Thanks to rrazza for the inspiration!
This theory is actually pretty complete and well thought out, so I thought I’d share it with you here!
At the end of Type-0, Arecia Al-Rashia, the ‘Mother’ of Class-0 (the protagonists of Type-0) is revealed to be one of the divine beings responsible for the millions of cycles of war that Orience experiences. She serves the fal’Cie Pulse by selecting souls that could potentially become powerful enough to open Etro’s Gate and gain passage to the Unseen Realm, the main goal of the god Bhunivelze (as detailed in the XIII series) and training them to become Agito. In the ending of the game, after the deaths of Class-0, Arecia disappears from Orience and the power of the crystals disappears with her.
This theory proposes that Arecia Al-Rashia moves onto another world (the shared world of FFIII and FFVIII) after the events of Type-0 and becomes known as the Sorceress Ultimecia.
Theorist rrazza goes on to notice the resemblance between the character design. The dress isn’t the same, but both have a propensity to show an abundance of cleavage. They also notice the similarities her their names (each ending with the “cia” suffix). Also, as another side note, both share the same Japanese voice actress, Atsuko Tanaka. But this isn’t enough to establish a connection, as just a typecast.
They also note how each one has magical powers, both of which control a time loop for their own purpose. Still, this might seem like a common trope, rather than a genuine connection.
So assuming you’re on board with this theory: why would Arecia become the malevolent Sorceress Ultimecia? Arecia’s purpose was to find a way to open Etro’s Gate through Orience, but at the end of Type-0 she gives this up out of respect for the sacrifices Class-0 make and removes her influence from Orience entirely. Hence, she is without a Focus and a purpose (which is the driving force for all of Bhunivelze’s tools, which Arecia is technically one of, being a servant of Pulse). When Lightning defeats Bhunivelze, her lack of purpose becomes compounded further.
According to rrazza, Arecia had to create her own meaning in life to fill the Void caused by the death of Bhunivelze. But, when Bhunivelze dies, all of space and time dissolves with him. Lightning also creates the new world. Arecia wouldn’t have much time to change the time loop, much less discover Bhunivelze is dead.
So Arecia, without purpose and a higher power to report to, lingers in the universe until she ends up on the world of FF8, perhaps drawn to the power of the Sorceresses. She however, arrives in the future of the world experienced in FF8. Having suffered the loss of people who loved her dearly (Class-0), Arecia has become embittered and emotionally compromised over the years, and, taking the name Ultimecia, begins her conquest of the planet. In truth, Arecia longs for her own death: she has lived long past her intended purpose, but as a divine being she cannot die through ordinary means–her essence (Phantoma, to use Type-0’s terminology) must be absorbed by another entity so that she can fade away. Thus she plays the role of a villain and creates an enemy that can destroy her.
In other words, Dr. Arecia engineers her suicide, simply for losing her focus and purpose in the world. This is sad, but it adds a new interpretation for Ultimecia’s motivations. In fact, she knows that SeeD will defeat her. It’s a prophecy, thus it must necessarily come true. Why fight a fate one can’t change? In this interpretation, she doesn’t try. In fact, she welcomes death.
I wrote in the past that Final Fantasy Type-0 repurposed the leftover parts of the Final Fantasy VIII story. Lore wise, had their been a connection between both games, would this mean that Akademeia was a future version of Balamb? Rrazza suggests that:
By taking over Edea Kramer’s consciousness she creates Garden, a replicated version of Akademeia, thus ensuring the creation of SeeD.
But why would she do this? Wouldn’t this create the problem she was trying to avoid?
When sufficiently weakened and near death, Ultimecia drags herself and Squall to meet with Edea in the past, and Arecia is finally able to relinquish her Phantoma to Edea, who, after meeting teenage Squall from the future, is ensured to create Garden using knowledge gained from Arecia’s Phantoma. By creating this time loop, Arecia ensures her own destruction. In death, she will be able to reunite with Class-0 in the Unseen Realm, while what’s left of her Phantoma will experience happiness with the children of Edea’s orphanage, thus fulfilling her final fantasy.
I love the idea of connecting Final Fantasy VIII and Type-0.
In a way, this is much more than a theory about two characters. It’s a timeline and multi-universe theory as well. It connects Final Fantasy III and VIII together, but with Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy XIII.
But one glaring problem: don’t witches have normal lifespans?
The potential to become a witch is determined by one’s capacity to wield such power — their natural affinity for magic. This factor helps to determine Witch candidates for when a Witch passes on all of her power into the next Sorceress. The giving and receiving of power can be made between any two individuals — it not necessary for them to be related by blood. A Witch’s lifespan is the same as a normal human’s, however they cannot die until they have passed on their power to the next Witch.
This is the only flaw to Dr. Arecia as Ultimecia; she lives in Balamb’ future. If Orience belongs to the timeline, how far into the future would it be? And if it’s far enough into the future, does this mean the future has White SeeD members? How did Squall and his friends travel into the future, bypassing Bhunivelze and Lightning’s battle?
Still, it’s not the correctness of the theory that I like. It’s the journey.