Tantarian

Miko

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Aloha! Remember this guy? In case you've forgotten, or are unfamiliar, Tantarian is an optional Boss that you fight in the Alexandrian Castle Library that you have two difference chances of confronting during the game that you've got a limited amount of time to beat. Interestingly, sticking to the theme of allusions to previous FF Games that IX is known for, is that his entire design is based off of FFV's enemies Page 64, Page 256, Page 128, and Page 32.

1598462717785.jpeg

I was looking at something a while back and had forgotten that the front of the book spells out 'Alexandoria' instead of 'Alexandria', like the castle that he resides in. My curiosity piqued when I also saw that his concept sketches also reflected this.

1598462779570.png

Even the spine has it written out



I love that FFIX is full of allusions to previous games but I'm curious as to why the book is spelled out this way :8F:Is it another reference that I'm not getting, or is it something else? Perhaps this book is just another Terran mystery that was left unexplained? What are your guys' thoughts?
 

Dionysos

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I love this creature!

I knew the general idea was a reference to FFV’s haunted books, but I had never noticed the visual references on the book cover itself.

For those who haven’t noticed I have just prepared this crude diagram:
tantarian references.png


That’s seriously neat and seriously cool.

The first thing I want to comment on is the name. In the west we know this creature as Tantarian, but its intended name in the Japanese is Dantalian. Dantalian or Dantalion references a book-carrying duke in demonology grimoires (notably The Lesser Key of Solomon, 17th Century). This duke represented teaching and the obtainment of knowledge. This makes a lot of sense for this creature in FFIX, considering the form of it.

Final Fantasy draws from such grimoires a number of times for inspiration for monsters and summons. Valefor and Glasya-Labolas (AKA Doomtrain) are other examples of demons listed in The Lesser Key of Solomon which Square Enix have reimagined in Final Fantasy games.

I wonder why it was localised as 'Tantarian' instead. Maybe the team figured that Tantalus (who was punished for eternity in the Underworld) was a good motif to go with, particularly considering the Tantalus Theatre Troupe. However, there’s no evidence that ‘Tantarian’ relates to that. It’s most probably a mistranslation by someone who hadn't recognised the reference (a bit like how Orthros was mistranslated as Ultros in the west and Biggs was mistranslated as Vicks in the ‘FFIII’ release of FFVI in the west, regrettably obscuring the intended references to the very demographic which should have been more familiar with the source material).

I love the design of this creature btw. The bookmark doubles as a devil tail or hand and I love it. But in a loose way it also looks a bit like the seal for Dantalion in demonology.

Dantalion_Seal.gif


If we take the bit to the right to look like the bookmark, and the nobbly bit at the top to be the head above the book. The resemblance is even more apparent if you squint your eyes and stand on one leg, pinch your left ear and say the right words in the correct order.

Okay, maybe it doesn't look like the seal a great deal, but for a passing moment I had that thought.

I was looking at something a while back and had forgotten that the front of the book spells out 'Alexandoria' instead of 'Alexandria', like the castle that he resides in. My curiosity piqued when I also saw that his concept sketches also reflected this.

View attachment 9533
Even the spine has it written out



I love that FFIX is full of allusions to previous games but I'm curious as to why the book is spelled out this way :8F:Is it another reference that I'm not getting, or is it something else? Perhaps this book is just another Terran mystery that was left unexplained? What are your guys' thoughts?

As for 'Alexandoria', while I might be tempted to go on about the Dorians or something, my guess would be that this was a consequence of translating the Japanese into English / Roman alphabet characters visually (on the monster model and artwork itself) by the Japanese and not by the English localisation team, since this text appears in all versions because the enemy is supposed to represent a dusty tome found in the vault of a 'western' library (FFIX's Alexandria is, after all to some degree, the ancient city of Alexandria given an early modern makeover).

I’m no expert on Japanese, but this is what Google translate does for me when I run the Japanese characters used for Alexandria in FFIX into it to check my theory.

tantarian alexandoria.png


So it seems like they have correctly translated the first half of Arekusandoria to create ‘Alexan’ but then have neglected to correct the ‘doria’ part of the name and so haven’t rendered it as ‘dria’. In short, they didn't drop the 'o' from the Japanese form of the name.

It still remains plausible as a name slapped on a haunted ancient text about demonology on a dusty shelf in a library, but it does affect consistency for those who recognise the error (such as yourself, and now me!).

That’s what I think has happened there.

If we throw that aside and think purely 'in-game' then I like the idea that the Terrans were behind it though. If Alexandria had an ancient Terran, pre-merger heritage (which would suit the Terran altar / summon extraction altar) then we could imagine that 'Alexandoria' was the name of an earlier form of the city in the Terran tongue. Maybe the earliest Gaians who settled the town post-merger encountered it somewhere and took or adapted the name. There's still a lot that we don't know about what both worlds looked like before the merger (which was, we should remember, considered a 'failed merger' and left Gaia a mess). Most of what we see on Gaia was built after this merger so it is difficult to imagine what Gaia might have looked like if it hadn't been for the influence of Terra. Countless Terran buildings and landmarks appeared on Gaia and even the sky changed with the addition of Terra's moon. A Gaia without Terra wouldn't have resembled FFIX's Gaia at all, and that is fascinating.
 
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Miko

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While I can accept that maybe it's just an error on development side, I feel like finding the correct spelling of Alexandria wouldn't be terrible difficult for anyone to google-search, even back when this was in development. That said, I've never tried to learn a different language so maybe that's ignorance on my side :lew:



I suppose a more interesting question is... what's inside the book of Tantarian himself?

The first thing I want to comment on is the name. In the west we know this creature as Tantarian, but its intended name in the Japanese is Dantalian. Dantalian or Dantalion references a book-carrying duke in demonology grimoires (notably The Lesser Key of Solomon, 17th Century). This duke represented teaching and the obtainment of knowledge. This makes a lot of sense for this creature in FFIX, considering the form of it.

It would be interesting if Tantarian (the book) contained some kind of Grimoire. Maybe the book contains information on the summon extraction altar itself and how to perform the process, among other things? It would be interesting if Alexandria Library itself contained books or other forms of knowledge that would explain how exactly some people know how to perform certain magics such as Garnet, though I've always attributed that to her being a summoner since Eiko is capable of magic as well. Though this could be explained by magics being passed down I suppose. :hmm: It's just interesting that a bunch of the common people, as well as Queen Brahne herself, are not capable of magic.

But I digress, it still doesn't explain why the Tantarian Book is labeled as 'Alexandoria' - even if it was meant to be spelled 'Alexandria'. Was it a book about Alexander (the Eidolon) perhaps?



I've been looking closely at the concept art and I'm not sure but you can kind of see, in the upper right corner of the right page, what looks like a map?
Also, in the lower left on the left page it has what looks like a logo - Almost like the Lindblum Emblem?

Tantarian.png


So.... Hmmmm :lew: More questions than answers? I wonder who has been flipping and marking through this book. Kuja?



My last plausible thought is that Tantarian himself changed the book title to adapt to his environment. If he was from Terra maybe he's not sure how to spell Alexandria and tries his little blue heart's best. Hypothetically you'd think no one would inspect a book labeled 'Alexandoria/Alexandria' if they're already there in Alexandria itself. Thooooough you'd think someone would have stumbled upon him at some point and would induce some sort of conflict. I dunno :8F:It's fun to think these things out though!
 

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I completely forgot about this! Sorry!


While I can accept that maybe it's just an error on development side, I feel like finding the correct spelling of Alexandria wouldn't be terrible difficult for anyone to google-search, even back when this was in development. That said, I've never tried to learn a different language so maybe that's ignorance on my side :lew:

It does sound crazy, but it happens. Even in the English localisations mistakes are made where we wouldn’t expect them. Particularly in the early ones. For example the examples I gave in the earlier post about early translations of FFVI giving us Vicks instead of Biggs, obscuring the Star Wars reference, and also that the west typically receives Ultros instead of Orthros, even in later titles, probably because the character became beloved and distinct in his own right and outgrew his mythical origins.
So it is possible that a Japanese monster designer—who probably always had Alexandria in mind—could have transliterated the name into the Latin-English alphabet for the book, but made a simple mistake in the middle of the word.

Or if we are to think entirely in-universe, then perhaps Alexandoria is an ancient spelling of Alexandria. It wouldn't be too far-fetched. Place names undergo transformations, contractions and expansions over time. Nottingham was originally Snottingham ('home of Snot!'), to give the first real-life example to pop into my head.


It would be interesting if Tantarian (the book) contained some kind of Grimoire. Maybe the book contains information on the summon extraction altar itself and how to perform the process, among other things? It would be interesting if Alexandria Library itself contained books or other forms of knowledge that would explain how exactly some people know how to perform certain magics such as Garnet, though I've always attributed that to her being a summoner since Eiko is capable of magic as well. Though this could be explained by magics being passed down I suppose. :hmm: It's just interesting that a bunch of the common people, as well as Queen Brahne herself, are not capable of magic.

A book about spells (and possibly, cryptically, extraction) seems plausible to me, especially considering the nature of the book itself and the very reason that we end up fighting the damned thing: it is haunted! Clearly magic is involved in it somehow, so something to do with demonology (as its Dantalion namesake's origins also imply) or something to do with the casting of magic or extraction of summons (unless these latter two possibilities can connect with demonology, with the former being an explored route into acquiring magical abilities).

As for other magic users in the world... I used to think that maybe magic was connected with Mist (at least when Eidolons aren't involved, since Mist was involved in breathing life into the constructed Black Mages). But I'm not so sure now. Quina is a Blue Mage by class, and literally becomes what s/he eats and learns from devoured enemies (basically Kirby in an apron and chef's hat). Beatrix can also cast white magic.

We never fight Brahne directly in the game, so I wonder if Brahne was ever fought if she would still not have magic. In some of these cases it could be purely battle convenience rather than plot relevance.

Unless Beatrix is very special and had trained with special spell books, possibly using Tantarian itself?

That said, some enemies (and not just monsters) can use magic. The bounty hunter Lani, for example, can cast Blizzara, Fira, Thundara, Water and Aera, apparently. She may have trained in the arts of black magic somewhere, and she might be a special case herself, but even so it signals that it wasn't entirely inaccessible to regular people. She wasn't, as far as I'm aware, herself a descendant of any summoners (although she would end up in the vicinity of Madain Sari, so maybe there is an affinity of sorts there).


But I digress, it still doesn't explain why the Tantarian Book is labeled as 'Alexandoria' - even if it was meant to be spelled 'Alexandria'. Was it a book about Alexander (the Eidolon) perhaps?

A book about Alexander seems plausible to me too. I mean, probably the history of Alexandria the town and Alexander the Eidolon would be intertwined. Similar to how you cannot really discuss the real-life city (or cities) of Alexandria in depth without mentioning their founder Alexander the Great.

The summoners of Madain Sari trace their origin to the summoners who fled the Mist Continent after summoning Alexander. Looking at the timeline, this event supposedly happened about 500 years ago. A first edition manuscript of a play by Lord Avon ('Wishing upon a Star') is kept at Madain Sari. Eiko quotes from it to flirt with Zidane, and Garnet comments that it is 500 years old, etc, and that the only other copy that old is kept at Alexandria. This therefore dates Lord Avon to around 500 years ago, at least, and potentially he was belonging to the ancient tribe of summoners himself before migrating with them. Or else they took his manuscripts with them. Circumstantial evidence, but interesting to consider.
(See here and scroll down to the Madain Sari fish dinner scene for the reference, and then scroll down a bit further for Garnet's further remarks).


Therefore, if literature survives from the period of the summoning of Alexander, it could be imagined that books exist with some cryptic or misunderstood passages about summoning, extraction, magic, and so on, and that several eminent scholars of the present day might not have recognised them yet (explaining how people lost the knowledge of how to perform Eidolon summoning).

I've been looking closely at the concept art and I'm not sure but you can kind of see, in the upper right corner of the right page, what looks like a map?
Also, in the lower left on the left page it has what looks like a logo - Almost like the Lindblum Emblem?

Tantarian.png


So.... Hmmmm :lew: More questions than answers? I wonder who has been flipping and marking through this book. Kuja?

As for the drawings on the book, that part that you highlight does resemble the crest of Lindblum, but unless the bookmarks have been placed at the bottom of the book, it might be upside down. I'm not sure which way is meant to be up here. If it matters.

The other parts do look like maps, or diagrams of some sort. If not a map, then perhaps diagrams of the cosmos or something. Gaia and surrounding celestial bodies or something. The part to the right of his mouth looks a bit like a map too.


My last plausible thought is that Tantarian himself changed the book title to adapt to his environment. If he was from Terra maybe he's not sure how to spell Alexandria and tries his little blue heart's best. Hypothetically you'd think no one would inspect a book labeled 'Alexandoria/Alexandria' if they're already there in Alexandria itself. Thooooough you'd think someone would have stumbled upon him at some point and would induce some sort of conflict. I dunno :8F:It's fun to think these things out though!

Like Doctor Who’s magic passport mixed with the Polymorph of Red Dwarf… I like it!
The Tantarian / Dantalion background I mention above means this would suit his powers, I guess. Powers over books, knowledge, etc. I like the idea that Tantarian adapted to surroundings like a mimic a lot!

There's definitely a lot more that I would love to know about Tantarian.
 
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