Should Panzer Dragoon Orta be considered canon?


#1

I really enjoyed Orta when it first came out and would still claim that it’s one of the best rail shooters available. Looking back at the game with a more critical eye, some of the changes to the game’s aesthetic and story elements do feel out of place in comparision to the Saturn trilogy, even with the explanations given in the game’s encyclopaedia. Furthermore, at least one of the story element in Panzer Dragoon Orta has been rejected by the series creator.

This makes me wonder: should Panzer Dragoon Orta be considered part of the series canon? Here are some reasons why it might not be:

  1. Azel finding Edge’s body. Although Azel and Edge didn’t meet up and have a baby, exactly, it seems very likely that Azel found Edge’s body (or a recording of his DNA) in Sestren and created Orta from his DNA. But according to Futuasgi, his intention was “for them never to see each other again”. Never seeing Edge again implies that Azel wouldn’t find out what happened to him; there would be no closure to her search, reflecting the harshness of Saga’s ending. While the intention of the creator may not hold full weight on what is canon, it does make me wonder if Smilebit truly understood what made Panzer Dragoon Saga’s ending so impactful.

  2. The survival of Sestren (the location). To me, this is the biggest problem with the continuity between Saga and Orta. At the end of Panzer Dragoon Saga, after the Divine Visitor presses the button, the dragon says “we must go” and we see Sestren shrinking and then disappearing altogether as if Sestren was being turned off. As the dragon says, The Will of the Ancients was now with him, and as Zadoc tells us, Sestren is the Will of the Ancients. The Divine Visitor wasn’t just shutting down the dragon program, we were shutting down the Sestren network too! I always thought it was problematic that Sestren survived when, solely in the context of Panzer Dragoon Saga, it is very reasonable to assume what we saw was Sestren being destroyed.

  3. Sestren as a data network. In Panzer Dragoon Saga Zadoc refers to Sestren as a series of astral passages, whereas in Orta it’s referred with words like “data”, “network”, and “memory cell”. This may simply be a intepretation issue; the Seekers tend to use language that is more vague and mysterious. But when playing Saga, when Zadoc says “Sestren is located in a place, between time and space, where no mortal can ever reach it”, I consider that something we’re supposed to take seriously about the nature of Sestren. We’re not meant to be sure whether Sestren is just another technological invention of the Ancients or something of a more spiritual nature. Panzer Dragoon Orta tells us that Azel, Orta, and Abadd trivially enter and leave Sestren. I’m not sure about the others, but I don’t think that Orta is supposed to be immortal.

  4. The dragon survives - but in a different body? Somehow the physical dragon survived the Divine Visitor’s button pushing, but when we’re introduced to him in Orta he’s in a completely different body than at the end of Saga. It’s not a continuation of the same evolution (despite what we may have argued in the Single Physical Dragon Theory), it’s a different, more reptilian form. The dragon program says that the physical dragon’s body is weak, and that he’ll more than likely die if he continues. If that was the case, he wouldn’t be able to replace his body with an entirely new form.

  5. The Wormriders Den. In Panzer Dragoon Saga we’re told by Gash that lathums are the most disgusting creatures alive. The smell is unbearable. Lathums contain dangerous heat vents that can damage even Edge’s dragon, let alone individual humans who do not have the dragon’s armour. Yet the Wormriders chose to live on one of these creatures. I understand that the point of the Wormriders living with enemy creatures from Saga is supposed to show us that it’s possible to live in harmony with the ‘monsters’. I like that this angle is explored. But the huge difference in how the lathums are portrayed between games is at least questionable.

  6. The replacement of the Imperial fleet. Panzer Dragoon Orta tells us that after the Great Fall “the Empire was without an army” and an alliance was formed with the leaderless southerners. This is problematic for a couple of reasons. One is that it seems unlikely that the entire Imperial Fleet would have been destroyed by Craymen’s explosion and the monsters from the Tower of Uru. The Empire had conquered most of the Continent by Imperial Year 119 (when the Great Fall began), so they would likely have had units stationed throughout, rather than centralised. But even if we can explain this with the pure types unleashed from the Tower, or by civil war, it doesn’t explain why the leaderless southerners would contribute their fleet to an Empire without an army? What did the Empire have to offer besides “leadership”. The southerners may have “practiced primitive religions that focused mainly on war and conflict”, but they were clearly smart, having developed their own fleet of airships. The alliance seems a little ad hoc.

What do you all think? Are these issues enough to make you reconsider Orta’s place in the series canon? I’ll restate that this is not an attempt to put down Orta as a game. I think it’s a very good game, and perhaps the most fun Panzer Dragoon rail shooter. But it may also be a work of fan fiction.


Saga is 20 years old today
#2

Azel didn’t find Edge. She loved Craymen and used his DNA to create Orta. That’s why Orta has white hair.

In Orta was Sestren ever called Sestren? Maybe there are a number of different networks and Sestren was just one of them.

I interpret Sestren as some sort of computer network. Not literally “computers” but with the technology the ancients provided (engines, towers, genetic manipulation) I can imagine a technology they could create that would meld mind and machine. Sort of like the Singularity point computer engineers hypothesize. Obviously the seekers wouldn’t have intimate knowledge of the old-world tech, so they might see it as “a place no mortal can go” because they’ve read about it or something from “ancient texts” and just misinterpreted.

I never completely understood the dragon reincarnating, or why it’s in separate pieces. “Farewell my other half” confuses me.

That massive Lathum was an interesting piece to me. Granted, it didn’t matter at all to the story, they could have just as easily been living in caves or mountains or whatever… I guess in Saga wasn’t Gash’s village build inside a dead mountain spider thing? Maybe they could harness the energy of these steam geysers somehow, that’s not hard to imagine.

For point 6, I think it’s stated in Orta that the largest settlements sort of become the Empire when they reach a certain critical mass of sorts. iunno. I think in Orta they call Uru something else… was it ulu? Have to go into the encyclopedia in-game to find it. The tricky thing is: was it a translation error this time around, or last time?

But yeah, Orta is canon. :slightly_smiling:
On a separate note: Please sell me your Panzer Dragoon music box.


#3

Ugh, What Yukio Futatsugi rejects doesn’t fit the understanding we have of Orta’s story though, I imagine he didn’t engage with the game much and so that probably says more about his feeling than what he actually states. /shrug

I also made peace with any stylistic discrepancies a long time ago, Orta is as much a marvel in its own context as the Saturn games to me. It would have been great if Futatsugi-san had continued the story directly but he didn’t, Smilebit did, and they didn’t betray my Panzer Dragoon. So my answer is yes to the topic.

As has been mentioned Orta doesn’t reference much about Sestren directly so that seems to be manufacturing a problem. And Baldor were just as deadly and disgusting to most people as Lathum(s?), that basically used to apply to all monsters. The dragon in Orta looks similar to a lot of the Saga forms, just like it has been stripped of the archetypal pure type characteristics. Notice the wings carry the pattern seen on the sides of the interior Abadd leads you through, which appears to be the legacy of its survival from Sestren, it is now a different kind of hybrid. The Glide Wing looks like a more standard pure type, and has the types of abilities typical of them, while the Heavy Wing appears to be a mutated type, and gains the raw ‘spirit’ power and vitality as such. I think one original aspect of the Heresy Entity was tied to the Light Wing but another aspect was the evolved dragon itself, which had been learning a lot about itself all along. We know there was a split, so again I don’t see any clear problem in that.

Responding to Synbios16, The Craymen theory is interesting but it has some core issues as well, first is the assumption that Craymen is some sort of white haired freak and not simply an older man who’s lived a hard life? Also, how/when/where/why would Azel have collected Craymen’s DNA, off an actual corpse, which should have been destroyed with the Tower, if it was even still there and not buried somewhere else? It is a far more incongruous assumption than for Edge, who was actually lost in the system.


#4

I thought the Craymen / Azel thing was common Panzer knowledge.

Craymen woke Azel in her “bed” and she sort of attached herself to him. That’s why she fights for him for so long. It’s why she’s so torn up when he gets shot down by the emperor’s chair. It’s why she goes into shock and like sleeps for (I presume) days after he dies.

Panzerese isn’t used in the vast majority of Panzer Dragoon Saga. Most audio dialogue is in straight Japanese, and the last scene with Edge and Azel was not translated correctly. More accurately: the dialogue was re-worked, probably to give the player a stronger attachment to the Azel character (probably just because that’s the way western audiences would have preferred the story to go).
Regardless, in the English version we’re presented with “Honestly, I don’t want to be alone anymore… I love you…” and that is not what she’s saying in Japanese.


#5

Yes I know all of that, and I have heard the theory and arguments for it before. But Azel was attached to Craymen as a subject or child, he was the person who activated her and gave the drone a purpose. Her more complex ‘human’ like emotions only manifested after her shock and recovery. And Edge is the only person she could rationally have been “searching” for. It’s not common knowledge, it is the less accepted interpretation from what I gather.


#6

You know what? I changed my mind. If Yukio says Azel was the end, then Azel was the end.

Also adding in the Japanese translation of Azel’s last words to Edge:

わからない。だけど大丈夫、死ぬわけじゃない。→ I don’t know. But it’s/I’m okay, that doesn’t mean I’m going to die.

…一人にはなりたくない。だけど…私は… → I don’t want to be alone. But…I…


#7

I viewed it as a fresh start for the series; a new beginning. In a way, it was sort of like a reboot taking the series forward. Although, it never received subsequent sequels…

How many members from Team Andromeda worked on the game exactly? Thank God Saori Kobayashi did the music, or it definitely wouldn’t have felt like Panzer Dragoon to me! Yukio Futatsugi wasn’t involved obviously, so I guess it’s like how some people view the new Star Wars movie. Without George Lucas, some fans refuse to except Star Wars The Force Awakens as canon. I’m sure many PD fans feel the same way about Orta.

With Orta we lost the main writer; the person that came up with the original concept and setting. So, in many ways it lost the framework/narrative style of the original’s but through the lingering creativity of the few remaining members of Team Andromeda, it still managed to retain its aesthetic spirit, while feeling new at the same time.

I think the fact that Orta had at least some of the old Team Andromeda members still IMO, is just enough for me to accept it as a continuation as well as a new beginning (albeit short-lived) for the series.

In the end, the game is just a beautiful piece of video gaming art. I appreciate the effort that went into the design of its living breathing world and the evolution in its gameplay.

Crimson Dragon on the other hand…


#8

Agreed. I don’t see anything that really conflicts with the ending of Panzer Dragoon Saga. Definitely nothing that would be considered a retcon. Orta isn’t fan fiction, and while Futatsugi may think otherwise, I’m not convinced the game would have been any better if he was there. Especially not after seeing how Crimson Dragon turned out. As far as I’m concerned, Orta is one of the best games SEGA have released ever since they left the console business. I like how legaiaflame compares it to George Lucas not working on The Force Awakens. It’s indeed similar.

As for Orta’s origin: the relationship between Craymen and Azel always reminded me of Evangelion’s Gendo and Rei. There are more than a few similarities in fact, and I don’t think it was a coincidence. Much like how the obvious similarities with Nausicaä are not a coincide. I never found it credible to think that Orta was made from Craymen’s DNA. While Azel didn’t say "I love you’ to Edge, the intent was clear.


#9

I accept it as canon despite some discrepancies that might be present within the storyline. There’s any number of excuses that could probably be made to explain the unlikely progression of certain events, and the story for Orta isn’t really heavy with a lot of details. However, the biggest reason I like to think of it as canon is the completely cold ending to Saga making me feel like I just got tossed out of a moving car halfway toward getting somewhere.

I really liked the aesthetic changes in comparison to the Saturn trilogy (Or rather, Zwei and Saga. PD1 felt as different to me from Zwei and Saga as they did to Orta.) I see this as having happened before, and I appreciate thinking of the world as constantly evolving even over as short a period of time between Saga and Orta. Orta felt like both a fresh new start as well as an epilogue to bookend the series. Whether or not we get subsequent entries, I’m satisfied with how Orta handled things. I’m especially happy that the series wasn’t over with Saga.


#10

Actually, Team Andromeda stated in each PD game, only 1/5 of the Panzer Dragoon world is ever shown. So, I guess in Orta, you could say a reason for the slight change in aesthetics is because we were seeing a new sliver of the PD world!

And yes, I don’t think Futatsugi quite understood the subtle realization that Azel never actually found Edge alive; rather just used his DNA…


#11

It’s unfortunate that most people here (with the exception of @The_Ancient) focused on the Futatsugi quote and authorial intent, rather than the numbered evidential points in my original post. I regret linking to that quote now as it served as a distraction from the evidential reasons of why Panzer Dragoon Orta might not be canon, which was the point of this topic.

And I’ll restate that my intention of questioning the canonical status of Panzer Dragoon Orta has nothing to do with the quality of the game, but it’s place in the overall continuity. Perhaps you liked Orta’s more upbeat story better than Saga? That’s fine, but it’s also a seperate point. Of course people going to lean one way or the other based whether they liked Orta, but I want to try and look at this with some emotional distance.

Yes, it’s unlikely that Craymen was Orta’s father, and yes Azel left a recording for Orta in the same Sestren from Panzer Dragoon Saga, created from what was very likely to be Edge’s DNA, either as a recording or from his actual body. I contest that this is consistent with Panzer Dragoon Saga’s ending in points (1) and (2). If point (2) is correct, and the Sestren astral passages were destroyed at the end of Saga, then Azel would have never found Edge’s body either, making point (1) not required. So a lot rests on point (2).

Indeed, the more I consider this, the more I’m leaning towards viewing the Saturn trilogy as a complete artwork. When creating an artwork, you normally start with a canvas and then paint inside of it. The same it true with a story. You can paint outside the canvas, or expand the canvas, but the “joins” will often show. Once the minimal story of Panzer Dragoon was written, the rest of the saga was mapped out and the canvas was measured. The end result was a story with a beginning (Zwei), a middle (the original game), and an end (Saga) - the complete story of the dragon, from birth to death. Orta provided an epilogue which stretched the canvas by artificially prolonging the dragon’s story.

I don’t think the comparision to The Force Awakens is neccessarily the best one. Disney took great lengths to make sure that The Force Awakens was consistent (story-wise and aesthetically) with the original trilogy. As far as I know there are no continuity issues. Characters only reappeared if it made sense (i.e. they weren’t killed off in Jedi). Interestingly, the now not-canon expanded universe did bring back old characters such as the Emperor, which seems comparable to bringing back the dragon and Sestren; we think the Emperor’s story ends in Episode 6, but it’s never confirmed. Which version of the Emperor’s story best fits the canvas though? In Panzer Dragoon Orta, characters stories are prolonged. The dragon survived, when Panzer Dragoon Saga shows him “leaving” after the Divine Visitor pushed the button to destroy him. Despite seeing the Sestren astral passages disappear, with Edge in them, Edge’s story is expanded.

When it comes to in-world evidence, a better comparison might be to the Star Wars prequels. The question of who created the story is irrelevent here since both the original trilogy and the prequels were created by George Lucas. There is an inconsistency between Episode III and VI where in VI Leia tells Luke that she remembers her mother, but in episode III she only saw her mother for a few seconds. Apparantly this is explained as “remembering her through the force”, but that explanation feels contrived and not what one would expect, solely in the context of watching Return of the Jedi. So I think it’s absolutely reasonable to question whether the Star Wars prequels are canon, because of inconsistencies such as this and the same applies to continuity between Panzer Dragoon Saga and Orta.


#12

I’ll set things back on point Solo…

(Point 1) The decision to resolve the ending to Saga

I would rather have liked to see Iva’s story instead, but I digress. I was happy to get some kind of closure (the creation of Orta) as to what happened at the end of Saga with regards to Azel’s search. The ending to Saga might have been impactful in a shocking sort of way, but there is always some sort of resolution conflict when the hero of a story doesn’t make his return. The viewer always feels cheated and the story is left unresolved.

An example of this would be the ending to the Matrix trilogy. Neo never returned and the audience was left feeling empty/uncertain as to whether he was alive or dead. What I’m trying to say is: a story just feels more complete, more satisfying, when you know the ultimate fate of the hero. No explanation whatsoever, leaves the viewer feeling empty and lost IMO…That’s because we as viewers have invested a sliver of ourselves in that character and no explanation as to his/her fate, leaves us feeling like we’ve lost a bit of ourselves!

And with a different writer comes a different view on proceeding events. Futatsugi couldn’t continue the story, so in a way it “was” fan-fiction.

(Point 2 and 3) The Divine Visitor failed; Sestren survived

It is kind of a let down even after a complete shutdown of Sestren, there are still remnants in Orta. It makes the events of Saga feel undermined. Maybe in Orta though, Sestren is just a fragmented series of incomplete backup programs trying to network themselves together?

(Point 4) The dragon lives but for what purpose?

I guess you could view this as a separation of the Heresy program from it’s physical body which was then ejected or purged, from Sestren…It is acting on it’s own free will, rather than being controlled by the Heresy Program. Maybe it sort of reverted back to it’s Coolia-like biology, still augmented by what the Heresy Program did to its DNA. It seems like the Heresy Program allowed it to leave the Sesten Network before it was completely shut down. Of course, without the Heresy Program it would be mortal; no?

(Point 5) Violent Mutated Types made tame?

It is rather extreme to be living on a Lathum given its threat level to humans! It seems Mobo’s people are in symbiosis with it. Did their bodies go through some sort of adaptation, through natural selection? Did they domesticate the Lathum young at birth, removing some of it’s defense mechanisms; overseeing it’s growth and then eventually living on it?

(Point 6) The Empire is unrealistically obliterated and no one else takes control

Maybe the Empire was in such a reduced state it was as “if” they were without an army, and just needed to replenish and build it back up again.

The southerners had a fleet of their own? What was their level of technology at? The encyclopedia entry made it sound like they were more primitive. It stated there was tribal conflict involving new leadership/heirs, on their island state and they migrated over to the main continent, seeking a better life. Weren’t they less advanced? Wouldn’t it have been relatively easy for the Empire to manipulate them?

The Empire might have astounded them with their more refined or advanced Ancient Age tech, which ultimately could have blew away their belief systems. Technology is indistinguishable from magic, or so they say. Maybe demonstrations of the Empire’s Ancient Age technology made the southerners view the Empire as messengers of their Gods; or ones that speak for the Gods?

So the major problems in Orta are:

-How did Azel find Edge’s DNA if he was lost in the supposedly “deleted” Astral Planes, within Sestren?

Alternative answer: Maybe it’s as simple as: she had one of his belongings which had some of his DNA on it and after a fruitless search to find him alive, used that to create Orta.

-Why should there be remnants of Sestren if it was completely shut down/deleted?(An analogy would be like when we drag our unwanted files into the recycling bin and delete them.)

Alternative answer: Sestren version 2.0 is just a fragmented series of incomplete backup programs trying to network themselves together. Not the same as the original, just a barely functional alternative.

-Why did the Empire need to completely rebuild from the ground up? The southerners could have just made an Empire of their own, rising out of the Empire’s ashes as a new dominant faction.

Alternative answer: The southerners were ultimately convinced or deceived by the Empire into joining among their ranks.

-How could Lagi act on his own and survive without the intelligence and strength of the Heresy Program? Why has the dragon’s appearance changed so drastically?

Alternative answer: Without the Heresy Program, the appearance of Lagi’s body has reverted somewhat to what he originally started with. In other words: the Heresy Program is gone. There is no influence on his physiological or mental state. He is acting purely on free will and closer in biology to that of his original Coolia self. In the end, his body may still be altered from the Heresy Program, but he is now mortal.

In regards to Orta being canon: there are always explanations people can come up with to explain everything away, even though they might feel contrived or unlikely. The problem is: we don’t have all the details…


#13

(1) Regarding closure, if you require that characters stories have closure, I’m not sure that the Panzer Dragoon series is the right series for you. Every Panzer Dragoon game has ended with a seperation - Kyle sees the footprints in the sand, but doesn’t know what happened to the dragon (and as far as we know, never learns). In Zwei we get, “after all this, he is still with me”, but in literal terms, Lundi never sees Lundi again (sorry Sky Rider = Lundi theorists). Lundi became a seeker to help carry on Lagi’s legacy; he found his own way to carry on without closure. In Saga, we get the sense of loss since Gash and Azel hope that Edge will return. Gash even imagines the dragon, yet it’s unlikely that there was any closure to that story; Gash would have likely always wondered what became of Edge.

The Panzer Dragoon world is brutal, it’s story goes beyond that of individual characters, and most stories do not end well for those in them, or end without full closure. The characters simply do what they can to continue on afterwards.

There’s a novel called Hothouse which was an early inspiration for Panzer Dragoon and in that story the world is similarly uncaring. It also ends with the reader asking questions about what might happened and without all of the characters destinations being wrapped up neatly. I like that about about both stories.

(2) I think we can interpret the Divine Visitor as succeeding, even if Sestren (the location) wasn’t destroyed. The security systems in Sestren could simply be acting autononmously, the same way that pure types still guard the ruins. It makes sense for parts of system to still function if the system wasn’t completely centralised to begin with (as seems to be interpretation in Orta). So I don’t have a problem with that aspect. It’s more the fact that Sestren exists at all, when we see it being shut down in Saga. Claiming that the Sestren in Orta is a backup system might be stretching things a bit - why still call it Sestren if it’s not meant to be the same Sestren, for example? Why wouldn’t the Divine Visitor destroy these backups as well?

(4) Yes, I think we can come up with a story about how the physical dragon survived Saga’s ending (but again, assuming that Sestren did too - everything hinges on that) and about how he became the Orta form. I think the Base Wing in Orta is quite different from the Saga evolution and the coolias in Zwei. I would expect a form more like the early forms in Zwei if he’s meant to be closer to a normal animal. A worthwhile question is: do such an explanations feel adequate? Or is it more a case of the dragon’s story being stretched out?

I don’t have strong objections to (5) and (6), so we may be able to explain some of these as simply as Orta revealing a larger view of the Panzer Dragoon world that we didn’t get to see in Saga. I like some of the ideas presented here so far.


#14

I guess Shigeru Kurihara and Kenichiro Ishii (the main writers of Orta) just liked happy endings; deciding to ultimately give Azel resolution to her search. And This does sort of ruin the mystery of Saga’s ending. So, you can’t help but think of it as fan-fiction. In the end though, the events in Orta, whether Yukio Futatsugi agrees or not, are considered canon.

What I want to know is: why wasn’t Yukio Futatsugi on board to write the story for Orta? Was he tied up with other commitments, or did he just feel like the story was complete, refusing to touch another installment in the series?


#15

I have continued to think about this - typically enough - but I will be responding in a few different contexts. First I want to address a couple things out of order, for reasons implied:

  1. Partly for now, as this really contains two different arguments. The aspect of the dragon’s appearance is tired for me, I have said anything I can repeatedly. Whether it is the ‘claws’ on the wings or even the split horn there are precedents in the Saga forms, of which there are so many and then so many variants which are ignored because only a few favorite primary models register as meaningful. This is a creature that has morphed so many times and taken on dozens of diverse characteristics, presumably all to meet particular demands of performance. The Zwei forms are less similar to the Saga forms than those are to Orta’s base form, and that is very similar to the original Blue form which is reptilian enough, except it’s green, and so what? The weird wings are the least commented on feature yet they are the most conspicuous, and there must be an intent and meaning to their pattern as it is also displayed on the wall/ceiling of the ruins Abadd leads Orta to. Ruins that are presumably directly connected with the conclusion of Azel’s own search and therefore have a direct connection to Orta’s own origin. Abadd led Orta to that specific facility for a specific reason, I think that is plain.

But that’s another subject. I have never been concerned with any argument that the Orta dragon is supposed to be ‘reverting to a beast’ and the implication that it should somehow appear more like the origin of Lagi in Zwei, such has always been a faulty assumption; the dragon may have lost a certain essence of power but not any essential aspect of its dragonhood. It displays the same archetypal features as the archetype it has always been most closely associated with, and like ever before it has made adaptations for reasons we can only guess at.

Artistic choices are just that, and as a game created a generation and a half later Orta’s visual context is literally a different state of the art. Any pretense of objective interpretation of art is fruitless, for art can only be interpreted through the perceptions of an artist or the perceptions of a sophist. Personally there is simply nothing in this.

  1. Legaia Flame already made a good argument and the most obvious point about the fleet itself, it is not a fair use of semantics to reduce the meaning of the reference to denoting their forces were “destroyed” or even that such term equates to the total obliteration of every last unit of those forces. An army is a relative measure of potential, and that potential can be well destroyed from being merely chopped into pieces. Few armies or military fleets in history have ever been absolutely obliterated yet thousands of such have been destroyed. Craymen sabotaged and rebelled and surely waged other battles, Edge destroyed hundreds of airships (or I sure did) even before the emperor committed his flagship and hundreds or thousands more to be slaughtered by Azel / Uru’s defenses. Again this seems a manufactured argument.

As is doubting the likelihood of a new political and cultural alliance, human history is garishly decorated with such political mergers and transitions, whether painted in old blood spilled or new blood filled, power attracts even as a vacuum. The readily apparent parallel would be the Eastern or Byzantine Empire, even as the cultural heritage owed little enough to the ashes of Ancient Rome the romance and stature of its legend are so great, and even a conqueror increases his own aggrandizement by his very envy of the conquered. And that Latin mystique and ratification endures to the Czars of Russia and the British imperial ethos.

Alexander the Great, seeded a new dynasty in Egypt, yet they also elevated themselves to the stature of the Pharos they succeeded rather than wishing to supplant or surmount them. Chinese national identity is built on the legacy of one man’s act of unification, and multiple dynasties anointing themselves by his eternal shadow.

Such is the psychological power of precedence, and the very real tyranny of tradition. Eradication and replacement, or even unilateral cooption of one culture by another is very much the exception in human history, so there is really nothing in this one at all.

Those two are persuasive distractions, as arguments they are only apparently valid at best but could not lead to any sound or constructive conclusions. I want to show I am not dismissing them out of hand, but as such they can be summarily dismissed.


#16

I culled out points 4 and 6 there because they don’t pertain to continuity, rather distaste or perhaps plausibility, and are highly subjective even as such. Of course I don’t think they hold up as anything of substance regardless, but to address the other aspect of 4 briefly: the semantics call over the implications of the dragon being “weak” is again too presumptive, in this context of relative appraisal there is a vast gulf of capability between “immortal” and “mortal.” A mortal being is obviously likely to die, where this effectively immortal one previously could not.

This case rests on some presuppositions that are not necessarily clear and done, and also more possible misconceptions that have never been cleanly put to rest. You also mentioned Gash “imagining” he hears the dragon, but that is not how I ever took that scene myself, even before playing Orta, it was always at least open to interpretation. As you even say every game ends with a hint of conviction towards continuity and endurance, Azel was actually no different in that respect. Azel’s search, growth and endurance is implicit, are we to expect this amazingly resourceful and one of a kind expert system would achieve nothing?

I’ll save that line of argument for the next context though, and for structure I will address the remaining point of the bottom half first, since it is also basically a plausibility argument.

  1. Lathum, disgusting creature, so Gash says. Well in our own world some ‘primitive’ people coexist with or even eat things that could probably make anyone reading this forum puke to even think about. Though again Lathum are also dangerous… and in all probability highly specialized detoxification agents of the ecosystem, which would be a very pat explanation for that smell don’t you think? I have always had my own idea about the mutated-types anyway, I think their behaviors were broadly directed by Sestren and even their overt antagonism towards humans was a modal condition, generally switched on to discourage many people from interfering in densely active regions.

Let’s say the Great Fall was a pretty bad time for people in a lot of areas, and in addition to geological and meteorological cataclysms all the monsters start acting weird in different ways as well. Rugged tribes just looking to survive could well have tried to jump on a not obviously hostile Lathum as a slightly more promising alternative to being devoured by a hundred mile wide sinkhole don’t you think? Who knows, it isn’t even necessary to assume the Wormriders hadn’t already figured out something no one else knew long before, maybe they even used the Baldor to mask their presence somehow. A lot of creatures have parasitic/symbiotic dichotomies with smaller creatures, and squatters aren’t easy to evict once situated. Not that big a deal in any case.

So about that Sestren shutdown:

  1. As I recall Azel describes her search as “fruitless” even though she herself bore a fruit of sorts? That is the strongest suggestion of all that she didn’t ‘find Edge’ or any other emotional denouement of a sentimentally happy sort. But again she was searching for something, just searching for meaning and answers, or some new form of companionship in a world of people who could never relate to her experiences, so there is nothing inconsistent in that portrayal to me. She couldn’t really know the meaning of happiness, only connection, life, and death.

At least in both the original and English version, Azel is aware of her loneliness, the lack of connection. Let’s say she had said “I don’t want you to die Edge” that would split the difference between the two and describe the common denominator of both. I REALLY wish the “love” line hadn’t been added but as I put it long ago Azel can’t fully know what she’s saying there anyway. What she would fully know, if anyone in the world could, is how to go about finding more answers and how to infiltrate any and all remaining bio-engineered systems.

  1. So here’s the crux of all the presuppositions, and more semantics problems. “The Dragon” says a lot of very specific things to Edge - “I” exist to lead the Divine Visitor / to break the “spell” of the Ancient Age - the Divine Visitor must destroy “me” - the will of the Ancients, it is now with “me” - but then finally it says - Thank you, now “WE” must go… as it reveals four different faces of itself.

In the first place where in any of that is it explicit or even directly suggested that Sestren as an infrastructure or whatever is being destroyed? There is simply no objective continuity problem at all here. Unless you are assuming that it is the “I” of the dragon speaking - that which is now bound with the will of the Ancients - which also survives somehow, but that is not explicit either. And this is the big interpretation issue I have actually mentioned once or twice before, which I formally oppose with: the Divine Visitor did destroy that Sestren / Dragon, according to its own definition. The apparent conversation between Orta’s dragon and the Sestren spirit thing is misleading, because it is a memory like all the others in that “memory block” system. This was the choice the living dragon, let’s just call it Lagi, made at the last moment it had to either ‘cross over’ with the whole collective entity or remain and become a mere “mortal” creature. The Sestren dragon spirits and the Light Wing ARE entities which cross beyond conventional boundaries of life and death already, for them to be ‘alive’ is simply a state of arbitrary restriction and servitude to the Ancient masters who fashioned and focused their own wills from out of the void.

It is why “I” have returned (from where?) And now “we” must go (to where?)

There is no incongruity if you let go of your own mortal context, and take the words for what they plainly state. The dragon which returned to this world was destroyed in this world, and left it again, breaking and taking the spell of the Ancients with it. It was then speaking to the creature(s) which had helped host its mission, with the attitude of an immortal will that could not in turn fully comprehend the attachments of that other essentially mortal will to its life.

  1. This is my closest point to agreement, and it’s funny because it relates to what may have been the first question I ever asked after joining. I still see the transformation / destruction of the Tower of Uru as a very singular event. After viewing it again later I had to acknowledge it is indeed destroyed by whatever Azel caused, but the initial projection looks exactly like it’s supposed to be opening a portal to another dimension, and I’m sure that’s the intent. Azel then presumably uses the same incredible energy burst as some feedback against the Tower which ‘melts’ it in seconds, and it’s a big freaking tower…

That WAS a portal to Sestren, the real overlord dimension if you will, a mostly impregnable citadel at the center of everywhere and nowhere. And I assume it was both the instrument and the vessel of the collective Will(s) of the Ancient masters, and when it was indeed destroyed / deactivated / collapsed their illustrious fates were sealed as well. Too late indeed for Abadd to ever fulfill his mission and role.

So we have two at least equally valid interpretations, Gash imagined / mistook hearing the dragon (and we’re inside his head) or he did not. It’s very easy to imagine one of the final thoughts in Edge’s mind as the intent of his commitment to gash, especially in the very moment he knows and accepts it cannot happen. The dragon’s mind is not like ours, it feels a sense of purpose and responds, to make the rendezvous, to see Gash is alive, it has fulfilled Edge’s last mission. But it also impressed with Edge’s deeper commitment, and would have a more tangible connection of its own to Azel. But by one of those interpretations we already know that the mortal dragon had to have an exit vector. This concludes the direct response though.

Are there post-hoc rationalizations in this? Of course, and by the same token if one doesn’t like the “story” of Orta as such, and proceeds from the premise that Orta is not or should not be canon, and looks for discontinuity that will be virtually all an exercise in post-hoc rationalization as well.

For myself the question is moot, I’m not about to attempt to disentangle every piece of information and inspiration in Orta from my existing viewpoint and understanding of the Panzer Dragoon scenario at this stage. Nor could I arbitrarily pick and choose which pieces are/aren’t, and luckily I have no reason to. Altogether PD remains a marvel of continuity and congruity, without any direct parallel in my personal exposure.


#17

I don’t remember much in the way of details from Evangelion since I didn’t follow the whole thing. I caught some of it aired for a while but since I didn’t start from the beginning I stopped watching, it has been an intent to watch the whole anime series sometime though I probably got one of the big reveals unfortunately.

Recently I fixed on another anime influence which I think has been subconsciously informing my take on Panzer Dragoon from the start. Although it can appear like a pretty standard, cheeseball power fantasy now Guyver was still one of the better manga/anime of its time, and it also has a very grim and vicious scenario. I think it’s probably the most popular and influential precedent for the bio-engineered weapon motif - and indeed there is only a hint of that in Nausicaa with the God Warrior, also it does not have quite the universalized alien technology theme of Panzer Dragoon - so there are a lot of crossovers both obvious and nuanced. The contrast between the hulking and grotesque Zoanoids, and the compact and sexy Guyver which mostly effortlessly outclasses them, always seemed like an obvious parallel. Also the trope of people/humanity rejecting an ordained destiny, while a staple of Japanese pop fiction in general, is very closely represented in both Guyver and indeed Nausicaa - the latter being another argument for the likelihood that the Abadd related revelations were inherent to the Panzer Dragoon scenario all along and not representative of any revision.

There is a finer point to this tangent though, as I think the “out of control” line from Guyver really sums up how it informed my perspective on some features of the PD scenario. I see the dragons as just that, something the ancients themselves understood as a conventionally uncontrollable force in comparison to their other creations. Consider that the purpose of the drone riders - almost direct parallels to the “control metal” - is not even strictly to check the power of the dragons but simply to direct it at all. These are beings of raw incredible will without agency, and the drones are the agents without a will of their own, combined into a single “dragon unit.” Basically the dragons were not made the way they are deliberately, rather they are the way they are because they can be made no other way. The dragons are like a conduit to a power that shouldn’t really exist in a living creature of the world, so another interface is required.

It is Azel herself who impresses us with how exclusive the bonding between a dragon and it’s rider should normally be, and her puzzlement over how Edge is able to “control” his dragon as well as a recognition of something more than her own experience of that bond. Of course I am now convinced that we are told what the role of the Light Wing is very directly by the game, if cryptically. So I think his dragon appeared in direct response to the Divine Visitor’s possession of Edge, it was virtually created to be his dragon and his alone.

Previously the Heresy Entity was also able to direct Lagi’s development to bond with Lundi, and presumably the Sky Rider was able to project something of itself to Kyle as it was dying, enough to form an ad hoc bond; also with the Heresy dragon’s help.

But now consider the problem, though the last incarnation of the mortal dragon was still a very powerful creature even after getting cut loose from its parent force - it is still Edge’s dragon!

Like even the full Heresy Dragon before it, without a rider, without its companion interface, as a living creature it is listless and frustrated. So let’s assume Azel understands this all too well, she has seen or even felt the presence of Lagi, perhaps it can even muster the agency to protect her at times. But Azel knows the limits and perhaps she even feels it as a painful trap, whether the dragon can be said to know pain or not. Set aside all the useless “love” sentiment, it doesn’t matter one way or another and Azel was simply searching for a new meaning to her existence, and responding to the innate meaning of life itself. It is absurd to think she like synthesized some sperm and impregnated herself and suddenly, baby daddy Edge. Orta is Azel’s own creation, the only answer to her fruitless search, a new creature in the world who can continue the search and continue life. And Azel needed “him” because Edge needed to be a part of Orta, so the dragon could have a true companion again, and be Orta’s true protector.


#18

I’d just like to note that using the English translation as a basis is far from ideal. I still don’t know enough Japanese to accurately translate parts that were altered. But for the “thank you, now we must go” line, I’m pretty sure he actually says “thank you… and… I’m sorry”. The English script appears to make things more cryptic than they originally were (such as the identity of the Ancients), and completely alters other dialogue for no good reason. So ironically we’re debating about Orta being fan fiction, while the PD Saga we played genuinely entered the realm of fan fiction at times. A lot of the debates here were unnecessary, as they were centered on things that weren’t even in the script.

I may comment more later, but there’s a reason I didn’t reply to all the points in the original topic specifically and that’s because I don’t see the point. Orta is by definition canon. You can debate whether or not a sequel was needed and whether or not it’s inconsistent with the ending of Panzer Dragoon Saga, but it’s an official sequel. So unless SEGA says otherwise, it’s canon.


#19

Agree with all of that generally, and oh well about the translation dilemma, but nothing new there. :slight_smile: My first post summed up my own attitude, but as noted it’s typical if I really start thinking about PD’s story at all its on a theme I feel a need to follow through to some conclusion. This touched on so many personal loose ends and, as stated, interpretations I either have never entirely shared or not for some time, which may serve to inform a less consistent perspective on the story than the one I personally hold.

Probably the most crucial is that Sestren entity image in Orta, and I will maintain that the only really consistent interpretation is that it is a recording / memory since everything else there is including Azel’s message. Which actually sets up my remaining context and contemplation well enough:

Yes I was always bothered by the data circuits motif, as well as the more incongruous aesthetic style of that facility before Orta just goes ‘blip’ into the system like it’s no thang. Even so there are a few other such anomalies, like the gear works in the oddly ‘breathing’ walls of that ruin Keil enters in the legendary opening to Eins. So the one big annoyance is both the dragon and Orta’s translation into and out of (nominally) Sestren space, which has a few possible disclaimers. The most direct and compelling clue is again the wings of the Base Wing, followed by the system recognizing one or both of them as a “supervisor” or something?

On the premise that again, the dragon must have found an exit vector from the Sestren continuum after the hypervisor dimension collapsed, this facility would appear to be something rather special and even protected. If the circular patterns have significance, as they must, then I take it as a sign of the dragon’s new relationship with a sort of backup infrastructure, roughly replacing its previous conduit to the infinite powers of the void. Now if the dragon had already made use of this facility to escape the collapse, it would have been very likely to help lead Azel back there in some manner, which she plainly found it in any case. But the final big ambiguity of interpretation has to do with Abadd.

Like in all previous games, who is truly the hunter and who the hunted is deceptively vague. On the one hand Abadd clearly lured Orta to this location expecting to gain something by it, but that does not mean he was genuinely in control of the situation. Still taken together the important features of Orta’s story are not incidental, the Empire’s dragonmares know exactly where to find Orta and Abadd is yet a step ahead of them, it is reasonable to guess that he could have found out about Orta and relayed that to them in the first place. You could sum it up a bit like Training Day:

Orta: You asshole, you had this all planned when I first met you ten days ago didn’t you?

Abadd: Bitch I have been planning all of this out for TEN YEARS!

When you confront Abadd the first time it is not represented as a fight with the real drone, even though Orta and the dragon are themselves ‘normal’; and as in contrast to how the original Sestren fight was primarily depicted. What you fight is Abadd’s virtual avatar, for whatever reason he believes Orta will be more vulnerable once in the system and he appears to be hacking into it from the outside. He is of course thwarted and either he miscalculated or didn’t fully comprehend her real mastery of the domain. Abadd led Orta home, this is her crèche, as well as perhaps an instrument of the dragon’s own rebirth.

Which I find a compelling theme there overall…
It is a very consistent message running through this lore, the Ancient Masters had closed the gap between life and death, for themselves as well as their most amazing creations. But with the spell broken that gap is reopened, the cycle restored, and the wheel must start to turn naturally again. Azel can be no less mortal now, and though it is also compelling to imagine her also expending herself on helping to stabilize the world if she can; Azel must have been aware of her own finite existence. Orta is more than a simple child, I now think of her as Azel’s rebirth as well, her final act of defiance of her own ordained fate. As Abadd describes it, drones cannot pass on their life, but Azel cheats that fate by remaking herself into a being which can. Which is why she could not be a mother as well, she can only leave a memory of who she came from. And, just perhaps… the ghosts or residual defiance of Edge and other remarkable agents somehow helped make that possible.

Perhaps we can also explain the whole ‘circuits’ episode as a virtual interfacing, but that’s a stretch and brings problems of its own. I’m content to say that Orta and the dragon are an exception in this specific and discrete realm, returning to their own element in a sense. Abadd was plainly out of his element, or out of his depth, even if he was resourceful enough to penetrate some of the secrets of this domain.

There is a further connection to an idle theory which attempts to resolve the discrepancies between the abilities of all the different dragon incarnations. And a few other scraps I’ve been reminded about. I will attempt to tie up my own de facto theory of everything with another post or two, while it’s all on my mind again.


#20

A post was split to a new topic: What the ‘eye of Sestren’ represents in Orta