This is something that confuses me with compilation stuff: Gast seems to be completely absent. They use other characters to play, effectively, the same role. And he’s never mentioned. Why is that?
In the OG, people are constantly talking about him. Sephiroth’s a fan. Hojo refers to it as ‘Professor Gast’s Jenova Project’. Yet in Crisis Core, Sephiroth mentions him once, and it’s in the scene copied verbatim from OG. His name doesn’t come up in the rest of the compilation at all.
I did encounter an article that said his name was a joke and ‘Gast Faremis’ was a shortening of ‘Gusto FamilyRestaurant’. Did the devs just not want to use him because they considered him a joke?
Were there some internal company politics around him?
Or is it just because he’s dead? That seems weird; they use a lot of flashbacks in general and it seems like if people are going to expect to see a dead guy anywhere, it’s going to be in a prequel.
What other roles can you see him effectively playing?
He couldn’t be Hollander, because Hollander’s a bad guy, and Hollander also needs to be alive long after Gast is canonically dead.
He couldn’t fill the Grimoire Valentine role because then Gast would be dead when he needs to be alive to impregnate Ifalna. And Lucrecia would have no (melodramatic) reason to dump Vincent!
Here’s my theory: the fanatical fans canonised Saint Aerith and SE sort of went along with it (or maybe that’s how they saw her from the start, the magical virgin girl sacrifice) which means Gast and Ifalna are the Holy Family, the Mary and Joseph to Aerith’s pink Jesus.
Ifalna has barely any character at all in the games. In the novel Nojima recently released she has a lot more personality, of the kind you would expect from a mother who sacrifices her life for her child in a Japanese anime: she’s resourceful, resilient, playful and full of forced cheerfulness. However, she is not above encouraging some guy to fall for her and manipulating his affection in order to gain his help in their escape, and she’s also not above dumping him the minute he becomes inconvenient. I applaud this quality in her.
From what we know of him, Gast isn’t a villain, but he isn’t a tower of moral strength either. He calls himself a scientist, but his blunders are responsible for unleashing an eldritch horror upon the world, and instead of staying around to clean up his mess, like a proper leader of a department would do, he runs off into hiding with his amour, even though he knows, he knows this means Hojo will end up running the science department.
Your fic did an excellent job of exonerating him of some of the guilt for that fiasco, but it’s impossible to excuse him altogether.
So, I guess what I’m saying is that the timeline of events + the moral strengths and weaknesses of Aerith’s parents as fictional characters pretty much disqualify them from taking a larger role in Crisis Core or BC.
I’ll have to come back and respond more fully in a bit, but 100% agree on Saint Aeris. Well, no, 98% agree, given I call her Aeris, and given I’m not sure that the fans pushed for it; it seemed like it came from the devs first to me at the time (though it’s not like I saw what was going on in more than a tiny corner of fandom; I think I was just lurking on adventchildren at the time?). There was definitely a change in how they approached her between OG and AC (well that’s the polite phrasing). Maybe that’s lower than a 98% agreement… But whatever, I agree they tried to turn her into a saint and in my view they decided that that meant her having parents of any variety was inconvenient (I seem to recall Elmyra was nowhere to be seen in CC either). Needless to say I think it was a horrible artistic decision, so wanted to note that immediately! I’ll come back to the rest in a bit!
I’m thinking mostly of Gast’s role as the head of the Jenova project (so completely setting Grimoire aside because he’s just a scientist for melodrama reasons, ie: because the devs wanted him in proximity to Lucrecia so she could be responsible for his death; his own scientific activities have minimal impact on the plot imo. I think he could’ve been a visiting sandwich-salesman and it would’ve been much the same). And then also I suppose I’m thinking of Gast’s role as one of the more human-seeming scientists on that project. These are aspects of his character that got split between Hojo and Gillian/Hollander/whomever.
In the OG, Gast’s long-dead, but we’re still clear that it’s his project that Hojo took over. Imo the compilation implicitly rewrites this, because it wants Hojo to be the main sciencevillain. So Gast gets shoved in a drawer and Hollander etc and their work are introduced just so that Gast isn’t the head of the project (or at least, doesn’t feel that way to the gamer). And so Hojo can have some underlings. Hojo is portrayed as being responsible for the Jenova project. Nobody in-universe ever so much as references Gast. This annoys me because I think the dynamic of Hojo scrabbling (and failing) to live up to Gast’s legacy would have been an interesting one to explore, and things that just come across as copying the original game for lack of ideas could have read like a more intentional bad copy. I don’t think Gast’s being dead has to mean he’s absent, because he was so present in OG, which is set later!
OG goes (among many many other things :P) ‘what if scientists injected soldier with alien and he went mad?’. CC goes ‘what if same plot but with some different scientists on some different soldiers?’ The core sciencemess plot elements there are the same, they just doubled up all the characters. So if you played OG and you’re there for something new, it’s not that exciting because you’ve seen it before. If you’re there for nostalgia, you’re like ‘who are these guys? why didn’t they set something with the characters we already know?’ (especially if they are as contradictory and interesting as Gast, just sayin’) So to me it complicates things but doesn’t really add anything, and they’d have got a neater story if they’d just uncovered details of the outline we already knew. I think it’s hard for fandom now to imagine all the ways that story could have gone, but we could’ve had something that was way more focused, and deeper for it. Once they’d decided to base it around Zack, I think they needed the Nibelheim incident, his thwarted escape with Cloud, and probably his relationship with Aeris. But I think everything else was up for grabs? There was no need for the ‘project G’ bloat, or for Sephiroth to have besties…
(I think a problem they hit was that they wanted to tell the story of a soldier becoming disillusioned, but in the OG timeline, Zack’s still pretty enthusiastic at the time of the Nibelheim incident. As a protagonist, he’s not a great choice if you want someone with emotional growth.)
So yeah. To tell that disillusionment story (itself a repeat of OG ¬_¬), Zack needs a mentor. Sephiroth’s taken, he’s in that role for Cloud, so I think this is why they invent Angeal. But to be a mentor to our hero, they reckon he needs to be a good guy. So Angeal needs a foe-- and again, Sephiroth’s taken. So Genesis is invented. Since Genesis is now there and nobody in the OG ever mentions him, this necessitates another branch of the Science dept, who have to all die before OG (and apparently another human scientist mother). Now we’ve got a repeat of the Jenova project with none of the emotion (partly because we’ve given all the isolated characters someone to talk to and someone they can empathise with).
(This is my less cynical take; my more cynical one is that they came up with Genesis first because they thought he was cool and tried to bend everything around him to make him fit)
Anyway I think that’s one reason why we end up with a load of extraneous scientists while not using the more interesting one. Also, part of the difference between Gast and Hojo, imo, is that Gast thinks he’s working on something great, while Hojo’s just in it to see what happens. So once they took Gast out, I think they felt they had to put some other scientists in to have some goals with it, so that people’s motivations weren’t just ‘everyone does random evil stuff for the sake of it’, and that’s another reason why they put some other scientists back in.
But when I played, all these plot decisions felt kinda nonsensical, because okay, if you wanna explore the Jenova project… we’ve already got that story! Have some flashbacks! Tell us new stuff! Instead of just ‘same story with some different guys for reasons’. Maybe it all spirals out from a fundamental mistake of trying to retell Cloud’s story with Zack as the protagonist. (I should say, I enjoyed a lot about playing Crisis Core; I thought they did a good job executing what they had to work with; I just thought the central plot was pointless. And I realise nobody would ever buy a game that centered around the stuff that interests me. ;_; But between my tastes and the plot that was in the game, I think they could’ve found something that was less redundant, and I think being a bit more ruthless about ‘do we already have a character who can perform this function?’ would’ve helped them get there. I focus more on Gast’s omission from Crisis Core because at least there are arguments in favour of that, whereas there’s no defending what happened with DoC, but then that’s par for the course with DoC. But yeah I’m inclined to think the arguments for why Gast isn’t in CC rest on plot decisions that were the worse choice at the fork of ‘use Gast’ and ‘use this plot’).
:P Well the fic was an experiment in seeing just how non-responsible I could make him because he seems so totally responsible for everything. And it annoys me that CC etc just kinda goes ‘nope he was nowhere to be seen’. Even if they didn’t want to do flashbacks-- where is he in DoC??? He was IN that mansion. Vincent remembers him. Gah.
I guess we’ll never know why they made the decisions they did regarding Crisis Core. It’s a graveyard of missed opportunities. They could have allowed Zack to keep his charming, bad-boy womanising character from the OG, they could have made him war buddies with Sephiroth, they could have delved much deeper into the Wutai War and its whole backstory and brought Avalanche into the picture. Hell, they could even have sent him to Nibelheim on purpose to get him killed because he was getting too close to their precious Ancient, and Hojo wanted to save her to breed her with Sephiroth!
However, for some reason known only to SE, they decided that Zack’s story had to be a variation on the theme of Cloud’s story. It’s astonishing to me how many fans thought it was adorable and wonderful that Zack met Aerith by falling into her church - just like Cloud. Omigod fate. Ever since Crisis Core they have been trying to figure out a way to save Zack from his OG death, and I think that in the Remake they will do it. Ugh.
That said, I really enjoyed Crisis Core a lot. It features my favourite iteration of Tseng, and I loved all the silly missions, especially the ones he went on while he was fermenting in Hojo’s tank down in the mansion basement.
++ . Shame because I enjoyed a lot about it. When I try to discuss something specific like the omission of Gast, it invariably broadens into complaints about the structure of the plot in compilation things overall. The details I complain about always seem to be attached to loadbearing walls. Or something.
LOL, I actually really liked this when I played. Not really because of a ‘omg fate!’ thought, though, I just thought it was a funny callback. I think I hadn’t realised at that point that the whole plot was just copying OG; maybe if I’d been looking through that lens I would have found it more annoying. But I did enjoy it, and I still like how it implies that from Aeris’ perspective, every so often a guy just falls through the roof. So I think there are good reasons to hate this detail but I am an unexpected fan. xD
I enjoyed the silliness of the missions (and I always get that Mideel(?) track stuck in my head), though my memory’s hazy and I don’t remember much of the specifics. Did he get out of his tank and go for a walkabout?