Thank you to a deleted account on Reddit for the inspiration!
It’s more of a headcanon than a theory, but I liked linking FFVI to IX. Kefka fucked over that world enough that it was slowly dying. Which is why a new world would be needed: Gaia. When Terra was first attempted to assimilate into Gaia, the souls of humans and espers flowed into the young world, which is why there Gaia is inhabited by both humans and animal-like creatures.
When I came up with this, I liked to believe they called the planet Terra because of Branford, but that kinda gets shafted since she’s called Tina in Japan. Hence Headcanon.
Final Fantasy VI doesn’t mention traditional crystals. That doesn’t mean they aren’t there. According to Final Fantasy IX lore, “Crystals reside at the centers of planets and are the source of all life”.
If this were so, then the World transformed from Balance to Ruin nearly 3,000 years early. That would explain the futuristic world. And the alien lifeforms could be a strangeness with the dying Crystal.
But the world in Final Fantasy VI is nameless to us. Why “Terra”?
Terra is usually just the name for Earth nearly anywhere you go. Terra refers to the “Cavern of the Earth”. In real life, Terra is the Latin name for “Earth”; in Roman mythology, she was goddess of the earth. Tina was her name in the Japanese version of the game, but:
Terra was chosen for Tina’s localization name by Ted Woolsey after a negative response from game testers, as well as to avoid the use of a common Western name.
I think we have some parallels for why Woolsey choose Terra.
I believe that the legend of Terra influenced naming Final Fantasy VI’s world. And in a sense, she was like their goddess. Not literally, as she uses the last of her powers when magic fades at the end of the game. She’s no longer an Esper. Over the years, this event shapes the way people think and talk. Stories recount a girl who bravely used her last powers to save the others from destruction.
Townsfolk would see Espers as demigods – humans with magical abilities. They disappear along with magic, but people remember the tales. Terra works as a bridge between Espers and Humans. She would be the perfect focus for being the hero of the world. In the world of Final Fantasy VI, even Terra is the main hero.
The only problem, how did magic return? Magic disappeared from the world forever. Even Ramuh dies in Final Fantasy VI; his body crystalizes into Magicite. This can’t be the same Ramuh who gives Garnet the story puzzle to complete, years into the future. Perhaps the Eidolons of Terra are separate from the Eidolons or Gaia? Or maybe the Eidolons reincarnate on different planets? Maybe the merging process resurrected the once dead Eidolons?
Still, it’s all interesting to think of the parallels.