Thanks to Scott Baird of ScreentRants.com for the inspiration!
12. THE GUARDIAN FORCE AMNESIA
The most controversial scene among fans of Final Fantasy VIII is the reveal that all of the characters actually grew up together, yet they forgot due to magical amnesia. The exception to this is Irvine, who decided not to talk about it until it was relevant to the plot.
It is revealed that Squall, Seifer, Quistis, Selphie, Irvine, and Ellone all grew up in an orphanage that was owned by Cid and Edea. They were all separated over time and the kids who went to Balamb Garden forgot about it due to the Guardian Forces erasing their memories. Irvine kept his memories as he went to a Garden where they didn’t use Guardian Forces.
There are numerous things that don’t make sense about this development and it ultimately adds nothing to the story. It would have made more sense to have just had Squall and Ellone belonging to the orphanage, as it is only relevant to their stories. The idea that the SeeDs were fighting their adopted mother could have been a grief carried by Squall alone without having to add magic amnesia to the story.
Most fans can’t seem to get over the infamous Orphanage scene, and I understand why (as X7Strife explains):
unfortunately, this scene had no build-up, little to no pay-off and even fewer consequences for the overall game. Not saying this should be cut but it should be more connected to the overall story
The idea of all the characters growing up together is just too much for fans to believe. What are the odds that each of the characters in your party grew up together as friends in an orphanage?
But Scott wants to cut the idea of Guardian Force Amnesia. If cut, I believe the plot would suffer. For as many people hate it, it’s truly memorable. But why shouldn’t we take the writer’s previous advice, and simply expand on the concept and explain it more?
Within the story are elements that suggest an almost tragic development. The idea that best friends, who grew up together due to a common bond (losing their parents in the war), would forget each other is almost heartbreaking. Remembering each other brings back old memories, but strengthens new resolve and friendships. And the only way for them to safely make their way back and not fade away is to remember each other.
The Orphanage scene itself seems cheesy because the concept is so outlandish. But it makes sense within the structure of the plot. As of now, all development around the amnesia subplot comes from off-handed comments from an NPCs. If we had more development of surrounding the amnesia and saw the effects, maybe we’d have a stronger thematic story. And maybe the Orphanage scene wouldn’t seem so out of place.