Monday, May 30, 2016

Fanha and Geshtar

It's time for Fanha and Geshtar.  I was excited to see Fanha's name come up in many Japanese forums, but then realized that most of these were fanfics.  Apparently, an obscure character from an obscure game can also have a cult following.  Fanha can tell us things about the other bodyguards.  Like them, her sprite is strikingly different than any other in the game.  Below is a representation in a Japanese magazine:

Here, we get more of a feel for what she's supposed to look like.  We meet Fanha four times.  She's merely present when we approach the Emperor at Vandole Palace.  We see her again at the Tree Palace before we battle Sheex.  In the Grand Palace, she taunts us and runs away with the Emperor, seizing the opportunity to fight us after he's dead.  All dialogue is here, with my retranslation.

The taunt:

Ted Woolsey:

FANHA:Look who's here!  Prepare to...

EMPEROR:Enough, Fanha!  We've no time for these children.  Think what the Mana Fortress will do to them!  Let's go!

FANHA:...Ha!...coming...Oh, I'll get you little beasts yet!


FANHA: I see you have come.  Well, this time, you will suffocate…like this…!

EMPEROR:  Stop, Fanha!  We have no time to spare.  If we can get our hands on the Fortress, these brats, along with the Republic, will be blown apart!  Let's hurry ahead!

FANHA:…Ha!…Certainly…! Randi, you will surely be buried by me...

The Emperor mentions, "the Republic."  It's been forced into the background of the final game, but this means that, "the Republic" (presumably Tasnica) is still as much of a threat as Randi and friends.  We'll cover the war in a future article.

Later, the trash talk before the battle.  The Emperor has been found dead, leaving only Fanha standing.


FANHA:You made it!

BOY:Did YOU beat the Emperor?

FANHA:I'm afraid so! We'd rule the world if we had the Mana Fortress!

BOY:"We?"  Who else is here?

BOY:  Thanatos!

THANATOS:  Aha! Long time no see, little one!

GIRL:Where is Dyluck?  Is he safe?

THANATOS:Of course! He's just about to become my new body!

GIRL:What are you up to?

FANHA:Never you mind!  Now, Thanatos, to the Fortress!  Revenge is SO sweet!  Bye bye forever!


FANHA: Is that you, Randi?  You've finally come.

RANDI:  You did the emperor in, didn't you?

FANHA:  Just part of the plan.  We'll be rulers of everything in the world if we get control of the Mana Fortress.

RANDI:  We?  There's someone besides you?

THANATOS:  It's been a long time, Randi.

PURIM:  What about Dyluck!?  Is Dyluck safe?

THANATOS:  Of course he is, my little lamb.  I've taken good care of him as he is my soon-to-be reincarnation!

PURIM:  What do you mean!?

FANHA:  There's really no need for you to know such things.  Come on, exalted Thanatos, get to the fortress!  Sheex and Geshtar accepted a difficult challenge, and will be avenged.  Now I'll accomplish our goal, and that is for you to die here!

We then fight Fanha's alternate form which she acquired from the Underworld.  According to the Wiki of Mana, "she uses the power of Mavolia to transform into Hexas and does battle with the party."  The Underworld will be dealt with in Thanatos' article, but I did
From Tom Guycott of the Spriters Resource
want to mention a few things about Hexas, an entity with the upper body of a four armed woman, and the lower body of a gigantic snake.  Her animation is extremely intricate compared to most other sprites in the game (see picture).  She essentially appears two other times in the Mana series.  One is in Seiken Densetsu 3 as the naga that the Fenrir Knight summons.  The other, according to the Wiki of Mana, is as Malyris in Sword of Mana.  

Of course, Hexas is unsuccessful and:


FANHA:What the..? Thanatos!


FANHA:  So much foolishness…great Thanatos…why?

You'll note that despite Fanha and Sheex being different characters, their role in the game is almost identical.  It's as if the Sunken Continent was used as a dumping ground for underdeveloped NPC's. 

Now that we've experienced the entirety of Fanha's dialogue, we can see that the original Japanese does not teach us anything significant.  It is clear from both versions that Fanha was in on Thanatos' conspiracy to overcome the Emperor and take the fortress for himself.  Why they had to overcome the Emperor is unknown, but it could be that they're just evil and didn't want to share what they could have to themselves.  We see parallels to this in Final Fantasy VI, where Kefka throws an injured Gestahl off the floating continent.  Gestahl protests that, "there will be no one to worship us...", but that does not stop Kefka from throwing the world out of balance, just like Thanatos sees no reason not to revive the Mana Fortress and destroy the world in the process.

Also from the Spriters Resource.  Furthest to the left of these summons.

So if Fanha was assisting Thanatos, what about Sheex and Geshtar?  Sheex was with the Emperor and Fanha at the start of the Tree Palace scene.  Instead of getting to the altar, they're conveniently standing there, waiting for Randi and friends to show up.  If Randi had not shown up and ended their cocktail party, we can presume that they would have been successful in reviving the Fortress.  And then would Sheex have had to go like the Emperor?  Anything I can come up with is little more than a guess; I could see it going either way.  And did Thanatos use Fanha to stall Randi and friends, telling her the importance of his pending reincarnation, unable to do the job himself?


Thanatos, Fanha, Sheex, and Vandole all had a, "contract" with the underworld, according to the game script.  But what about Geshtar?  The dialogue that describes him to the player indeed establishes that he is known as the machine rider, which is how he fights us---in human form.  (The Mech Rider concept reminds me of Magitek Armor in Final Fantasy VI.)  All of the other bodyguards switch to their Underworld gift.  This means that we may able to distinguish Geshtar from the others in that he was seriously out of the loop on what was going on.

BUT, as we saw in the Sheex article, Geshtar's Mech Rider sprite is the same as the other knights in the game:  


When you defeat them, they don't leave a carcass like a lot of creatures; they vanish into thin air.  This may be to tone down the violence in the game; the developers may not have wanted to show dead humans.  But if the Emperor's army was indeed full of human-like monsters, was Geshtar even human in the first place, or was he just a special clone?

Other than Thanatos, he's the only bodyguard who has significant screen time.  We meet Geshtar four times: in the Water Palace, in Kakkara, in Northtown, and finally as a zombie in the Grand Palace.  

In the Water Palace, Geshtar is our first look at a member of the Empire.  We did encounter Thanatos, but the connection was downplayed at that point, and as stated in a previous article, he seems to be distinct from the rest of the operation.  After going through a harsh wilderness, a witch's castle, and the Pandora Ruins, he's a hint of something big to come, but as we know, the Empire as a concept is a bit thin in the final game.  Here is his dialogue at the Water Palace:



LUKA:Get out of here fast!

GESHTAR:Who have we here?  I'm Geshtar, of the Empire!  Hand over that seed or Luka's had it!


What will you do?

(Hand it over Run )

GESHTAR:Atta boy!


BOY:Ouch! Can't move!

GESHTAR:So glad the seed's here. Too bad we have to break the seal!

LUKA:Stop it!

GESHTAR:Well, nice to have met you all!  As a little gift I'd like you to have my little pet! Remember to feed him!


RANDI:  Luka-sama!

LUKA:  Get out of here fast!  [I can't best Ted on this one]

GESHTAR:  Don't waste your time, friends.  I'm Geshtar of the Vandole Empire.  Come

on, give me the seed if you want to help Lusa Luka.  [Lusa is Luka's first name, left out of the USA translation.]

LUKA:  Don't!  Get out of here!

What will you do?

(Hand it over Run )

GESHTAR:  Good boy!

(GESHTAR:  Fool!)

GESHTAR:  Getting the seed won't be any trouble as it's right here!  But the seed itself is in trouble as I will have to unseal it.

LUKA:  Oh, you must stop this.

GESHTAR:  So...I suppose I'll have to be impolite and head out.  But in gratitude, I'll try giving you a pet.  It needs lots of love.  Hahahahaha!

Geshtar is a generic cartoon villain here.  Did you notice how every Imperial villain uses the same strategy?

1)Send someone else after Randi

3)Assume it all went according to plan
4)Repeat as needed

Let's go to Kakkara:


GESHTAR:Hm...didn't think I'd see YOU here!  You must be the ones Thanatos warned me about.  How 'bout a little game?!

GESHTAR:So long, chumps!  Surrender!  

[after the battle] Nuts!


GESHTAR:  My God...I never thought I'd see a close friend [gentleman] like you in a place like this.  You came up quite a bit in Thanatos' report.  Okay, let's just get right to a little game.  Let's go!

[after the battle] Damn it!

This is brief, but Geshtar seems slightly more reputable and less generic.  I think Woolsey
made a mistake in his translation as he implies that Geshtar had never encountered Randi and friends before.  In Japanese, it seems like Thanatos debriefed the Empire on his ruin at the Ruins, and they realize more and more just what a threat Randi is.  

In Northtown, we get a little more from Geshtar:


GESHTAR:Sir! One more chance, please.

EMPEROR:...Why not? Finish them up and come to the palaces.

GESHTAR:Now I reclaim my honor...

[after the battle] 

GESHTAR:I'm gonna burn up this whole place!


GESHTAR: Your majesty, please don't think I'm not good enough!  May I have another chance?

EMPEROR:  Very well.  We will continue to the temples ahead.  Straighten things up here as soon as you can.

GESHTAR:  Haha!  You left me in shame!  My failure was unforgivable!  Let's go!

[after the battle]

GESHTAR:  We'll go together!  Burn here!

Now we see something resembling character development.  Geshtar is an honorable military man, fiercely loyal to the Emperor.  He's even willing to sacrifice himself if it means getting the job done.  (Several unofficial Japanese sources claim that Geshtar was half cyborg after being injured in Kakkara.  I'm trying to confirm this.)

The final time we meet Geshtar is a rather perplexing scene in the Mana Fortress before it's activated.  Let's take a look at the dialogue:




THANATOS:Mwa, it Geshtar, or..? Using my ancient magic, I've created a living...fighting machine!

BOY:How utterly evil...


RANDI:  Geshtar!  You're alive?


THANATOS:  Hahaha!  You'd think it's Geshtar…except it's not Geshtar.    I resurrected him with my ancient powers, creating a living magical machine.  A pathetic doll which fights.

RANDI:  Such a cruel thing…

Geshtar meets an awful fate; his fierce loyalty to the Emperor is mocked by Thanatos as he is forced to work for the latter against his will.  Perhaps Thanatos knew that Geshtar would never stand for his treachery.  This also puts Geshtar at odds with Fanha, and possibly Sheex.  So again---assuming he didn't have a contract with the underworld, was he in on the conspiracy to off the Emperor and get the Mana Fortress?  Or was he like General Leo in Final Fantasy VI, appalled at the actions of someone in the Empire, oblivious to what was really taking place?  Fanha knew that Thanatos needed a new body, and was willing to die for him to achieve that goal.  She also spoke of avenging Geshtar and Sheex, two people whose role in Thanatos' grand plan is not given.  The entirety of the conspiracy against the Emperor: who was in it and how, is very unclear and can only be left to speculation.

It's sad that the bodyguard's background and full role was mostly lost in the removed and underdeveloped content of Secret of Mana.  We have only been able to get a better feel for the characters; anything beyond that is wild speculation.

No set of bodyguards color coordinates like the Vandole crew.  Note the absence of Thanatos here.

Next:  TBA

Acknowledgements:  Thanks to the Spriters Resource as always for allowing their work to be used in other projects, like this one.  A few screenshots came from Classic Gamers Paradise.  I'm still trying to pin down the original source of the Japanese magazine.   Everything is owned by Square.  

To contact me, please use the e-mail link in my profile.


  1. Very interesting. I always wished they'd do a remake of Secret of Mana wherein they include everything they had to chop.

    Also, yay for the secondary colors! (Orange + Green + Purple)

  2. Minor statement about Fanha's dying words - she says "sonna baka na", which straightforwardly is "this stupidity/foolishness" but is also used in the sense of "this can't be/this is ridiculous/how could this happen". So you were not incorrect! :D She just has extra nuances there, because of the way Japanese works. (I'm not a pro at this myself, but I have close friends who speak Japanese fluently, and taught me a lot of stuff!)