Final Fantasy XIII: Reminiscence -tracer of memories- is a ten-episode novella set after the events of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. It takes the form of interviews with the cast of the Final Fantasy XIII games conducted by Aoede, and is narrated in first person from her point of view. The novella was planned by Final Fantasy XIII series director Motomu Toriyama and lead scenario writer, Daisuke Watanabe. The novella is written by Watanabe, who has reiterated that the last game's ending was intended to be open so players could imagine what would happen next, which carried over into Final Fantasy XIII: Reminiscence -tracer of memories-.
The novella is set between the events of Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII and the epilogue FMV, with the final chapter leading into the game's epilogue.
- Aoede - a journalist who wants to uncover the truth behind people possessing latent memories of "another world".
- Lightning - a key character in the stories Aoede hears of the other world, said to be the one who saved humanity's souls, sending Aoede on a quest to find her.
- Hope Estheim - a young researcher mature beyond his years. Being a recurring person in many people's memories, Aoede interviews him.
- Sazh Katzroy - an airship engineer and a single father who becomes Aoede's interviewee.
- Dajh Katzroy - Sazh's son.
- Chocolina - guest at Sazh's house during his interview. She helps Aoede on her journey toward the truth.
- Serah Farron - Aoede's interviewee.
- Snow Villiers - a motorcycling enthusiast who doesn't believe Aoede is ready to meet Lightning yet during his interview.
- Noel Kreiss - a young man living in the tropics with Yeul, Aoede's interviewee.
- Paddra Nsu-Yeul - a young woman living in the tropics with Noel, Aoede's interviewee.
- Oerba Dia Vanille - a young woman living among arid wilderness with Fang, Aoede's interviewee.
- Oerba Yun Fang - a young woman living among arid wilderness with Vanille, Aoede's interviewee.
- Caius Ballad - a mysterious man said to be the shepherd of souls in the afterlife.
- Mog - a fluffy creature who guides lost souls.
- NORA - an enthusiastic group who manages a restaurant and gives Aoede an interview.
- Hope Estheim
- Sazh Katzroy
- Get Back
- Serah Farron
- Snow Villiers
- Noel Kreiss & Paddra Nsu-Yeul
- Oerba Dia Vanille & Oerba Yun Fang
- Hope Estheim
After humanity's journey to the new world, people were reincarnated with some holding dormant memories of their previous lives. A reporter searches for the truth behind the latent memories using shared remembrances between people who have never met, and keywords—such as "fal'Cie", "Cocoon", "Gran Pulse" and "Bhunivelze". She traces a researcher named Hope Estheim to interview him.
As he names his comrades the reporter recognizes some of the names. Hope explains that one comrade, Lightning, had protected him, and tells how humanity used to live on the floating continent of Cocoon but had to move to the surface world of Gran Pulse after the era of fal'Cie was over, and how Serah and Noel saved the future by defeating Caius. He stops his story midway upon revealing Lightning was the savior. He tells the reporter she must find Lightning herself to hear her story. Hope invites the reporter to return after she has met with Hope's old allies and heard the full story of the other world.
Finding Sazh working on a top-secret plane, the reporter receives his side of the story of aiding Hope, Snow, and Noel to protect the populace during the beginning of Nova Chrysalia—the world formed after Gran Pulse and Valhalla merged as Chaos was released into the mortal realm. Sazh's son Dajh had fallen into a coma. With Dajh beyond medical help, the despair-ridden Sazh had isolated himself in the Wildlands. He does not know how he and his comrades retain their memories in full, but speculates Aoede will regain hers eventually.
After he leaves, Chocolina gives the reporter an address before vanishing. The address is for a restaurant called Nora House where the reporter orders the Nora Special. The taste triggers a flood of memories and she recalls her past life: she was Aoede, a reporter caught up in the Purge who helped expose the Sanctum's lies by airing Purge footage with the help of broadcast hacks made by Maqui. The members of NORA remember Aoede and Lebreau tells her where to find Serah.
Finding Serah in a cafe near a university, Aoede learns her side of the story. When Aoede mentions her intention to publish the stories to allow more people to remember their previous life, Serah feels those who remember might be held back from living their current lives. Aoede wonders whether her work is meaningless, but Serah encourages her to find out everything and tells Aoede where to find Snow.
Aoede meets Snow riding his motorcycle around the countryside, and he tells her of the events from the moment Chaos entered the world. Although people had stopped aging they were unable to bear children, and thus mankind faced extinction and became despaired.
Snow and his friends battled monsters after people decided to leave the deteriorating manmade Cocoon. A fal'Cie Pandaemonium cultivated the lands for human habitation as per god Bhunivelze's plan. Snow protected the supply plant the fal'Cie had set up in Yusnaan from being taken over by the Order of Salvation, an organization dedicated to the worship of Bhunivelze that gained ground as the de facto world ruler ever since Hope was kidnapped by Bhunivelze.
When he tries to find words for Serah's death he falters, and when Aoede assumes that Lightning erased their memories as per Bhunivelze's plan, Snow corrects her, saying Lightning fought god to save their memories. When asked for Lightning's whereabouts, Snow doesn't think Aoede is ready to meet her, but assures she will have her answers and arranges a meeting with Noel.
Traveling to a town in the subtropics, Aoede interviews Noel and Yeul of their experiences. Noel tells he succumbed to despair over culpability for the world being infected by Chaos, as he had been the one to pierce Caius's Heart of Chaos that led to Chaos taking over the world. His relationship with Snow had degenerated when the latter was appointed Yusnaan's "patron" at the behest by the Order of Salvation.
Yeul explains her past existence as a conflicting freefloating desire that bound Caius's soul. After the interview, Aoede accompanies them to the local market and speculates they choose to live among the hubbub as they had each lived an age of loneliness. After they have lunch, Noel writes down where to find Fang and Vanille in Aoede's notebook.
Aoede interviews Fang and Vanille near their new home close to a hamlet and scattered ruins in an arid region with cattle ranches and rocky wilderness. Though initially given a cold welcome by Fang, the two explain they saved Cocoon and turned to crystal. Hope had them salvaged from Cocoon's crystal pillar before it shattered and had their crystal safeguarded as the pair slept for almost 1000 years until awakening 13 years before the end of the world.
Seeing how the people had suffered, Vanille wanted to help and became the Order's Saint unaware she was being used for a ceremony that would erase the souls of the dead, never to be reborn. Vanille explains Lightning thwarted the god's plan and saved everyone. Aoede is thrilled hearing Lightning mentioned, and wishes to thank her in person. Fang and Vanille do not offer help in finding her, but assure Aoede that Lightning's wish for the world will have come true if everyone is content with living in the new world.
Aoede returns to Hope for a second interview and receives a folder about the "Chaotic Era". Hope tells how after Chaos flooded the world he had the Academy's scientists analyze the situation for mankind's long-term survival plan with all citizens evacuated inside the manmade Cocoon the Academy had constructed. After it was discovered no new children could be born people despaired their oncoming extinction. The Academy created the Conseil de Renaissance as mankind's new hope tasked with finding a way to reverse Chaos's effects.
A new fal'Cie cultivated the lands for human habitation to lure people into abandoning their deteriorating Cocoon, a decision Hope eventually made. A team of scientists remained to make use of the state-of-the-art facilities to find a way to fight the Chaos. Their existence was highly classified with Hope secretly overseeing the research. They eventually discovered Chaos could be controlled via Antimatter Manipulation Principle, a technology once used in the original Cocoon.
The scientists went missing with only the words spelling "The woman with the rose-colored hair takes us with her" left behind. When Hope investigated, he fell into depression and began to hallucinate a pink-haired phantom. He became obsessed with it, and relived the past in his dreams alongside the phantom until he could no longer separate dream and reality. Aoede correctly identifies it as Bhunivelze's work, as though the god had no control over the hearts of men, he could create illusions.
Led by the phantom, Hope was lured into the now deserted manmade Cocoon where he remained. Bhunivelze wanted to use Hope as his agent to ensure the savior's acquiescence and act as his new vessel. Hope messaged Snow to inform him and his friends of Lightning's impending return as the savior, and warning them of the fake Lightning. Hope's body was remade over the course of 169 years, and 13 days before the end of the world Lightning awoke.
At the interview's end Aoede still wants to meet Lightning, but having exhausted all lines of inquiry, has given up on finding her. She returns to her job as a war correspondent. Six months later, reporting on a civil war, she blacks out in a missile attack and finds herself walking in line with a number of others heading to a sea being watched over by Caius. Aoede thinks she has died and will disappear into the dark waters, grieving that the new world has so much hate and people killing each other. When Caius asks if she thinks they had been better off as Bhunivelze's pawns, Aoede realizes she was being bitter, yet feels regret that what Lightning and her allies fought for has made humans greedy and cruel.
Caius explains the new world is what Aoede and the rest of humanity decide it to be, and gives her a chance to permanently fade into the Chaos, or return to the land of the living. Upon learning that she is still alive, Aoede resolves to work to change the world for the better so Lightning and her allies' efforts didn't go to waste. Aoede is given a message from Yeul's past incarnations for their new world counterpart to "be happy with Noel", and she is guided back to the world of the living by Mog who illuminates the path with a pink lantern.
Aoede's new resolve to change the world pays off as she becomes a mediator negotiating between the different factions. While on a train heading to a meeting concerning the civil war, Aoede ponders back on her research of the other world. She never published her findings, as though it would be a source of courage and hope for people, it would draw public attention on Lightning and her friends and she doesn't want to disturb their new peaceful lives.
As the train is coming to a station Aoede spots Lightning getting off and asks for an interview. Lightning has no time as this is her stop, and Aoede decides against following her, deeming the meeting she is heading to more important. Aoede thanks Lightning for having fought to give humanity the new world and assures mankind will be alright. Lightning replies she leaves the rest in Aoede and others' hands. As Lightning departs Aoede notes she looks carefree, and has her own life back at last, as having sent the God of Light to his grave Lightning freed herself from fighting. Positive their encounter is not to be their last, Aoede hopes Lightning will chance upon hope.
The first four episodes were released with the Famitsu issue of June 19, 2014. On June 25th, 2014, a whole novel was posted on the official website, but this appears to have been a mistake as the chapters disappeared soon after, being replaced by "coming soon" icons. On 1st of July, Snow's episode was added to the site, followed by Noel and Yeul's episode the day later and Fang and Vanille's episode the day after that. A week later, the novella was completed.
- In the promotional images for the novella, Serah wears her Final Fantasy XIII outfit rather than the one she wore in Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII ending. Furthermore, Snow wears his Final Fantasy XIII-2 outfit while Lightning wears her Duelist garb from Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
- Daisuke Watanabe has stated that he intended the characters' clothing in the new world to be up to the reader's imagination.
- In the promotional images for the novella the interviewees sit on a white sofa in front of blue skies, similar to this promotional image of Lightning in the Narthex for Final Fantasy XIII.