I finally cleared Birth by Sleep's Final Episode. I remembered what happened from when I played the game before, but for some reason I felt it a lot more this time. I'll admit to tearing up at the end of all three individual scenarios, but Final Episode made me actually cry multiple times throughout, and I still want to go cry about it.
"It's a lonely place, but you'll be safe."
Aqua taking up one of Master Eraqus's stances as she transformed Land of Departure into Castle Oblivion
"The darkness can't have you!"
And the ending. Everything about the ending. Aqua losing the will to go on, completely ready to give up and be killed, when suddenly Terra and Ven's Keyblades fly out of nowhere to save her, proof that their hearts are still intact, still caring about her, still wanting her to be okay. And then Aqua just looks at her Wayfinder and thinks about all the people she's met, all the bonds she still has, and just simply says:
"There is always hope."
In a series known for putting its characters through loads of misery, BBS is the single most tragic game, and its final words, spoken by someone whose two best friends are comatose and possessed, whose Master is dead, who is trapped in a world of darkness filled with monstrous abominations who will seek her out continuously and with no way out for at least a span of 11 years, are "There is always hope."
Cut to credits with Simple and Clean blasting triumphantly
I don't talk much about my personal life, but I will say that this means a whole lot more to me now than it did five years ago.
Part of me is kind of embarrassed to be crying over a video game, but as time goes on, I find more and more that this idea is kind of silly. Video games matter to people--they give us characters who can inspire us, and possess an interactive element lacking in other forms of media that draws us even closer to these characters. I think I'd care about Aqua even if Kingdom Hearts was a movie or book or what have you, but I also think it's a little different since I was just guiding her through an intense boss battle knowing that my choices (or mistakes) would determine the outcome. It's an interesting sort of relationship between player and character--admittedly no substitute for relationships with real people, but much less intimidating and with a clear outcome. Er, maybe I'm getting a little off-topic...
What I guess I mean is that I want to stop being embarrassed about getting emotional over video games, because those emotions exist.
So yeah, I cried my way through the credits of Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, and the next time I feel hopeless, I'm going to try to think about that final line. And maybe that's okay.