Bravely Second: The Great Plague and The Theme of Sin (Story Analysis)
I think the reason that Bravely Second seems to have a better story, to me at least, is because there is an underlying theme. Sure, both Default and Second basically share the EXACT same generic anime weeaboo story, but it's not like it's the worst story there's ever been. Default felt like it was just a story and that was it, which is fine. But Second went a little further and connected its characters with the theme of sin.
Second also went a little more in depth about one of the major events of the Bravely universal timeline, that being the Great Plague. Unlike Default, which offered these pieces of info very slowly through the optional side fights that you could redo five times. The Great Plague is part of the side story for Second, yes, but there was enough of it incorporated in the actual mandatory story line that it made you want to go hunt for the rest.
So, today we're going to talk about two things: the theme of sin that underlies nearly everyone in the game, and the event that seems to connect these people together, the Great Plague.
I really don't think I should need to say this, considering the title literally says "Story Analysis", but spoilers ahead anyways. Now, after doing the research, I realized this is gonna be one HECK of a video. So first, I will go over the history of the Plague, and then talk about sin as we go along, and add some more comments about sin afterwards. Let us begin.
The whole story begins with our beloved Yoko, the sin demon. She has existed on Luxendarc for 4.6 billion years, which is quite long. She had friends at this time, and lived amongst the rest of the world. Then, one day, two travellers came to Luxendarc on a "glimmering ship" - sounds like a metal space craft to me. So these two appeared to be coming from the Celestial Realm. The song that plays during this scene further empathizes this - it's Altair and Vega's theme. Anyways, Yoko took a liking to these two, and showed them around Luxendarc, helping them in the world.
However, one day, while working in the laboratory, something awful and unexpected happened. A rare disease from the Celestial Realm, a new possibility as to why its residents like Altair were fleeing, mixed with an illness from Luxendarc, resulting in the quickly multiplying creation of the Origin Plague. Left unchecked, this plague would destroy all life on Luxendarc, everyone Yoko loved and cared about.
Since she was a yokai, and was therefore apparently not affected by the disease, Yoko took the seeds of the Origin Plague within herself and asked the two travellers to seal her away. They did as she asked, and so she slept for a thousand eons. A civilization believed that a god slept in the cave Yoko was sealed in, so they built a shrine like any religious group, all the while with Yoko still sleeping. I am not one hundred percent sure of this, but I believe the shrine was of Cu Chulainn. Then the society rose, fell, and disappeared. I have some hinting suspicion this could be the mysterious Island of Wa, a civilization that built some of the stronger weapons available in Bravely, who disappeared. But it's probably unlikely since I believe the island sunk.
Jump forward to twenty four centuries before the events of Second. Foundar Geneolgia landed on the shores of Yoko's land and woke her. In his time, he had not the medicine to heal her, so he promised that one day, someone from his bloodline would return and do so. Yoko grew a sense of hope that she would finally be free.
Now we are at the point of action. Two decades before the events of Bravely Second, Griede Geneolgia, Yew's father, the second Ambitious Man, landed on the same shores and found Yoko. He believed that he was the one destined to save her, so he moved Yoko's soul into the body of a young girl that was on the voyage. Griede also attempted to take a great amount of treasure from the cave back with him to fill the church's coffers.
Of course, only he knew of the truth, and quickly enough, the girl was struck with fever within a few days. The girl's grandfather, the Compassionate Man, wanted to quarantine the girl while they were in port, but Griede wanted to continue to Gathelatio. His secret plan was to get her back there, where proper medical research and care could likely destroy the plague. Griede asked the church, or the Crystal Orthodoxy at the time, if they could come home.
They responded by sending Geist Grace, the current holder of the Exorcist asterisk. He had to leave his son behind, something he did not want, but had no choice. He arrived to perform an exorcism on the girl, but once he saw her, he knew immediately that it wasn't a demon. Well, I mean, there WAS, but that wasn't what was causing the illness in the girl.
Now Geist had been sent to do an exorcism ritual. One faction of the fleet wanted to use the ritual as a way to bind some time for quarantine, but the other side thought that the ritual would cure her and they could just simply go on home.
According to Geist, there were four men involved in the decision of whether to head home: a compassionate man, the girl's grandfather; a covetous man, who wanted to get the treasure back home to the Orthodoxy; a merciful man, and Griede, the ambitious man.
As the decision was being made, the merciful and compassionate men wanted to delay the girl's departure with the ritual, while Griede and the covetous man wanted to foil the ritual to get back to Gathelatio. The decision was almost decided when Geist reported the girl's condition to the Office of Public Health, who ordered the girl into quarantine. It is likely that Geist returned back home after this, but only too late: his son had been claimed by the plague, and his soul lingering, waiting for his father. Thus, Geist the Bloody is a victim of sin. Though he commits them as a member of the Glanz Empire, it is because of the fault of others that his son died.
During this time, the covetous man approached the merciful man, claiming that the church's medicine and practices back in Gathelatio could heal her. The merciful man spoke to the compassionate man, and in the end they changed their minds. The ritual took place, and they left the port, breaking their quarantine orders.
This obviously only began to plant the seeds of the Plague around the world. Only on the third continent of their voyage did they finally hear word from where they had come: the first port they had entered was in the midst of a terrible disease. Griede immediately felt sorrow; he realized his sins of avarice and pride, and decided to atone. He gave every sailor in the fleet a flagon of rum, laced with poison.
Then he sunk his ships, the treasures, and the young girl with Yoko, all to prevent the plague from continuing. Yet still, even this act was not just out of atonement. It is very possible that the Orthodoxy gave Griede an order to sink everything just then to only spare Eternia. In the end, Griede made it back with a little bit of treasure, but enough to fill the church's coffers, and put himself in a high position. Not long after, his first son, Denys, was born. It was around this time that the Plague finally reached them.
The first deaths in Eternia happened in Braev's home village, now known as Gravemark Village, where Magnolia is initially met in the game. Braev petitioned to use the crystal to heal the sick, but instead, the church cut off the highroads and border villages, leaving them all to die.
Repulsed by the church's actions, Braev left his priesthood, but not before giving Professor Norzen full authority to investigate the origins of the Plague, and building a secret network of people within the church to keep an eye on the going-ons.
A little while after, the Plague started to come to an end, but not from a cure. No, in fact, things were about to get a lot worse. It had run out of victims, and now a new strain had emerged, one that threatened to finish the task of annihilation the first had failed to complete. Norzen and his team immediately got to work on a cure. Norzen tested new treatments on himself to protect his colleagues, and lost one of his senses in the process.
Just as the fear of the Second Pandemic was beginning to seem more and more realistic, one scientist found that felines had an immunity to the strain. She moved a set of resilient antibodies into her daughter's body just before she died. Her daughter was Minette, the Catmancer. Another victim of sin, Minette grew up ignored by her mother for her work, and scarred from the pain of the tests the other scientists did on her. But, in the end it was all worth it, and the antibodies were used to form a vaccine that fought off the Second Pandemic before it was ever an issue.
But, while all may seem fine, there were other pressing matters happening at the same time. As people began to uprise against the church's crimes, the Orthodoxy decided to initiate the Grand Ritual by overloading the Earth Crystal with power. Braev knew that this would destroy the world, and led a siege against the Orthodoxy, eventually taking their headquarters and the Temple of Earth, all of which resulted in the slaying of the Earth Vestal.
Then there was the disbanding of the Crystalguard. Surprisingly ordered by Griede, who led one of the high houses of the Three Cavaliers and wanted to protect himself and his family, House Geneolgia and House Camlann fought against those who wished to keep the Crystalguard together, leading to a crusade across Eternia.
Two other houses fought against them, and under their command was a talented swordsman named Jerome Balestra. During an attack on a manor, though Jerome was a great fighter, he was eventually overwhelmed and killed. He left his son Janne in the care of a squire by the name of Angard. Once again, another member of the Glanz Empire being broken by the power of sin. During this particular attack as well, Nikolai was there as well, and realized the sins he and his brethren were committing. Filled with guilt, he continued on, but began recruiting people to rot the Crystalguard from the inside out, like Janne.
In the end, Geneolgia and Camlann won and the Crystalguard was disbanded. However, this resulted in a rise of bandit activity across Eternia. The houses then formed their own private armies to combat these lawbreakers, which then grew and grew. They marched across Eternia, fighting and burning, eventually reaching the village where Bella and her sister Donna lived. The armies burnt the village to the ground, as a testament against "the witch who brought the plague unto the world", and Donna was killed. Thus came Dark Vestal Bella.
And that concludes the tale of the Great Plague. Now, let's take a look at all of the sins that connect the characters of our world. First, we'll brush back over the Glanz Empire. A good majority of the Glanz Empire are all victims of sin from the Great Plague: Geist, Revenant, Minette, Janne, Nikolai, Bella, and obviously Denys. Denys felt the most guilt of all, being a decedent of the family that caused all of these atrocities, and wanted to change the world. Aimee and Angelo seem to be fairly clean, not really associated with the Plague, and Cu Chulainn is just a result of Bella trying to get her sister back. The Glanz Empire commits sins, yes, but they do it because they believe they are atoning for past sins or fixing sins that have been cast upon them in the past.
The returning asterisk holders aren't all particularly bad. There are obvious ones like Profiteur's strong habit of greed or Ominas' rage, but they weren't created in Second so they don't have the themes as strongly, as that was not the goal. They're good characters nonetheless though.
Now let's have a little peak at an unexpected side. This might be digging a little deeper than is probably relevant, but our heroes aren't shining beacons of humanity either. Tiz and Anges are the only ones that are scot free as far as I'm concerned. Yew has his family's sins, but he rejects that in the game, and even states this during his fight against Yoko, that he won't be barred by the sins of his predecessors and will live independently of their actions. So he, in his own way, has atoned and moved on.
Now let's talk about our fine ladies of the group. How about Magnolia acting incredibly lustful and seductive? Or the massive increase in Edea's character trait of loving food? If you're unfamiliar with the seven deadly sins, as according to Dante, they are as follows: wrath, avarice, lust, sloth, gluttony, pride, and envy. Magnolia is lust, Edea is gluttony. And we can't forget our boy Ringabel! Definitely pride.
And last but definitely not least, the entire Yokai job. It's literally based on these seven sins, and each of the bosses surrounding them are themed towards a particular sin. The moves you can learn, they're even named after the sins!
The majority of the problems that arise during the events of Second come from sin, and most of this sin comes from the Great Plague in one form or another, and it is an event that has greatly shaped Luxendarc, from being the entire reason the Glanz Empire was formed, to how the Duchy of Eternia started as a result of rising against the evil Orthodoxy, who abandoned its people to die. Everything has evolved from sin.
But even so, the theme of Bravely Second's story isn't just sin. It's about accepting sins and past faults, and learning from them to build a better future. I can only hope that people will one day learn this for themselves, to accept their mistakes and forgive themselves, and be able to move on with their lives.