The Al Bhed are a human tribe of technologists in the games, Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2. Making up ten percent of the Spiran population, they are notable for their unique language and their use of machina, a technology prohibited by Final Fantasy X's dominant religion, Yevon.
Around 1000 years before the events of Final Fantasy X, the Al Bhed society lived in the Bikanel Desert, also known as the Sanubia Sands. However, their city was destroyed by Sin, forcing its citizens to become nomads to survive. Under Cid's leadership, the Al Bhed were regrouped on Bikanel Island and built a new city for themselves, called Home.
During the course of Final Fantasy X, the Al Bhed are involved in a plot to kidnap summoners, ostensibly to protect them by preventing them from completing their pilgrimage (it was later revealed that summoners die in the process of calling forth the Final Aeon believed necessary to defeat Sin). Against Yuna and her guardians, they used three machina that they had either salvaged or built: the Oblitzerator, the Extractor, and the Crawler.
When Yuna is lost in the Bikanel Desert, they take her back to their Home to protect her. Under Maester Seymour's orders, the Guado attack Home to kidnap Yuna, and destroy the city in the process. Amidst the chaos, a number of Al Bhed together with the player's party are able to flee Home using the airship that was discovered during the salvage operation shown early in the story.
In Final Fantasy X-2, due to the rise of the Eternal Calm and the decline of old Yevon (and its doctrines), the Al Bhed expand their exploration of Bikanel Island. With the collapse of the teachings of Yevon and the wider acceptance of machina, prejudice against the Al Bhed has eased considerably, but has by no means completely ended. The Al Bhed exercised their freedom by expanding upon the knowledge of machina and improving upon existing discoveries, for the sake of innovating rather than to continue the practice of salvaging and plain usage of the discoveries.
In accordance with their continuing desire to discover machine and expand their knowledge, the Al Bhed formed the group known as the Machine Faction, based in the abandoned Djose Temple, and led by Gippal. The group seeks to spread to use of machina throughout Spira, and remove any past discontent from them by renaming "machina" as "machines". It is connected to the Al Bhed in the Bikanel Desert, enabling members and volunteers to excavate the desert.
The Al Bhed possess uniquely swirled pupils in their green eyes. The green iris also seems to be an Al Bhed trait. It should also be noted that, besides Yuna (half-Al Bhed), all of the Al Bhed depicted in the games possess blond hair.
Out of all the humanoid races in Spira, the Al Bhed seem to be the most expressive in their emotions and body language; many of their more notable members also exhibit personalities that may classify as eccentric or child-like. Al Bhed take a keen interest in Spira's technological past organizing salvage operations and excavations of and for ancient technology.
The Al Bhed are the only Spiran race to openly reject the teachings of Yevon in Final Fantasy X, especially in regard to the ban on machina. For this reason, they are often ostracized by the rest of the population, labeled as heathens, and have been the victims of attacks by Yevonites in the past. However, some Al Bhed have still managed to find global acceptance, most notably Rin, who operates a chain of travel agencies throughout Spira, and some are even allowed to participate in the Yevon-sponsored blitzball tournaments.
However, all Al Bhed are forbidden to enter the temples; at the Macalania temple, Rikku was refused entry until Auron informed the guard that Rikku was Yuna's guardian, and as such was duty-bound to enter the temple with her.
The Al Bhed language is a unique language in Spira, spoken by the Al Bhed people. Working like a substitution cipher (a language system replacing certain letters with others), it shares the same syntax and grammar of English in the English versions of Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2. In the Japanese version, it follows much the same pattern except in using the Japanese kana alphabet instead to speak and translate the language. It is worth noting that all Al Bhed text in the Japanese game is written in katakana, giving it a distinct foreign look, and aiding in the use of the cipher, which would be practically impossible in kanji.
Converting Al Bhed to English/Japanese is relatively simple once a person knows which letter/sound stands for what. However, in the world of Spira, characters require entire books in order to translate one letter, implying that the language may be more complicated than how it is shown to the player.
(*note there are an additional 33 characters in the Japanese syllabary)
|Japanese||ア A||イ I||ウ U||エ E||オ O||カ Ka||キ Ki||ク Ku||ケ Ke||コ Ko||サ Sa||シ Shi||ス Su||セ Se||ソ So||タ Ta||チ Chi||ツ Tsu||テ Te||ト To||ナ Na||ニ Ni||ヌ Nu||ネ Ne||ノ No|
|Al Bhed||ワ Wa||ミ Mi||フ Fu||ネ Ne||ト To||ア A||チ Chi||ル Ru||テ Te||ヨ Yo||ラ Ra||キ Ki||ヌ Nu||ヘ He||ホ Ho||サ Sa||ヒ Hi||ユ Yu||セ Se||ソ So||ハ Ha||シ Shi||ス Su||メ Me||オ O|
|Japanese||ハ Ha||ヒ Hi||フ Fu||ヘ He||ホ Ho||マ Ma||ミ Mi||ム Mu||メ Me||モ Mo||ヤ Ya||ユ Yu||ヨ Yo||ラ Ra||リ Ri||ル Ru||レ Re||ロ Ro||ワ Wa||ヲ Wo||ン N||ッ (tsu)|
|Al Bhed||マ Ma||リ Ri||ク Ku||ケ Ke||ロ Ro||ヤ Ya||イ I||ツ Tsu||レ Re||コ Ko||タ Ta||ヲ Wo||モ Mo||ナ Na||ニ Ni||ウ U||エ E||ノ No||カ Ka||ム Mu||ン N||ッ (tsu)|
While Al Bhed speak their own language by majority, some words have been adopted from the Spirans. Words like fiend, magic, aeon and airship, as well as Sin, are all used by the Al Bhed in their language but originate from other cultures. The name of the people and their language is Al Bhed, even when speaking said language.
In the games, Al Bhed words are differentiated from the common language of Spira by being printed in blue text (for non-translated letters or words) or pink text (for translated words or letters). The player can learn the Al Bhed language by picking up items called Al Bhed Primers. Each Primer translates a single letter of the alphabet. When the player picks up a Primer, the next time someone speaks Al Bhed with that letter, that letter will be translated automatically and turns to pink.
In Final Fantasy X, Primers are either given to Tidus by characters, or can be found in the field. The player can also use an Al Bhed Compilation Sphere to load Primers from another saved game. In Final Fantasy X-2, Primers are obtained either by simply listening to the Al Bhed language or by digging in the Bikanel Desert. Primers are carried over if the player uses the New Game Plus feature.
Fumi Nakashima, the sub-character designer for Final Fantasy X, has stated the aspect she concentrated on the most during the design phase was giving the characters from different cultures distinctive styles of clothing. Because the Al Bhed are a people who function in a machine-oriented society, she wanted to make them stand out from the other inhabitants of Spira by wearing goggles and masks to make them look more eccentric and mysterious.
- The Al Bhed race is represented in the Blitzball League by the Al Bhed Psyches.
- Yuna is half-Human and half-Al Bhed. Her mixed-ethnicity can be seen through her heterochromia where she possesses one blue eye and one green, albeit without the signature spiral.
- Although never stated in either Final Fantasy X or Final Fantasy X-2, it seems that Al Bhed's hair grow at extreme speed as seen in the sequel where Rikku wears long hair, and Yuna a long ponytail, despite the fact that normally, hair only grows about 6 inches (15 centimeters) per year for the average person.
- There are several Al Bhed to English translators available on the web; including this one.
- Al Bhed ships bear a striking resemblance to a cross-over between Sin and sahagin.
- It appears all Al Bhed children wear full body suits, though it is unknown why.
- It is perhaps to be noted that while on the airship, after Cid says that Yuna is his niece, Wakka asks Tidus if Yuna is 'human', implying that the Al Bhed are not. This might be countered by the fact that Yevon brands Al Bhed as heretics, and possibly spreading the belief that they are not human, either. Al Bhed can be seen simply as a different 'race'.
- ↑ "Beyond Final Fantasy" bonus DVD included in the International and PAL versions of Final Fantasy X.