Stalwart

No Respect

For a relatively minor character, Cyan generates a variety of strong reactions among players. And unfortunately, some reactions are quite hostile. There are several possible reasons for this, which we will explore. In the end, the samurai might earn your respect.

One would hate to think Cyan's lack of popularity is based his age, but it does follow. Cyan is 50, while most characters in FFVI are in their twenties; Terra is a youngin' at 18. Looking to other games in the series, the protagonists get younger and younger. Tidus and Yuna in FFX are both 17, while in FFXIII, Lightning (age 21) is accompanied by teens and kids. Square Enix might reason that its players identify with young characters, or look up to characters modeled after pop stars. A gruff old man is not the norm.

Cyan's age and sense of tradition also raise charges that Cyan is "old fashioned," which seems to be immediately equated with conservatism and sexism. His politics are nothing to argue with - he wants to bring down the evil Empire as much as anyone - but he is callous towards Terra and Celes (women and former Imperial generals), at first.

It's something of a misconception that women in the middle ages were not respected by men. Though notions regarding sex itself were rather odd by our standards, women could hold power as aristocrats, have men groveling out of courtly love, or work alongside them in handiwork and field labour. Modern-daysexism mostly dates back to the industrial revolution, which in Cyan's world seems not to have reached Doma. Admittedly Cyan's exclamation of "I told you she couldn't be trusted!" to the Returners, referring to Celes, is uncalled for. But his ongoing suspicions are based on military thinking rather than gender.

Cyan isn't really a people person. Players might not like Cyan because he doesn't seem to like their favorite characters. Yet the samurai doesn't actively dislike anyone, being rather busy dealing with personal demons and seeking out revenge. While many of the game's character have tragic pasts, Cyan's wounds are fresh, which is also why his story - and exclamations - seem more melodramatic than the others.

Yet he also gives us an opportunity to see a tragedy played out in real time, not in flashbacks. Cyan is able to move on with his life more quickly overall than those who've held onto their pain for years. He's ready to embrace modern concepts, identify with those who've also suffered, interact with those around him, and build a new world. All positive and appealing characteristics, since he won't be getting any younger.