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Manga

Final Fantasy XII was adapted into a five-volume manga series in 2006. The manga was written and illustrated by Gin Amou, and it has never received a release outside of Japan. However, it has been scanlated in full and can be found online.

The story begins with the party in the sandsea and just about to reach Raithwall’s tomb. From there the story flashes back to before the game even starts, providing an original take on Ashe and Rasler’s backstory. After that, it roughly follows the game’s plot, from the opening FMV translated into manga form to Vaan breaking into the palace and so forth. Of course then there’s this weird scene where Vaan faces Vayne head on, but hey, at least it gets Vaan actually involved in the plot for once.

There are other minor changes throughout, such as a fight against Judge Ghis in Garamsythe Waterway in addition to his other appearances in the plot. Vossler in particular is given a larger role, and a lot more depth goes into the Dalamascan resistance forces. The story itself eventually catches up to where it started and ends with Ghis taking and using the Dusk Shard and the fight against Vossler on the Leviathan.

As far as my feelings on the manga: it has issues. It has some serious issues. The biggest one is Ashe’s characterization. Instead of following her game characterization, in which she’s self-sufficient and actually knows how to fight (and most importantly doesn’t take shit from anyone), manga Ashe spends most of the story angsting over people needing to protect her (even as she’s fighting) and needs to be constantly told to act. That’s not Ashe. Ashe goes out and does things and the rest of the party just has to deal with it. In lacking this, manga Ashe is just a poor imitation.

The other big issue I have is that the artist takes any excuse possible to draw the women in suggestive positions or toss in panty shots, to the point that it’s like you’re reading doujinshi. Yes, the girls’ outfits are skimpy. That does not mean they need to be shown with their asses out in every other panel they’re in. There’s straight-up nudity in a couple panels for no apparent reason other than “hey, this is titillating!” Actually no, it’s not. (I also dislike the art style in general, but that’s a separate issue.)

There are things I do like about the manga; I actually enjoy Vaan a lot, which is saying something considering I usually have a hard time with his personality. While his whole clash with Vayne early on is a ridiculous scene with no real point, his overall personality clearly paints him as an idiot with a heart of gold. The game doesn’t go as all-in on playing Vaan for laughs, so it’s nice to actually find him entertaining.

Balthier is of course a standout, though I do think he has less of an impact on the page than he does on the screen. I particularly like his scenes in Nalbina with Vaan; they really show what kind of person Balthier is and the kind of things he’s learned as a sky pirate. Also, his entire clash with Larsa in Bhujerba is hilarious.

Overall, it’s a passable adaptation of the first 25% of Final Fantasy XII, but unless you really like the game and characters I honestly don’t recommend it. There are some interesting things in the backstories given, but when your main character is completely OOC it’s not really worthwhile reading.