About this site

Human Grace was originally called Gungnir. It also used to be a fanlisting and was opened way back back in 2005 on my old old domain, dragoon.nu. You get one guess who was the inspiration for that domain name. I've since given up all fanlistings and moved domains several times, but this site has (mostly) been online ever since.

This is the sixth incarnation of Human Grace and features GLORIOUS Dissidia artwork. I wanted to do a greyscale layout for this many shades of grey character, as it were.

Current Amano images were scanned by myself (aside from the Advance cover), but I was previously using art scanned by Alex. Some of the other artwork was found at the official site, and screenshots were taken by myself. The Nintendo Power artwork is from Streaks of Day, and various others were found on the internet and have been on my hard drive for years. I've no idea where I got them from (or indeed, just what they're from) and I can't find them again. If anyone could let me know, it would be much appreciated.

My contact information can be found here.

Name

As I said above, this site used to be called Gungnir, after one of Kain's weapons. As a general rule, I'm awful with names - be they for websites or for pets or my Iphone. When I moved the fanlisting a few years ago, I revamped the site and renamed it Human Grace. The idea for this name came from a Billy Idol song - Eyes Without a Face, which I now like to apply to Kain even if it means I have to ignore half the lyrics. My interpretation of the song is that there is a man who loves a woman, and who he believes loves him back but she doesn't and Billy Idol believes he has been betrayed by her and (dramatic pause) friend-zoned. My link is tenuous at best.

Every human has the capacity for human grace - all those wonderful things like empathy, clemency, kindness, compassion and a general decency and ability to live for more than just yourself. Kain forgoes these traits when he is manipulated by Golbez. Yes, he's brainwashed, but there's no smoke without fire. He'd long been harbouring bitter thoughts. Kain eventually regains himself, and while Rosa and Cecil show wonderful grace in forgiving him, he can't forgive himself. Kain wants to better himself, to become a great dragoon, and a good man. He wants to have those qualities that define "human grace". One can just hope that he does find himself in Mt. Ordeals and is able to live with himself. This whole theme is continued in The After Years.

Why?

I'm going to get even more needlessly wordy about a fictional character now.

Final Fantasy IV was my first Final Fantasy, back when it was still numbered as II. This was back in the early nineties. I was actually lucky that I got to play it at all, considering the fact that FFII never got a European release. (Our first official release was the Playstation port in 2002.) I was pretty young, but I had an older brother who would rent imported games and the adaptor that allowed us to play them on our European Super Nintendo. We got FFII and later FFIII on a regular basis - enough to finish the games entirely. I think many people have a particular fondness for the Final Fantasy game that introduced them to the series. In my cause, that is definitely true. It's very nostalgic for me, and brings me back to my childhood.

It was the first modern RPG I'd played. FFIV was possibly the first modern RPG as we now know them, and the beginning of many staples of the Final Fantasy series. It may be considered a linear game if you want to compare it to some new titles (this sentence was written before FFXIII was released), but I don't see it as being any less linear than Final Fantasy X. FFX certainly has more side quests and a more sophisticated way of leveling up. Personally, I know which one I'd rather play. Final Fantasy IV has a wonderful story which can be so dark and yet so silly at times, as well as some of my favourite characters ever to grace my television screen.

And out of those characters, Kain is undoubtedly my favourite character, even though I'm very fond of most of the cast. I can't really remember my first time playing the game - I can hardly remember what I had for breakfast this morning - so I can't speak about my first impressions. The only thing I really remember is that I found the Dark Elf really difficult. I do know that Kain was my most useful character in battles, and I was not pleased when he left my party for the second time. Despite the shoddy translation of the first English release, I liked his character and his personality. It wasn't until many years later that I fully understood what was going on with him, though. Thank you, emulation!

There is far more to Kain than what first meets the eye. We know Cecil is struggling with inner turmoil, but Kain is more difficult to make out. He can be aloof, preferring to stay silent at times, and can come across as cold and arrogant. It prevents people from getting too close and discovering his hidden feelings. Even Cecil - who is Kain's best friend - has no idea of the depth of feelings Kain is harbouring for Rosa, or of the jealousy Kain felt for him. It was these feelings that Golbez manipulated, and Kain committed terrible crimes while he was brainwashed. The fact that his actions were not his own doesn't mean Kain can forgive himself. He views himself as weak, and as a disgrace to the dragoons and to his father.

Kain's inner struggles appealed to me. His very human emotions - the jealousy, the feelings of inadequacy - are things we've all experienced. To have someone be able to use those emotions and twist them so that you're standing against everything you believe in is terrifying.

Kain is flawed (and perfect characters are boring). But he follows his heart, and that's something I can admire. When Kain decides to find redemption on Mt. Ordeals after Zeromus is defeated, he leaves everything behind, and doesn't even return for Cecil and Rosa's coronation. He is a good man - if he weren't, I don't think Rosa and Cecil would forgive him - but he doesn't see that. He needs to atone before he can face them again.

He's just a fascinating character to me, made during a time when there were no characters like that in video games. My Kain love is partially powered by nostalgia, but mostly by his glorious, golden hair.