The Airship, Revisited

Perhaps it’s as good a time as any to point out the significance of the airship in Final Fantasy IX.

We’re first introduced to airships with the Prima Vera in the second cutscene (Here’s a link back if you missed that). It’s interesting to note the first appearance of the airship occurs simultaneously with the image of the bird. This is the first correlation of the airship to freedom, though it’s not hard to image a ship as a symbol of freedom. Take the escape from Alexandria and the next few cutscenes, escaping from a small town named Dali and the Black Waltzes, as prime examples of how the airship elicits freedom.

However, we can also see the Machine/Nature binary at work as we are given the juxtaposition of the two forms: a bird and an airship (In the second cutscene). This is even more poignant as the future plot is revealed. Turns out Airships run on this mysterious substance known as mist that coats the continent of Gaia. Only problem is that the mist also creates monsters, including Black Mages. Oh, but wait, there’s more. (SPOILER ALERT, though, to be fair, if you’re watching the cutscenes without playing the game you’re getting spoiled anyway) Anyway, it is later revealed that the mist is created by the Lifa Tree and the mist is actually the souls of the dead.

Let’s put that into perspective for a second. Airship = Freedom. Airship needs mist to work (at the beginning of the game anyway). Mist = souls of the dead. So, Freedom requires death? Did you follow all of that? In order for mankind to achieve air travel through airships there must be death. This implies that the industrialization of the world requires sacrifice. Reading into this allows us to further the strange triple binary of Man/Machine/Nature, all at odds with one another but unarguably connected.

What we see in this cutscene is a furthering of the freedom/airship relationship as the ship is steered away from its original destination, Alexandria, and toward the freedom Garnet has been seeking, her uncle Cid and his city of Lindblum. And the player is left with the image of Black Waltz 3, a commander, if you will, of the Black Mage army that Queen Brahne controls.

I’m going to end the airship post here so as to start a new focus in the next post. But don’t forget about the Airship, it plays a crucial role later on and is something that will constantly be popping up in cutscenes.

So, for now, Happy Gaming!

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