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Better to remember or forget?

Fatal Frame IV Endings Camera Obscura Opinion

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3 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   midwinter


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Posted 07 February 2014 - 04:24 PM

This started out as a topic just about the Camera Obscura, but I couldn't seem to pan that out into an actual question, so here's a slightly broader one. If you have anything to say about the camera, though, feel free to say it here, I'd be interested to see anybody's ramblings. :P


So basically, for the first three games, there's this underlying tension between the desire to seek out the spirit world and discover the truth, and the fact that doing so is really dangerous and could well ruin your life even if you survive the experience. That camera drove your mother to suicide, so are you still going to use it? Follow that magical butterfly/wayward sister? Run after the ghost of your dead loved one? The games make the choice for you, obviously, but I think you're still supposed to think about it, and wonder about the choices other characters made. Especially the folklorists.


But FF4 is kind of different, and the camera is different, too. Suddenly it's not just about viewing the spirit world, it also "captures the past", which I think is a new idea in the series. The camera represents a shift in the underlying question: now it's about whether it's better to remember your past, or forget it. Again, the game chooses for you, but I think there are points when you're supposed to have doubts about whether that's the right choice.


I mean, throughout the game you have more than one character saying, "It's better not to remember." It was Souya and Shigeto's attempts to reconnect with their ancestral past that caused the Day Without Suffering (and even the name sounds kind of nice, as if oblivion is the best you can hope for), but at the same time, that lost knowledge is the only thing that can save the island, and eventually does. You also have documents talking about how people successfully recovered their memories, but ended up committing suicide as a result, and I think all three of the protagonists suffer in some way - Misaki loses Madoka for a doll, Ruka remembers her father just in time to miss him when he disappears forever, and Choushiro discovers he's a little more dead than he'd like. It's pretty much like FF1 and FF2, where the curse is lifted but the protagonists have lost everything.


So is that a good ending? Or would a good ending be the one where they decide ignorance is bliss and die "without suffering", or is this a case of, "those who forget the past are doomed to repeat it"? If you were remaking FF4 and someone gave you the categories "good end, bad end, in-between end", where would you put the canon ending and what would you have in the other categories?


I just want more meta rambling about FF4, okay.

#2 OFFLINE   Nephthys13


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Posted 07 February 2014 - 08:21 PM

Now that's an interesting question.


I generally think that you can learn from the past and your former mistakes. Therefore I believe you shouldn't just "erase" the memories that aren't that great. On the other hand though, there are enough cases in which a certain memory ruined a persons life...

As for the game I still remember one diary of Sayaka which made me thinking. In there she wrote to Ruka about forgetting their bad past and starting a new life together, far away from Rougetsuu. It's really gripping that one tiny note made me think about this situation the whole day. My thoughts were that it was the right decision for the two at the moment but isn't the best way to handle a situation at all. Of course you have to leave the past behind you, it's dangerous to live in the past. But you can't just cast it off. 

Ruka already suffered from memory loss, so Sayaka hadn't had the problem to explain to Ruka why they leave their father/husband. But what happened to Misaki and Madoka anyway? Where they send to their families? I don't think it was that easy for these two cause 1.) Misakis family seems to be connected to Rougetsuu in some way through the Asou bloodline and therefore couldn't just end their "cooperation" (or whatever, just a theory of mine) and 2.) It's hinted that Madoka remembers more than the other girls. They too suffered from memory loss but, as I said, I believe their families still had some connections to Rougetsuu Island. It could be that they sensed some kind of "shadow" lingering over their families and that Island.


And that aspect with the Camera capturing the past is really interesting, please more from that in the future Tecmo! 


If I could remake IV than I would probably put that ending in the "Bitter-sweet-ending" category. Most of the characters live (poor Chousl) but have lost nearly everything. 

A good ending? Phew that's always a difficult question in this series.... probably: Ruka could have a nice little talk with her father, Sayaka could come along too and she and her husband ascend to the afterlife together ('Daw)

Bad ending: Ruka would survive the endboss but mybe Chousl wouldn't show up and put the mask on Sakuya's face... she bloomed greater than ever before, the souls remain trapped and Ruka with them. Oh and Misaki would die too.

In-Between: Maybe Ruka could find Misaki lying dead in that cave after the curse was lifted...


What're your thoughts mid? ^^

#3 OFFLINE   Homuranagi



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Posted 07 February 2014 - 11:24 PM

It kind of reminds me of a similar dilemma brought up in Persona 3 (serious spoilers follow; do NOT open the spoiler unless you've played it or don't care):




To anyone who missed the above: P3's view is basically that sometimes the choice to erase your bad memories seems like a good idea logically, but in doing so you end up losing pretty much everything you care about. If you have your memories things won't be easy, particularly with some of the knowledge you have, but you will always have the people and things you remember that make it worth keeping going in the end because they're important enough to you to shoulder all of the bad things.


So how does FF4 compare? Well. I guess it's not entirely different, given Ruka's role. If she hadn't gone and tried to get her memories back, she would never have stopped Sakuya - intentionally or not at first - and who knows what would have happened to the surrounding area. It's not the kind of curse that just anyone could stumble in and solve, because while there are apparently plenty of folklorists willing to stumble into the jaws of certain death, how many have her knowledge and are as adept at using bad pointer controls playing keyboards as Ruka? So without regaining that knowledge I guess everyone would kind of be dead by now. They don't really go into too much depth with how it affects her afterwards, certainly not as much as the characters from the original games get, so it's hard to know if her memories managed to screw her up completely, but she seems okay enough. Plus she now has memories of her family that aren't just Sayaka being ill and everything and Souya being an utter sardine, so that's something she can take away from it. Before that all she knew was this one single scary memory of her father and not exactly the best side of her mother after everything that happened, including, uh, her death, so that sounds like a pretty nice trade-off.


I'm not entirely sure what Misaki has to gain from getting her memories back, really. She doesn't seem to have had some kind of family crisis like Ruka, she still has Madoka... so for her it's going to be more "filling in the missing pieces so I know who I actually am" I guess. Unless there's some part of her childhood that's really important that she forgot, all she reaaally has to remember is Sakuya and Miya, and what she specifically gains from this... I don't know. She was friends with Sakuya, sure, but is there something behind this important enough to risk (and possibly lose) her life in order to remember that? Unless she didn't have a mother and this was her only real kind of contact with a mother figure, maybe that might explain it, but otherwise I don't really think so. Surely you'd rather not remember your friend/possible-mother-figure dying (or not) and turning into an evil ghost (or not) before your eyes after having been severely ill, not to mention your own kidnapping and prior suffering due to illness? Doesn't really seem to balance out the rewards.


Madoka obviously has nothing to gain and everything to lose. She now has Misaki all to herself since Miya is out of the picture, she doesn't have to remember being chucked down the stairs, her bird being murdered and merciless bullying by an insane child... It was actually probably a good thing she forgot all of this in the first place. I wonder what she would've turned out like if she did remember everything, given her nature? She surely remembers more than enough already.


Choushirou would have kept going in that loop forever if he didn't remember, so it helps him, and by extension Ruka. Even if he is kind of dead now. Everyone wins. Except Choushirou. Because he's dead.


Good ending: Madoka oversleeps and misses the boat; Choushirou is reincarnated as Ruri and assists Miku with her investigations

Normal ending: Ruka sacrifices herself to the Whirlpool of Dead Anger in putting the mask on Sakuya and dies; everyone has a party in the afterlife except Souya who isn't allowed

Bad ending: Ruka has a severe blister attack climbing the lighthouse from her impractical footwear and never makes it to the top; everyone dies


No but really:


Good ending: I'm trying desperately to think of a way to resurrect Madoka but I can't, and I'm not a good ending person so I give up

Normal ending: Same as the one in the game really (Normal mode)

Bad ending: Choushirou never remembers, never shows up with the mask and continues in an eternal loop forever (;_; ), Ruka Blooms via Sakuya and forgets everything and never sees Souya, Misaki Blooms and forgets who Madoka is, Madoka is still dead, Martini Monday is cancelled




Other games, just for comparison's sake:


If we're talking post-FF3, it's better for them all to remember. Everyone is dead, yes, but they're better off for what they've all been through, and they have a new branch of Survivors of Evil Ghosts Anonymous. You could say that Miku might be better off after the events of 1 because Christ, Mafuyu, what was that about, Mio hardly functions at all after 2, Rei is Rei... but after 3 they all move on and live for the dead people blah blah blah. Out of all of them, Miku probably would have the most to gain from forgetting, though. I mean, I know it logically works this way but not emotionally and all, but her brother abandoned her for a dead girl. Come on. Really. Dead girl. Mafuyu. Mio, on the other hand... has the most to gain from remembering. She does shut down totally afterwards, but later on when she learns to live with it it kind of sets her free. She's lived her entire life tied down to Mayu and imagine what her future would have looked like. Yes, she loved Mayu, but now she's free to be her own person at the same time as the only way she could truly be one with Mayu - the only thing that would make either of them happy - and that's surely a good thing? Rei, I don't know. She's kind of a different case altogether.






I'm actually a little confused about why Mafuyu is so eager to take the camera along with him when he knows precisely how dangerous it is first-hand. I assume he would have intended to use it on an "only if it's absolutely necessary" basis, but honestly, it sounds like kind of a bad idea. What makes him think the same thing won't happen to him, even if his spiritual power is weaker to start with? Is Takamine really worth that kind of sacrifice? Mio isn't as clued-in as some of the others, so it makes more sense for her to use it the way she does, particularly with Mayu to protect. FF3... kind of more ambiguous, since it's in a dream. Do the cameras affect you the way they do in the real world? You could argue yes, because Rei starts seeing ghosts in her own house, but it's also arguable that it's an effect of the spreading dream and has nothing to do with linking to the camera.


What about Misaki? Did the Asous talk about the camera? Does she know its effects? Surely if she knows how to use it she must do? How did she get hold of it? Why is such a rare and precious artefact just lying about for her to take? Surely she's even more at risk since we know she has powerful spirit power? What is Ruka's like? Does she see ghosts before she uses the camera? Does it actually affect them after they stop taking photos, or do they have that heightened connection for the rest of their lives, and how does THAT affect them? Same with the radio. There's one vague mention of this in FF4 about listening to the radio driving people insane, but when has that ever happened? It doesn't seem to have bothered anyone before. If it was such a niche - and mostly rejected as pseudoscience - pursuit, why does everyone and their grandmother seem to have been driven crazy by it - except the actual people in the games? What about the projector? Does watching too much of that kill you, too? If you watch the Kaname film on a loop do you eventually go bonkers?


this is really long and I have no idea what I'm really talking about anymore and I went off topic hours ago so I'm just going to go ahead and hit post now

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#4 OFFLINE   FiliusMartis


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Posted 09 February 2014 - 12:31 AM

I think one of the key points to consider when you're talking about lost memories is what kind of loss it is. There is a total loss in which one has no clue, and then there is a partial loss in which key fragments are missing. It would be one thing to have no recollection of your childhood, but it's quite another to remember your father's back and the sound of his workplace and just not be able to remember his face. It's more agitating, I would think, because you know what you're trying ot remember and are simply unable to do so. It's that sense of being so close and yet never close enough. I don't think that's something easy to live with.


There's also something to be said for resolution and closure. As I was suggesting above, ignorance is only bliss if you're blissfully ignorant. If you know something bad happened, as these girls do, and that you have traumatic memory loss, then there is always going to be that nagging curiosity. It isn't as though they just wake up with no recollection and pick up happy lives. That's the sort of thing you see in romcoms or whatever the term is. Someone wakes up in the hospital to find that they have a loving family and a nice life, and while this trope generally has them remember all the good things, there's no real reason to because things are still good and they can build from that. For these girls, things are not good. They are not good at all.


As far as memory loss in the other games goes, one example that doesn't really get touched on is Yae, and that's most likely because her backstory was written after the first game's release. Yet it's still relevant to this discussion. How different would her life have been if she remembered? I mean, yes, what happened to Sae would be something horrible to live with, but consider everything that she didn't know about the spirit world that ultimately ended up costing her everything. Also because Ryozo was dumb, but that's beside my point.


Moving on, I think that the main problem I had with the endings is that they didn't feel like they had so much resolution. Choushiro being dead was horribly sad, but it also seemed like he did what he came there to do. Likewise, Ruka got to see her father's face, but that was it, really. Would it have killed them to let the two of them have a conversation? A single touch? I would have liked more between them. Also, Sakuya and You. Sakuya and You! I wanted them to have some kind of resolution. Yes, You was the antagonist of sorts, but by that point in the game, we certainly understand why. Sakuya fills her role as the medium, everyone crosses over, but does that mean that her own mind was restored? Kirie, Sae, and Reika all got the resolution of being reunited with their lost love in some form or fashion, but I didn't feel like Sakuya got that same thing, and honestly, I found her love to be one of the most compelling.

Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: Fatal Frame IV, Endings, Camera Obscura, Opinion

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