Magus and Vincent: A Tale of Two Tragedies

By GrandLordMagus

Thanks to Krazy Sam for making me think about why I like these two characters so much in the first place.

After reading Krazy Sam’s article and the passing allusion to people liking characters like Magus and Vincent simply because they look cool, I got to thinking. Sure, these two guys in particular look cool; in my opinion Magus is quite simply the best-designed character ever. And Vincent’s dark and mysterious appearance appropriately reflects his personality. But there’s more to these two characters than one might think. The dark, sententious characters are often the first to be liked because they’re calm, quiet bad-asses. Magus and Vincent, however, have something that runs much deeper to make them so endearing. We can see so much of ourselves in their tragic tales.

In the course of his life, Magus has seen little more than sorrow and pain. First, he is more or less abandoned by his mother so that she can grow stronger off Lavos’ power by almost constant communion with the Mammon Machine. He is thus left to be raised by his sister. Here we can see the root of Magus’ distrust of people and his reservations about showing affection because he presumably loved his mother—the one who gave him life—but then she neglected her own family to pursue her own selfish ends. Wouldn’t you feel the same if your mother did something similar to you?

Second, Magus is taken from his home, from his very time period, and sent to an unfamiliar, hostile environment. We strike out on our own at some point in our lives and understandably we find it difficult at first. It’s new. It’s different. We may be unprepared. However, Magus was only a child when he was sent to the Middle Ages, a choice he wasn’t given the opportunity to make. Almost immediately after arriving in this new time and place, Magus is attacked. Even as a child he soon learned what a truly wicked and mercilessly cruel place the world could be. We all learn this lesson, albeit at different times, rarely as young as Magus. Magus’ potential for mercy began to wane. When life kicks us when we’re down, it’s easy to become cynical, forget all the positive aspects of life, and see only the negative.

Third, Magus got the kind of second chance we only hope to get, the chance to change the past. Growing up in 600 AD, Magus had to have known what had become of his kingdom and when the gate caused by Lavos’ arrival threw him back to his own time period, he realized he could do something to change the outcome. And so he posed as a prophet—not a very far cry from the truth—and tried to steer his kingdom clear of its fateful path. How many times have we said to ourselves “If only I could do it over. I’d make things right.”? Magus did do it over. And failed. He tried to change the past but it seemed Zeal would not be spared by Fate. Not only did he now see his home come to ruins despite his best efforts to prevent that, but he was once more torn from the side of his sister Schala, the only one he ever cared for in his life—his mother prior to contact with Lavos notwithstanding—and the only one who ever cared for him in return, perhaps never to see her again. All because of Lavos. Magus sought revenge. He didn’t summon Lavos to bring about the Apocalypse, people. He summoned Lavos so that he could fight him on his own terms and destroy once and for all that which had completely destroyed his life.

We know what it’s like to try and fail, despite our best efforts. We know the guilt of leaving—reluctantly—a loved one. We know what it’s like to burn for vengeance. So even with the pale skin, pointed ears, and incredible magic powers, Magus is as human as you or I. He’s a character we can relate to. And that’s why people like him. [That and he looks cool. :-)]

Vincent’s story is no less sorrowful nor any less identifiable with. Vincent loves Lucrecia but is spurned by her, either due to the fact that she is under Hojo’s influence or she simply did not love him back. [Personally, I believe it’s the former that’s true.] However, either way you look at it, Vincent’s love goes unrequited with no explanation as to why, something I’m sure many of us have experienced at least once. As if the heartache isn’t enough to bear Vincent is killed in cold blood. Perhaps Hojo was jealous of Lucrecia’s love for Vincent—the kind of love she refused to give to Hojo—and thus he took Vincent out of the picture. Jealousy. Undoubtedly we’ve been jealous of someone at one time or another—as Vincent was of Hojo—but there may very well have been a time when someone was jealous of us and we didn’t realize it. Or we realized it too late, after we had suffered for that oversight.

As Vincent lay there dead upon Hojo’s lab floor, an idea struck the scientist—to exact another vengeance, more perverse even than murder, by making his rival for Lucrecia’s affection into a subject for his twisted experiments. With his life ended, his love denied him, and his body no longer what it had once been—never to be the same again—Vincent literally and figuratively had his humanity stripped from him. For all that he had lost he was given something in return—the ability to change. His body could transform into fearsome beasts, terrible creatures that allowed his exterior to reflect what he felt in his heart. We can’t turn into Galian Beasts. But we can let experiences change us, or they can change us whether we’re willing or not. They can change us inside and out, for better or worse. We can become—to an extent—something inhuman if we were caused a tremendous deal of pain, be it physical, emotional, or both as it was in Vincent’s case.

Also Vincent had a long time to brood upon all that had transpired and still his lust for revenge remained intense. Sometimes we don’t or won’t calm down after taking a deep breath and counting to ten. Sometimes there’s only one way we wanna do things, nice or not. Maybe it won’t change anything in the grand scheme of things. More than likely it won’t actually change anything important. But it will, possibly, make us feel better, however slightly.

Vincent may be able to look like a monster and Hojo looks like a man but who’s to say which is which? Love, rejection, jealousy, revenge, introspection, pain in its myriad forms. All these we see in Vincent. And all these we may see in ourselves. Though he might no longer be strictly human after what Hojo had done to him, Vincent still remains a character we can share many things in common with. The themes of his life can ring true in our own. And so that’s why people like him.

Beneath the capes and shadowy visages these men are essentially just like us. We can relate to them. That’s why characters are liked, I think. Like Cloud, we have doubts about ourselves. Like Squall, we can see we’re in over our heads. Like Crono, we find ourselves the victims of circumstance. And so on and so forth. Sure, Magus and Vincnet look cool. But that’s not all there is to them. They’re not just one-dimensional characters. It just takes another, closer look, beyond the sweet character designs.

You’re still reading this? Then you’re now obliged to (well, not really, but you could) tell me why you read this—and I don’t want any “Well, there’s not much else in the Freezer”—and what you thought. The address is Thanks for your time.

~The prince without a kingdom.~

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