Final Fantasy X changed my life. If you know me personally, this is not new information. It changed the way I view world creation, character writing, and video games; it made me discover how incredible video games can be as a medium for story-telling. So many aspects of this game have stayed with me throughout my life and I will always be grateful for it as an interactive piece of artful narrative. To say I’m excited to replay it for a third time on the Nintendo Switch is obviously an understatement…
One of the secret gems within the FFX universe is Final Fantasy X-2, the first sequel to a main installation in the Final Fantasy franchise. It did not live up to its predecessor’s former glory, but it did not have to; it was an enjoyable, immersive game with an intriguing story, super fun gameplay, and the revitalization of famous FFX characters. However, the biggest success of that game, to me, is the music…or to be more specific, one song. 1000 Words, the theme of my inner goddess Lenne, leaves me speechless to this day. It is one of the most beautiful songs I have ever heard.
I was eleven or twelve when I played Final Fantasy X-2. In reality, it’s the first Final Fantasy game I ever played. I fell head over heels for FFX, but didn’t actually play it. I watched my sister play. We strategized combat together but I never held the controller in my hand. Playing FFX-2 felt good. This time it was me gallivanting through Spira, me interacting with the NPCs and making the choices. For twelve-year-old me, FFX-2 is a field day of fun; all the beautiful costumes, effects, and attacks encompass the imaginative creativity of a young girl living in the world. I loved it. It was a fanciful, high-energy adventure. Until Yuna decided to hold a concert at the Thunder Plains. The colors toned down, the screen went black, and I was filled with anticipation to see the always awesome 3D cut scenes. What I saw was Lenne’s 1000 year-old memories and tragic death accompanied by her thoughts and feelings, beautifully illustrated in a song called 1000 Words.
The song is portrays Lenne’s feelings about leaving her lover Shuyin to go fight a war she does not want to be a part of. She had everything she wanted in life and it is all taken away from her in a single moment by unprecedented violence. She sings, through Yuna, of her conflicted emotions and desperation but tries to remain hopeful, telling Shuyin that no matter where she is or what happens to her she will always be sending him her love, and joyful outlook for the future:
And 1000 words
Called out through the ages
Will fly to you
Even though I can’t see
I know they’re reaching you
Suspended on silver wings
I wish I had more words to describe it besides beautiful, but I don’t. 1000 Words leaves me with none. I was blown away by the combination of beautiful animation, musical story-telling, Spanish acoustic guitar, and raw emotion (dare I say, real emotion). See below. Watch the clip. Tell me that’s not beautiful.
And, just like Yuna and Tidus’ tragic love story, Lenne and Shuyin are murdered at the hands of enemy forces and lose the chance to be together. Holding him in her arms, seeing him for the last time, she has no time to tell him the 1000 words, the million words, she wants to say to him. No more breath in her lungs to form even a sentence. She is beautifully, musically, chillingly shot down in cold blood.
I was twelve. And I was obsessed with it.
I learned to sing the song in both languages. Lenne was my first officially cosplay, the first one I felt proud wearing, the first one my mom and I made together. At cons people would yell, Songstress Yuna! I would say No, I’m Lenne. I wanted to be her, wanted to sing like her, wanted to have the hopeful view of the world she had. I wanted to love limitlessly like her. Every time I hear her song, I think about all these things, all her 1000 words, and feel like I’m going to burst. FFX is my favorite game of all time (for now, I see you Persona 5) but FFX-2 and 1000 Words defined my adolescence. I love this game. I adore this song.
I recently joined a video game orchestra and was ecstatic to see all the great song choices in our repertoire. I am currently arranging the theme to Final Fantasy IX with a friend for four baroque recorders. Yes, I am aware that is a weird sentence. But the other day 1000 Words came on shuffle and suddenly everything clicked. I must write this piece. I must sing this song. Wow, I actually just got tears in my eyes writing that sentence. I’m such a nerd. Anyway, no one will ever know how much this dramatic and somewhat corny song means to me. I think it’s so powerful and so genuinely good. To be able to perform it myself would be ridiculous. I’d be on cloud nine, I’d enter the life stream.
All I have to do is write it.
Yes, I wore my Lenne cosplay in eighth grade. Yes, somehow it still fits. I try to wear it to every convention I can. My sister always says, why don’t you wear something new? But Lenne is my first and, in my heart, my only. The cosplay still fits me because that’s the way it’s meant to be. She’ll always be there. I wore that cosplay in 2007 and I wore it in 2017 (wow, that’s weird to say). Will I be crazy enough to perform in cosplay? I’ll probably be too embarrassed to even think about it. But none of that matters because, like Yuna, I will one day be the person that delivers Lenne’s 1000 words to the world. I love the Final Fantasy X franchise. Even though this post is over 1000 words and you may call BS, this song leaves me speechless every time. I promise.