So the first Final Fantasy XIII novel, written by real-life Claire Farron, ends on a positive note:
We know what happens at the end, the team saves the day and everyone lives. In real life, Serah awakes from her coma, “Snow” gets his girlfriend back, “Sazh” gets custody of his son, and Hope gets a life. Fang and Vanille’s career, however, has ended due to coming out.
Happy ending, right? Not quite. Claire didn’t think about writing two other books. But then Serah died in real life. Claire, this time distraught, removed herself from the second novel (until the end). She focused on Serah as a tribute to her life. She added these new characters:
- Noel is based on Serah’ gay friend/shopping buddy.
- Caius is based on Noel’s ex-boyfriend.
- Yeul is based on Caius’s sister.
You already know what happens in the game. But in real life, Serah’s boyfriend runs off chasing after Lightning. Claire realized he was a scum bag and a horndog. Sazh fights for custody of his son, trying to raise enough money through gambling. Hope grows up and becomes a student-professor. Alyssa is his assistant, another student that Hope causally sleeps with (and she thinks there’s something more). Fang and Vanille are the focus of the story, as everyone involved is secretly trying to salvage their careers.
Mog is actually a stuffed toy that Claire anthropomorphizes. Whenever she thinks of Serah, she looks at the toy…
In the third novel, Claire returns to the way she felt in real life. She’s angry at God for Serah leaving her. So angry, she decides to write about committing literal deicide. Bhunivelze is now “God, the devil”. But she exhibits a “reduced affect display”.
Reduced affect display is a condition of reduced emotional reactivity in an individual. It manifests as a failure to express feelings (affect display) either verbally or non-verbally, especially when talking about issues that would normally be expected to engage the emotions. Expressive gestures are rare and there is little animation in facial expression or vocal inflection.
Lumina represents Claire’s guilt about her sister. She’s Lightning’s childhood and repressed inner self that she put aside to raise her sister. When her sister died, she lost that. Through the novel, she regains herself. This is Claire’s atonement. But in real life, Lumina is younger Lightning. Lightning portrays how mischievous she was at that age, in bare honest.
With the old world no more, Lightning and her friends find a glimmering crystal in a void. The Eidolons and Mog bid their farewells and fade away while Lightning and the souls of humanity leave for the new world. Having begun her life anew, Lightning, no longer dressing like a soldier or a servant of the divine, steps off a train in a countryside on a peaceful journey to reunite with one of her friends.
It’s a happy ending yet again, only happier! In the new world, everybody lives again. The new world is our world, which represents what Claire’s wish fulfillment of Earth. It’s happy because reality sucks harder for her this time around. But in real life? Serah is dead. “Snow” is permanent without his fiancée. Noel is without his BFF. Sazh loses custody of his son. Fang and Vanille still can’t find work. Hope’s a manchild. But this is the nice ending they deserve.
The only problem is, in real life, it never happened. This is just Claire Farron writing a wish-fulfillment story.
I wrote this somewhere else, but consider this:
At the end of the Lightning Returns, Lightning begins her life anew in the new world. On a sunny day, Lightning emerges from a train arriving in a modern town as she embarks on a peaceful journey to reunite with her friends. It’s possible Versus XIII was that new world.
Final Fantasy Versus XIII would have been a story on her four modeling buddies. But of course, she had to shelve that idea.