Sonon Kusakabe and Sacrificial Love
In the all-new EPISODE INTERmission of Final Fantasy VII Remake, Yuffie Kisaragi—a self-described “materia hunter and elite special forces operative for the new Wutai government”—arrives alone in the sprawling city of Midgar. Before she begins her special mission, however, she is joined by Sonon Kusakabe, a fellow ninja from Wutai.
Although Sonon is older than Yuffie, he lets her take the lead on their mission. In his own words, “I’ve got a few years on you . . . but out of us two, you’ve done this longer.” Even though Sonon seems stronger and wiser, he chooses a support role so he can help and serve Yuffie. His decision likely has roots in memories of his younger sister, Melphie, whose death was caused by Shinra, the corrupt yet powerful corporation that conquered Wutai.
The more I saw of Sonon’s humility while playing EPISODE INTERmission, the more I was reminded of the way Christians are instructed to treat one another in Philippians 2: “Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” Many people would balk at calling a teenager like Yuffie “boss,” as Sonon chooses to. But Sonon’s words and actions demonstrate his deference and brotherly love for the younger ninja. While on a crowded train, Sonon even uses his own body as a shield to create some space for a motion-sick Yuffie.
Sonon also supports Yuffie in battle; in fact, his combat animation illustrates his humble care for his friend. Sonon is not a playable character; instead, he is equipped with abilities designed to heal Yuffie, draw an enemy’s attention away from her, and even “synergize” with her to perform more powerful, coordinated attacks. At times, Sonon catches Yuffie if she gets knocked backward by an enemy.
The player, as Yuffie, has a chance to experience Sonon’s brotherly love through the unique gameplay animation and combat mechanics. In many other games, non-player characters only assist in dealing damage to enemies, but Sonon also actively looks out for Yuffie. His role as her guardian is perfectly visualized in the animation for his “Dance of the Dragon” special attack (called a “limit break”). This attack incorporates imagery of Leviathan, a FFVII Remake summon that is referred to as “Wutai’s guardian deity” in the game Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. Just as summons lend powerful assistance to players in battle, Sonon acts as Yuffie’s powerful ally.
Sonon's combat animation illustrates his humble care for his friend.
The way that Sonon humbly supports Yuffie illustrates how brothers and sisters in Christ should treat each other: considering each other’s needs first and taking the initiative to support one another. As Paul wrote to the Galatian church, “Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”
Moreover, Jesus told his disciples, “‘My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.’” Sonon’s character demonstrates the kind of sacrificial love that Christ showed for the world. In combat scenarios, Sonon has a special ability that he uses if Yuffie’s health drops to zero. This ability is titled “Self-Sacrifice” and involves Sonon willingly taking death upon himself in order to bring Yuffie back to life. In the world of Final Fantasy VII Remake, the item used to “raise” a character who has died in battle is called “Phoenix Down,” usually depicted as golden feathers. When Sonon uses Self-Sacrifice, black feathers surround him as he dies, then golden feathers float down onto Yuffie as she is brought back to life. Only by his death is her resurrection made possible.
Jesus demonstrated this same kind of love for us on the cross. Because of his sacrifice, we can be freed from sin and raised to new life: “But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.” Just as Sonon’s death becomes Phoenix Down for Yuffie, the death of Jesus opened a way for us to have new life. And not only did Christ sacrifice himself on the cross, but he continually gives his life to his people by the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.
EPISODE: INTERmission includes numerous story threads from the game Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII. In that game, the character Vincent Valentine explains, “When a person has someone they care about that much, giving their life is sometimes the least they can do.” In the words of Jesus Christ, “‘Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’” Playing EPISODE INTERmission gave me a visual experience of the ultimate ideal of Christian love, because the game demonstrates the kind of love with which Christ loves us.