Monday, August 15, 2016


It's time to take a look at the protagonist, the star, the hero himself, Randi.  As Secret of Mana and Chrono Trigger began as the same game, it's not surprising that Randi and Purim have a striking resemblance to Chrono and Marle.  But Chrono is a silent protagonist, with a background typical of the world he lives in.  He lives in a peaceful village in the Kingdom of Guardia that happens to be having a huge fair honoring the year 1000 AD.  On the other hand, Randi is an orphan who hangs out with the worst friends ever, and lives in a boring village full of paranoid, cold-hearted, overbearing yokels who hoard gold in their basements and spend their days brooding over people who are different.

Randi's vital stats according to the Seikens are:

Age: 16
Height: 174cm  or 5ft7in
Weight: 62kg or 137lbs

Despite being the protagonist, Randi is yet another victim of Secret of Mana's limited execution in that he has little character development.  Most of the dialogue concerning his background comes in large bursts at different stages of the game.  We'll examine the original Japanese dialogue in the hopes of gaining a deeper understanding.

After you begin a new game, and watch the prologue, you'll be taken to a screen with Randi and his friends, Timothy and Elliot.  They are advancing on a a log that traverses a waterfall.  Text in red is the original American translation.  Text in blue is my retranslation.  My goal is to get more meaning out of the text with moderate paraphrasing rather than a total rewrite.

RANDI:Hey! Guys! Wait up!  Aaaaaah!

ELLIOTT:Shh! Be quiet!The Elder will find us here and he'll be mad!

TIMOTHY:Yeah. We're not supposed to be here.  There's a ghost around!

ELLIOTT:Ha! Do you really believe that? People say that to scare us! But I heard Grandma say something about a shiny object near the falls.

TIMOTHY:That must be some kind of treasure! We have to find it!

BOY:Help! I'm falling!  Aaahhhh..hhhhhh!

Randi: Hey! Everyone wait for me!  Aaaaaah!

Elliott: Randi, you dickhead! If you're careless, we'll be found, and the Elder will be angry.

Timothy: That's right. We're not supposed to be here by a law of the village. It's supposedly haunted. There's a ghost out here!

Elliott: Bullshit. They tell us that because they think it will scare us and we'll stay away.  But, if my grandmother really did see the shining light by the waterfall that she said she did awhile back...I could find it and have a great treasure!

Timothy: Let's hurry ahead!

Randi: Oh, oh, I'm falling! Wow...aah!!!

This short scene gives us our first hints of setting.  The youths are part of a village with an Elder, and they're at a place they're not supposed to be where there's supposedly a treasure.  This is like the start of countless stories and fairy tales, not surprising given that the designer revealed that those were the inspiration for much of SoM's story.

Like much of the game, the scene suffers from unnatural brevity, though we get the idea of Randi as an adventurous boy, lacking typical adolescent recklessness, but retaining the naive curiosity of his early youth.   In this scene, his friends,  Elliot and Timothy don't check to see if Randi's alive; they just run for help...I think.  It is not clear if they can't see his landing point from where they are, or don't know if he's alive or not.  They certainly didn't take time to ask.  Luckily, Randi seems to be unharmed from his fall, and quickly assesses the situation:

No way to get back up!  Now what am I going to do?
It's not likely I can climb back up if I try...

I have to get back!  The village is this way. I have to find something to cut through!
I need to go home to the village!  The village is over here...but this is impassable!

Little does Randi know that by fate, he's landed precisely at the spot to find the, "treasure."  Within eyesight appears to be a sword that is forced into a stone.  He doesn't consider the odd presentation; instead, he concludes that he can use it to go bushwhacking.  Wandering into the shallow waters where the stone lies, he begins to free the sword when he hears a voice.



....RANDI....Remove the sword...

RANDI:Who are you...and what's this sword doing here?  Urrrrrrrgh!  Huh!?  Ow! That bright I can't see...Ahhhhh! A g...g...ghost!

…...RANDI......It is I who asked...the sword...

RANDI:!?  Say what?  You mean this sword?

The brilliant light is gone in an instant.


Randi:  ??

...Randi...come pull the sword...

Randi:  Who?  ...what, is this sword?  So bright!  Wow, a monster!  

[It was] I [who] asked for the sword, Randi...

Randi:  ...!?  What?  Oh, the sword!

The light fades away, more and more.

Randi has pulled a sword from a stone---in this case, the Mana Sword, which waits near Potos, placed by its previous handler, waiting for its next handler.  Only chosen ones can take the sword, and it appears that Randi is it.  However, now that the sword is extracted, his village has lost its magical protection, and all hell breaks loose.  After breaking through the overgrowth the Sword, Randi encounters rabbit-like creatures called, "rabites" who attack him.  It is not clear if rabites are always hostile, or if this is just an effect of the Mana Sword, but it seems that Randi has seen these before.  It does not seem that Randi has been in combat before, but he's at least adept at improvising with tools---he is successful in fighting off the rabites are block his path.  He makes it back to Potos, where he rejoins the townsfolk.  Let's look at the some of the dialogue:

Randi! The Elder was looking for you. What did you do this time?
Randi! The Elder was looking for you. What mischief have you been up to?

There's a strange guy in here. He looks kinda scary.
There's a man in the shop that I'm not familiar with. He has a very suspicious expression in his eyes; it's troubling me.

Hey, Randi! Stop playing with that sword before you hurt someone!
Oh, Randi! It is dangerous to wield such a sword. I will have to tell the Elder!

I have a real bad feeling about this...
This could be bad, don't you think? Kuwabara, kuwabara...(this literally means, "mulberry fields" and is analogous to, "knock on wood")

We don't see this collective attitude anywhere else in the game.  Potos has a unique back country feel to it, even though it's only accessible at the beginning.  There's not much to see, however.  The town doesn't offer much of a unique experience other than the reunion with Randi's friends and the Elder.

ELDER:RANDI! You're not hurt! They just told me what happened.

ELLIOTT:I thought you were a goner!

TIMOTHY:I told you it was stupid to bring someone like HIM along!

ELDER:You idiots! Weren't you told not to go there?  Huh? RANDI!  What's that you have?  ...Oh, no! It couldn't be!

ELLIOTT:Cool! Did you find the treasure?

TIMOTHY:Way to go!

ELDER:What have you done?!  How could YOU have pulled out the Mana Sword?  It's impossible!

TIMOTHY:THE Mana Sword?!  Legend has it that our village is finished...

ELDER:..If the sword is removed.  And here it is!  It is said that the Mana Sword has been
protecting our village from disaster.

ELLIOTT:So that's it!  That's why all the monsters are attacking us now!  How could an outsider like you yank out the sword and bring doom to us all!!

RANDI:Hey! Stop it!

ELLIOTT:YOU did it!  It's your fault!  You!

RANDI:Please, stop!  Waaah! Earthquake!..Aaaaaaah...

Elder: Randi! Are you safe? Elliott was just telling me the whole story...

Elliott: I should have known this would happen. He's so clumsy!

Timothy: Yeah, I really hate taking a guy like this along. This is what we get!

Elder: Idiots! I said not to go there! You have completely conducted yourself like brats!  Oh...Randi! What do you have there? It's...that', that's impossible!

Elliott: Ooooh! Maybe you found the treasure!?

Timothy: That's pretty good!

Elder:  Bloody hell!  The Mana Sword has been pulled out!  Everybody had thought that it couldn't come loose, but…

Timothy: Wow!  The power…have you ever heard the legend that the village will be annihilated if it's removed?

Elder:  The legend says that the Mana Sword has been with us to protect this village.  It's pulled out now.

Elliott:  Eat me!  Look at what you've done.  Now the monsters have begun to run wild!  You're like a stranger now that you've removed the sword!

Randi:  Wow!  Stop!

Elliott:  Shut up!  Stop right there!  

Randi:  Wait a minute!  For God's sake, will…wow!  An earthquake!    Ahhhhh!

At the end of this dialogue, Randi and Elliot have fallen into a chasm that was created by a demonic ant.  All of the sudden, the horrible sword he just acquired is slightly less horrible as Elliot implores him to use it against the Mantis Ant.  The
mysterious man in the pub watches the battle from above, and assists Randi during the battle.  After the Mantis Ant is dispatched, this man helps Randi up, introduces himself, and tells Randi about the sword:

MAN:That appears to be the real Mana Sword.

RANDI:Huh? What?

MAN:It is supposed to be pulled out by a knight in times of great trouble.  Problem is, you're too
young! Something must have happened to the Mana Sword.

RANDI:Here! It's yours!

MAN:Sorry, but the sword is losing its power, and must be re-energized!  Only the person who pulled
it free can do that.

RANDI:What should I do?

RANDI:Visit Sage Luka in the Water Palace.  She's been protecting these lands for over 200 years.  Listen to her advice.

TIMOTHY:RANDI! The Elder wants you in his house!

MAN:Well, I have to be off.  Oh, my name is Jema.

JEMA:I'll wait for you inside the Water Palace!

Man:  This sword appears to be the genuine Mana Sword.  This is quite serious…

Randi:  Yikes!  What do you mean?

Man:  When danger is imminent in the world, it is the Mana Sword that is drawn by the hero [who will save us].  However, you are too young.  Something has surely happened to the Mana Sword.

Randi:  I present it to you!

Man:  No, it's useless.  The Mana Sword has lost its power.  It must be revived.  It can only be done by the person who pulled the sword.  I can not.  

Randi:  How is this done?

Man:  It might be good to hear Lusa Luka in the Water Palace.  For 200 years, she has continued to watch over this land.  She might have some good wisdom for your ordeal.

Timothy:  Randi!  Come to the Elder's house!

Man:  I must go ahead because I have some business to take care of.  My name is Jema.  I'll be waiting at the temple.

Another quick and convenient dialogue chain.  Randi happens to have someone who knows about the Mana Sword and can point him in the right direction.  I'll address that later in the article.  Upon returning to the Elder's house, there is already a hostile crowd inside.  Let's take a look at the next scene:

VILLAGER:Elder! We can't go on like this!

VILLAGER:Yeah! There's no relief in sight.

ELDER: ... Oh, Randi!  You've really done it this time! The reason why monsters have appeared is because you removed the sword.

VILLAGER:It's settled.  We can't let Randi stay in the village anymore!

VILLAGER:If we do, more monsters will come after him!

VILLAGERS:Go! Get out of here! Yeah, on your way now!

ELDER:I don't want to do this, but I have no choice. I'm going to have to ask you to leave the village. You can take what's in the treasure chest downstairs. I know I've told you this before, but...Your mother brought you to this village when you were just a baby.  Soon afterwards, she disappeared...I took you and have done my best to raise you.  But now we must part.  I truly hope you can find your mother someday....Good bye, Randi.

Villager:  Elder!  We can't leave things the way they are!

Villager:  That's right!  We can't feel safe!  What if another monster shows up again?

Elder: Seems like everyone has made up their mind, Randi.  And the reason these monsters are appearing is because you removed the sword.

Villager:  It's settled!  As long as Randi is in the village, monsters will come!

Villagers:  Get out!  Yes, get out!  Get out!  Get out!

Elder:  Unfortunately, Randi, there's nothing I can do.  I'm going to have to let you go from the village.  There's a treasure chest downstairs; I hope it helps you in buying some equipment.  You probably don't remember this, but…when you were still young, your mother came with you to the village.  Immediately thereafter, she disappeared.  I took you in and brought you up as you have no relatives...farewell.  I pray that someday, you will meet your mother.

Good thing they finally have an excuse to get rid of Randi.  The Elder appears to be giving obligatory information, so he can feel better about sending Randi off to parts unknown.  If you talk to the characters after this exchange:

ELDER:I took you in and I raised you. But there's nothing I can do to help. Please forgive me.  Use the south-east exit. Go now before something else happens!

We're in danger as long as you're here. Please leave!

So that's why I felt something awful was going to happen!

I feel sad, but there's nothing I can do. It's YOUR fault!

Elder:  This hurts me.  I never considered you a stranger.  Please forgive me, however long it takes.  

See that!?  You pulled out the Mana Sword.  Get out!

It's trouble as long as you're in the village…please get out!

I had that nasty premonition…kuwabara…kuwabara…

I will be sad, but that's inevitable.  It's your fault.

So the Elder has given into mob rule and has booted his adopted teenaged son from the village, with no conditions for reconciliation.  We don't know if Randi had been outside before, and all he's given is 50GP and the Mana Sword.  His only choice is to see a strange man who happened to be in his town with convenient information.  The design of Potos was the same from very early in
development, so sadly, I don't think much else was supposed to be here.  There's not much character development in Secret of Mana, but Randi never mentions how much he misses Potos, and there's nothing to identify him with his town, unlike Purim and Popoie.   With the exception of a silent reunion in the ending, the Elder, Timothy, Elliot, and the rest of the town quickly fades to memory.  Good thing this is a fairy tale, because man, what an awful place.

Randi seamlessly transitions into his journey, and we don't learn much about him until far later in the game.  In fact, most background on Randi is in the context of his parents.  He proves himself to be quite versatile in utilizing different weapons (but so do the other main characters).  He also seems to wield the sword with pride; wise older folks delight in how he saves them from the clutches of the Empire.

Randi shows interest in women in at least one scene, involving the leader of the resistance, Krissy:

RANDI:I'm RANDI! How do you do?

PURIM:Wow!  You're...a WOMAN!!!


PURIM:Knock it off!  I'm Dyluck's girl!

Randi:  I'm Randi!  So nice to meet you!

Purim:  Isn't that something!?  Trying to look good!

Popoie:  Hehe…jealous?

Purim:  Who!?  I'm devoted to Dyluck

Purim's tease in Japanese makes far more sense.  This encounter also opens the way for an eventual relationship between Randi and Purim, much like Chrono and Marle in Chrono Trigger.  We do see Randi reunite with Purim's parents in the epilogue.

At Tasnica, we hear about his father, Serin, even though we don't know he's Randi's father at his point:

Jema was the commander of the King's troops. His best friend was the hero, Serin.  When Serin fell in battle, Jema stepped down and never fought again...
Although Jema was once leader of the Knights; he himself discarded the title.  I believe he was shocked when his rival, Serin, perished in the previous war.

The Japanese word that I translated as rival here is raibaru, which means exactly that.  I would presume the rivalry was friendly, however, considering they were friends.  More dialogue in Tasnica:

Serin, our hero taught us to live in the castle. We all moved in 15 years ago.
After the war 15 years ago, master Serin began to convince folks to move into the castle.  Eventually, everyone came to live in the castle.

Jema's still the realm's finest warrior.  His only equal was the legendary warrior, Serin.
His Majesty trusts Master Jema first before all others.  He was a good rival of the legendary Master Serin, who was active in the war fought 15 years ago.

Clearly, Randi has roots in Tasnica.  We see how close Jema and Serin is.  So it begs the question, did Jema know what was going to transpire in Potos?  It seems strange that he would be that far out of his way at precisely the moment the village was attacked.  It's possible he may have known that the Mana Sword was removed, but not by whom, or what the immediate consequences were.  He never says if he knows if Randi is Serin's son, either.  He does tell the Tasnican king that Randi is the Mana Knight, but not that he's the son of Serin.  We're in the same boat with Mara, husband of a Tasnican spy, who perished around the same time as Randi's father.

If I may digress for a moment, there is this map that shows Tasnica during development:

This was after they scrapped their original plans, so an expanded Tasnica was abandoned at a later stage of development.  It would make sense if there was more here, since they had to go live in the castle from somewhere else, and there's a shore nearby.  With the way things stand now, there's only a castle.

The next moment of note for Randi is when he encounters the Mana Tree, after Thanatos has mortally wounded it.

MANA TREE:...RANDI... It is I, the Mana Tree.  The Mana Fortress is using up most of the world's Mana.  Soon all the beasts of will be transformed into one giant creature.  Only the great Mana Beast can bring back Mana.  But the Beast has little control over its rage.  If it were to attack the Fortress, the world would be finished.  The only way to avoid this is to beat it using the Mana Sword.  The sword can only be used by people of the Tribe of Mana.  Your father, the legendary knight, Serin should be standing here, now.  He was badly wounded 15 years ago by the Emperor, but vowed to stop him.  On his way to a final showdown, he fell and
never got up. That was in Potos.

RANDI:You mean the ghost I saw by the falls was my dad?

MANA TREE:That was your father, Serin. I was his wife... and am your mother. We are of the Mana Tribe.  The women of our kind become the Tree, and the protectors of the world. The men wield the Sword, and protect against evil!  You must stop the Fortress. Mana is weak, and its shields are down.  With my last energy, I will summon the power of the Seeds of Mana...

Sword power at maximum!

MANA TREE:...RANDI...  I'm sorry. I haven't been much of a mother to you...

RANDI:Mother! Is that REALLY you? Please..! ...mother?  Why won't you talk to me?  Mother!!


POPOIE:...this is nuts!  Snap out of it! She's asked us to do something!

PURIM doesn't have a mother, and neither do I!

RANDI:...sorry...I'll be okay.  I've got a lot to live up to, and we've a big job ahead.

SPRITE:Now you're talking number one!

PURIM:Yeah! I feel like I just met my mom too! I know she's in my heart!

SPRITE:All right! Let's do it! Yeah!

Mana Tree:  Randi…I've been waiting for you.  I am the Mana Tree, who keeps watch over all of the world's Mana.  Do not grieve; even though you can't see me, my heart is there with you.  The Mana Fortress has been activated and nearly all of the world's Mana has been lost.  Soon, the Mana Beasts of the world will gather, and change into one huge being.  This Mana Beast is
the only one who can recover the lost Mana.  But when this much Mana is lost, so fast, the Mana Beast will begin a rampage.  When the Mana Beast strikes the Fortress, the world will meet its end.  There is only one way to avoid this, and that is to defeat the huge Beast with the Mana Sword.  The sword is passed down through the clan who carries the blood of the spirit---the Mana Tribe.  Your father, Serin, was a Tasnican knight, who one would expect to be here [instead of you].  He fought the Emperor during the war 15 years ago.  Both were wounded, but the Emperor had the power of the Underworld.  With the last ounce of strength, Serin came to the forest near Potos, but must've have expired around there.  

Randi:  Wow!  So the ghost I saw near the waterfall was my…dad?

Mana Tree:  Yes, your father.  The great Knight of the Tasnican Republic.  And I…was his wife.  I am your mother.  We are of the Tribe of Mana.  When a woman of our Tribe leaves an offspring, she continues to watch over the world by becoming the Tree.  A man in our Tribe takes the Mana Sword, like your father, to protect the world by bringing peace and order.  Now, go forth to the Mana Fortress.  Since the Fortress is powered by Mana, and Mana continues to wane, its shield should be disappearing.  With the last of my power, I shall unseal the power of those Seeds which have been sealed, and they will resonate with the Mana Sword once again!

The power of the Mana Sword is at its maximum!

Mana Tree:  …Randi…I'm sorry…I see the look in your eyes…I'm sorry I couldn't do more for you…

Randi:  Mother!  Are you really my mother?  Even though the Tree is gone, you'll be fine, right?


…But we finally met!  Please answer me!  Oh God, no!  No! [a terrible sound that has no direct translation]

Purim:  Randi…

Randi:  Mother…I…mother…

Popoie:  …silly person!  I don't like this at all!  You heard your mother, don't let her words go to waste!  Even Purim doesn't have a mother.  And neither do I, damn it!

Randi:  I'm sorry everyone.  I'm starting to feel better.  I'm part of the Mana Tribe, and the continuing tradition of fatherhood, as I am the offspring of my mother.  What is being lost can
not be replaced, and I shall defend it!

Popoie:  Yay!  That's much better!  And you can expect that I will follow you.

Purim:  Well said!  Somehow, I feel like I also got to meet my mother.  She will be in my heart too.

Popoie:  Now we're good!  We will be fine from here on out.

The Japanese script has some very nice touches that add to the drama of the scene.  Unfortunately, the sequence begs a few questions about the backstory.  If Serin died near Potos, did he meet the Elder or anyone else?  How else would they know that the Mana Sword is what's protecting the Village?  The dialogue makes it seem like Randi's mother brought him to Potos, but if his mother is the source of information, why would the Elder not inform him of this?  Obviously, the legend of the Sword near the village is not an old one, unless the Sword is always placed there.  In that case, wouldn't they monitor who's coming and going near there?

The Tree's comment about the Mana Beasts combining makes me think of the ones we saw flying over the Upper Land and the Ice Country.  If not, why else would they be there?

I find the Mana Tree scene to be touching, but it would be more effective if Randi had consciously wondered about his origin, or felt lost.  That may very well be the case, but it is not articulated well in SoM.  Furthermore, the loss of the Mana Tree after getting so close to it is somewhat cheapened by the ensuing death of Dyluck, after Purim was so close to saving him.  There are many parallels between the two, and it's a bit of a wearisome motif.

Shockingly, the final moment of character development for Randi is a short scene right before the final battle:

RANDI:...I can't...I won't hurt a Mana Beast! I can't!  They are only trying to restore Mana!  And......POPOIE!  If you use up all your Mana power, you'll disappear!

Randi:  Destroy the Mana Beast!?  Are you here, seeing but not understanding?  It can't be me!
 It's just not possible!  The Mana Beast is the only one who can restore Mana which will never appear again!  And Popoie…you'll disappear!

In the Japanese, Randi seems more concerned about Mana itself than the poor Mana Beast, but he certainly has concern for his friend, Popoie.  This is a good moment of conscience for Randi, not rushing into action, and considering the consequences.  At many points of the game, it is shown that the NPCs hardly recognize him anymore, indicating them SoM takes course of the time of months, perhaps even years, and Randi changes accordingly.  Sadly, Japanese sources have little else to add, and as stated earlier, Chrono is a silent protagonist, so there's not much that can be speculated by that.  But, we have opened a good discussion on the conflict in SoM, which is a great lead in to...

NEXT:  The War(s)

CREDITS:  Additional material from the Seikens, RomHacking, and the Mana Wiki.  Everything is owned by Square.

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

1 comment:

  1. It just occurred to me that at or near the beginning of SoM and Final Fantasy Adventure, your character falls down a waterfall. I don't know why I never made that connection before. Hmm.

    Great write up as usual. Interesting that the Japanese text specifically says the "mana beasts" will all join together instead of just the "beasts"... so it's all the Flammies you're killing, not just one.