This post is part of a Pastime Zone series called “I Cry Every Time”, or ICET (Ice-Tea) for short. The goal of this series is to highlight scenes in various media that have caused me to cry, weep, bawl, or shed a lone tear in response to an emotional state brought upon by the scene (not by any physical pain or irritation to my eyes). While ICET scenes are typically sad, they can also highlight moments of joy, nostalgia, love, and many more complex emotions.
An important note is that most ICET scenes depict significant plot moments that will likely include heavy spoilers. You have been warned!
Final Fantasy IX’s final battle takes place at the Crystal that is the lifesource of the universe. Kuja, the primary antagonist of the 50+ hour adventure, battles the party there and sends them to the Hill of Despair with a last-ditch Ultima attack. It’s there that Zidane and the others face Necron, a deity roused by Kuja’s nihilism that wishes to return the world to a state where there is no Crystal. However, the party thwarts his plans and defeats Necron, saving the world of reality at last.
At this point, the Iifa Tree implodes and Kuja uses his remaining strength to teleport our heroes to safety outside of the tree. However, Zidane, seeing Kuja as his only family, stays behind to try to save Kuja. Unfortunately, after Kuja accounts for his wrongs, he dies and the collapsing tree’s violent roots surround them before all goes dark.
A year has passed, and while Zidane is nowhere to be found, we are shown how all of our party members’ lives have played out over this peaceful time as they converge to Alexandria for the last scene.
- Vivi has died, since his specified lifespan has ended, but he created copies of him who look just like him, known as Vivi’s sons.
- Freya has reunited with Sir Fratley and are building their relationship anew. While Sir Fratley still has amnesia about his previous love for Freya, they decide to live in the moment for now.
- Amarant still lives as a mercenary and is shown on his way to Alexandria with Lani, his fellow bounty hunter.
- Quina, the gourmand, has secured a job working as a chef in Alexandria castle, where s/he can taste delicious food every day.
- Eiko has been adopted by Cid and Hilda and is shown acknowledging her new parents while traveling on the new Hilda Garde.
- Beatrix is shown resigning her role as the general of Alexandria and leaving her sword, Save the Queen, behind. However, on her way out of the castle, she is stopped by Steiner, who expresses his feelings for her. The two of them agree to stay behind in order to protect the new queen together.
- The Tantalus Theater Troupe is still performing and wishes to give Alexandria a show that won’t be forgotten.
- Lastly, the new Queen Garnet is shown reminiscing about her travels with the party and looking forward to seeing everyone after the past year. However, she realizes that it’ll never be the same without Zidane and tells herself to move on, just as he taught her.
The play, I Want to Be Your Canary, begins and the familiar story is told about a love story between a princess named Cornelia and a peasant named Marcus, before the two of them are torn apart. In the story, Cornelia is killed by Blank’s character the day before she and Marcus were to run away together. On the night of their planned departure, Marcus, wearing a cloak, is distraught at Cornelia’s disappearance performs the following soliloquy:
I must have faith! She shall appear if I only believe!
As the sun lends me no ear, I pray instead to the twin moons!
I beseech thee, wondrous moonlight, grant me my only wish!
(Takes off cloak to reveal Zidane) Bring my beloved Dagger to me!“
The remainder of the story is shown in a beautiful cut scene and musical sequence that has withstood the test of time over the last 18 years. Without hesitation, Garnet runs off the platform she is standing on, then through the crowd to reach Zidane on the stage. As she moves through the audience, her royal necklace is knocked off. At this moment, we see her love for Zidane shine through as she realizes that he is more important than any royalty or status she has as the queen. Garnet doubles down on this as she reaches the stage, tossing her crown to the side before jumping into Zidane’s arms.
The music crescendos at this exact moment to add the perfect amount of emotion to the embrace, as Garnet cries while hitting him, as if asking him, “Where have you been?!” As Zidane sheepishly smiles and hugs her back, the crowd (including all of our heroes) roars in applause. Lastly to symbolize their unity, Beatrix and Steiner raise the Save the Queen together over this new kingdom and happy ending.
As the music ends, we see a conversation between Garnet and Zidane that sent chills down my spine (and even now as I write about it):
Garnet: How did you survive?
Zidane: I didn’t have a choice. I had to live.
Zidane: I wanted to come home to you. So…I sang your song. Our song.
As the credits roll, we hear this beautiful song, Melodies of Life, the main theme of Final Fantasy IX.
Watch it yourself in the beautiful video below, and make sure to bring a blanket in addition to tissues. I warned you about the chills.
3/5: I had to grab a tissue to clean up the mess.