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Balthier

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Balthier
250px
Balthier as he appears in Final Fantasy XII. Designed by Akihiko Yoshida.
Series Final Fantasy, Ivalice
First game Final Fantasy XII
Designed by Akihiko Yoshida
Voiced by (English) Gideon Emery
Voiced by (Japanese) Hiroaki Hirata
Fictional information
Quickening Element of Treachery
Home Archades

Balthier, known as Balflear (バルフレア Barufurea?) in the original Japanese language version, is a 22-year-old fictional character in the Final Fantasy series, and a protagonist in Final Fantasy XII. He was designed by Akihiko Yoshida, and voiced by Gideon Emery and Hiroaki Hirata in the English and Japanese versions respectively. In XII, he is a sky pirate who is accompanied by a member of the fictional Viera species, Fran. While attempting to steal the "Goddess's Magicite", they encounter protagonist Vaan, who had already stolen it. This embroiders them into the main plot of Final Fantasy XII. His given name is Ffamran mied Bunansa (ファムラン・ミド・ブナンザ Famuran Mido Bunanza?).[1]

He is one of the most positively received characters in Final Fantasy XII, compared to famous characters in fiction such as Han Solo from the Star Wars series, James Bond of the film series of the same name, and Jack Sparrow of the Pirates of the Caribbean series. He also ranked ninth on IGN's top 25 Final Fantasy characters list, ranking higher than all other characters in Final Fantasy XII.

Concept and creation

File:12-balthier-a.jpg

Balthier was designed by Akihiko Yoshida. Balthier was voiced by Gideon Emery in English and by Hiroaki Hirata in Japanese. Emery commented that while voicing the character of Balthier, he developed a "small crush" on Fran, Balthier's partner. He also commented that the biggest challenge of voicing Balthier was having to stay consistent, adding that he spent more than four hours in a small booth while doing the voice, which could cause him to "drift away from the character" if he goes on for too long. He also described him as being similar to the character.[2] Emery auditioned for Balthier, seeing him after he did this and "instantly fell in love with the character". He described him as a cross between Han Solo, James Bond, and Jack Sparrow, citing suave yet cocky attitude. He was thankful that he was not aware of Balthier's popularity since his reveal, stating that he would have been "crippled by the fear of not delivering on what the fans expected". He stated that he took no inspiration from anyone else for the role, wanting to ensure that he was unique. Instead, he cited the pictures and animation of the character as his inspiration. Emery cited Jack Fletcher, the voice director, as a great help in voicing the character and setting up the scene for him.[3] A motion capture actor was hired especially for the North American release of Final Fantasy XII.[4]

Appearances

He is a Hume sky pirate who pilots the Strahl, a small airship, around the skies of Ivalice. He and his companion, Fran, prefer to remain outside of the war between the kingdoms of Ivalice.[5] However, their attempt to steal the Goddess's Magicite—later revealed to be the Dusk Shard—from the Dalmascan Royal Palace goes bad; Vaan steals it first, and, caught in the fray of a rebel assault against the Imperial Palace, Balthier and Fran find themselves embroiled in the conflict against Archadia.

Born Ffamran mied Bunansa (ファムラン・ミド・ブナンザ Famuran Mido Bunanza?),[1] he is the son of Dr. Cid (Cidolfus Demen Bunansa), though he grew weary of his father's madness and obsession with nethicite. Although Cid had made him an Imperial Judge, Ffamran eventually decided to cut his ties with his father and his role as a judge, becoming a sky pirate under a new name.[6] With this new career change, Balthier amounted a sizable bounty on his head, attracting the attention of bounty hunters such as Ba'Gamnan. Unfortunately for Balthier, it took him a while to realize he'd been following his father in pursuing nethicite while he served in the resistance.[7] Though he made peace with his father prior to his death, Balthier went with the group to destroy the Sky Fortress Bahamut as penance for his father's deeds.

Balthier claims to be the "leading man" of the story many times throughout the game, and insists that this status makes him invincible.[8] After the Sky Fortress Bahamut crashed with him and Fran still in it, they remained out of contact until they retrieved the Strahl back from Vaan and Penelo a year later, leaving a note for the new Queen Ashe.[9] Both he and Fran intend on finding the Cache of Glabados, which is resolved in Revenant Wings when it turned out to be tied to Eternal. Balthier was at first intent to take Lemures' treasure, the Auracite, but knew the truth behind it and attempted to destroy the Auralith, eventually rejoining Vaan's group to fight the Judge of Wings, letting Vaan be the "leading man" while he himself leaves the limelight.[10] He made a crossover appearance in Final Fantasy Tactics: The War of the Lions. He was the first cameo character they added to War of the Lions, with co-producer Shingo Kosuge stating that it was not a conscious decision to add continuity to the Ivalice story.[11] He also appears in Itadaki Street Portable.[12]

Reception

Since his appearance in Final Fantasy XII, Balthier has received mostly positive reception. When he was first revealed, the fan response was very positive.[3] GameSpy editor Justin Speer described him as a "clever-bastard type", praising his wry delivery.[13] He has received praise for his masculinity, including from Gaming Trend editor Keith Schleicher who praised him and fellow protagonist Basch for being more masculine than characters such as the males in Magna Carta: Tears of Blood.[14] GameSpot editor Greg Kasavin called Balthier the best character in the game, describing him as the "Auron of the cast".[15] 1UP.com editor Jeremy Parish called Final Fantasy XII protagonist Vaan annoying, placing the duo of Balthier and Fran above him.[16] PSX Extreme editor Cavin Smith commented that while Vaan is the main character, he usually takes a back seat, adding that Balthier is the closest thing to a male lead.[17] PALGN editor Phil Larsen commented that though a lofty prediction, he expected that the duo of Balthier and Fran would "go down in history as one of the greatest duos of modern narrative storytelling".[18] Balthier ranked ninth on IGN's top 25 best Final Fantasy characters, ranking higher than any other character from Final Fantasy XII. Editor Dave Smith commented that he makes a "convincing case" that he is the main hero, upstaging fellow playable characters due to his "sharp looks and even sharper wit."[19] Gideon Emery, Balthier's voice actor, received a very positive reception for his portrayal of the character, considered one of the best voice actors in Final Fantasy XII.[20][21][22][23][24] GamesRadar editor AJ Glasser listed Balthier and Fran as one of his favourite Final Fantasy couples, describing theirs' as being a well-balanced relationship.[25]

Balthier has been compared to other characters in fiction. Simon Wigham of Console Obsession called Balthier his "favourite by quite a wide margin", comparing him to James Bond due to his "humorous lines".[26] RPGFan editor Stephen Harris compared his voice to that of Ian Fleming's depiction of Bond.[20] 1UP.com editor Andrew Pfister compared the duo of Balthier and Fran to that of Han Solo and Chewbacca, two characters from the Star Wars franchise, adding that they are far more interesting than any other character in the "modern FF era".[27] Video Gamer editor Greg Vallentin made a similar comparison, calling him a "Han Solo-like sky pirate".[28] 1UP.com editor Jeremy Parish compared Balthier to one of the characters from Castlevania: Order of Ecclesia, stating that they share a physical resemblance, adding also that Balthier was awesome.[29]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Studio BentStuff, ed (2008) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Ultimania: File 1: Character. Square Enix. p. 466. ISBN 978-4-7575-2206-0. 
  2. Square Haven News / Setting the Stage for Balthier: A Conversation with Gideon Emery
  3. 3.0 3.1 Gideon Emery profile @ The Square Enix People Database - Square Haven
  4. http://www.1up.com/news/gdc-2007-square-enix-approach-localization
  5. Balthier: Mmm. I try to steer clear of such things. Square Enix. Final Fantasy XII. PlayStation 2. (2006-10-31)
  6. Balthier: I left the Judges... and him. Cidolfus Demen Bunansa. Draklor Laboratory’s very own Doctor Cid. That’s when he lost his heart to Nethicite, lost himself. And I suppose that’s when I lost my father. Square Enix. Final Fantasy XII. PlayStation 2. (2006-10-31)
  7. Balthier: Funny I went for the Dusk Shard. How could I have known that it was Nethicite? And then, of course, I met you. All that running, and I got nowhere. It’s time to end this—cut my ties to the past. Square Enix. Final Fantasy XII. PlayStation 2. (2006-10-31)
  8. Balthier: And what did they say about the leading man? He never dies. Square Enix. Final Fantasy XII. PlayStation 2. (2006-10-31)
  9. Balthier: Give this to our Queen for me, would you? Square Enix. Final Fantasy XII. PlayStation 2. (2006-10-31)
  10. Barba, Rick; Ellis, Elizabeth (2007-11-15). Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings Strategy Guide. Brady Games. ISBN 0744009804. 
  11. http://www.1up.com/news/square-enix-talks
  12. Calonne, Stéphane (2006-03-24). Itadaki Street surf sur la vague FFXII (French). Gamekyo. Retrieved on 2009-09-24.
  13. GameSpy: Final Fantasy XII - Page 1
  14. Final Fantasy XII: Return to Ivalice Review
  15. Final Fantasy XII Review for PlayStation 2 - GameSpot
  16. Final Fantasy XII Preview from 1UP.com
  17. Final Fantasy XII Review
  18. Final Fantasy XII Review - PlayStation 2 Video Game Review - PAL Gaming Network
  19. Top 25 Final Fantasy Characters - Day IV - Stars Feature at IGN
  20. 20.0 20.1 RPGFan Reviews - Final Fantasy XII
  21. RPGamer > Staff Review > Final Fantasy XII
  22. Worthplaying | PS2 Review - 'Final Fantasy XII'
  23. Final Fantasy XII PS2 Review @ Gaming Target
  24. Final Fantasy XII Review - PlayStation Universe
  25. http://www.gamesradar.com/f/top-10-square-enix-couples/a-200802149233157090
  26. Final Fantasy XII PS2 Review | Console Obsession
  27. Final Fantasy XII Review from 1UP.com
  28. Final Fantasy XII Review for PS2 - VideoGamer.com
  29. http://www.1up.com/do/previewPage?cId=3167834

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