- This article is about the concept of soul in the mythology of Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy. For the concept of heart which was united with the concept of soul in the English localization in the Lightning Saga series, see: Heart (Fabula Nova Crystallis).
When a person dies, her soul flies to the otherworld, and passes through that portal. If a great many people die at once, the gate must open wide to let them through.
Souls (魂, Tamashī?), also incorrectly referred to as hearts, are an integral part of the Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy subseries. While hearts are "the essence of the person", souls are "the essence of humanity". Souls are key to the plans of the mythos's deities and the fal'Cie they create to aid them.
In the localized versions of the Final Fantasy XIII games, the distinction between "heart" and "soul" is fairly blurred. In the localization of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, the term "soul" is used for the concepts of both "heart" and "soul", and interchangeably with "heart". This has caused some confusion for players.
The source of souls is not specified, but when a human dies their soul passes through the gate to the afterlife said to be operated by the goddess Etro, into the chaos of the unseen realm where it awaits its turn in the reincarnation process. When a human is alive the soul is "stored" within their heart. There is a symbiosis between souls and memories that is explored in the Lightning Saga trilogy and Final Fantasy Type-0.
The appearance of souls across the games varies, though they do have one constant form: glimmering crystals floating in the air. In Final Fantasy XIII the souls of humanity appear like this in preparation for journeying through Etro's gate. They also appear in this form in Final Fantasy XIII-2, although they are not mentioned in much detail and only play a cursory role in the story.
In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII souls also appear as glowing lights, revealed by Lumina to be linked to memories: the souls of the dead maintain some sense of individuality as long as they are remembered by the living. In turn, the destruction of a dead soul erases the memories of that person from the living.
Souls that failed to "make it" to the other side get trapped in the Chaos and sometimes emerge from Chaos infusions as soul seeds. The Order of Salvation buys the seeds from merchants, who enlist seed hunters to find the seeds from within the Chaos. The Order is said to experiment on the souls, but Lightning theorizes Bhunivelze is using them in the Ultimate Lair to create a superior species to replace mankind with. Other alchemists and forges have also experimented with the seeds with disastrous results.
In Final Fantasy Type-0, a soul is similar in form to those in Final Fantasy XIII. They also appeared in that form in Final Fantasy Versus XIII. Although the role of Fabula Nova Crystallis in Final Fantasy XV has shifted to a thematic background element upon which original lore was built, the glimmering crystals and their relation to the souls of the dead have been retained.
On rare occasions, a soul can become fragmented. Two known people whose souls were divided are Paddra Nsu-Yeul and Dajh Katzroy. Over the years, Yeul's reincarnations splintered her soul and a fragment of her soul melted with the Chaos of Valhalla, the middle world between the visible and unseen realms, slowly accumulating in it and corrupting it. At the end of Final Fantasy XIII-2, the corruption is so severe its flood threatens the world stability setting it on a path to certain destruction. Shortly after the flood of Chaos, Dajh's soul was splintered and he fell into a coma.
Cocoon's fal'Cie, the creations of Lindzei, concoct a plan to summon their Maker from the unseen realm by sending a flurry of souls through Etro's gate, hoping to "throw it wide open." The fal'Cie plan to use Pulse l'Cie with the Focus to become the monster Ragnarok to destroy the fal'Cie that sustains Cocoon, Orphan, and send the planetoid crashing onto the surface of Gran Pulse exacting genocide on mankind. The first attempt, during the War of Transgression, was foiled by Etro when she sent the chosen l'Cie, Oerba Dia Vanille and Oerba Yun Fang, into premature crystal stasis.
For the second attempt, the Pulse fal'Cie Anima awakens Fang and Vanille and brands Lightning, Snow Villiers, Serah Farron, Hope Estheim and Sazh Katzroy as l'Cie bearing the Focus to transform into Ragnarok. During the Siege of Eden the party witnesses incorporeal crystals glimmering the air, signifying the souls of humans killed in the conflict, and the opening of Etro's gate on the skies of Eden. After Orphan's destruction, Fang and Vanille become Ragnarok and build a crystal pillar to halt Cocoon's fall, stalling the fal'Cie's plans.
Caius Ballad plans to force open Etro's gate and unleash chaos into the mortal world to create a timeless realm to save Paddra Nsu-Yeul, the first human created from Etro's blood who was unable to fade into the sea of chaos on Valhalla like the other souls. Etro, taking pity on her, put her in an endless cycle of reincarnation, which splintered Yeul's soul and created a source of chaos in the visible realm. This imbalance causes time distortions and leads to the events of Final Fantasy XIII-2 after Etro reached into the visible realm to free Lightning and her friends from their l'Cie bonds.
At first it seems Caius's scheme is to destroy the old crystallized Cocoon and the new man-made Cocoon in 500 AF to trigger a flood of souls through Etro's gate, but his true goal manifests when Noel Kreiss destroys the Heart of Chaos, the source of Caius's immortality and Etro's life. With Etro dead the balance between the realms is broken and the unrestrained chaos of Valhalla bleeds into Gran Pulse.
When Lightning enters her second crystal stasis after her final battle with Caius, she takes both Serah's heart and soul with her.
With Etro dead and the barrier between the realms of the living and dead eroded fusing the two into a new world known as Nova Chrysalia, people's souls can no longer pass on. People hold onto their souls as they have become biologically immortal, yet unable to bear children, and mankind stagnates into a perpetual existence that lasts centuries.
After Lightning woke up from her crystal stasis, the god Bhunivelze removed Serah's soul from Lightning. Along with it a part of Lightning's heart was also removed due to Lightning having locked her heart away after her parents' death, and her heart having become connected with Serah's soul during her sleep. Serah's soul merged with a discarded part of Lightning's heart and manifested into Lumina.
Bhunivelze chose Lightning as the savior tasked to rescue the souls of Nova Chrysalia in preparation for their life in a new world: in reality, Bhunivelze wishes to purge the rescued souls of their darkness while destroying the souls of the dead, intending to wipe the slate clean with humanity not burdened by grief and sorrow by removing the living's awareness of their deceased. Lightning saves the living souls by freeing them of their burdens in varying ways, such as fighting and defeating certain people, or performing a task which had been weighing on a person's mind. In the case of Dajh Katzroy, she must seek out fragments of his soul to rouse him from his sleep. There are some she is unable to save, however, such as Caius, who has become bound to the Chaos of the world.
On Nova Chrysalia's final day, Luxerion is engulfed in Chaos and the souls glimmer in the air of the cathedral as fine crystal dust. Lumina plays with a crystalline soul shard when she tells Lightning of the link between souls and memories alongside the plan that Bhunivelze and the Order have been striving for. Lightning disrupts the Soulsong – ritual meant to destroy the souls of the dead – and Vanille, who has gained the power to hear them, frees the souls in preparation for their rebirth. With humanity's souls intermingled, Bhunivelze decides to wipe them out and take their place as the collective soul of his ideal humanity.
Lightning halts his plans, using the gathered souls of humanity to deliver a final blow to Bhunivelze. All but the last incarnation of Yeul stay in the newly formed unseen realm to maintain the balance between worlds in Etro's stead, and the souls of humanity, along with Lightning and her friends, find a new home free of gods and Chaos.
As revealed in Final Fantasy XIII: Reminiscence -tracer of memories-, due to Lightning's actions, the souls possess memories of their past life in Gran Pulse and Nova Chrysalia. While the memories are normally latent, some people have vague recollections, while Lightning and her allies retain their full memories. A reporter named Aoede interviews each of Lightning's allies to investigate the phantom memories of another world. Sometime later, while believing herself dead, Aoede meets Caius and learns the souls of the deceased enter the Sea of Chaos while being given the choice to be reborn to the new world, or rest forever within the Chaos.
Souls return to the celestial father, and flesh to the terrestrial mother—so says the law of nature. Some spirits, however, are not so fortunate. Some wander for eternity, searching for a purpose. And it is I who breathes life anew into these lost souls. I beseech you: give me your phantoma and help me provide a new purpose for the afterlives of these tortured spirits.
The souls of humans form the core of Arecia Al-Rashia and Gala's plan to open the Unseen Gate, altering the spiral so that the living cannot remember their dead. While Arecia tries to use Agito, chosen souls of exceptional strength, to find and open the Gate, Gala uses his Rursus Army to slaughter the people of Orience, wishing the flood of souls would force the door open. Both failed each time and the events repeated endlessly, as the land is locked in a stable time loop for the purposes of the experiment.
One of the key elements of both sides of the plan is strengthening the souls of Orience through combat: the cycle of life in Orience is altered by the Crystals so people forget the dead so they would not be held back by regrets, but would still be able to feel the pain and fear of death.
Through Etro's actions, the souls of Orience were kept from vanishing forever, with her repeatedly returning them to the spiral. The cycle is repeated 600,104,971 times, but the final time, Class Zero, the people Arecia chose to try and force open Etro's gate, alters the course of events and brings an end to the cycle at the cost of their lives. Afterwards, Tiz delivers their memories, along with the memories of everyone in the world and those of the Crystals, to Arecia. After listening to their wishes, Arecia frees Machina and Rem, two discarded members of Class Zero, from crystal stasis, and allows the people of Orience to remember their dead before finally abandoning the experiment.
Unlike their fellow countrymen, the twelve Class Zero cadets are unaffected by Milites Empire's crystal jammer that suppresses the Crystals of rival nations, as Agito Cadets usually rely on the Vermilion Bird Crystal as the source of their magic. Akademeia's Sorcery Division refuses to disclose information regarding the source of Class Zero's magic, but rumor has it that their ability to cast spells at any time stems from their souls. Class Zero is the only class in Akademia privy to knowledge about phantoma, the life energy of all living beings.
According to a legend from the country of Tenebrae, whenever Etro opens the Unseen Gate the souls of the dead ascend as a streak of light. Those who have a near-death experience see the light and receive magical powers from the unseen realm. Both Noctis Lucis Caelum and Stella Nox Fleuret bore magical powers.
When the game was reworked into Final Fantasy XV, the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythos was shifted to become an unexpressed background element while design elements were retained: the "soul crystals" continue to appear, with them most prominently appearing when Noctis retrieves the royal arms.
After the Eden stage transitions soul fragments appear.
soul, in many religious, philosophical, psychological, and mythological traditions, is the incorporeal and, in many conceptions, immortal essence of a person, living thing, or object.The
- The glimmering crystal shards also appear within the Pulse Vestige in Final Fantasy XIII during the party's trek inside to save Serah, but no one comments on it like they do in Eden. It is unknown whether the crystals here are meant to signify the departing souls (such as from the ongoing Purge down below) or not.
- In the Datalog of the English release of Final Fantasy XIII-2, "heart" is incorrectly localized as "soul" despite the word "soul" not appearing in a single entry in the Japanese release.
- In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, souls take on a variety of forms similar to previous substances or phenomena related to the dead. The souls as rescued by the savior resemble the pyreflies of Final Fantasy X, and during the ending the souls of humanity take on a form similar to the Lifestream as it appears in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.
- In Final Fantasy Type-0, the substance phantoma is described as "souls", though it exhibits traits synonymous with both hearts and souls.
- In the end of the Final Fantasy Type-0 HD credits (viewed by selecting "Rise of the Phoenix" from the Annals of Orience), the animation used for flashing soul crystals flies past the screen, but colored pink, giving them the look of falling cherry blossoms. During the days of the early Showa era, cherry blossoms were given the myth of being the souls of the Imperial Japanese who passed on during their service in the war.
- The glimmering crystal shards appear on the sky of the Final Fantasy XV Episode Duscae title screen and when Noctis is in 0 HP in battle. In the final game, the crystal lights are absent from both, but appear when Noctis is about to summon, when he uses the Ring of the Lucii in battle, when he obtains a royal arm, and in the final scene of the game.