Friday, December 30, 2011

On Roman Numerals, Abuse of

I can appreciate a good set of Roman numerals, I really can. There’s a certain elegance to a well-placed II or a III—a primitive sort of appeal that cuts above the artifice of language and says in the simplest possible terms, “This many.”

By IV (which is still a nice, elegant figure) the prima-facie simplicity offered by II and III has been thrown out the window, replaced by a demand that we know not just the significance of V but also a trick of subtraction that defies self-evidence. Roman numerals greater than X serve exactly two purposes in our everyday world, and grandfather clocks stop at XII. If you see the number XIII in print, you can be fairly certain you’re reading about a sequel to a long-in-the-tooth series from one of the following categories: slasher film, sporting event, or Final Fantasy game.

XIII is a hellish piece of typography. Look at it up there. They’ve gone and added a “-2” to the end of it.

And I get it—I’ve been a fan of the series since its first title came to the NES in the late ’80s—real O.G. shit, all the way. This is the first time we’re continuing a storyline from one installment to the next, and I suppose it warrants some kind of a new title convention. But mixing Arabic and Roman characters like this, it’s just—

Hang on, there’s blood coming out of my ear.

I’ll spare you the FFIV rant. I’ll just leave this here instead.
If I’m truthful about it, I really don’t care about the syntax of the thing—the bottom line for me is that I’d have no real problem embracing a “-2” Final Fantasy sequel if I felt attached to Lightning and company. Truth is, I’m still not exactly sure what happened at the end of XIII-1. (If anyone has any thoughts on that ending that they’d like to share, I’m happy to extend a blanket SPOILER ALERT over the comments section of this post. Let’s talk.)

If you disagree, forgive me—I’m just speaking my mind over here, so let me pose the question to the group. Is Final Fantasy XIII-πr2 (or whatever) something you’re eagerly anticipating? Mildly interested in?

Word on the street is that the sequel’s sequel will be easier to follow* than the previous installment. Here’s hoping.
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* After a cursory fact-check, I can’t seem to verify the sources behind this link, so please don’t take my word for it. Interesting nevertheless...
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