Everyone loves a man in uniform, even if that uniform is poorly rendered by the PS1 graphics of the day. So its no surprise that Squall Leonhart is one of gaming’s most celebrated crushes. The strong and silent type, Squall carries the cast of my all-time favourite Final Fantasy game through the ridiculousness of a plot that involves time travel and amnesia. (Don’t forget time kompression – Ed.)
So this week, we’ll be celebrating our angsty, broody mess of a hero for our Humpday Husbando entry.
Who is Squall Leonhart?
Squall Leonhart is the main protagonist of Final Fantasy VIII, where we first meet him as an intense, focused mercenary in SeeD’s Balamb Garden. He is sent on missions around the regions and proves to be a capable if reluctant leader. He makes a great effort to push people away, preferring not to get close to his comrades due to a well-earned fear that they will eventually abandon him.
Like a shounen protagonist, Squall eventually learns the power of friendship over the course of the game, opening himself up to those around him. He becomes the leader of Balamb Garden’s SeeD forces, leading them on a mission to save the world from a threat from the future and the past. Honestly, it gets confusing and convoluted, but watching the way Squall grows and changes makes it all worthwhile.
His own past is a mystery to even himself at the start of the game, partly because he is just a child when a lot of weird stuff happens to him — partly because using magic in the setting causes memory issues. This means that he is just as confused as the rest of us when he encounters important characters and places, unsure as to why they seem so important to him. Squall’s life seems to be one that moves from one tragedy to another — so when he finally finds a certain amount of happiness for himself it is that much more satisfying.
Why we love him
Be honest – Is there a cooler weapon than the gunblade? Come on. It’s a sword that has a gun attached to it. What’s not to love? The opening cutscene for Final Fantasy VIII features a duel between Squall and Seifer, who serves as the ever-present rival to our hero, each using the impractical but undeniably awesome weapon.
Every part of Squall Leonhart’s personality and design just screams brooding, serious hero, which makes the fact that he is surrounded by a ridiculous supporting cast that much more hilarious. Squall spends much of the game serving as the straight man to the antics of what is happening around him, and it is magical.
His tough guy persona, complete with facial scar he got in the aforementioned gunblade duel, slowly comes undone as he learns to open himself up — particularly when it comes to leading lady Rinoa. Squall and Rinoa provide one of the most straight-forward and satisfying romances in the Final Fantasy series, and bring us some of the series’ most touching moments — including a hilariously awkward dance scene and a reunion in space.
Why you’ll love him
If you like to watch a brooding loner slowly come undone by the power of love and friendship, then Squall Leonhart is the husbando for you. His entire character arc comes from being able to move past his abandonment issues and learn to rely on his teammates. In the process, he becomes the leader in the fight against the time-travelling sorceresses that quickly become the main problem the world is facing.
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