- "A Tantalus always gets what he sets his eyes on! That's our rule number one, remember!? No, you don't. You got no right to join us. You understand what I'm sayin'? If you can't even capture a canary, you ain't got what it takes to join Tantalus!"
- —Baku refusing to let Zidane rejoin the group
Baku (バクー, Bakū?) is a non-player character and leader of the infamous Tantalus Theater Troupe in Final Fantasy IX. He was born in May of 1755. Baku plays King Leo in the troupe's production of the play I Want to Be Your Canary. Tantalus's home base is in Lindblum's Theater District.
Appearance and PersonalityEdit
Baku is stocky and strong. His skin is grey, and he has a purple beard and mustache; the body hair on his arms and legs is also purple. Baku wears aviator goggles; an orange waistcoat held closed with rope over a white collared shirt with sleeves to his elbows; brown wristbands; green shorts; brown belt, and white and brown boots. During the first battle with Baku he wears a blue dragon mask over his face. As King Leo Baku wears a voluminous red and green, floor-length coat trimmed with fur; gold bands on his arms; a black and red shirt; dark green trousers and brown boots. He appears to be wearing a silver wig, though his aviator goggles remain.
Baku is close to his Tantalus "family". This does not prevent him from being their boss and sometimes giving them a sound beating to keep them in line, but he is loyal to those he is close to and is willing to help them. He sneezes often and has great trouble remembering Doctor Tot's name, instead calling him Ted, Toot or Tootsie.
Years ago, Baku found a child with a tail. Not knowing what to do with him, he named him Zidane, raised the boy as his own, and later accepted him into his group. Zidane left Tantalus to find the homeland of his origins, though all he could remember of it was a blue light from his dreams. Unable to find it, Zidane returned to Tantalus, and Baku forgave him.
Under orders by Regent Cid Fabool IX of Lindblum, Baku and his crew set out to capture Princess Garnet and protect her from Queen Brahne. They capture Garnet on her 16th birthday, while they perform I Want to be Your Canary as their cover. While the abduction is successful, Queen Brahne shoots down their theater ship, the Prima Vista, and Garnet gets separated from the group when they crash in the Evil Forest. When Zidane wants to leave Tantalus to rescue Garnet, Baku fights Zidane, but he holds back, as Zidane notices afterward.
After Zidane leaves, Baku gives a Mist Continent map to Blank to give to Zidane. Blank catches up with Zidane's party just before they make their escape. When the forest itself comes after Zidane's party, Blank pushes him out of the way and gets caught and is petrified along with the rest of the forest, though not before throwing Zidane the map. Baku and the rest of Tantalus escape the Evil Forest before it petrifies.
After crashing the Prima Vista into the Evil Forest, Baku continually sneezes throughout the rest of the story. He catches Cinna slacking off at the South Gate station and scolds him. While in Treno, during Tantalus's quest to acquire Supersoft to cure the petrified Blank, they meet Doctor Tot, whom Baku always refers to as "Toot", "Ted", or "Tootsie". While in Alexandria, Baku unknowingly gets involved in Eiko's plan in which she decides to confess her feelings for Zidane in the form of a love letter. The letter is found by Steiner and Beatrix, although Baku messes up their romantic moment by sneezing.
During the Second Battle of the Iifa Tree, Zidane implies that Lindblum and Alexandria discovered the party's plan to storm Memoria because of Baku, who is said to love big showdowns. It is unknown, however, how Baku was able to figure out his former protege's plan, considering that Zidane and Garnet agreed that no one be told of the danger.
At the end of the game, Baku, along with Tantalus, return to Alexandria to perform I Want to be your Canary.
In the game's first battle, Baku, dressed in a dragon mask, fights Zidane, Cinna, Marcus, and Blank. In the second battle with Baku, during the I Want to be Your Canary performance, he is fought under the name "King Leo", keeping in with the play's storyline. In the third and final battle with him, Zidane fights Baku alone within the crashed Prima Vista in the Evil Forest to get permission to leave Tantalus.
Baku's name, appearance, and personality are all related. In Japanese, Baku has several meanings. One of them is "tapir," an animal which he physically resembles. Another is "burst of laughter," which is a thing he is prone to do, even for no apparent reason at all. In Japanese folklore, baku are supernatural beings resembling tapirs that devour dreams and nightmares.
In the Italian translation of the game, his name is Kalò, nicknamed "Boss" by the others, and speaks with a Sicilian dialect, similar to a mafia boss.
- Baku may have named some of the members of Tantalus after characters in I Want to Be Your Canary.
- In the Dawn of Souls and subsequent remakes of the original Final Fantasy, Baku is one of the automatic names the player can choose for the Thief job.