Pole-Dancers and Snow: dissecting Lightning Returns’ opening

lightning returns

Square Enix teased fans at Tokyo Game Show with the first five minutes of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. It then proceeded to throw a bone to us plebes by putting the trailer up online.

Today I put on my imaginary mage hat and try to make sense of the opening cinematic to the conclusion of the XIII saga. For those of you who are already lost on the three-part storyline at this point, turn back now and abandon all hope (the sentiment, not the character).

Lightning Returns opens up, as most Final Fantasys are wont to do, with a gorgeous pan over a very modern looking city currently in the thralls of some sort of glowy festival. Towering above the city, standing atop a statue of a winged seraph (symbolism ahoy) is none other than our heroine, Lightning, who speaks something broody and Japanese to presumably Hope, her main man on the other end of the line.

Cut to a sexy party: what looks like a cross between Cirque-De-Solei, the Great Gatsby and Edea’s parade of doom from Final Fantasy VIII. Pole-dancers in Tron suits twirl down poles and waitresses in cat-masks serve Elixirs. The camera pans up to the throne. Who could be the decadent Lothario in charge of this fete? Gasp! It’s none other than Snow, who hasn’t cut his hair in all of the 1,000+ years of the series prolonged chronology. It has something to do with frozen time and corrupted dimensions.

Lightning crashes the party and starts sucking out people’s souls left and right. Snow isn’t having it and monsters appear out of the woodwork, grabbing go-go dancers and throwing them into surreal portals of nebulous evil. Snow and Lightning start to brawl.

At one point as they lock swords it looks like Snow and Lightning are going to totally suck face, which would be super uncomfortable for multiple reasons, the least of which is that Snow is still engaged to Lightning’s sister, Serah. Then Snow turns into Serah – or is it Serah? Nope, it’s some girl named Lumina who controls red lightning (the element, not the character). But Snow is all: “no red lightning in the champagne room,” and freezes that nonsense into a pretty ice sculpture.

Then Snow and Lightning stand around talking about “demons” and “death-gods,” the only two words of Japanese I understand because anime. Then shadowy smoke comes out of Snow: he is in actuality the smoke monster from LOST, and now suddenly it all makes sense. He then retreats into a portal that looks like the floor of a modern art museum.

So yeah, that happened. Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII comes out Nov. 21 in Japan and Feb. 11, 2014 stateside. Hopefully the opening will make a bit more sense in English, but you know, Final Fantasy XIII’s plot and all…

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Author: Maxwell Coviello View all posts by
Maxwell Coviello is a graduate of Hampshire College with a B.A. in Journalism and Mass Media Communications. A gamer from a young age, his interests are in RPGs both obscure and weird, adventures, and survival horror games. He has previously written for NEXT Magazine and OUTinCHI and has a background in LGBT and social justice issues. You can usually find him hunting the wild Cactuar of Coney Island, raiding the Froyo Dungeons of Queens, or serving as sentry for a certain toy store in Midtown Manhattan.
  • Kamille

    there’s an English trailer you know… Anyway, even though the saga lost me after the first entry I still watched the intro and I was impressed by how badass Snow was (he was really lame on the first game). So I now wish I could play as him to kill Lighting for good because man, that woman is so cheesy it pisses me off real bad.

    • http://www.pixelitis.net Maxwell Coviello

      At the time this dropped, I don’t believe I was made aware of an English trailer, though thank you for pointing it out to me! *rushes to go find trailer*

      Yeah, I have mixed feelings on Lightning. I got that she was kind of angry and PTSD after the first game, but they didn’t seem to develop her character all that much in the sequels. She’s still stoic and fairly one-dimensional, as if Square Enix had to choose between badass chick or woman with real people feelings, forgetting that those two qualities aren’t mutually exclusive–see: Terra from Final Fantasy VI.

  • stevenm281

    By the way, there are no strippers, there is a difference between a stripper and a pole dancer…

    • http://www.pixelitis.net Maxwell Coviello

      As a former worker in night life, I should have distinguished that better (I think I made mention of the pole-dancers in the article, not the heading). Thank you!