Bodhum is a seaside town that, before the Purge, contained the Pulse Vestige. Bodhum is famous for its long white beaches and the annual fireworks display. It is a popular tourist destination, seeing that the Euride Gorge power plant, another tourist attraction, is located nearby. The town is guarded by the local Guardian Corps unit, where Lightning works as a soldier. According to this image from Final Fantasy XIII Scenario Ultimania, Bodhum is located on an island.
Bodhum is briefly playable during a flashback when playing as Snow but otherwise is an unvisitable location.
The modest city by the sea is the hometown of Lightning and Serah, as well as that of Snow and the members of NORA. Known for its relaxing, resort-like atmosphere, the location is a popular destination for vacationers.
Bodhum's largest tourist draw is its annual beachfront fireworks display, but this year's event was ruined by the discovery of the Pulse fal'Cie within the nearby Vestige. The Sanctum quarantined the city on the day after the discovery, announcing its plan to Purge Bodhum's entire population, along with the hapless tourists, to Pulse.
Vanille and Fang awake from their 500 year-long crystal stasis within the Bodhum Vestige. The next day, Snow and NORA rescue Lightning from monsters. She attempts to persuade Snow to stop being involved with Serah, but he rubs off her demands. The day after, Serah notices the Vestige door has opened while on a walk nearby and goes inside to explore. She is branded a Pulse l'Cie by Anima, a Pulse fal'Cie residing in the Vestige. After exploring the town over the last two days, Fang and Vanille return to the Vestige to find the newly-branded Serah unconscious. They carry her outside and watch her come to and leave.
Two days later, Vanille gets separated from Fang following the events at Euride Gorge and returns to the Bodhum Vestige. Another two days later, Serah reveals her l'Cie status to Snow, who offers to help her figure out her Focus. Nine days after waking from crystal stasis, Vanille scrapes her leg on the beach. Serah aids her, and the two become friends. Vanille tries to apologize for her part in Serah's branding, but she does not understand. The next day, Serah and Snow shop for a birthday present for Lightning. Unknown to Serah, Snow slips away and buys them engagement necklaces while she gets Lightning a survival knife to keep her safe.
The annual fireworks festival is attended by a crowd that includes: Nora Estheim and her son, Hope; Sazh and Dajh Katzroy accompanied by PSICOM officer Jihl Nabaat; and Fang and Vanille, although still separated—Fang stays at Lebreau's cafe while Vanille watches the fireworks on the beach. Tradition dictates attendees get one wish; during the night, Serah accepts Snow's marriage proposal, Vanille wishes for Cocoon's safety, Nora wishes Hope's father, Bartholomew, could join them next time, and Dajh hopes to see his father happy again. Lightning, who is there to oversee the event, learns about the Euride incident from her superior, Amodar, who warns her not to get involved.
Unknown to everyone, PSICOM discovers the Pulse fal'Cie in the Vestige. The next day, Serah reveals to Lightning that she is a l'Cie and is engaged to Snow, but Lightning doesn't believe her and drives her away. Snow proposes that he and Serah return to the Vestige to discover Serah's Focus, but the town is under lock-down, and the Vestige is off-limits. Soldiers pursue Snow and Serah, and Serah is taken captive by the Pulse fal'Cie. Lightning learns about the fal'Cie's discovery and realizes Serah was telling the truth. Snow finds Lightning and tells her about Serah's capture.
The next day, the Sanctum begins the Purge, forcing all the residents and tourists to board trains headed for Gran Pulse. To save Serah, Lightning resigns from the Guardian Corps, lines up on the train platform, and is joined by Sazh. As Vanille lines up, she bumps into Hope and Nora and chooses to go with them. Once the deportees have been loaded, the Purge train leaves Bodhum for the Hanging Edge.
In Final Fantasy XIII Gaiden Shōsetsu: Yumemiru Mayu, Akatsuki ni Otsu, an aspiring journalist named Aoede is skeptical about the Purge and believes that no one is getting exiled. After gathering information, her doubt is reinforced. She theorizes the Purge to be a ruse set up by the Sanctum to bolster the public's fear of Pulse and maintain control over Cocoon. She fits herself with hidden cameras, infiltrates Bodhum, and boards a Purge train determined to make a documentary that will advance her career.
In Final Fantasy XIII -Episode i-, it is revealed that Bodhum is one of the places to sustain massive damage from the fall of Cocoon. Still, as the Purge took its population, there were almost no casualties. The novel Final Fantasy XIII-2 Fragments After also reveals that Bodhum was the crash site for the floating city of Eden after Orphan's defeat.
Over the next three years, by the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2, the former residents of Bodhum have built a town alongside the NORA members named after their hometown on the shores of Gran Pulse called New Bodhum.
As Bodhum only appears in flashbacks, it doesn't have a proper location theme. "Fabula Nova Crystallis" plays during Snow's flashback of the 7th day when he promises to help Serah. "In the Sky That Night" plays during flashbacks of the 11th day (except Hope's flashback, that is accompanied by "Hope's Theme" instead), and is an arrangement of the main theme, "FINAL FANTASY XIII - The Promise". "Promised Eternity" plays during the cutscene where Snow proposes to Serah.
"Eternal Love" plays during the scene Snow and Serah fly and aerobike into the fireworks display in the Japanese version. In the localized versions, "Serah's Theme" plays instead. "Serah's Theme" also plays during Snow's flashback of the 7th day when Serah reveals her branding as a Pulse l'Cie to him. "Forever Fugitives" plays during the FMV cutscene of Snow's flashback of Serah's capture by Anima on the 12th day.
One of the servers of Final Fantasy XIV was named Bodhum.
Behind the scenes
Bodhum was likely at some point planned to be a playable location beyond being the setting for a short flashback sequence; the game contains save game icons for Bodhum, and the player cannot save their game during the playable flashback. It was revealed in the accompanying Japanese Ultimania guide books that Lightning's house was planned as a visitable location for the game, but in the final game, it is only seen in flashback cut scenes. Concept art from Final Fantasy XIII Ultimania Omega shows Lightning lives in a peanut-shaped house standing over water with a portion of the roof opening up.
Bodhum's annual fireworks festival is based on a Japanese cultural tradition. Originally used to ward off evil spirits, fireworks have a long history in Japan, and hundreds of firework shows are held every year across the country, mainly during the summer holidays. The Bodhum festival's wish-making tradition may have derived influence from the real world Tanabata festival, said to occur on the day the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi meet, making wishes come true for only this single day a year. The most famous of Tanabata festivals, the Sendai Tanabata Festival, includes firework shows to its festivities.
One of the concept artworks of Bodhum reveals that the Cocoon fal'Cie residing in Bodhum is Siren. She appears during the scene where Serah tells Snow about her l'Cie status. In the Brain Blast quiz in Final Fantasy XIII-2, it is stated that Bodhum had The Flying Tortoise Hotel, which was booked till the end of time due to having an aerial hot tub as its attraction.
Aside from Fang's cameo appearance in Snow's flashback of the fireworks festival, if one looks closely, Nora and Hope can be briefly seen in the background at the beginning of Vanille and Lightning's Day 11 flashback.
In Final Fantasy XIII Gaiden Shōsetsu: Yumemiru Mayu, Akatsuki ni Otsu, it's revealed that Bodhum was the hometown of René, one of the protagonists, and she grew up in an orphanage in the town.
The meaning of the Turkish word bodrum is subterranean vault or basement.