One of the main criticism I hear about Final Fantasy VIII’s story is the dreaded orphanage scene. People cringe. The scene seems all too convenient, and almost everyone views it as negative.
…many of the main protagonists grew up in an orphanage together. Yep. Squall, Quistis, Irvine, Selphie and Zell all grew up in an orphanage owned by Edea, wife of their headmaster Cid.
I’ve did a post on this subject a while ago – over half a year! The main point: even without GFs, it’s possible to forget your past. A ton of memories come flooding back to you. Essentially, the orphanage scene in Final Fantasy VIII is allegorical of life.
Of course, I think everyone overreacts when these scenes appear. And while everyone sees the orphanage scene as forced writing, they miss what the scene is attempting to create:
The fleeting nature of memories.
This theme is so prevalent, it permeates throughout the whole story.
Many took the Final Fantasy VIII’s story of sorceresses, space and time travel, dinosaurs and teenage mercenaries at face value.
This is why theories about Squall having hallucinating arise. All of the weird stuff that happens to Squall personally seem to be nonsensical. But the nonsensical stuff illustrated loneliness, fleeting memories, desperation, friendship, and love, etc. Since fans took the story at face value, I think they missed out.
How persistent is this theme? Squall constantly monologues about it in his head. Squall’s friends try to bring him out of his shell to cherish the moments he has now. And it’s even all the way to the end, when Ultimecia says:
Reflect on your…childhood…your sensation…your words…your emotions…….Time…it will not wait…no matter…how hard you hold on…it escapes you…and…….
……you can never get it back? Seems to fit with the idea of GF’s and losing memories. You see, the orphanage scene was simply a poetic illustration of Ultimecia’s last words. Nearly every weird scene was an illustration of the underlying themes.
Even Selphie’s used a video recorder to cherish memories.
Fans wanted a meaningful story to go along with a complex battle system. Final Fantasy VIII was that deep story…in theory. The junction system was the complex battle system fans wanted…in theory. They wanted deep, but not like that. Maybe the execution was off? Maybe it was too subtle? But when fans got both, they refused to wrap their heads around either.
It’s still just too bad everyone still misunderstands the orphanage scene.