A favorite pastime of Final Fantasy fans is to compare characters in the series to one another. After fifteen games in the main series (not to mention countless spinoffs), more than a few character tropes have been repeated over the years, and it’s interesting to look at the similarities.
A few characters in particular stand out to me as similar to Luna, and are explored in more detail below. Spoilers for FFX and FFVII follow.
On the surface, there are some easy comparisons to make between Yuna and Luna: they both set out on a journey to meet with incredibly powerful entities so that covenants can be forged with them. The role of the Oracle is not so different from that of the summoner: both seek to end the suffering of their world. (And given that FFXV’s Astrals are the eidolons/summons from the previous games, the comparison makes a lot of sense.)
Several key differences emerge immediately, however: where Yuna seeks to make those covenants herself, Luna is instead working to enable Noctis to forge these bonds. The other major difference is that Luna’s journey is solitary, and largely offscreen as it is not the focus of FFXV. Yuna, on the other hand, is surrounded by her guardians on every step of her pilgrimage, and we see it in its entirety.
Perhaps the strongest similarity between Yuna and Luna is their attitude towards death. In FFX, embarking on a summoner’s pilgrimage is a dangerous prospect on its own, but it is itself a death sentence should they succeed: they will stop Sin, the enormous creature terrorizing the world, but perish in the process. In the same vein, Luna is well aware that her body is failing her, but she refuses to back down in the face of her fated duty.
This itself is another point of contrast, however: Yuna comes to reject the fatalism of the summoner’s pilgrimage and resolves to find another way to defeat Sin, while Luna is ultimately stabbed by Ardyn and perishes during the battle with Leviathan.
One final similarity is their character class. While Luna is a NPC and FFXV doesn’t have much in the way of the traditional class system, it’s fairly obvious she’s the healer character of the world. This is a nice analogy to Yuna’s white mage/summoner combo.
I’ve already talked about this in part on the Symbolism page, so we can get one comparison out of the way easily: both Luna and Aerith are associated with flowers. It makes sense for one of them. I’ll let you guess which one.
I’ll be honest, I don’t want to make these comparisons, mostly because they’re centered around Luna’s death and the obvious comparison is, well, Aerith’s. The thing is, Aerith’s death in Final Fantasy VII is one of the most iconic moments in the series. It’s a tragic moment, and it’s tragedy that works because it emphasizes the cruelty of Sephiroth and the permanence of death. It’s been spoiled to hell and back at this point, but at the time it came as a complete surprise. You knew Aerith, you had spent the entire game at her side. You had no idea when she left that it would be the last time she ever spoke to you.
Luna, in contrast, spends the entire game separate from Noctis. FFXV suffers a lot from “telling over showing” — we’re told of the bond between Luna and Noctis, but we only see brief glimpses of it. We’re told of Luna’s role as the Oracle and what she’s trying to do, but past a couple short moments, there’s not much there, either. (The game as a whole suffers from this, not just with Luna; the most egregious offender is when you wake up in chapter 14 and have ten years of history summarized to you in the space of a few minutes.)
Here’s the thing about character deaths: they are not bad. You just have to use them properly. Aerith’s death is shocking and has a strong emotional impact, but it’s also deeply tied into the plot. The entire reason she leaves the party is because she’s the only person who can stop Sephiroth: as the sole surviving Ancient, she has the magic to combat his plan of summoning Meteor. If Sephiroth hadn’t killed her then and there, he would’ve had a Holy-shaped problem in his plan.
Luna’s death has all the same pieces — a magical ritual only she can perform, a villain who decides to interrupt it with a sharp weapon, a male character there to get quite upset about it. There’s even a lot of water around. But it rings hollow. It feels as though someone looked at FFVII and wanted to repeat Aerith’s death without actually understanding why it worked.
Aerith’s death was tragic because she was cut down in the prime of life, a flower who had just begun to blossom. We knew her, and thus we could mourn her. In contrast, Luna’s death comes before her character could even begin to blossom. There’s no tragedy, it’s just frustrating and unsatisfying.