Final Fantasy and Philosophy: The Ultimate Walkthrough isn’t a bad book. It talks about Final Fantasy and…philosophy. Not a bad combination. The problem I have with the book is its lackluster subject matter and presentation.
First things first, the cover features the philosophers Karl Marx, Aristotle, Friedrich Nietzsche, David Hume and Jean-Paul Sartre as Moogles. OK, pretty humorous concept. They happen to be among the philosophers in the book. One might expect a highlight of their respective philosophies.
However, Final Fantasy and Philosophy: The Ultimate Walkthrough doesn’t provide a general overview of each of their philosophies. So the book doesn’t really work as Philosophy 101. You have to know a little about Philosophy, even though the book presents itself as a work of introduction. Everything spoken about is shallow.
It also skims presenting the philosophy in the context of the Final Fantasy games themselves. I’m pretty sure these books use pop culture characters to pique their audience interest in philosophy.
Final Fantasy and Philosophy: The Ultimate Walkthrough is, at the core, about Final Fantasy. Thus the video game references make the book fairly niche. But, maybe it could serve as an introduction to the Final Fantasy series, using philosophy as a vehicle. Only, they spoil major events that only fans would know. In other words, you have to know something about Final Fantasy in order to understand the introductory points. Which is self-defeating.
So then, who’s the target audience? Final Fantasy fans? Newcomers to Final Fantasy? Introductory philosophy students? Certainly not philosophy graduate students. I guess it’s for people who know of Final Fantasy and want to read something interesting, like philosophy.
But the biggest problem happens to be the papers themselves. If you know anything about Final Fantasy, you know it’s a JRPG. JRPGs have convoluted and complex stories, wild theories and sketchy philosophy.
Final Fantasy is no exception. So you might think that some of the greatest modern minds of this generation would elucidate upon the game’s story. Maybe even use the “big names” of philosophy and their philosophical systems to make sense of what the fans…
They could explain the various Final Fantasy plot points, stories, etc. using philosophical tools. Instead, they use Final Fantasy characters and events as props to illustrate some philosophical concepts. Huh.
Even worse, it’s somewhat obvious some of the authors haven’t played the games. Some did. But at least three authors tied philosophical concepts to Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within. Final Fantasy: The Spirit Within is decidedly not the fan favorite.
Not a lot of confidence that the authors had a big knowledge base on Final Fantasy. It’s easier to watch a movie than play a game. But who can blame them? Their tenure depends on their research, not their video gaming hobby.
Well, whatever. Speaking of which, they made a mistake about Squall being in Final Fantasy VII. He wasn’t. Could have been a simple typo, but fans will flip their lids over something about this. And in a book about a fandom, you can’t make these mistakes.