In the isekai manga series, Final Fantasy Lost Stranger, Yoko and Shogo Sasaki are siblings who loved Final Fantasy games as kids. They pledged to one another early in life that together they would get jobs at Square-Enix and create their own Final Fantasy game. Now as adults, they seem to be living their dream as employees at Square-Enix. But they’re not quite in game development yet and Shogo is getting frustrated. After Yoko tries encouraging her brother, the Sasaki siblings are suddenly sucked into a Final Fantasy type world during a real world car accident. This new world is amazing and frightening. They find themselves a among a low level band of adventurers and decide to join up to learn about this world with them. Spoilers for Chapter 1 (and part of Chapter 2) will follow.
After some minor adventures, the party finds itself in the path of a Dawnless White Dragon. It’s ferocious. It’s enormous. It has a small child captive. The team is reluctant to do anything. They are low level and the party want to get someone else to help instead. Yuko, on the other hand, decides that something must be done. She bursts into the scene and throws the child out of harm’s way to Shogo. In the process, she is eaten by the dragon. She dies smiling, knowing the children were saved by her selfless actions.
After this event, they escape and Shogo discovers that unlike a normal Final Fantasy world, there is no way to raise his sister from the dead. She’s gone. Permanently.
This scene hits you hard and fast in the very first chapter of the manga. The chapter ends with her dead and the party telling Shogo she’s gone for good. This is a hard moment and one that, when unpacked, tells me so much about Yuko and about life.
As the two of them realized they were in a Final Fantasy world you, start to ask yourself a few questions: Did Yuko think she could be raised? Did she assume she was in a game, so she would not really die? I think the real question we need to ask is did Yuko even think this through and instead did what she knew was right without hesitation?
There are so many stories this evokes in me. I am reminded of David facing off against Goliath, except this analogy is imperfect. David beat Goliath. David did not die at Goliath’s hands in order to save a child or the people of Israel. He wins. God triumphs in the tale of David and Goliath. This story of Yuko is a dark one, a story where the hero dies tragically. Yes, she saves the life of another showing her compassion for humanity (John 15:13), but she’s gone. This is not a Christ-like death in that Christ knew the outcome—He knew that this was not the end for Him. Yuko jumped into this, tossing caution to the wind to save a child. In the end, the dragon is not even defeated—just stalled temporarily. This is not a hero’s victory; this is a death for a greater cause. In many ways, this is martyrdom.
Martyrdom is a tough concept to wrap one’s head around, to willingly letting yourself die because you believe a greater good will be served. It sounds crazy. Yet nearly every one of Jesus’ apostles ended up in exactly that position. Tradition tells us the following:
- Matthew was stabbed to death.
- James the Just thrown out a window and, upon discovery that he was alive, was beaten to death.
- James the Greater was beheaded.
- Bartholomew was flayed.
- Thomas was driven through with a spear.
- Peter was crucified upside down.
- Andrew, Phillip, Thaddeus, and Simon were all crucified.
- Matthias, who replaced Judas, was stoned and then beheaded.
- Paul was tortured and then beheaded.
There are many more beyond the early church. Only John of the original twelve died of old age exiled on the isle ,of Patmos. Each of these men were murdered. Each of them were murdered standing firm in what they believed. They stood firm in the face of danger, oppression, and certain doom. They never gave up. They never wavered from the course. Death came to them and they allowed it to happen. Their willingness to die for their belief in Christ inspired others to be bold in the faith, to never give up.
In Final Fantasy Lost Stranger, Yuko believes in her brother. She believes that her brother will be successful and thrive in this new world. She believes her actions will encourage and support others. She also believes in the doing the right thing, no matter the consequences.
In this case, her death has encouraged her brother. As we see in Chapters 2 and 3, Shogo becomes more focused, more determined than ever to understand the world better, to learn more about his own powers, and to raise up his group to defeat the dragon. He is, of course, upset at the death of his sister, but he presses onward, as the Christian missionaries did each time one of their own were murdered. He kept up the fight in the face of a tragic loss.
In this story as the ground fell out beneath them, Yuko knew it was her life or the life of an innocent child. She gladly chose the child. She did not waver. She did not stray from the path of kindness. She died, gladly and smiling knowing her sacrifice would save this child. She died knowing that her brother would be able to move on and continue to grow. She died a hero for the greater good. She died a martyr.
Final Fantasy Lost Stranger is currently being simulpublished in English by Crunchyroll.