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Sae and the Kusabi: What connects them?

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4 replies to this topic

#1 OFFLINE   Agony Crossbow

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 06:27 AM

Hiya :3 Sorry for the probably silly/unimportant question, but this is something I've been pretty curious about for a while now, and I was interested to see what other people thought of it.


Has there been any "official" word given as to why Sae and the Kusabi seem to be linked? I've played Fatal Frame 2 a bunch of times by now, as well as watched other people go through it, but one thing I could never quite draw a clear line of understanding between was why Sae and the Kusabi are often depicted as a kind of terrifying duo. He takes up residence in the Kurosawa house the first time you go in there and have to avoid him, he rises up out of the Hellish Abyss after Sae's ritual fails, and he's either the final boss (in some difficulties) or the penultimate one. People in the game are absolutely terrified of him ("The Kusabi is coming!" becomes this game's madness mantra, along with literally every word out of Sae's mouth), yet they don't seem to make much mention of him and Sae -- they seem to be a packaged deal. All of this clearly means that he's just as significant to the story as is Sae -- but I never really see any discussions as to why. I mean, I'm sure they've happened. The game's been out for ages and I was on the forum in its previous incarnation, so I'm assuming a topic had to exist there.


If I had to answer the question as to why Sae and the Kusabi seem to be linked, I'd say it might have something to do with both of their rituals being less than adequate for what the Abyss required. As "rejected" rituals, I can imagine this would make them understandable allies in being horrible creepy jerks who just slaughter everyone indiscriminately. Sae's ritual, as we well know, was a flat out failure, but the Kusabi was just enough to buy the village some time. This would make him somewhat of a success -- so why would he come back? Why would his soul be lingering around in the Abyss at all, and why would Sae's return drag it out? Well, that's where my silly little idea comes in.


I think a lot of it has to do not only with emotions, but with knowledge/understanding of the Abyss. Sae doesn't want Makabe to be sacrificed, and while I don't think she felt incredibly guilty about him (not to the level of what happened to poor Itsuki) it's obvious she felt bad about it. Her emotional turmoil over waiting for Yae, the fear of having (possibly) been abandoned by her sister, as well as the pressure of performing a ritual alone clearly weighed heavily on Sae during her final moments, and when it wasn't enough for the Abyss, well -- we all know what happened. Bringing the Kusabi back (if that was indeed Sae's doing: it's possible he just rose the hell up outta there along with her) seems to me like Sae could have been allowing Makabe to get some level of revenge against the village for what they'd done to him.


The trouble with this thought is that Sae never struck me as purely a revenge-seeking ghost. Her behavior isn't on the level of Kirie's which is spreading a curse in order to inflict her own suffering onto others, for example. Sae's actions are more about cornering and grabbing you, begging you to stay. She kind of arguably doesn't have anyone to be bitter against apart from her sister -- and it's made clear in the game that she's above all things absolutely desperate for Yae to return. That she doesn't hate Yae at all always made it hard for me to accept Sae as a typical "vengeful ghost." Her 'vengeance' is more of a corruption of the Abyss itself, exploiting her emotions and using her as a kind of dark avatar for its judgment on the village for failing to get the ritual right. But we all know that.


So I go back to my question -- what connects Sae and the Kusabi, apart from being "rejected rituals"? Well besides emotional turmoil, I think it also has to do with knowledge of the rituals and village lore itself. Sae would understandably have quite a bit of information at her disposal, given the importance of her family and her destiny as an impending sacrifice. And we know that Makabe used his time in the village to learn more about the village itself, more than maybe any other Kusabi in the past. The two of them would in a sense not only be "rejected rituals," they'd be rejects with more knowledge than was probably healthy about what they were being fed to -- and it's perhaps this understanding of the rituals and the Abyss that led to their alliance. We know that the ritual places a heavy burden on the twins who survive and that some can even go mad with grief. While this is a totally understandable reaction to the sacrifice, I wonder if the reaction isn't also heightened considerably by "exposure" to the Abyss and knowledge of it. The more you know about this wretched, forbidden thing, the more it can corrupt you. The only people who are allowed access to the Abyss are the priests and Mourners, who are veiled or blind respectively, and therefore sort of "closed off" from full on exposure to the thing. Twins used in the sacrifice as well as Makabe are the only ones, IMO, who have a full knowledge of the Abyss within them (having gotten as close as one could without becoming a Mourner themselves), and this mutual understanding led to a mutual corruption that was probably bound to happen eventually.


... Long story short, FF2 and the Kusabi/Sae tag team can probably be summed up with the almost trite Nietzsche quote: "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster. And when you gaze long into an abyss the abyss also gazes into you." Knowing what they did about the rituals and suffering as extensively they had prior to the sacrifices, the connection between Sae and the Kusabi becomes more clear, along with any ill-will/bitterness they felt towards the village at large (although Sae's seems to be an indiscriminate and impulsive reaction: the Kusabi seems far more deliberately furious).


.. So! Now that that's done, anyone have any thoughts? I'm really interested to see what other people think about these two, and what other things possibly connect them apart from what the game hints at. Thanks for reading!


ETA: I just realized that I forgot to point out that there's clearly a connection between the Kusabi and the concept of a wraith (ghost seeking to avenge its own death). Would this mean that it's more likely the Kusabi latched onto Sae, and not the other way around?

Edited by Agony Crossbow, 01 November 2014 - 06:50 AM.

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#2 OFFLINE   CrimsonSun


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Posted 04 November 2014 - 08:56 PM

Well, very nice piece. I just wonder, if what you said is true, why would other spirits not rise up and join sae and the kusabi? The fact that these two were involved in failed rituals? I think the abyss used what it had and used the mistakes the villagers made. The two were examples of what it was dissatisfied with and it drew upon their emotional states and corrupted them through that. Maybe it wasn't a subconscious choice by sae or the kusabi, but instead a decision made by the abyss to link the two.

#3 OFFLINE   AnimalLover47999


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Posted 05 November 2014 - 10:59 PM

Agony I really like your theories.  Great work on them.  It makes a bit of sense.  :)

Edited by pkstarstorm1up, 05 November 2014 - 10:59 PM.

#4 OFFLINE   Elyonum


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Posted 10 November 2014 - 04:36 AM

I loved reading this theory! Methinks that the constant need for analysis in Rule of Rose brings this out more easily in people ;DDD <3

I always wondered this as well; especially because, honestly, we don't really see Kusabi and Sae interacting do we? For there to be at least a little bit of a conscious contract they have to be aware of each others presence...
I mean when you really think about it, we only see them together during the "hallway full of corpses" scene, and what are they doing? Sae is doing her laughing shtick while Kusabi appears behind her trying to grab at Mio. I always felt that they weren't really paying attention to each other in that room, focusing only on our plucky protagonist. So are they really (in a sense) working together, or is their shared slaughter just a coincidence? Are they co-existing in almost different realities, working on their coincidental bloody goals? Do they even know that they're dead? 
Killings and crazyness aside, Sae acts the same way she did when she was alive, stuck on the same ideas. Kusabi just seems to mindlessly kill things. Unlike Kirie or even Reika Sae doesn't directly reference her, uh, deadness.  So many questions!


I suppose if you want to cut out the romance and get to the drab nitty-gritty, it was probably an excuse to be able to use Makabe's ghost as an enemy in the game. "Here's the design for the scary sub-boss we're planning! How did he get into the village, you ask? SACRIFICIAL BLOOD MAGIC or whatever" 

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#5 OFFLINE   FiliusMartis


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Posted 25 November 2014 - 08:11 AM

Lovely theory. I love it when people post things like this. I'll try to respond in a nice, organized fashion.


The reason that people are talking about the Kusabi throughout the game is because he was the one doing most of the slaughtering. In fact, if I remember correctly, the only indication we get that Sae was at all involved in any of the killing comes from Mio's Memo, which one could easily argue is only canon to the effect of it is what Mio understood about the situation rather than anything that might be considered "Word of God," and one (maybe two?) spirit list entries. We do know she was there, though, as she is referenced. Limbo Man's "Faintly Glowing Crystal" notes that he sees the Kusabi and Sae. Sae is also included in the folklore behind the village, but as has been noted, we don't see her killing or even attacking anyone other than Mio.


An interesting dichotomy between the Kusabi and Sae is the notion of the willing or unwilling sacrifice. Sae is supposed to be willing, but in the specific scenario as it happened, she really wasn't. Likewise, the Kusabi is supposed to be unwilling. The more he suffers, the better effect of calming on the Abyss, but we know that while Makabe was undoubtedly physically tortured, he was mentally calm at the time of his death because he was happy to see the Abyss, even if he had to die for it. In this way, they have exchanged positions. I believe this accounts for their connection, at least in part.


If I recall correctly, a wraith is a ghost who returns to avenge his or her own death, and Makabe certainly fits that. In fact, he reinacts his torture on others-- he cuts them, just like the ritual he was subjected to. While I certainly believe that you're right in the notion that the Kusabi attached himself to Sae, it's worth noting that the failure of the rituals and the Repentance meant that the Aybss would unleash a bunch of nasty stuff. There is the Malice and then ghosts like Man in Dark who were long dead but sort of regurgitated. To put it bluntly, the Kusabi might have just been opportunely floating on top, but I don't think that should at all diminish the significance of his mental calm, his happiness to see the Abyss. Sae didn't have this. Yes, she wanted to do the ritual, but with and only with Yae. Otherwise, there was no point. Sae's ghost is repeatedly noted as being insane. While notes may list her as a killer, she mostly laughs maniacally, but the Kusabi enacts a very precise vengeance on his killers. However, this vengeance is not part of what the Repentance is supposed to be. Mostly, people are just supposed to choke on the Malice and die slowly, as they did outside the Kurosawa house. The only massacre is within the Kurosawa house, the place Makabe was kept, the place he was led to believe he was welcome and treated as a guest. These are the people who betrayed him, and these are the people he is going to force his own death upon. Sae brought the Repentance, but the Kusabi used it to further his own goal of vengeance.

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