“Why Celes Chere is the True Main Character of Final Fantasy VI”
Those who have a general knowledge of the Final Fantasy series likely know that the character Terra is usually known as the main character in Final Fantasy VI. Being crucial to the initial story, she offers a unique dynamic in being half-esper, which would be the equivalent of half of a summon, like the famous Ramuh or Bahamut.
However, after playing the game and analyzing its story many times, I’ve come to realize that Terra really shouldn’t be known as the main character of Final Fantasy VI. That title belongs to Celes Chere, a former war general who was infused with magic against her will. In the first part of the game, she takes on a variety of roles, from general to spy to opera singer. She offers the most importance and intrigue of any other character for the rest of the game, to boot. Here’s her summarized story throughout the plot of Final Fantasy VI.
In the game, Celes is a former war general for the Gestahlian Empire, the assumed main antagonists in the game. She is first seen early in the game via a flashback, and then shows up shortly after when Locke, a member of the Returners rebel group, finds and rescues her from confinement. She is captured and tortured for betraying the Empire. Locke, who is reminded of his previous lover when he sees her, promises to protect her as best as he can as they make their escape. A few battles and an iconic opera scene later, Celes and some other Returners have a run-in with the Empire, where she is suspected of being a spy. She teleports herself and the accusers away to leave Locke and party safe, though confused and heartbroken. Roughly the first half of Final Fantasy VI is based on the battles and interactions between Terra, the Empire and the Returners, although the player’s viewpoint is mostly through the sight of Terra’s companions.
Because of the mistrust toward her even after all she did for the Returners, Celes returns to serve the Empire for a while, much to Locke’s dismay. However, after the betrayal of the Empire in a conspiracy to wipe out the Esper race, Celes rejoins the Returners and continues to serve to the best of her abilities. The Returners then combat the Empire once again, only this time, Celes is resolute, and stabs the main antagonist who accused her the first time. Instead of dying, the antagonist, Kefka, goes berserk and effectively destroys most of the world. Continents are shifted, things are dying, and the friends are taken away from each other.
This dark time is where Celes takes her true place as the main character of Final Fantasy VI. Initially, the game is about Terra, a half-esper hybrid born with the gift of magic, and the empire’s desire to manipulate and control the power of magic. However, when everything is destroyed and our heroes are scattered, the game doesn’t pick up again with Terra. It picks up with Celes as she desperately tries to survive on a barren island wasteland. She is deprived of any contact aside from Cid, her dying father figure. While it’s possible to nurse him back to health, it’s difficult and he usually dies. If Cid dies, Celes sees no more meaning in life and tries to end it all, only to wake up finding a seagull bearing the bandana of her missing protector, Locke. Bandana in hand, she sets off with new hope, searching for her friends.
Thankfully, though they are scattered across the world, all of her friends are alive, and able to fight. After a long time of searching and hardship, they are able to challenge the now god-like Kefka in the name of peace and love in a magicless world. If not for Celes being the glue which binds the party back together toward their goal, the world of Final Fantasy VI would have likely been lost forever.
Celes is the real main character of Final Fantasy VI. Though they both have times of insecurity, Terra’s main flaw is that she becomes selfish in the world of Ruin, deciding to protect one small village rather than the world. She only has two character traits in Final Fantasy VI: not knowing what she’s doing, and deciding to get tunnel vision. Meanwhile, Celes is a natural leader who learns from her bouts of insecurity and overcomes them, leading the battle for a better world, regardless of which side she was on before the world fell to ruin. Terra only joins the party to rematch Kefka after finding out she’s not strong enough by herself to protect what she loves. If she were, she would have sat “protecting” her village while the others, Celes in charge, fought to save the world.
Though I am not the biggest fan of JPRGs, I have played most of the Final Fantasy games to varying degrees. Final Fantasy VI was one of the few that I haven’t touched yet. I had only heard about it over the years, and it seemed to get overlooked by those who had fallen head over heels for Final Fantasy VII. So, when it was decided we’d be doing this community article on the Final Fantasy series, there was no better time to give it a try. With the mobile port being an instant “no thanks,” and hearing bad things about the PC port, I chose to play on a Gameboy Advance SP with a Final Fantasy VI: Advance cartridge.
Just like with Chrono Trigger, I did not get the time in that I intended to due to being consumed by new releases. Still, I greatly appreciate the time I have spent with it so far. I discovered that this was the game in which magitek (magical technology) was introduced. I was also introduced to characters like Terra and Kefka, who I had only known from playing the Dissidia games. Like other games in the series, Final Fantasy VI does not disappoint and opens up with a great intro.
Many games in the series do well to pull me in with the opening events—some hold a steady pace that keeps my attention while the pace of others comes to a sudden crawl. Final Fantasy VI sadly falls into the latter category as I found myself losing interest when I got to the overworld. Even so, I was impressed by the opening events as I watched the characters in their magitek armor travel through the snowy lands of the SNES’s Mode 7 technology. I also enjoyed the introduction of Locke and the battle in the Narshe Mines in which a group of Moogles comes to help. Being able to control a small army of those Moogles to defend Terra was a creative way to have the player interact with that particular event.
From the little amount of time I have put into the game, I am able to see what I had been missing out on after all these years. I can tell that this story is going to shape into one that would stand out among the others in the series. I regret not dedicating the time that this game likely deserves, and hope put return to it one of these days. Playing and carrying around the GBA SP also felt like I had reached into a ripple of time somewhere, and has me wanting to go and play some games from my childhood and possibly discover something like Final Fantasy VI that I have not yet played.