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Warning! This post contains heavy spoilers for Mother 1 and Earthbound/Mother 2. Proceed at your own risk!
Note: Within in this post Giygas is called by two names; Gieuge (as he is called during the events of Mother 1/Earthbound 0) and Giygas (as he is called during the events of Earthbound/Mother 2.) These both refer to the same character, and are merely two different romanizations of his name, each being used in the translation of their respective game. While like Porky and Pokey, either work, it makes for an easy way to distinguish between the two very diffrent froms of Giygas, and serves as a nice way to highlight the horrific change he undergoes. Hope that clears up any confusion!
Preface: First off, thanks to the countless people I harassed into proofreading this for me, and the awesome Joel for photoshopping my fabulous header. I love you all! My greatest challenge in writing this was to balance the concrete with the theoretical, and the factual with the dramatization, and to make sure it didn’t end up sounding like bad fanfiction XP Hopefully I succeeded on all of these fronts and you’ll at least get some enjoyment out of the wall of text that is to follow!
In the pantheon of great videogame villains, there are quite a few truly sick bastards. Characters like Kefka, The Doctor, Sander Cohen and Lavos are wholly and unrepentantly evil. But above all these fine specimens of virtual nefarity stands, or rather swirls, one inhuman monster: Giygas, the Universal Cosmic Destroyer, and main villain of Earthbound. You see, Gigyas is evil, not in the sense that he’s a dastardly character, but in that he is the literal embodiment of evil itself. Dwelling on a plane of existence we can’t even comprehend, Giygas lacks not only a body but a mind. He is a senseless “living” force of despair, wrecking apocalyptic havoc throughout out the cosmos.
But the fact is, he wasn’t always a incomprehensible entity of sin. In fact, Giygas started out as something not too different from you and I, with feelings, a conscience, and even someone he loved. Join me, as I embark on a journey through the darkest and most tragic depths of the Mother series, and into the mind of its most terrible horror. We’ll paint the psychological portrait of evil itself, because tonight we’ll delve into Giygas, the most tragic villain I’ve ever encountered.
Part 1: (Mother 1)
In the majority of psychiatric cases, the roots of evil can be traced back to the early, formative years, and Giygas (or Giegue as he was called then) is no exception. Born to a mysterious alien race, the root of all Giegue’s future turmoil comes from his unusual parenting. He wasn’t beaten, abused or neglected, instead, little Giegue was shown love.
His “mother” was a woman named, Maria, who along with her husband George, were abducted from Earth by Giegue’s race. For whatever reason, they were given the task of raising the soon-to-be prodigy. Whether this was a standard practice for the unnamed race or not can only be guessed at, but judging from the cold indifference of the Starmen army, and Giegue’s later actions, one can plainly see that Maria and his relationship was anything but routine. The former truly loved her extraterrestrial charge, and gladly went above and beyond the call of duty, nurturing, teaching and even singing lullabies to her adopted “son.” An act which seemed to move Gieuge emotionally even at a young age; as Maria later recounts “He was always wagging his tail, just like a pup … except for when I tried to sing him lullabies … ” and the two fast formed a bond that can only exist between a mother and her child.
You can probably see where this is going.
While not performing his paternal duties, George kept himself occupied by studying his alien captors’ fantastic power: PSI. Once he figured out the secrets behind it (a seemingly herculean feat, but bear in mind, George was quite the clever fellow, as evidenced by his final masterpiece, and the player’s savior: EVE) George flew the coop, escaping back to Earth, bringing his new found abilities with him, but leaving Maria behind. Before you get all up in arms though, no further information of his departure is given besides that, and knowing her relationship with the young alien, it’s entirely possible that she stayed out of choice, instead of being abandoned. All is speculation though.
As you might guess, George’s Promethus-like actions had grave consequences. Three generations later, the unknown race launched their offensive. Giegue had been tasked with exterminating humanity and halting the spread of PSI from Earth, and pulled out all the stops to accomplish his goal. Legions of Starmen, robots and psychically enraged hippies swarmed over the Earth with a mission to enslave and destroy. Humanity may very well have been wiped out, had it not been for a rag-tag group of heroes led by a small 12-year-old boy. Great-grandson of George and Maria, Ninten, used his considerable PSI power to lead his friends to victory against the massive alien army, only to find himself having to face its awe-inspiring leader: Gieuge himself.
Bonus information time! Be honest now, when you first saw Gieuge, your mind first went to Mewtwo of Pokemon fame. It’s more then just a coincidence, several members of the Mother staff worked on Pokemon Red and Blue, and brought their Gieuge design with them. The more you know! Back to your regularly scheduled post:
Try as they might, the brave little warriors were unable to put a dent in their final foe, and with Gieuge’s unending barrage of incomprehensible attacks, Earth’s defeat seemed secured. But before we delve into the next portion of the fight, we need to take the time to examine just how Gieuge was able to not only bring himself to wage war on the home world of his beloved mother, but to be ready to kill her very own great-grand relative, his own nephew; because what he chose to do, will not only ensure his loss against Ninten, but the loss of his body and mind, and his eventual defeat by the prayers of a child.
Gieuge was torn, he loved Maria and even George, and knows that a large part of him is unwilling to hurt them, and by extension humanity. There’s no place for compassion in the Starmen army though, and so Gieuge took on a cold outlook, repressing his emotions, and detaching himself from his mother, rendering him able to wage total war on Earth. Memories can only be suppressed though; never destroyed. And as he watched his adopted nephew falter under the weight of a final assault, pity seems to have welled up inside Gieuge, and his cold facade cracked the tiniest smidge. In a truly pitiable moment, Gieuge made his adopted kin a last minute proposition: “Ninten! You alone, I may save you. Just you alone. Board our Mother Ship with me.” And with that, Gieuge’s deepest desire was revealed; beyond all the war and invasion, he just wanted a friend; his family back, and was willing to put aside his mission to get such. But Ninten heroically refused, and Gieuge redoubled his attack, never again to be fazed by the trite emotion called “love”.
Until Ninten starts singing:
Throughout the course of their adventure, Ninten and friends visited the enigmatic dream world known as Magicant, wherein dwelled the mysterious Queen Mary. An amnesiac, she requested that the heroes sing her favorite melody to help her to restore her memories. Upon tracking down the full song and performing it for her, the queen at last remembered her identity as Gieuge’s Maria. And in her final musing on how she at last rest in peace, Maria tells the party a key story about how she used to sing that song to young Gieuge as a lullaby.
This little ditty turned out to be the party’s greatest weapon, and as they began to sing, Gieuge grew rapidly agitated as his facade of cold indifference was smashed apart, and the memories, and emotions, and love he fought oh so hard to suppress came rushing back, bringing the great alien leader to his figurative knees as he pleads with the heroes to stop. It’s too late though, and Gieuge was forced to face the unbreakable bond he shares with Maria (and you thought Sephiroth was a mama’s boy) and realizes he could never escape it, or hurt the species that had raised him. Unable to continue his assault, Gieuge retreated from Earth, but not before vowing revenge on his accursed great-nephew, and Earth as a whole.
Part 1.5: (Transition)
Next to nothing is known about what exactly transpired between Mothers 1 and 2. The only thing we can be sure of is the results. Gieuge turned from a tragic figure, torn between his desire to wage a war of vengeance against humanity, and his loving memories which keep him from being able to do so, to Giygas, a mindless, formless monstrosity, wrecking uncontrollable and undiscerning havoc, and eventually destroying not just Earth but the universe itself. (That is until Ness and co. traveled back in time to defeat him and change the future, but I’m not even gonna try to delve into the time paradoxes of these events)
How exactly this transition occurred is left masterfully ambiguous (as is much of the Mother series) and all were given is that he somehow amassed enough evil power to enter his hellish state (which is likely as good an explanation as we could get, as like much of Giygas, the exact processes are probably impossible for the human mind to even comprehend).
We can only guess as to why Gieuge would do this to himself, but based on his past actions, and his deep (although not quite deep enough, or he’d have been capable of it) desire to sever his bond and love for Maria, and thus be able to openly wage war on humanity; I think it’s fair to presume that Gieuge underwent his terrible transmogrification in the hopes of destroying and surpassing his emotions, so that at last he could have his revenge (in fact, Earthbound’s Japanese subtitle roughly translates to Gieuge Strikes Back.) And while he succeeded, Gieuge’s triumph came at a price. He was now Giygas: no longer sentient, or even a physical entity. He had become a living (in the most foreign and strange sense of the word) concept, evil given an incomprehensible form. No longer even conscious of his actions (or even of his very existence), without the confines of the Devil’s Machine, he would annihilate the entire universe with his uncontrollable might. Through his imprisonment, Giygas’ powers were sealed and channeled; able to command his vast robotic Starmen army and a soon to be amassed Earthly army either through eerie conduits like his Mani Mani Statue or with good old fashion possession.
And although his precise motives at this juncture of time can never be empirically determined, I think it’s safe to say that this is not what Gieuge had in mind when he sought out to rid himself of Maria. His ties to humanity are so fundamental to his existence, that Gieuge had to destroy himself to get rid of them. Whether he wanted it or not though, Gieuge was now Giygas, The Universal Cosmic Destroyer, and he would soon live up to his name.
Part 2: (Earthbound/Mother 2)
10 years after Earthbound (but before the events of it occurred, lol pime taradox) Gieuge unleashed his power upon the universe, bringing all into devastation. From this charred reality came Buzz Buzz, a clever alien who traveled to the past to seek out a certain young boy with the potential to defeat Giygas, preventing this terrible fate. To unleash his power, Ness traveled across the globe; recruiting friends (Jeff, Paula and Poo) and channeling the Earth’s power so as to stop the greatest evil ever known. While the story of that adventure is amazing, and well worth hearing, Giygas is notably absent from it. Until they met him face to “face”, our heroes (and the player) had no clue what to expect (or a false one if they’ve played Mother 1.) All they’ve seen is his reach, the possessed people, beasts, taxi cabs and multitudes of robots and Starmen that cover the Earth, but nothing of the puppet master behind it all. It is with that mentality that the player is sent to the past, where Giygas’ center of command is based, to stamp out the ultimate evil. Stripped of their very humanity, the four lost heroes traversed through a barren pre-historic cave, and into the lair of the beast, only to be faced with the ominous mystery of the Devil’s Machine, and the cold laugh of an all too familiar foe. The puppet master is revealed, but it’s the obnoxious Pokey Minch (a villain worthy of a psychoanalysis of his own … hint hint) holding the reins.
In his vulnerable state, Giygas had been reduced to a mere weapon, albeit it one with the power to destroy the universe. Not exactly the best thing to hand to a budding maniac. And with one last taunt Porky attacked. The battle that ensued is nothing short of amazing, and one I’ve written about extensively (shameless plug is shameless), but what’s key to this topic is how it ended:
Frustrated by the resilience of his old rivals, Porky demonstrated the full extent of his lunacy, turning off the Devil’s Machine and releasing Hell itself. Giygas was almost totally undefeatable in his physical form; and doubly so in his ethereal one. Even whilst imbued with the full power of the earth itself, the four chosen heroes could put nary a dent in the monstrosity. While he bombarded them with incomprehensible attacks (which were probably on a level of thinking even higher then Gieuge’s, unable to be fathomed by any sentient life) the four attacked in vain, unable to combat the sheer power of the living notion of evil. And as one by one they began to waver, Paula let out one last prayer for help “…Please give us strength, if it is possible… Please… Somebody…… help us.”
And from that prayer came a miracle.
We all know the story from here on, and how the heroes win end up persevering over the greatest of foes, but what’s crucial is to dissect why. Paula’s telepathic prayer set off a chain reaction, suddenly across the globe friends of the chosen four remembered them and their heroic struggle, and in turn prayed for the heroes as well. And at last Giygas falters, a crack in his impenetrable armor. Paula prayed again, and again, each time more and more friends were struck with thoughts of the Ness, Jeff, Paula and Poo, and wished for their safety and successes, and each time Giygas was struck with another terrible blow, as countless people (and even the player them self) sent their prayers, encouragement and most importantly their love. Bats, rockets and PSI couldn’t fell this Lovecraftian horror, but the quintessential human emotion, and Giygas; eternal thorn in his side would finally bring about his end (That’s right, this shit just got all Harry Potter.)
Like his first defeat so many years ago, Giygas simply couldn’t handle this pure, earnest and powerful display of the most noble of feelings, because even in his destroyed, hideous, unconscious state. Giygas still was who he always was; Gieuge, an alien cursed by Maria with the capacity to love. Throughout the fight, the surreal dialog he transmits only serves to underline this truth. “Ness … Ness … ” “I’m h…a…p…p…y”. While the first is easily explained, through the Apple of Enlightenment, Giygas became so obsessed with destroying Ness, the precipitator of his downfall, that even in his shattered state, he can “think” (can thoughts the thinker doesn’t even know he’s thinking truly be considered thoughts?) about him. The latter is more ambiguous though, but it would seem that Giygas is unconsciously reaching out to Ness, like he did to Ninten, simply trying to make a friend he can love. Which fits, because deep down at his very core, Giygas just wanted to love and be loved, and in his monstrous form all but his very core is stripped away, and even that is clouded by his pure unbridled and unconscious insanity.
To further this, is the oodles of infantile symbology. The Devil’s Machine looks a hell of a lot like a cervix, and as this infamous image above shows: the spaces between Giygas’ final form make out the distinct shape of a fetus, which again makes an astounding amount of sense. Despite being largely uncontrollable senseless evil, here is some of Gieuge left deep inside Giygas, but it is his most pure and regressed self. His basic instincts and fundamental needs, a base state compounded upon by Giegue’s infantile psyche even when he’s at his sanest. Above all his other issues and grievances, in his heart of hearts, Gieuge really just wants his mommy back, or at the very least someone to fill that void. Fate is cruel indeed, and while Gieuge was lucky to have been able to experience the joys of of love, there was no place for it in his alien society, and without Maria no way to fufill it. Try as he might to suppress it, the need to again feel that joyous emotion forever remained with Gieuge, even when he didn’t remain with himself, giving him his one Achilles’ Heel.
As Franky, Dr. Andonuts, Ness’ parents, the Mr. Saturns, Tony and you the player prayed for the heroes, Giygas too felt the love sent to the four bravest, and once again, his true “Gieuge” self stirred, shattering the facade of Giygas and, with nothing else left, finally disintegrated to rest in peace.
I once described this moment as the abortion of a cosmic fetus (as explained, Giygas is a sick combination of pure evil and the core infantile emotions and needs of Gieuge, a being totally unaccountable for its actions) and while I still stand by that, I now realize it’s a process of galactic euthanasia as well. Unable to express his true self and feelings, Gieuge was doomed to failure from his birth, and through his attempts to combat his unwanted feelings of love, he sunk himself into an abominable hellish nightmare. By the time of Earthbound it was much too late, he had destroyed himself so thoroughly that completing the process could be his only release. One can only hope that the whatever afterlife the Mother universe has extends to him as well, so that at least reunite with Maria and George, and be the Gieuge he so deeply longed to be.
And that is the life and times of Giygas. Like the venerable Aaron Linde, each time I delve into the world of Earthbound, I come out of it with a deeper and more profound understanding of the themes it tries to convey. I won’t deny, I wrote this post without any real plan at first, other than some loosely correlated thoughts, and so the notion of Gieuge as a tragic hero is as new to you as it is to me. I hope you enjoyed this psychological journey, and would LOVE to hear whatever thoughts you have on the matter! I hope you’ll join me again next time, when I explore the mind of the other Mother archvillain. A certain piggy misanthrope who we all love to hate … See you soon!