Hello! Welcome to Drafted, a one-page fansite for the one and only Laguna Loire from the 1999 PSX RPG Final Fantasy VIII. Laguna's story is told through dreams, and it's a pretty weird one — the guy goes from deserting his post on the battlefield to exploring the world as a journalist to much more. But we wouldn't have him any other way.
last updated 15 january 2017 ∗ guestbook
listed at amassment & emotion ∗ part of redcrown.net
This site is also home to the TFL-approved fanlisting for Laguna, which is located on a separate page to keep this a one-page site. Also, as an excuse to use Laguna's Dissidia 012 art. This site is also partnered with DIVIDE, my fansite for Squall.
Couple of notes before we get into this. The only spoiler-free section is the introduction. Other than that, expect to find spoilers throughout. Secondly, you won't find the typical sections that analyze Laguna's entire character arc and personality here. Instead, I've gone through the game's Laguna moments in order and talked about my personal take on them. (In short, it's a lot like my Squall site.) Because this is FFVIII, you can expect plenty of snark, because this game is goddamn ridiculous.
The eighth installment of the ever-popular Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy VIII, was released in 1999 on the Playstation. Given that it followed on the heels of the explosively popular Final Fantasy VII, to say it had a lot to live up to is something of an understatement.
Graphically, it's an incredible improvement over anything the Final Fantasy series had ever shown before. FFVII may have brought the series into the third dimension, but FFVIII's characters were more than blocky polygons with a few stock movements to portray their emotions. FFVIII is just as text-heavy as any other game in the series, but for the first time, the player got to see body language right along with it. True, the graphics are nothing compared to what Square would be capable of a mere ten years later in Final Fantasy XIII, but for a series that as recently as two games prior (Final Fantasy VI) was entirely sprite-based, it was a giant leap forward.
The gameplay is a significant departure from the Final Fantasy series as a whole through the use of the junction system. Gone is the series mainstay of MP, replaced with para-magic, which can only be drawn from enemies or from draw points scattered through the world. By junctioning GFs — Guardian Forces, the eidolons/espers from previous titles — the party can wield magic and junction magic to increase their stats, turning them into one-man-armies. Additionally, the enemies of FFVIII level up with the player, making grinding a danger of its own.
Much like FFVI and FFVII, the world of FFVIII is technologically advanced. Sure, no one's been able to broadcast anything for 17 years, but cars, computers, and giant schools to train children to become mercenaries are commonplace, without a single crystal in sight. There is the Sorceress, of course, but since the end of the Sorceress War 17 years ago, things have been quiet.
Oh, yeah, and there's a love story.
These days, getting your hands on FFVIII is pretty easy. If you've got a PS3, PSP, or Vita, you can download it from the Playstation Network for $10. (Price may vary in your region. Sales are infrequent on the PSN, but they do happen.) This version is identical to the original Playstation release.
If you're looking to play it on the PC, you can play it through Steam in five different languages for $12. (Again, price may vary in your region. Steam games regularly go on sale; put it on your wishlist and you'll be alerted when the price drops.) The Steam version comes with achievements, an easy source of magic for your inventory, and the Chocobo World minigame, none of which are available in the PSN version.
Don't worry about specs: unless you're rocking a computer from 1997, you can probably play it on your machine. This is a port that came out in 2000; it doesn't exactly take a whole lot to run. I will say that the music quality on the Steam release is terrible; however, it's easily fixed by using the Roses and Wine mod.
Name: Laguna Loire
Date of Birth: January 3
Age: 27 (flashbacks) 44 (present day)
Hometown: Deling City
Blood Type: B
A passionate man whose pen is mightier than the sword
An ex-soldier turned journalist, Laguna is a strong willed man with amazing energy. Out of compassion for the unfortunate, he helps those who are weak, and destroys those who seek to oppress. Using his pen as a mighty instrument of justice, he now stands strong against the evils of the world.
Notice that this profile does not explain why this guy keeps showing up in your dreams. Also, I'm pretty sure this entire profile is a dig at Laguna's shitty fighting ability.
Laguna shows up in Dissidia 012, the sequel that's actually a prequel to Dissidia. I keep trying to play it, but I never manage to get more than a few hours into it before getting bored. Oh well. At least Laguna got a redesign and got to be in a flashy new FMV. Plus he's voiced now.
Laguna also appears in Theatrhythm: Curtain Call for the 3DS, thus confirming that he's just not popular enough to make it into the first spin-off game, but he's totally there for the sequel. Sorry, Laguna. At least "Man with the Machine Gun" was in the first game. Side note: Laguna has the best battle theme ever. I recommend listening to it while reading this page.
Our introduction to Laguna is through a dream sequence, and in fact until the third disc, this is the only way we see Laguna. And, as Squall so aptly puts it, Laguna is not exactly put in the best light the first time we see him.
First off, Laguna abandons his post on the battlefield and heads home to Deling City with the express purpose of going to a bar to see the girl he's got a crush on, Julia. He gets his usual table and orders a drink to work up the nerve to approach Julia during her piano performance, only to get a leg cramp and head back to his table.
Squall, who's watching from the back of Laguna's head, isn't impressed. Neither are Laguna's buddies.
(You can click on any of these images to see a larger version! This goes for the entire page.)
Kiros: Good work, Laguna.
Ward: Mission successful!
Kiros: Here, have a seat.
Ward: I didn't think you'd actually do it. Our popularity rating's gone up a point.
Kiros: Yeah, but you cut a pretty pitiful figure up there. I'd say you're about a -3 on the manliness scale.
True friendship, right here.
Somehow, despite Laguna's poor showing, Julia shows up and invites Laguna up to her room. Laguna is nervous as hell, but accepts, and then of course proceeds to talk too much. Still, he manages to inspire Julia, who tells him that she's been wanting to branch out from just being a pianist and get into singing, and that while she's not very good at writing lyrics, she thinks she can come up with something thanks to him. After that, the dream sequence ends.
The first time I played through this sequence, I was completely baffled by what was going on — I mean, who isn't? At this point in the game, FFVIII is pretty straightforward; you play Squall, a withdrawn 17-year-old kid who's at a school for mercenaries. The last thing you expect to happen is to suddenly be thrown into the mind of a soldier who's basically the antithesis to Squall: a deserter who's more interested in seeing the girl he likes than doing his job. Hell, Squall is more a career soldier than Laguna, who excitedly tells Julia that he plans to quit the army and become a journalist.
And yet, even in this short scene, Laguna is immediately more likeable than Squall. I certainly liked him way more than Squall my first time through the game. And the second. And the third. (Spoiler: Laguna is my favorite character in the game.) In some ways, Laguna seems like the more traditional jRPG protagonist, while Squall is firmly in the role of antihero.
I think this is one of many ways that FFVIII breaks away from the rest of the Final Fantasy series. Laguna is an easy hero to focus a story on, but instead the moody, difficult Squall heads this title. Personally, I think it works well, and allowed them to tell a very different story. Squall's story is about adolescence, which can be difficult to like if you're that age yourself — I didn't enjoy it until I was older. Laguna's story, on the other hand, is about the decisions you make as an adult. But we'll get to that later.
No. Seriously. If you try to leave the hotel before talking to Julia there is a traffic jam outside. I'm not making this up. They really coded this into the game.
What's more, if you go back to the source of the traffic jam, it's not there for no reason: it's because of Laguna's terrible parking. They took the time to make it clear that Laguna's horrible parking caused a traffic jam through the city.
I just. It's been months since I discovered this and I still can't believe they actually coded this in. I was expecting some prompt like "No! I can't leave without talking to Julia!" or something like that, but instead we have this. Laguna, what is your life. What is this game.
I've come to enjoy FFVIII a lot more, but the first time through, I have to admit that Laguna was really all I cared about. Sure, I guess the other characters were okay, but what I really wanted to know was why the hell I kept having dream sequences about this loser.
Plus, I mean, this dream ends on a cliffhanger. How could you, game. How could you.
This dream gives us some more insight into how Laguna operates on the field (spoiler: badly), and his relationship with Kiros and Ward when they're not out carousing. I do question why anyone made Laguna the commander of their unit, but given what happens later I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. This is also the first time we see Laguna's tendency to get words completely wrong, if you pick the right option for it.
Laguna: Seriously, I have a BAAAD feeling...! There's somethin' fishy goin' on here! You know what the old folks say... The unfamiliar always happens...
Kiros: You mean...'unexpected', right?
Ward: You only got the 'un' part right.
Laguna: Aah, shut up! Stop your clamorin' and make sure all your gear's equipped. Now, let's move out!
The rest of the mission is basically a comedy of errors — Laguna and company head through a mysterious structure pursued by Esthar soldiers, and if the player follows a couple optional prompts they're able to mess with the soldiers following them (opening a hatch for the soldiers to fall in, sending boulders rolling after them, and so forth). At the end, however, the three of them face soldiers that leave them with the last of their strength, and Laguna is forced to throw Ward, Kiros, and himself off a cliff to escape.
Personally, I find this dream to be a good example of the role Laguna's side plays in the overall story of FFVIII: it's the comic relief. It's like watching the zany adventures of a cartoon hero in the middle of an incredibly serious story. (Although, given how absurd this game is at times...) The silly parts of this dream are for the most part optional, but I think they add a lot to Laguna's personality and the dynamic he has with Kiros and Ward.
Laguna might not be much of a soldier when it comes to actually fighting, and he might be inept enough to sneeze a key out of his own shirt pocket, but he's also the kind of guy who recognizes that he's not going to lose anything by setting up a couple of Looney Tunes-style traps for his enemies. If they don't fall for them, sure, he'll try the whole fighting thing, but if not? Then maybe he's just accomplished something after all.
There's no question that the Winhill dream is the most important one, at least as it pertains to Laguna and the overall backstory of the game. It establishes Laguna's relationship with both Raine and Ellone and what things were like for him when he stayed in Winhill, and how all of that changed when Kiros arrived.
A lot of this dream is exposition, establishing that Laguna washed up on the Winhill shore after escaping from Centra a year prior and that it took him six months to recover. Raine nursed him back to health, and to repay her, Laguna helps clear out the monsters from the town. Kiros also recounts that Ward has lost his voice due to his injuries and is working at Galbadia's D-District Prison, and that Kiros has been searching for Laguna since then, apparently lacking entertainment in his life.
It's clear, though, that Laguna's really become taken with Winhill, and when Kiros suggests leaving, Laguna all but bolts from the conversation.
Kiros: Hey, Laguna... Are you doing this patrol thing everyday?
Laguna: 'Thing'!? What're you callin' 'THING'!?
Kiros: Weren't you aiming to become a world-travelling journalist? You've heard of 'Timber Maniacs', right? I had a talk with the chief editor. He said he's interested in any article related to world travel.
Laguna: That's great!
Kiros: We should go talk to him sometime.
Laguna: Y-Yeah... [They continue on before stopping.] Um, it'd be ok if we stayed here a bit longer, right?
Kiros: You need time to gather more material? This seems like a really nice town. You're gonna write about this place first, aren't you?
Laguna: No way. Can't make this town famous. Too much publicity and you get all those tourists and stuff.
Kiros: You're afraid someone might come and take Raine away? Laguna, you've changed, man.
Laguna: Hey! I see a monster!!!
It's obvious that Kiros expected to find the same Laguna he remembered, and that instead, Laguna's changed a great deal. For better or for worse, Laguna has grown up. He's not the kind of guy who'll just abandon his post on the battlefield to go moon over a piano lady anymore; he's actually learned some responsibility. Of course, it's not easily apparent — Raine is quick to list Laguna's faults to Ellone — but to the player, who's had the benefit of playing Laguna in this situation, it's a pretty significant change already. The Laguna we saw in the first dream wasn't all that interested in patrolling, but here's a guy doing it every day to keep the townspeople safe.
It's also evident in what Laguna says about Julia herself. One of the bits of exposition we get from Kiros is about how Julia has gotten married to General Caraway of Galbaldia and achieved her dream of becoming a singer, and released the song "Eyes On Me." There's mention of a magazine interview in which Julia talked about how her true love went off to war and never came back. However, all Laguna has to say about it is that her happiness is all that matters.
This is one of those adult decisions I mentioned earlier. Laguna isn't a teenager like Squall; he recognizes that whatever he had with Julia was short-lived and that its time is long past, and he's moved on. If he hadn't found Raine, perhaps he might have made an effort to get back to Julia after the disastrous Centra mission, but that's not how things shook out. And that's sometimes how life is. Of course Laguna is a character in a video game and this is just how he was written, but even so I enjoy the juxtaposition of Laguna's story of the tough decisions of adulthood against the rashness of Squall's adolescence.
So when Kiros shows up, Laguna has to finally face the question of whether to stay in Winhill, or continue pursuing his dreams of being a journalist. Raine can tell he wants to travel the world and won't be happy to settle down in a sleepy town like Winhill, no matter how he acts, but even so, she finds herself falling for him. The dream ends without answering the question of what Laguna will do, but it's clear that he can't just stay like this forever.
This dream is best told through pictures.
Yeah. So Laguna ends up as an actor in a movie and ends up fighting an actual dragon. Laguna, your life defies all reason.
More seriously, Laguna ended up being forced to leave Winhill when Ellone was kidnapped by Esthar soldiers, who were searching for a successor to Sorceress Adel. Laguna ends up touring the world as a journalist, but instead of the fun trip he'd once spoken of, it's just to pay the bills as he tries to find a way into Esthar.
It follows with the logic of the last dream, though. It's clear that Laguna cares very deeply for Ellone and Raine, and her kidnapping allowed him to go chasing after her with a way to fund the trip. A little convenient, maybe, considering that deep down he probably did want to leave with Kiros and have adventures like the one shown in this dream, and I can't help but wonder if this was a point of contention between him and Raine.
At the same time, though, I actually really like that we only get glimpses of Laguna's journey, and that the player has to put the pieces together as they play the game just as Squall and company do in the story. It's a great narrative trick, and even though FFVIII has some serious writing issues in general I've always really enjoyed the way Laguna's story was presented.
There are a lot of magazines in the game, but the Timber Maniacs are special — they're old issues you find all around the world, which you promptly read on the spot because you have nothing better to do. Video game logic.
Anyway, as you find the issues, Selphie updates a page on the Balamb Garden terminal with the contents. The Timber Maniacs is the magazine Laguna used to write for, and Selphie has helpfully catalogued her reviews of his work. You can read them all at the Final Fantasy wiki.
I actually had no idea this was even in the game for years; I never look at the terminal after the beginning of the game, so I was thrilled when I finally discovered it. It's actually really entertaining to read about all of Laguna's exploits over the years, and talks about all the different places Laguna went. It also answers the question of how he managed to end up in Shumi Village when he was trying to get to Esthar: he was just really lost. Oh Laguna.
Speaking of which, the Shumi village sidequest is entirely optional, but one of the parts of the game I find both mind-boggling and hilarious. Mind-boggling, because nothing will ever explain NORG, and hilarious because a statue. There's a sidequest about building a statue of Laguna. What is this game.
I do think moombas are adorable though.
The final Laguna dream depicts what happened when Laguna finally did make it to Esthar: he got thrown in jail. Nice going, man.
All snark aside, this dream is probably the most important in terms of establishing Laguna's backstory in Esthar. At this point in the past, Esthar is under control of the sorceress Adel, and while the people of Esthar aren't happy with her, they don't have the power to overthrow her. They're fostering resistance, but it hasn't gotten anywhere yet. This is information is helpfully provided by a fellow prisoner, who, moved by Laguna's kindness towards a moomba, decides that Laguna is fit to be their resistance leader. You know, dude, you could have been nice to the moomba too, and also how is that a way to decide your resistance leader.
Anyway, Laguna, Ward, and Kiros manage to break out of prison, and it just so happens that they're being held by the very person who has Ellone, Dr. Odine. They demand her location from him, and manage to rescue her at last.
I actually tend to forget about this dream a lot, not because it isn't important, but because it's so straightforward. It doesn't have the lighthearted feel of the earlier dreams; instead, the tone feels more in line with Squall's side of the story. Laguna still has his silly moments, but the dream itself is so short and offers so little chance for player interaction that it's just never been very memorable for me.
There's also the fact that this dream is the last one, and the one that takes place within Esthar itself. By the time you see it in the story, many of these plot threads are coming together. It seeds many of the things to come when you actually meet Laguna in the game — something that's very close now.
You actually first see the president of Esthar in space, checking on Adel's tomb. Because it makes perfect sense that the president of the country is the person best suited to check on the evil sorceress out in space. Especially when the president is Laguna Loire.
I know what you did with your life, Laguna. That's why I have so many questions.
In all seriousness, there are a couple different things to cover, so let's break it down.
You remember that part in the last dream with the random guy who thought Laguna would be a good leader? ...YEAH, ABOUT THAT.
Laguna ends up getting involved with the Adel resistance in Esthar. As he tells Squall, while he had managed to rescue Ellone, it wasn't so easy as just going home to Winhill once he had her, because both Adel and Dr. Odine were both interested in Ellone's power, and would continue to pursue her. So Laguna plots with the resistance to get rid of the Crystal Pillar, thus avoiding the whole monsters overrunning the world issue.
Secondly, Laguna and the other resistance members lure Adel to the Sorceress Memorial by telling her Ellone is there. They manage to seal her inside, and promptly blast her off into space. This would have been logical if they had managed to get Adel out of the planet's orbit. You could have, I don't know, thrown her into the nearest star. But I digress.
Following this, the issue arose of who would run the country now that Adel was gone. In Laguna's own words:
Laguna: But the real work began after that. A fierce debate ensued about who should govern this country after Adel was gone. I wasn't paying close attention while they made me up to be this hero of the revolution, and I ended up being president. Odine made a lot of noise about wanting to do research on Ellone. It was a mistake to send Ellone alone back to Raine. Raine died, and Elle was sent to the orphanage. If I had only gone to Winhill with Elle... I would've been able to see Raine one last time. Raine was dead. Ellone, missing. My job kept me busy. I was left here thinking about this and that and before I knew it, all this time had passed. Well, that's about it.
On the one hand, I'm not sure how you don't notice becoming the president. On the other hand, this is Laguna we're talking about. I believe it.
Laguna's monologue here gets into a stickier issue, though, which needs further discussion:
This is something I discussed over on DIVIDE, but it's worth hashing out here. Laguna's monologue above serves two purposes: it explains why he's been in Esthar for the past 17 years (and why the player has therefore not encountered any more recent trace of him outside of Esthar), and it explains how Ellone ended up at the orphanage.
What it fails to explain, however, is Squall.
Squall is Laguna's son with Raine. This is something that's not explicitly stated in the game, but like Laguna's storyline in general, if you put together the clues it's not hard to discern. However, doing so opens up a number of plot holes.
The key question is: did Laguna know Squall existed? You kind of have to assume he didn't, because otherwise Squall would never have been sent to the orphanage. At the same time, though, how the hell am I supposed to buy this? You're telling me that Laguna, who just spent the better part of a year travelling the world to find Ellone, let this little girl travel all the way back to Winhill by herself? Even if you get past that logic and say that someone went with her, how did someone fail to notice that Raine was heavily pregnant with Squall and why did no one tell Laguna? How did Laguna later find out that Raine died but not about Squall?
Basically, this entire monologue is either terrible or terribly convenient. I have a hard time laying the blame solely on Laguna, because personally I feel it has more to do with how the game itself is written. In order for the existing plot of Final Fantasy VIII to work, Squall needs to grow up at the orphanage and at Garden, and therefore have no contact with Laguna; Ellone needs to spend time on the White SeeD ship; and Laguna has to be sequestered away in Esthar, cut off from the rest of the world. Changing any of these facts significantly changes the existing plot.
And the way this is explained in the game is to make Laguna incapable of going back to Winhill with Ellone because he's suddenly struck with a sense of duty to Esthar. Right.
The point I'm getting at here is that when you have a story like this where the characters do have reasonable motivations to do things, but you need them to not do certain things, it's important to give them good reasons. In his monologue to Squall above, Laguna doesn't provide a reason that makes sense for his character. If he did provide a logical reason, I'd be perfectly fine with it and buy it just as much as I buy the rest of this nonsensical game. But because he doesn't, it really sours this point of his character.
I interpret it as the fault of the writers and not the character, but I can't fault anyone for going the other way. For example, I could understand an interpration that Laguna is the one conveniently editing out all of the references to Squall in this explanation in order to not reveal their connection the very moment he meets the kid, given they're in the middle of a crisis. He does, after all, say he'd like to talk to him after everything is over. That makes a little more sense. I just tend to lean more towards blaming the writers because FFVIII in general has Serious Issues.
Anyway. Let's move on.
You know, given all the curveballs this game threw me, it didn't even come as a surprise that I met Laguna and he immediately started spouting off something about love, friendship, and courage. I'm pretty sure the face I made at my TV was about the same as the one Squall had.
But at the same time... it's really fitting, isn't it? Both for Laguna and the game as a whole. From the very beginning, Laguna's side of the game has been all about love, friendship, and courage, while Squall struggles with those very things. Laguna's storyline is a contrast against Squall's, and when they finally come together it only makes sense that he's there to inspire Squall to go further.
Love, courage, and friendship are all things Laguna has in spades. He loves easily but also deeply, resulting in two very different but important relationships. His bond with Ward and Kiros is so strong that 17 years later, they're still by his side in Esthar. And while Laguna never made much of a soldier, he shows his courage in everything he did to get Ellone back.
By the end of the game, Squall has learned all of the lessons Laguna never had to. Personally, I think that after the game ends, there are a few things Laguna could stand to learn from Squall in return. What kind of relationship they have after the game is left up to the player, but I've always liked to be optimistic about it.
During the ending FMV, Laguna goes to visit Raine's grave. There, he remembers when he and Raine exchanged wedding rings.
So, true story: I saw screencaps of this ending on various fansites long before I actually finished the game myself. I can't remember much past that, since it was a long time ago, but it did mean that when I finished the game for myself, I didn't have much of a reaction to it; I knew it was coming.
In the time since, though, I've come to like the ending a lot. We only meet Raine once in the game, and then only briefly. When Squall meets Laguna, he refuses to talk about Raine, but in tune with the little hints of Laguna's side of the story, this scene tells us the missing piece of their story. We might not know any details, like when the flashback takes place in the overall timeline or if this is Laguna's first time visiting her grave, but I don't really mind that — it leaves it up to interpretation.
In closing, while there are some missteps in the writing of Laguna's story, he is, on the whole, a refreshing, entertaining character who serves as a great foil against Squall. The inclusion of his story presents the same themes as the main storyline in a different light, and allows the player a new look at the world of Final Fantasy VIII. It's a unique setup in the Final Fantasy series as a whole, but it's one that worked very well.
I had a really hard time finishing Final Fantasy VIII, and in fact played it several times before I completed it. Whenever I did pick it back up again, Laguna was usually one of the biggest motivating factors: I just wanted to play to the Laguna parts. It was years before I actually cared about the parts of the game that didn't have to do with Laguna, and when it did happen I somehow ended up making a site for Squall first. I still have no idea how this happened.
But Laguna is my favorite character in the game, and has been since the first time I saw him. Part of it is the fact that he's got all the parts of the game that are funny, and he's immediately likeable, whereas Squall takes a lot more warming up to. And yet, as I've played the game again and again, I've come to realize that behind the comedy of errors there's a story with a lot of heart and honesty, and that's why Laguna has remained my favorite.
I've wanted to make a Laguna site for ages; as mentioned above Squall ended up pushing his way to the forefront, but I'm very glad that I was able to complete this site. If you have any questions or comments about this site, feel free to leave them in the guestbook.
"Drafted" comes from one of Laguna's lines, specifically this one. I had no ideas and a lot of screencaps. You do the math. I should feel sorry but I don't.
I do actually have a couple reasons for the name, though. Firstly, while Laguna may have been a soldier, we know his dream was to be a journalist. Given the state of affairs in Galbadia (especially during the Sorceress War against Adel) it's not a stretch to think he may have been drafted into service. Similarly, Laguna ended up the president of Esthar without quite realizing it. Not so bad for a joke name.
I designed this layout and the fanlisting layout to match; I wanted to use art from the original game and from Dissidia 012, and making two layouts was a good excuse. Of course, the backgrounds don't quite match the art used (Winhill and Esthar, respectively), but whatever. It came out nice.
Textures used are by badwolvesrun, sanami276, and chamberten (defunct).
All screencaps on the site were taken by me from the Steam release of the game. A couple pieces of information were referenced from the FF Wiki. The game script was of great help in putting this site together.
If you'd like to link back to Drafted, feel free to use one of these buttons or one of the fanlisting codes.
If you'd like to affiliate, feel free to drop me a line. I'm happy to affiliate with other Final Fantasy character fansites of a similar size and depth.
The following sites are some of the few Final Fantasy VIII fansites remaining on the web, but they're all of excellent quality and come with my highest recommendation.