This is the Beginning of the End…
It’s that time again, predictions for the next Kiseki game (and beyond) as we’re entering the final countdown to release.
The True Great One
I’m starting with this one because it’s the prediction I’m the most certain of. I first called this two months ago and with the new OP art I’m even more convinced of it. First, one of the earliest pieces of concept art Falcom released for Sen no Kiseki, showing Class VII confronting a humanoid form of Loa Erebonius, trimmed to show only the important part:
And now the Hajimari OP version in all its detail:
In my Twitter post linked above you can see the concept art and the slightly less-detailed teaser footage side by side with points of similarity circled. Many of the elements in the OP image are things that Falcom hinted at way back in 2013. The spike in the center of the forehead and the projection extending down from the waist, the upwards-curving shoulders, the central orb in the chest and most significantly the wing-like parts extending out from the waist and the halo behind it are all shared between the concept art and the Hajimari machine. The orb in the chest is split diagonally in the same way that the Sen IV logo was (which also included the Loa image) and which feels like it’s reflecting how Erebonia has two Sept-Terrion fused into one. Loa Luciferia even referred to itself as the silhouette of the Great One and Valimar calls Loa Erebonius the Great One’s ‘shadow’.
For extra points, the graphic that appears just before the mecha has seven circles which could represent the seven fragments of the Great One’s power divided among the Deus Excellion and its apparent name (Elysium) shares a root with Elysion, the Divine Sword from the Gagharv Trilogy which was six fragments of godly power fused with a sword.
So yes, I’m calling this as the true form of the Great One appearing at last.
Right, let’s get the obvious out of the way right now, things are getting really weird in Zemuria in March of 1207. Let’s take a look at what we’ve got:
- The case of two Reans. I can’t claim credit for first spotting this but I would like to claim credit for nicknaming the second one Schwarzreaner, after Loewe’s Phantasma counterpart from The 3rd. Normal versus True Ending Reans, coexisting because Shenanigans and I’m blaming the fact that what Normal Ending!Rean did wasn’t enough to truly destroy Ishmelga, just severely inconvenience it.
- The Return of the Curse. We see the miasma effect surrounding civilians in Crossbell when Rufus shows up to rain on the collective parade and you can see that the same people affected are the ones acting completely out of sync with the situation. Ties into the first point, Ishmelga Loge’s influence isn’t quite as gone as everyone thought.
- Ilyaluna. Okay, excuse the Ys Seven pun but you have to admit that look resembles the Maiden of Demise and between Rixia’s reaction and the hairstyle that can’t be anyone else. But why?
- Rean’s eye. Unless he suddenly developed Geass powers while we weren’t looking, there’s something sinister going on with his left eye. More on this later.
I’m now expecting that the Grandmaster appearing to weave three strands together is not only a symbolic representation of the three story routes but weaving multiple timelines together, which would explain how multiple Reans can coexist, why the Curse is still around and what’s up with Ilya; I suspect she’s an Ilya from the original ‘SSS dies’ timeline who was given large amounts of Gnosis, which we know can change hair as well as eye color. I also think this isn’t the only potential use of Gnosis we’ll see in the game, and that Sen IV revealed that the drug did more than was immediately apparent back in Crossbell not just to support the revelation about the Outside but to make sure we remembered it for the future.
The Many Faces of C
I’m not going to exhaustively run down every possibility for C here because frankly I have no idea who he really is, nor do we have enough information to be certain that C isn’t a genuinely new character and Falcom is enjoying watching us tie our brains in knots over a red herring. I’ve seen good arguments for Normal Ending Crow, for the Doll Knight’s Capri and even for Signa Alhazan (whose name is based on Cygnus) given the teasing that maybe Nayuta’s relevant after all, along with less serious arguments for characters like Cassius. I’ve also seen an argument for Carnelia, who we know is very handy with a sword and Kondo did suggest people reread that novel along with Three and Nine, but it would require deliberate voice misdirection so it’s a bit iffy. Would explain the extremely unusual casting animation and access to advanced technology though…
One last possibility (and the one I’m leaning towards personally) is that C could be Ace, Nadia’s older brother and Swin’s former partner. We know he used a sword with great skill and he had a strong desire to ‘become a human being again’ by fleeing the organization, while C is seen asking Lapis what she thinks it means to be human. We also know that he and Swin were in Erebonia when they had their fatal fight. Given that The Emperor is looking pretty good for a man who’s supposed to be dead, I’m not sure we should take Ace’s death in the novel as proof that he actually died. Or given the timeline wonkiness already in play, perhaps he’s even an Ace from some other timeline where he won the duel and Swin died instead. I can’t figure out why he would be hiding his identity or be so interested in what’s going on in Crossbell but that’s the sort of thing the game could explain, and I like the idea that Falcom has been misleading us with the whole ‘masked man’ deal this entire time and it’s really someone we haven’t met before. And speaking of C’s route…
The other major mystery character is the animated doll Lapis Rosenberg. We’re told that even Joerg’s genius isn’t sufficient to create something like her but we also know via Imelda that he believes that dolls can have life of their own. We even saw it happen back in Azure with a pair of dolls wanting to be reunited with each other. We also have a very intriguing juxtaposition in the demo movie where the trunk she was found in is referred to as if it were Pandora’s Box, containing either hope or a calamity. Given both the mythology and how Falcom likes to do things, I’m expecting that both are true.
I’m also expecting that Lapis’ name is meant to have a deeper meaning than the lapis lazuli that most people are likely to immediately think of. Lapis is Latin for ‘stone’ but there are two very interesting and specific ways it has been used that could be relevant here. First, the Latin term lapis philosophorum, which in English is ‘Philosophers Stone’, the ultimate goal of alchemy. Falcom has already gotten some use out of this term in Ys V and indirectly in Ys IX. Second, Wolfram von Eschenbach in his Parzival used the term lapis exillis to refer to the Holy Grail, claiming it to be a stone from heaven with magical powers. The hint of a connection between the character Lapis and alchemy is enhanced by the name of her weapon as seen in a teaser screenshot: Rosenkreuz. This is a reference to the allegorical founder of the Rosicrucians, Christian Rosenkreuz, who is the subject of a trio of seventeenth century documents which were absolutely loaded with alchemical symbolism hinting at the conclusion of the Great Work that was the Philosopher’s Stone.
Since I doubt that Falcom is throwing that much symbolism at us just for the fun of it, I expect that Lapis’ nature is linked to alchemy and some version of the concept of the Stone/Holy Grail as world-transformative. Given the timeline shenanigans I’m thinking that her existence has the potential to bring about disaster but she’s ultimately going to be instrumental in unifying the parallel timelines and repairing whatever damage their existence causes Zemuria during the events of the game.
We know that he’s supposed to be dead per Three and Nine and we also know that the story is thought in-universe to have been written as a sort of wanted poster for the duo. There’s something just not right about the Emperor though, as the OP movie shows a monster standing behind him who looks suspiciously like the man himself, transformed. The monstrous form has the same coloring (including purple on the left arm where the Emperor holds the Orb of Crows and crown-like projections on the head to match the helm) so the transformation idea is looking quite solid. I even think I know why: We’re told in the novel that Nadia’s father sold Ace to the underworld organization for money and Nadia for ‘a dangerous drug’. We already know of a drug that can do exactly what looks to be the case with the Emperor, the third form of Gnosis that Mariabell developed and tested on Wald. The Emperor and his monster form also look like they have red eyes in the OP movie which could just be symbolic but which is also a characteristic effect of the completed form of Gnosis. If the organization already had access to the drug, I could see their Wardens either having some for their own use or someone else giving it to the Emperor in an attempt to save his life, with the (somewhat controllable) monster transformation serving as a side effect. I also have little trouble imagining Mariabell selling the drug to third parties in order to continue her research.
I think I know something of what’s up with his eye. First, a shot of what it looks like:
It’s a bit blurry but that looks distinctly yellow to me. Hmmm, a yellow left eye, why is that ringing bells? Oh, maybe because of this:
When Argres gave Rean the Cage of Earth, it emerged from his left eye. Argres’ eyes also happen to be about the same color that Rean’s eye seems to be turning into and the color it glows with in the Nord scene from the trailer. I don’t think it’s at all a coincidence that the same eye the Cage emerged from is the same one that’s now behaving oddly for Rean. My prediction is that some of the same power that was so instrumental in bringing about the True Ending remained in Rean and it’s reacting to the merging timelines and possibly giving Rean access to things he shouldn’t have, as a way of ensuring the timeline stays altered the way Argres wanted it to.
For final bonus points, it was also Rean’s left eye that glowed in Sen IV’s OP movie and the DLC mask, so I think Falcom’s been planning this for a while. The fact that Schwarzreaner is wearing that mask gets me all giddy as well since the lack of it in the actual story of Sen IV always struck me as strange. Almost like it was something they wanted to include and then changed their minds on at the last minute because it would fit better somewhere else…
More a catch-all than anything else, here are a few small things I hope we get out of Hajimari:
– An Episode allowing us to play as Arianrhod, however briefly. We were denied such greatness in Sen IV but now would be a very good time to rectify that and with the Episodes functioning very much like the Doors back in The 3rd there’s little reason something like this couldn’t happen.
– If we don’t get an Arianrhod episode, I’ll settle for something like ‘Saint Queen Lianne’ as an unlockable character in Magical Alissa RS.
– Some more love for Patrick. He’s gone from being a punchable jerkass in early Sen I to a decent human being in II to something almost approaching a friend to Rean in III (if not for the whole Elise thing) to playable in one mecha battle in IV. Why not bring it full circle and have him be playable as well, even if it’s just in an Episode or the True Reverie Corridor? We know he’s at least present at the tournament Olivier holds so it’s likely he’s a contestant if nothing else.
– Elliot, Undersea Melody. You know you still want to do this Falcom…
– Mireille stands out among the cast for not having a last name. Can we finally get one for her, please?
The Sen games have had a love-hate relationship with the idea of a final boss since the start with Loa Erebonius and Ordine. Given the presence of three separate routes in Hajimari I see no reason for the game that will wrap up some lingering issues from the arc to be any different. So here are my guesses for what we’re getting:
– Schwarzreaner will be the final boss for Rean’s route. We already have the former telling the latter to try and kill him so I don’t think it’s too much of a stretch that he’s going to be the final boss of Rean’s story.
– For Lloyd’s route we’ll have Rufus, who has been seen raining on Crossbell’s parade and fighting Lloyd directly. Again, not a hard sell.
– For C’s route I’m predicting The Emperor will be the final antagonist, even if he’s not the most important to the big picture. He seems more likely to be pursuing Swin and Nadia personally and getting in C’s way for that reason than having a huge behind-the-scenes role, but with Lloyd seeming to have a more personal stake in taking Rufus down we’re left with just Emperor for an obvious final villain.
– Lastly, I expect that instead of simply ending the game once all three protagonists beat their final antagonists we’re going to face Elysium/The Great One as the final boss of the game. It’s hard to imagine a more fitting way for things to end and I don’t see it being the final boss of Rean’s route only because then what would the combined cast fight that could possibly top that? I’m also predicting that it’s what the fleet of Merkabahs are seen attacking since ‘out of control dual-Sept-Terrion god machine’ sounds like exactly the sort of thing that would warrant the Gralsritter sending nearly half the Dominion to oppose.
Calvard and Beyond
Thanks to the Dengeki review of the game we got a few facts to mull over that were explicitly called out as seeding plot points for the next arc. One of these was Swin talking about ‘an actress from Calvard’. That sounds awfully familiar for some reason. Hey, wasn’t there a major character in Gambler Jack II who was an actress and also a member of the Rocksmith Agency? Oh look, Hajimari includes a reprint of the story as seen in the last Dengeki livestream, what a coincidence… So yes, as I’ve predicted before I will repeat that Calvard is definitely the next arc, the Rocksmith Agency is going to be our core protagonist group and Jack and Halle are going to show up along with Nike as major characters.
The second teaser from the review is the breaking of Sara’s record for the youngest person to hit A-rank in the guild. If that isn’t Estelle and Joshua I will be shocked. The two were already expected to be promoted soon, they just enhanced their resume with another count of ‘saving the world’ and it’s been seven months or so since the conversation about their rank, more than enough time to get all the paperwork done. The context of the scene suggests that either Arios or Michael broke the news and Noel (who’s actually saying the line) hasn’t really interacted with Estelle and Joshua so it would make sense that she doesn’t immediately mention them by name. On the assumption that it’s true, now Estelle just needs a cool title to go with the shiny new rank.
Oh, and they mention a new S-Rank too. I find it rather evil of Falcom to have three still-unrevealed members and throw a fourth at us with only a tease from Kondo that we’ve actually met one without realizing it. However I simply can’t believe that either Estelle or Joshua could leapfrog the last formal rank so it seems like we’ve got a genuinely new S-rank in town and that’s going to be a Calvard arc matter.