cut my ties to the past.Balthier
Born in 684 Old Valendian, Ffamran mied Bunansa is the son of Cidolfus Demen Bunansa, the head of House Bunansa and a scientist in employ of the Archadian Empire. He showed such promise at a young age he was made an Archadian Judge at only sixteen years old. In 700, after his father returned from Giruvegan, Ffamran noticed Cid's sanity fading: he talked to someone who wasn't there, raving on about "bringing the reins of history back to the hands of man." This strained their relationship until Ffamran could not stand the sight of his father.
Ffamran's falling out with his father, combined with Archadia's political maneuvers, made him decide to leave his post as Judge and flee Archades, stealing a new prototype fighter ship. After going into hiding he upgraded the ship (so much it no longer resembles the original design) and named it the Strahl. Ffamran took on the name "Balthier" as an alias to help cast aside his ties with Archades. Partnering with a viera companion named Fran, he flew the skies of Ivalice searching for treasure, gaining notoriety as a sky pirate, and increasing the bounty on his head.
In 706 Old Valendian, Balthier and Fran head to the Royal Palace of Rabanastre's treasury where they find Vaan holding the Goddess's Magicite. Balthier demands he hand it over, but before he can retrieve the magicite the Ifrit attacks the palace. Vaan escapes and Balthier reluctantly follows him.
He chases Vaan out into the palace grounds, where amid the battle between the Resistance forces and the Imperials, Balthier throws Vaan onto his hovercraft, piloted by Fran. In the manga, Vaan is accosted by Vayne Carudas Solidor and Judge Magister Gabranth and is saved by Balthier. The Goddess's Magicite, really a piece of deifacted nethicite, renders the hovercraft unresponsive, and the trio crashes into the Garamsythe Waterway.
Balthier joins forces with Vaan to find a way out though Vaan is determined to keep the magicite. Balthier suspects the new consul, Vayne, deliberately lured the Resistance out of hiding to attack the palace. They encounter a Resistance fighter named Amalia who joins them despite her distaste of her "thieving" company.
After the party defeats the Firemane, Vayne (in the game) or Judge Ghis (in the manga) with a battalion of soldiers ambush the party. Despite Amalia's insistence that her company is innocent, they are taken captive. As they are marched out onto the streets of Rabanastre Balthier meets Vaan's friend Penelo who weeps at the sight of Vaan being led away. To avoid a scene, Balthier gives Penelo his handkerchief and assures her Vaan will be safe. Unknown to Balthier, the bounty hunter Ba'Gamnan watches the exchange from the shadows.
In the Nalbina Dungeons, Balthier sends Fran to find an escape route. In the manga, Vaan intervenes when a seeq prisoner attacks a former Dalmascan soldier and has the Goddess's Magicite seized from him. Balthier attempts to teach Vaan why he lost by challenging him to a coin toss game; Vaan must guess which hand he holds the coin in. If Vaan fails, he will turn over his chestpiece from his late brother Reks as a prize, but Vaan demands Balthier wager his airship. Vaan loses and Fran returns and reveals she has the coin and Balthier's hands are empty. Balthier had won using the magick spells Decoy and Vanish to distract Vaan, tossing a fake coin while throwing the invisible real coin to Fran, and Vaan lost because he was too naive to think of sneakier tactics and didn't watch his surroundings.
Fran had found an exit and Balthier decides to make their move in two hours after investigating the Resistance. Vaan declares he will have recovered the Goddess's Magicite by that time. Vaan defies Balthier's lesson and reclaims the Goddess's Magicite without dirty tricks, and flees to reconvene with Balthier.
In the game, Balthier finds Vaan in battle with three seeq dungeon masters and joins the fray. After their victory, Balthier and Vaan hide within the dungeon arena where Balthier overhears Ba'Gamnan, who has followed him to Nalbina, along with Judge Gabranth. With Fran they follow Gabranth into an Oubliette where they find an emaciated Basch fon Ronsenburg imprisoned.
Following Gabranth's departure, Basch pleads with the party to set him free. Balthier is indifferent, but Vaan cannot control his rage at the King-Slayer, said to have also killed Vaan's brother Reks, and jumps atop Basch's cage, attracting the guards. Fran asks everyone to hold onto the cage and drops it to the Barheim Passage, inadvertently freeing Basch. Balthier allows him to join the party as another sword arm, as they navigate their way to an exit. Basch explains it was his twin brother Gabranth who killed the king and Vaan's brother in his guise; Balthier notes the two do have similar faces.
Back in Rabanastre, the party disperses. While Vaan and Basch go meet the Resistance, Balthier and Fran retire to the Sandsea tavern. Balthier is accosted by the bangaa Migelo, who claims Ba'Gamnan has kidnapped Penelo because he mistook her as someone close to Balthier. His act of kindness to Penelo, when he offered his handkerchief, has been repaid with trouble for them all. Balthier is initially unwilling to go to Bhujerba to rescue her, but Basch asks him to fly him there so he can meet Marquis Ondore, and when Vaan promises Balthier the Goddess's Magicite in return, he agrees to fly them all to the sky city.
In Bhujerba, the group meets a youth who introduces himself as Lamont. Balthier is suspicious, but allows the boy to accompany them to the Lhusu Mines where the Archadian Empire is mining magicite to be used in the Draklor Laboratory in Archades, and where Ba'Gamnan is said to be holding Penelo captive. Hearing about the magicite piques Balthier's interest, and he attempts to force the boy to reveal his true identity as Larsa Solidor, but Ba'Gamnan interrupts the group and they escape. On their way out, the party watches Larsa aid Penelo, who had been caught wandering the mines alone after being set free by Ba'Gamnan, and take her to Marquis Ondore's estate as his guest.
Balthier suggests they attract the Resistance's attention to gain entrance into the estate. After Vaan spreads rumors of the supposedly executed Basch still being alive, the Resistance grants them an audience. To reunite Basch with Amalia, Ondore alerts Judge Ghis and has them arrested and taken aboard the Imperial flagship Dreadnought Leviathan.
Amalia's true identity is that of the reportedly dead Princess Ashelia B'nargin Dalmasca. Judge Ghis takes the Goddess's Magicite from Vaan, and Amalia's accomplice in the Resistance, Vossler, helps the party escape on an Atomos Imperial carrier ship back to Bhujerba. Ashe is advised to stay within Ondore's estate lest she undermine Ondore's plans, but Balthier finds her aboard the Strahl, attempting to steal it.
She asks Balthier to "kidnap" her and take her to the Tomb of Raithwall where the proof of her royal lineage lies; with it she hopes to reclaim Dalmasca's throne. Balthier is reluctant yet tempted by Ashe's promise of King Raithwall's treasure, and so Balthier, Fran, Basch, Vaan and Penelo accompany her across the Ogir-Yensa and Nam-Yensa Sandseas to Raithwall's Tomb.
Vossler, who accompanies the party, voices his disdain of traveling with sky pirates. After fighting the Esper Belias, Ashe acquires a piece of deifacted nethicite, the Dawn Shard. Much to Balthier's disappointment, the treasure of Raithwall's Tomb turns out to be control of the Esper, and naught of monetary value. Ashe tells him the Dawn Shard is a prize of value "beyond measure". "Call me old-fashioned," replies Balthier, "but I was hoping for a treasure whose worth we could measure." Upon exiting the tomb, Ghis's Imperial Fleet accosts them; it seems Vossler has betrayed them.
Ghis takes the Dawn Shard and attempts to evaluate it; his experiment unleashes the nethicite's magick and destroys the entire 8th Archadian Fleet. Balthier pilots another carrier ship to escape with the others; spotting the Dawn Shard glinting in the sky after the explosion, he steers the ship to retrieve it before descending to Rabanastre. After witnessing the nethicite's power, Ashe decides to wield it as her weapon to restore Dalmasca, but does not know how to use it. She wants Balthier to accompany her to Jahara to ask the garif's help, but Balthier is skeptical. As collateral, Balthier requests a ring on Ashe's finger.
Leaving the Strahl, damaged in the 8th Fleet's destruction, the group walks to Jahara, but the garif can not answer Ashe's questions. They meet up with Larsa who wishes for Ashe to become queen and ally with the Empire to quell the looming war with Rozarria. Basch questions Balthier's intentions, worried for Ashe's safety. Balthier accompanies the party through Golmore Jungle to Mt Bur-Omisace, where they meet with Gran Kiltias Anastasis. They also learn the Emperor Gramis Gana Solidor has been murdered, with Vayne succeeding him, foiling their plan for a truce. Anastasis tells them of a sword that can cut through nethicite, and while Larsa remains behind, the rest of the group heads off to the Stilshrine of Miriam where Ashe retrieves the Sword of Kings.
With the sword, she vows to destroy the Empire's nethicite, and the party heads to Doctor Cid's laboratory in Archades. When they stop to rest in the Phon Coast's Hunters' Camp, Balthier questions Ashe's intentions, comparing her drive to that of his father's. He reveals his Imperial past and his relation to Doctor Cid, as well as his suspicions about a creature his father spoke of named Venat. He vows to persevere in their endeavor to cut the ties to his past, and implores Ashe to not allow the stone's power to consume her, as it did his father.
In Archades, Balthier briefly splits from the party. They come across Balthier's old acquaintance, Jules, who embezzles the chops given to him by Balthier to give to Vaan and the others. They reconvene and head to the Draklor Laboratory in search of Cid, but find the lab suspiciously lacking in Imperial presence. On discovering Cid's ransacked office, Balthier inspects some old papers and questions what madness found him six years ago in the Jagd Difohr.
On the 70th floor, they find Reddas, a sky pirate; alone, he has cut his way through the guards and soldiers. They follow him to Cid, where Balthier demands he turn over the Dusk Shard, the very same Goddess's Magicite that Judge Ghis had taken from the party earlier. Balthier is forced to draw his weapon when Cid challenges the party, backed by the power of nethicite and his Occurian ally, Venat. Balthier realizes Cid was never mad, and when he appeared to be speaking to thin air, he was actually conversing with Venat, a mysterious being who can make itself invisible to anyone it chooses.
Cid retreats and claims to be heading out to the Ancient City of Giruvegan to gather more nethicite. The party heads for Balfonheim Port with their new ally, Reddas, where he explains the war is inevitable, with the Marquis and the Resistance ready to engage Vayne and the Imperial Forces. Now that it is Cid and not Vayne who holds the nethicite, the party sees the way to prevent the war is to follow him to Giruvegan. Balthier reveals he knows of Reddas's true identity by telling the story of a certain Judge Zecht, whose inadvertent use of the Midlight Shard in Nabudis two years ago destroyed the city. Invoking Reddas' past, Balthier warns Reddas against using the nethicite.
Dr. Cid is not in Giruvegan, and the party realizes he had tricked them into going there. In the heart of the Great Crystal, the party meets the Occuria, who name Ashe as the new Dynast King and grant her the Treaty-Blade to carve out new shards of deifacted nethicite from the motherlode, the Sun-Cryst.
The Strahl is finally fixed by Balthier's moogle mechanic, Nono, while Reddas gives them a manufacted skystone that allows it to fly over Jagd and accompanies them to the Ridorana Cataract. Balthier tells Vaan to take the Strahl should anything happen to him.
Atop the Pharos, the party finds the Sun-Cryst, but instead of using it to obtain more nethicite, Ashe attempts to destroy it. She is intercepted by Cid, and Balthier again fights his father, this time fatally wounding Cid. Balthier watches his father fade into Mist, and up to his dying breath, Cid believes what he was doing was best for mankind.
The Sun-Cryst has awakened the Empire's ultimate weapon, the battleship Sky Fortress Bahamut, and the Mist the Cryst seethes seems impossible to stop. Overwhelmed by Mist, Fran falls to the ground and insists they go without her, but Balthier vows to not leave her behind. Reddas sacrifices his life to destroy the Sun-Cryst while the others escape.
As the Battle above Rabanastre is about to break out, Balthier pilots the group to infiltrate the Sky Fortress Bahamut where they confront Vayne, who merges with Venat to destroy them. Despite their allegiance, Vayne and Venat are defeated, and while the others escape the Bahamut on the Strahl piloted by Vaan, Balthier and Fran remain behind to repair the damaged engines and stop Bahamut from falling on Rabanastre. Balthier fixes the Bahamut's glossair rings in time, but he and Fran are stuck inside as the sky fortress crash-lands outside the city, the two seeming to have perished in the crash.
A year later, Balthier and Fran reclaim the Strahl from Vaan and Penelo, who had been looking after it, leaving behind a note and Ashe's ring, signifying Balthier has found the treasure he was looking for. Balthier explains he is going for the Cache of Glabados in Bervenia, asking Vaan and Penelo to join in on the spoils.
Roses have thorns—this much I've come to expect. But you, my dear, poison yours. You've no sense of fair play.Balthier to the Judge of Wings
Vaan and Penelo arrive at the Glabados Ruins to meet Balthier and Fran who have made their way to the Cache chamber and defeated the Ifrit guarding it. The foursome spy twin auracite crystals atop a pedestal and Balthier teases Vaan he's too young to partake in any treasure, and moves in to take both crystals. When Vaan protests, Balthier laughs and throws him the green crystal, taking the purple one for himself. The ruins begin to crumble and the sky pirates make their way to their respective airships, but the falling debris destroys Vaan's. Balthier returns Vaan and Penelo to Lowtown.
Soon after, Balthier makes his way to Lemurés to search for the auraliths and ends up confronting the Judge of Wings at the Fane of Tehp Qul. The Judge reveals what went on between her and Balthier by projecting her memories into Vaan and his allies' minds. In the flashback, Balthier is seen in the same Fane, with an unconscious Fran behind him. The Judge of Wings approaches him from the right, and the auralith is still intact between them. Balthier acknowledges the Judge's power, but says she has been holding on to her illusion of Eternity for too long. He throws the purple crystal he found in the Glabados Ruins in the air and shatters it with a gun blast before it reaches the Judge.
His auracite willingly destroyed, Balthier points his gun at the Judge, vowing to stop her from pursuing her goal of eternal life. Before he can fire, the Judge uses her own crystal to summon the Esper Shiva, who appears behind Balthier and uses Diamond Dust to render Balthier unconscious. He and Fran are left lying on the floor.
The two escape this encounter, as Fran meets Vaan on the island of Arda, Heaven's Pillar, and leads them to the Ymir Qul Underground, where Balthier waits. Ba'Gamnan interrupts the reunion and the party battles the group of bangaa before they reach Balthier. After Ba'Gamnan's defeat, Balthier shocks Vaan by moving to destroy the auralith. Fran defects to her partner's side, and the two summon a group of Yarhi for Vaan and his party to deal with. Though Balthier and Fran are defeated, Balthier starts up the machines flanking the second auralith, which is subsequently destroyed.
The auralith's demise frees a great deal of aegyl anima. Vaan, Penelo, Llyud, Filo, and Kytes are sent to Lesrekta, Isle of Illusions, while Balthier and Fran commandeer to Vaan's new airship, the Galbana. After Vaan's return, Balthier explains he destroyed the auralith to restore the aegyls' souls; by releasing the anima, Balthier prevented the Judge of Wings from getting to the crystal first and stealing the anima within. The motivation behind the Judge's actions and the aegyl god, Feolthanos, are finally understood, and Balthier and Fran join the allied party for good.
In Final Fantasy XII, Balthier has high Strength and the highest Speed, but low MP and Magick Power. He is best suited to equip weapons with damage reliant on Strength and Speed. Balthier's default licenses differ based on releases. In the original release, he has Guns 1 and 2, Steal, Shields 1, Light Armor 1 and 2 and Heavy Armor 1 learned. In the Zodiac Job System releases, he has Steal, Guns 1, First Aid and Light Armor 1 learned.
Attacking 300 times adds Balthier's sprite to Sky Pirate's Den of Final Fantasy XII and grants the player the title of Assault Striker.
In Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings, Balthier equips guns. His armor equips—sleeveless tops—all favor Defense over Magick Defense. His accessories are rings. He takes on the role of a ranged fighter. His Quickening, Element of Treachery, deals heavy damage to one foe, and is learned after defeating the Esper Shemhazai. Balthier is fought as a boss along with Fran. Only Balthier and Vaan retain their original Quickenings from Final Fantasy XII in Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings: Element of Treachery for Balthier and Pyroclasm for Vaan.
Balthier has made appearances in the following games in the Final Fantasy series:
- Fortress as a cameo (cancelled).
- Final Fantasy Tactics as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Tactics S as a playable character.
- Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy as a cameo.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia as a playable character.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy as a playable character.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call as a playable character.
- Pictlogica Final Fantasy as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade as summonable Legend.
- Final Fantasy Artniks as a series of cards.
- Final Fantasy All the Bravest as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Record Keeper as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius as a summonable vision.
- World of Final Fantasy as a summonable DLC Champion.
- Final Fantasy Trading Card Game as a series of cards.
- Triple Triad as a card.
Non-Final Fantasy appearances
Balthier has made key guest appearances in the following non-Final Fantasy games:
- Itadaki Street as a playable character.
Users in Square Enix Members Virtual World community can make their character appear as Balthier. Balthier's hair costs 100 crystals and his clothes cost 480 crystals.
Additionally, in Gunslinger Stratos 2, Balthier's costume was released on November 6, 2014.
"The Fates" is Balthier's theme, though only vaguely in Final Fantasy XII, as it plays during cutscenes for many major character and the only hint of being his theme is the short appearance of the motif in "Balthier's Promise". Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings uses "The Fates" as specifically Balthier's theme. A remix of "The Fates" plays when summoning Balthier in World of Final Fantasy Maxima.
Behind the scenes
Final Fantasy XII Ultimania Omega details that a flashback scene to Balthier's younger days was planned for the game, and a character design was drawn for it. The render for young Balthier was finished, and his Yoshida especially noted that the glasses' texture was of good quality. The flashback scene was cut but his unused flashback attire resembles somewhat the one he wears in Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions.
Balthier has been called a "completely original character" by creator Akihiko Yoshida, having not used any previous Final Fantasy character as a reference. Balthier has been compared to other characters in fiction. Simon Wigham of Console Obsession called Balthier his "favorite by quite a wide margin", comparing him to James Bond due to his "humorous lines". RPGFan editor Stephen Harris compared his voice to that of Ian Fleming's depiction of Bond. 1UP.com editor Andrew Pfister compared the duo of Balthier and Fran to that of Han Solo and Chewbacca, two characters from the Star Wars franchise, adding that they are far more interesting than any other character in the "modern FF era".
Balthier was originally considered to appear in Dissidia Final Fantasy, but was left out as he had recently appeared in Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions. Vaan was set to appear in his place, but was ultimately replaced by Judge Gabranth.
Balthier's hair, sleeves, and earrings are static in the PlayStation 4 version of The Zodiac Age. This has been fixed for the PC version, where they move in the wind.
In the English version of Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions, Balthier is voiced by Gideon Emery. In the Japanese version, he is voiced by Hiroaki Hirata. Coincidentally, given Balthier's status as a sky pirate, Hirata also provides the voice of the pirate Jack Sparrow in Kingdom Hearts II, and has also done Japanese dubbing of various other Johnny Depp roles. He is also the Japanese voice actor for Sanji, pirate chef of the Straw Hat crew in One Piece.
Balthier, along with Basch and Ashe, speaks in formalized English in contrast to Vaan and Penelo's more casual style. In Japanese, Balthier, Ashe and Basch use an older, more formal form of Japanese than Vaan and Penelo. Both reflect his background of being Arcadian nobility and the son of a scholar. While the medieval tone comes from the original game, the localizers could decide on the specific accents the characters would use and voice models were used to guide the writing: Balthier was Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings.
When Gideon Emery came on the localization team's radar, the casting director Jack Fletcher thought he was perfect for the part. Emery wasn't previously familiar with the Final Fantasy series, which allowed him to escape any extra pressure. Back when the voices for Final Fantasy XII were recorded, the actor would go in to their voice agent's booth to record. Emery did a take or two with the in-house engineer and then forgot about it until he got the call. He got to use his own accent, a rarity then. Emery had around six recording sessions totaling around 24 hours of recording time. Up until that point he had never done more than one session for a specific game.
Balthier has a Play Arts action figure released as part of the Final Fantasy XII set. Play Arts released a new figure to commemorate the release of the Final Fantasy XII The Zodiac Age. Balthier also has a miniature figure in the Final Fantasy Trading Arts Mini Vol. 3. Balthier in his Final Fantasy Tactics appearance is part of the Final Fantasy Tactics Trading Arts set. He appears alongside Fran and their hoverbike in a polystone Sculpture Arts statue.
- Final Fantasy XII Scenario Ultimania, p.020
- Final Fantasy XII Pin Collection, No.005 Balflear
- Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 1: Character page 466
- Balthier's Early Days from the FFXII Ultimania Omega translation (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at Rant by Fangu on Tumblr |
- E3 2006: Interview with the Final Fantasy XII Staff (Accessed: July 14, 2014) at ?
- Final Fantasy XII PS2 Review (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at Console Obsession
- Final Fantasy XII review (Accessed: August 21, 2018) at RPGFan
- Final Fantasy XII Review for PS2 (dead) (Accessed: June 17, 2016) at 1UP.com
- EDGE #278 Tale of Tales Meet Alexander O Smith the translator who's brought some of Japan's biggest RPGs to the West p. 94
- A Voice for Ivalice: The Localization and Voice Acting of Final Fantasy XII (Accessed: April 23, 2018) at US Gamer