The Magitek Pairing
In JRPGs, character pairing is a powerful plot device (as well as an easy way for developers to bloat your party member screen unnecessarily). Take the Final Fantasy series, for example — you have strong one-to-one pairings that define or support the entire narrative experience. Cecil and Golbez, Maria and Leon, Squall and Rinoa, Biggs and Wedge — all wonderful examples. But among all in the series, I find the Terra/Celes pairing to be the most interesting.
It might be because Final Fantasy VI doesn’t have a clear main protagonist. You’re given a large number of characters from the get-go, and the story is never revealed completely through the eyes of a single person. I favor the Terra/Celes pairing as the ‘main character’ entity; they are foils, and as one grows in character, the other diminishes. This is most apparent after the world gets redesigned thanks to Kefka and the Warring Triad. From there, it’s a give and take — while Celes despairs over Cid, Terra is learning to love the orphans she has sworn to protect. As Celes discovers her reason to fight (as well as the rest of the party, as it were), Terra struggles with new responsibilities as a caretaker.
To put it simply, Terra starts with nothing and gains the admiration and love of her orphans, and Celes begins with everything and chooses to forsake it all for Locke. The air of sadness that just seems to envelop the two throughout the story feels heavier and more plausible than all the emo-trips that other Final Fantasy characters seem to undergo. That means you, Hope.
Barring Kefka as the game’s absolute show-stealer, the Terra/Celes pair sets the tone for FFVI’s entire narrative. Now, if someone could just explain to me what was so wrong with the name “Tina” in the first place…