- "We call our world Gaia."
- —Hildagarde Fabool
Gaia (ガイア, Gaia?) is the name of the main planet in Final Fantasy IX. It consists of four major continents: the Mist Continent, the Outer Continent, the Lost Continent, and the Forgotten Continent. The vast majority of people in Gaia live on the Mist Continent, and very few travel to, or are even aware of, the other three continents that make up their world, largely because the main mode of transport, airships, run on mist meaning they cannot fly outside of Mist Continent. Gaian residents are quite diverse, ranging from humans to Moogles to dwarves to animal-like humanoids, such as the rat-like Burmecians, frog-like Qu, and an unnamed hippo-like race. Gaia has two moons, a blue moon, and a red moon.
Near the game's end the party follows Kuja into Memoria, the game's penultimate dungeon and a place that contains memories from all walks of life on Gaia, including the earliest recollections of the planet itself. While Zidane wanders through the maze of memories, Garland explains Gaia's history, from its conception as a sphere of roiling flame to the recent events such as the annihilation of Alexandria Castle.
The Planet and the CrystalEdit
Every planet has a crystal at its core, which is the source of all life on the planet. The crystal sends out souls to make new life, and upon death, the souls return to the crystal and bring with them the memories of the life lived. The memories accumulate inside the planet's crystal and allow it to grow, making it able to create ever more complex beings. Crystals also have a lifespan of their own, and eventually, the crystal will grow old and will be unable to create new souls and the cycle of souls will slow down.
According to the Final Fantasy IX Ultimania, there will come a time the crystal's glow will dim and it will be sent out to the cosmos along with the planet. It can be speculated to be part of the universe's flow of life, and that the planets' lives are similar to the lives of beings living on them; upon a planet's death, its "soul" returns to the maker, bringing with it the accumulated memories, allowing the universe to grow.
Every planet's crystal has a unique glow, and Gaia's crystal glows in brilliant blue.
Gaia and TerraEdit
- "The light remains Gaia's for now, but when the blue changes to crimson, all will belong to Terra, and its restoration will be complete."
Gaia is a relatively young planet. Because of this, the people of a much older planet, Terra, saw it as a candidate for assimilation. Terran civilization had thought they had found the key to eternal life, and thought they could preserve their civilization and technology forever by fusing with young planets. During this time a sole being, Garland, was created to watch over Terra.
However, the attempt to absorb Gaia was thwarted because Gaia rejected the process, and the failed Fusion ended up in a disaster with Gaia's surface left in ruin, its civilizations wiped out, and the planet of Terra ending up shifting inside the planet of Gaia and Terra's red moon moving on Gaia's orbit, giving it two moons.
The Terrans retreated into slumber and ordered Garland to create a plot to assimilate Gaia anew. Garland moved Terra's magical tree Iifa to Gaia to oversee the planet's recovery, but it took thousands of years for Gaia to recover from the disastrously failed Fusion attempt.
Garland's new plan was to slowly deprive Gaia's crystal of souls, and thus weaken it enough for Terra's crystal to finally manage to assimilate it. He used the Iifa Tree to block the flow of Gaian souls allowing only Terran souls to cycle, and eventually built a Soul Divider that would disperse the Gaian souls and replace them with Terran ones. Due to this, Terran flora and fauna slowly began to revive on Gaia's surface, as the planet was finally recovering from the catastrophe brought by the failed Fusion attempt. Iifa Tree would then expel the rejected souls through its roots which would manifest as mist.
However, during the game's course Terra is destroyed and the Iifa Tree collapses, signing that the Gaian souls are once again free to return to their crystal.
By the time of Final Fantasy IX, Gaia is almost ripe for assimilation. Much of its cycle of souls, or "lifestream" (concept used in Final Fantasy VII) has already been depleted, as is evidenced by the barren and lifeless appearance of much of Gaia; only the Mist Continent shows lush vegetation. Most of the Gaian inhabitants live on the Mist Continent, but there are settlements further afield. The Outer Continent has the Black Mage Village, Conde Petie, the ruins of Madain Sari, and Kuja's Desert Palace.
The Lost Continent is a tundra landform that has but one town, Esto Gaza, and the no-longer inhabited Mount Gulug. The Forgotten Continent has no settlements, which may be because of the high cliffs that surround it, making it impossible to access by anything but airship or a flying chocobo. Ipsen's Castle and Oeilvert are the continent's sole structures, neither of which are populated.
South of the Forgotten Continent continent lies a chain of green islands, with the populated village of Daguerreo, and Chocobo's Lagoon. Furthermore, three of the four continents have a Qu's Marsh and the Mist Continent marsh works as the entrance for the undersea passage called Fossil Roo leading to the Outer Continent.
- See also: Final Fantasy IX/Timeline.
Gaia's calendar is highly similar to the real-world Gregorian calendar, in that it has all the same twelve months and year system. Year 0 is the date when Gaia's environment is recovering from the attempted fusion with Terra and the Shimmering Island begins to shine, marking the beginning of Gaia's modern civilization. Final Fantasy IX's story begins on January 15th, 1800 and ends on March 16th.
- See also: Gaia#Etymology.
Gaia is also the name of the Planet in Final Fantasy VII, although it is mentioned to be called Gaea, which is simply a misspelling. Gaia is a classical Greek deity, who guarded the Golden Apples at the end of the world. The name also has Celtic traditions, and has long been associated with the Earth Element. Terra has also been used previously in the games, with a main character sharing the name. The word Terra is Latin, Italian and Portuguese for Earth, and is shown as a red planet, a complete contrast/inversion of Gaia, which is shown colored blue.
For unknown reasons, in the French version of the game Gaia is called Hera, the name of the Greek goddess married to Zeus. Possibly due to confusion with the Greek Titan Gaia, who filled a similar role in the Titanic era of Greek mythology, as Hera did in the Olympic era.
- The world map for Final Fantasy IX, like many other points of interest in the game, looks similar in the world map of the first Final Fantasy, with almost identical positioning of three of the four continents. This may be coincidental, but judging from the various 'tributes' to the series, are purposely similar. The most obvious of these similarities is in the shape of Final Fantasy IX's Outer Continent, which resembles a bird like the northeast continent in the original Final Fantasy, and the mountainous Mist continent in the same location as Final Fantasy's most mountainous region.
- Gaia appears during the EX Burst animation of Zidane's EX Burst in Dissidia Final Fantasy and Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy. As Zidane builds up power an image of Gaia slowly merges with an image of Terra, Gaia overtaking Terra as a reflection of Zidane's allegiance.