Name: Gramis Gana Solidor
Japanese name: グラミス・ガンナ・ソリドール
Seiyuu: Hidekatsu Shibata
Voice Actor: Roger Jackson
The ruthless leader of the Archadian Empire, Gramis is father to both Vayne and Larsa. His conquest of other countries (such as Gabranth’s homeland of Landis) has ensured Archadia’s power, but in his later years Gramis himself has found himself usurped by both the Archadian Senate and his own son Vayne.
Seeing this, Gramis bids Gabranth to watch over Larsa for him and keep an eye on Vayne’s doings. Gramis himself has grown ill and knows he does not have long to live, and is pushed by the Senate to choose between his two sons to name a successor. He clearly favors Larsa, having grown to regret the harsh way Archadia was built; knowing this, Vayne confronts him and reminds Gramis that their house is built on what he believes to be “necessity.” Shortly afterwards, Gramis is murdered, with the Senate blamed for the deed, though it is obviously Vayne’s handiwork.
Personally I really enjoyed Gramis; he’s a necessary part of the political story and I like that we get to see that he’s got some layers to him. He’s only in a couple of scenes before getting killed, but they’re enough to show a good chunk of his character. While it might have been nice to see him with Larsa at some point, I actually kind of like that we never see them together — instead, the connection between them is something inferred from how Gramis moves to protect him and the way Larsa reacts to his father’s death.
Japanese name: ギース
Seiyuu: Ryūsuke Ōbayashi
Voice Actor: Mark Wing-Davey
Judge Ghis helms the Dreadnought Leviathan, the flagship of the 8th fleet of the Imperial army. He first appears in Bhujerba, apparently looking into the magicite production at the Henne Mines. When the party is captured in Bhujerba, they are taken to Ghis, who already has Ashe in his custody; he is the one to reveal her identity.
Ashe bears no proof of her station, however — at least not until the magicite Vaan picked up in the palace starts glowing. It’s the Dusk Shard, which Ghis had been tasked to get on Vayne’s orders. He’s forced to hand it over, and the party is taken away in chains. The party makes to escape Archadian custody, but are stopped by Ghis. They fight Ghis and manage to escape undetected.
Later, after leaving the Tomb of Raithwall, Ghis’s fleet descends upon them. It turns out that Vossler has made a deal to turn over the Dawn Shard for the restoration of Dalmasca; a seemingly easy trade. However, when Ghis tests the power of the nethicite to ensure that it’s the real deal, he gets way more than he bargained for: the Dawn Shard goes haywire and completely overpowers the airship’s systems. The ensuing destruction takes out the entire fleet.
Ghis is a pretty straightforward villain, so I don’t have a whole lot to say about him. He does get a couple of great lines, so I’ll give him that. There’s also a great little FFT reference when you go to fight him in the Leviathan about how “a maid of passing resemblance will serve our purposes,” which I love. Other than that, I can’t say I’m ever sorry to see him go down.
Japanese name: ドレイス
Seiyuu: Yoko Soumi
Voice Actress: Julia Fletcher
Judge Drace only appears in two scenes, and manages to spend both being utterly badass. Her very first lines are to reminds her fellow Judge Magisters that Vayne is not, in fact, as amazing as he’s made them all believe, and to remind them of their former comrade Judge Zecht, who disappeared after the attack on Nabudis. Drace also brings up the fact that Vayne took two of his own brothers’ lives, and she doesn’t believe that they were traitors even though the Emperor found that to be the case. The other judges don’t think much of her words, thinking them all ancient history, and move away.
To Gabranth, however, Drace emphasizes Larsa’s importance, and tells him that it is their duty to protect him from the Senate, and all else in Archadia that would devour him — all in keeping with the Emperor’s plans.
Of course, when the Emperor is killed, Drace doesn’t fall for the ruse that a Senator killed him for an instant. She immediately draws her sword and tells Vayne that he’s under arrest. Judge Bergan sides with Vayne, dispatching Drace with inhuman strength, and when Gabranth protests Vayne’s order for Bergan to go retrieve Larsa, Vayne orders him to execute Drace. With no other option, Gabranth is forced to obey.
Seriously, Drace is great. I mean, Vayne is such a ruthless bastard that it doesn’t make sense for no one in Archadia not to see it — there does need to be someone who acknowledges it openly and tries to go against him. In this Drace’s fate is inevitable, but hell if she didn’t have a moment of badassery before that. She’s a great example of a minor character who uses the most of their screentime.
It does bother me, though, that there’s only one female Judge. What’s more, Drace is one of very few significant female NPCs in the main plot. (The only other ones are Fran’s sisters, who also appear only briefly and are part of an all-female race.) This is more a commentary on the lack of female characters in general than on Drace, because she is really great and her death makes sense in the story; I just would have liked to see more women in the game. Why’s she the only female judge? Any of the others could have been female as well with no change in the plot. Just something to think about!
Japanese name: ベルガ
Seiyuu: Yōsuke Akimoto
Voice Actor: Gary Martin
Bergan first appears in a brief scene with some other Judges, in which he basically espouses Vayne’s virtues and ignores anything bad Drace has to say about him. When the Emperor is killed, Bergan is quick to defend Vayne against Drace’s accusation, and strikes her down with terrible strength. He then goes to Mt. Bur-Omisace, where he promptly kills the Gran Kiltias and lays waste to the place.
When the party arrives, they find that he’s got a piece of nethicite — and rather than being controlled by it, he’s well aware of its power and Vayne’s aim to become the next Dynast-King. What’s more, Venat is there and simply aiding to his power. The party manages to slay him, and when Balthier investigates he finds that Bergan had set his bones with nethicite.
Bergan is creepy. Full stop. And, honestly, I have never really understood how he knows about all of Vayne’s plans and how the hell he got nethicite on his bones. It’s one of those things in the game that’s like — if I think about it too long my brain starts to hurt because what. What even. Maybe his support of Vayne led him to being trusted enough to get augmented like that?? I DON’T KNOW. I’m just glad you get to kill him.
I’ve also never really been sure why he just takes out all of Bur-Omisace. I get that if the Gran Kiltias has enough power to jeopardize Vayne’s ascension, maybe take him out, but the whole thing seems like overkill — and it’s not like Vayne ordered any of that (at least not onscreen). All he said was “go get Larsa.” It’s just a really weird part of the game. I don’t know, man.
Japanese name: ザルガバース
Seiyuu: Ryūzaburō Ōtomo
Voice Actor: Simon Templeman
Otherwise known as “the only Judge to survive” and “the one who’s barely in the game,” Zargabaath helms the Dreadnought Alexander. He has a few brief appearances before the ending, but truth be told they’re not of any real importance. In general, he’s more temperate than the other judges — he’s not really invested in Vayne’s schemes, but he’s also not opposed. In short, the guy’s just doing his job.
In the ending, as the Sky Fortress Bahamut is falling towards Rabanstre, Zargabaath hails everyone in range. He tells them that in order to keep the massive airship from falling on the city, he will ram it with the Alexander. He is saved from having to do it when Balthier and Fran manage to fix the Bahamut’s glossair rings in time.
Zargabaath has the best armor design aside from Gabranth. This makes it a shame we never get to see him do anything. I mean, there’s nothing for him to do in the plot, so it makes sense, but. At least he got that moment at the end, I guess. Before Balthier and Fran usurped it, anyway.