A while back on Reddit I wrote a post about whether or not Yuna was brainwashed. Most people were reluctant to call her brainwashed and opted for the term “indoctrinated” instead. To many, brainwashing denotes stronger, harsher conditions that Yuna was not subject to. This is the Google definition of brainwashing:
make (someone) adopt radically different beliefs by using systematic and often forcible pressure.
Whereas the Google definition of indoctrination states:
teach (a person or group) to accept a set of beliefs uncritically.
I think most people believe this definition to be closer to Yuna’s situation. I tend to agree. So while Yuna wasn’t “brainwashed”, Yu Yevon indoctrinated her from birth.
What does this have to do with Yuna’s bravery?
Most other female protagonists (who don’t merely accompany their male companions) have to go against overwhelming socio-political powers. Terra has to go against the Gestahlian Empire, which functioned as an omnipresent military state. Lightning has to go against the Sanctum, a figure revered as the Pope of his world (Primarch Galenth Dysley).
But unlike the other female Final Fantasy protagonist, Yuna has a harder fight to overcome. Indoctrination is a harder pattern to break free from. Terra Branford was under mind control by the empire. Lightning broke with Guardian Corps after she realized her sister’s life was in danger. But Yuna was essentially fulfilling her purpose. She had no reason to go against until it became clear that following the same path would solve nothing.
She was able to overcome her indoctrination with the help of her friends. Yet the fact she overcame the culture when it may have cost her life shows extraordinary amounts of bravery. And no other heroine had to overcome this amount of stress. It makes me happy for Yuna to live a much less stressful life in Final Fantasy X-2.
Compared to other Final Fantasy heroines, I’d say that Yuna was the bravest. Sorry Lightning. There are some things you just do…that can’t hold a candle to Yuna.