HEIGHT; 5' 5"
WEIGHT; 106 lbs.
WEAPON; Cards infused with magical energy
VOICE; Akemi Okamura (Japanese), Jennifer Hale (English)
from the manual...
'An assassin sent from the prospering world of Tethe'alla to stop Colette from succeeding in her journey of regeneration. If Colette succeeds in reviving Sylvarant, then Sheena's world will be ruined. Similar to Colette, Sheena carries the fate of her world on her shoulders.'
and a little more
Sheena first appears as an antagonist in Tales of Symphonia – albeit not a particularly dangerous one. She is attempting to kill Colette, the Chosen of Sylvarant, and appears to be acting on her own. This first impression isn't great, as not only is she trying to kill an innocent girl, it also makes it appear that Sheena wants to prevent the regeneration of the world – something which affects everyone. However, her assassination attempts fail – usually humourously. As she later says herself: 'It looks like I have an strong affinity for falling down holes.'
Despite attempting to do something that many would consider awful, the optimistic Lloyd and Colette both think the best of Sheena. So much so, that after several encounters with her in their journey, Sheena eventually ends up joining the Chosen's party. She explains that she wasn't acting alone, and was in fact following explicit orders to kill Sylvarant's Chosen. This is because Sheena is literally from another world – the world of Tethe'alla that is somehow connected to Sylvarant. She believes that in order to save her own world, Colette would need to die before she completed her journey of regeneration. This would ensure that Tethe'alla wouldn't go into decline, as the two worlds share the same mana resources – one will always be in decline while the other flourishes.
By watching Colette and the others, Sheena comes to the conclusion that there must be a way to save both worlds – a way that doesn't require her to kill. As it transpires, the solution may be in Sheena herself, as she has the ability to harness the power of the Summon spirits. But of course, it's not as simple as that – not least because Sheena is extremely reluctant to use this power, due to a tragedy in her past.
Suzu Fujibayashi from Tales of Phantasia – a game I unfortunately still know little about. Rumour goes that Suzu is a descendant of Sheena – but that is speculation. Regardless, she does resemble Sheena greatly. Sheena's successor outfit is identical to Suzu's clothing, down to the pink bow in the hair, the gloves, and the sword slung over the back. It suggests that Sheena was modelled on Suzu, or at least inspired by her design.
Yuna from Final Fantasy X. The summoner from Spira and the summoner from Tethe'alla only really have one thing in common; their job description. In more ways, Yuna would remind me of Colette, but there are so many similarities between Final Fantasy X and Tales of Symphonia, I just had to mention Spira's beacon of hope. Each summoner has the same goal; to save her world, and both are determined to do it with the help of their summons and friends.
Matsumoto Rangiku from Bleach. I love Rangiku! Aside from having a pretty bow and ample cleavage, I think these two also share some similar personality traits – and they both inflict violence on others. Sheena to Zelos, and Rangiku to any man (or Kon) who makes a move on her. However, Rangiku is much more confident than Sheena, although Sheena does become more confident by the end of the game (although not to Rangiku levels!).
Sheena is a citizen of the mystical village Mizuho. However, she wasn't actually born there. Igaguri, Mizuho's Chief, found Sheena abandoned in the nearby Gaoracchia Forest when she was just a baby. This forest had a reputation for being incredibly dangerous, so her parents are definitely not winning any parenting awards. And if this wasn't enough to make a child feel like a bit of an outcast, it was also discovered that Sheena had the ability to form pacts with the Summon Spirits – a skill that was thought to have been lost. This would suggest that Sheena has Elf blood somewhere in her lineage – yet another factor to single her out and make her feel isolated.
At a young age, Sheena attempted to make a pact with Volt, the Summon Spirit of Lightning, but it went horribly wrong. Due to her own inexperience and lack of confidence, a quarter of Mizuho's population was killed when Volt attacked in a frenzy, and the Chief fell into a coma. Sheena was unable to make the pact with Volt, and her efforts brought about nothing except tragedy. It's noted that this took place twelve years ago – making Sheena only seven when this happened. She should never have been expected to do something like that so young – and it honestly sounds like the leaders of Mizuho just wanted to use her for their own ends, without consideration of Sheena's feelings or the fact that she's a child. The result of the disaster with Volt meant that Sheena was regarded with nothing less than suspicion by a lot of the village. Always feeling alone, Sheena's first friend was to be a man-mad Summon Spirit named Corrine.
Sheena meet Corrine at the Summon Spirit Research laboratory in Meltokio, where she had been sent to learn how to make pacts with the Summon Spirits. In Corrine she had found a friend, but Sheena still carried a heavy weight of guilt on her shoulders. She studied at the laboratory to become a master summoner and to make herself useful to the village in the hope that she could somehow make up for what had happened with Volt. When she is ordered to travel to the declining world of Sylvarant and kill their Chosen, she immediately accepts. To Sheena, this would make up for her previous failure – she could save the whole of Tethe'alla.
However, when Sheena arrives in Sylvarant, things don't go according to her plan. She's unable to kill the Chosen and is actually a little perplexed by Colette's friendliness towards her. Sheena begins to doubt her mission. While in Sylvarant, she also sees how terrible things are in this world when Luin is destroryed. While she obviously doesn't want this to happen to Tethe'alla, Sheena's conscience won't allow her to actively make life harder for the people of Sylvarant. Despite how she first appears to Lloyd's group as an assassin, Sheena is quite caring. She doesn't want to see these people suffer.
Of course, in the end, Sheena ends up joining with Colette and her group, determined to find a way to save both worlds. In the Chosen's group she finds more friends. These friends, along with Corrine, are the ones who enable her to finally overcome Volt and make pacts with all the Summon Spirits. Making the pact with Volt is particularly difficult. At first, it appears that things will go the same way as before, as Sheena can't understand what Volt is saying, and Volt doesn't want anything to do with people, having lost his faith in them a long time ago. Corrine ends up protecting Sheena, and dying for his efforts. Lloyd makes Sheena realise that she needs to be strong – for herself and for Corrine – and to not let Corrine's death be in vain.
Over the course of the game, Sheena grows a lot. She comes to accept her powers as a summoner, whereas before she resented her abilities. While she will never forget those who died, she isn't running from it like she had been. When Chief Igaguri awakens, he names her as his successor, and she is finally accepted in Mizuho. Sheena is much stronger now, and able to control her Summon Spirits and face up to her responsibilities. And she does it with style too.
First impressions – not good. Sheena is trying to kill Colette who is, after all, on a journey to save the world. What kind of person would want to kill her? Colette and her friends encounter and battle Sheena several times, and each time Sheena is hostile towards them. Her determination to complete her task is obvious. However Colette's - and later Lloyd's - kindness towards her baffles Sheena. She is an assassin sent to kill Sylvarant's Chosen, the one who will regenerate the world. These people should hate her. Despite the fact that she's attempting to do something terrible, it's clear Sheena is not evil even though she believes there's a valid justification for Colette's death. It's testament to how good Colette and Lloyd are to see past that and extend friendship, eventually winning Sheena over to their side.
In the end, Sheena realises that Sylvarant and it's people are suffering. Colette is only trying to save her world, like Sheena is doing for hers. She joins the Chosen's group, and the determination she had now manifests itself in her eagerness to find a way to save both worlds. Her hostility lessens, later being reserved for Zelos only. It turns out that Sheena is similar to Colette in some ways - she only wants to help people. She has a big heart despite how battered it is, and she really does care about other people. However, she lacks the confidence to use her mysterious powers that would help people and save both worlds. A heavy burden lies on her shoulder, one that she can't shake.
When she lost control of Volt and many people of Mizuho lost their lives, Sheena couldn't forgive herself. That time, her determination failed her – but she was only seven years old when this happen. It was a huge responsibility to place on a child's shoulder and she's been carrying that around ever since. Perhaps she always felt that the people of Mizuho had no faith in her, because when Lloyd encourages her to fight - even after Corrine's death - she succeeds in forming a pact with Volt. This gives her the confidence to move on, although she'll never forget those who lost their lives and she will probably always blame herself for that. But Sheena is strong, and she grows stronger as the game progresses. She grows so much that she is named the next Chief of Mizuho, a mark of faith from the current Chief who recognises her strength.
Sheena always felt like the odd woman out, and always seemed to lack self confidence. She didn't fit in anywhere, and when it was revealed that she could call upon the summon spirits she became even more marked. The tragedy at the Temple of Lightning only further intensified her isolation, and she was probably quite a hostile person at times. But things began to change for her when she befriended Corrine and later when she joined Lloyd and the others. Sheena cares deeply for others, and is devastated when Corrine dies. She is also very upset when/if Zelos dies, although the scripting of the game makes it appear that everyone forgets about him shortly after he dies. I do, personally, feel like this is a failing/limitation of the game and not how Sheena (or the others) would really react. Despite her attitude towards Zelos, they were obviously good friends who cared for each other. Whether it was more than that is open to debate, of course. I certainly don't think Sheena hates him, although his actions certainly frustrate her.
Mizuho is a village shrouded in mystery. Before Lloyd and company reach the village, they hear various rumours about it – which usually come from Zelos and which are usually untrue. In fact, Zelos builds up the town so much that the others are disappointed when they realise that it's just a normal village.
Lloyd: I was supper excited about it and wound up being so disappointed.
Genis: Yeah. I wanted to see the flying carp.
Lloyd: Yeah! I wanted to see those flowers that bloom when you sprinkle ash on them.
Colette: Me, I wanted to visit that underwater castle that you ride a turtle to.
It is in this delightful little skit that Zelos is christened the Idiot Chosen.
This kind of attitude toward Mizuho just shows how little people know about it. Even the location of the village is kept hidden from outsiders – on that aspect Zelos was right. Due to this, Mizuho people are treated a little like half-elves in Tethe'alla. They're different, and therefore regarded with suspicion. They also aren't loyal to the king of Meltokio, although they do seem to be trying to stay on his good side, at least until Lloyd turns up. Their reason for keeping themselves isolated is that they want to preserve their unique culture. This culture is very much Feudal Japan inspired in a way that is hilariously lampshaded by the above conversation – Zelos convinces the others they're visiting an exotic and mystical fantasy Feudal Japan, a stereotypical and offensive view of Mizuho to people who are actually from there.
The personal lives of the Mizuho villagers is just as secret as the village. No one reveals their true name to anyone aside from their parents (obviously), the Chief, and the one they marry. Sheena is not Sheena's real name. Even love must be conducted in secret, while outwardly everything is very polite and proper. This could be another reason why Sheena felt out of place there; she hardly keeps her emotions in check, does she?
One can't talk about Mizuho without mentioning the famous intelligence network. As far as I can see, 90% of the population is out gallivanting around Tethe'alla (and probably Sylvarant) gathering information and doing everything from infiltrating the Renegades Base to gathering the measurements of all the girls in Tethe'alla. Well, In Zelos' mind anyway. They do at least know the location of treasures around the world. Sheena and the others get a lot of help from this intelligence at various points during the game. It helps them gain access to the Renegades and locate the Rheairds. It really is quite a useful thing to have on your side.
The infamous incident with Volt undoubtedly left a huge mark on the village. It reduced the population by a quarter. All those left alive could do was grieve – and lay blame for the tragedy. The Chief was left in a coma, and Sheena was left scarred. It must have been a very dark time, but by the end of the game there has been a turning point. As well as Sheena being named as the successor to Chief Igaguri, plans are also set in motion to move the village to Sylvarant. Like Sheena herself, the village of Mizuho has begun to move on.
Mythology: Weapons & Summons
Asuras come from Hindu mythology. The word has its origins in Sanskrit. They are one of the six lower realms of samsara (the cycle of birth, suffering, death and rebirth that relates to karma), and are usually seen as titans or warrior demons. They are often depicted as evil, although that isn't always the case. The samsara realms are as follows, going from bad to good karmic conditions:
2: Hungry Ghosts
Yaska is the author of the Nirukta, which is the earliest known commentary on the Vedas. The Vedas (which literally means knowledge) are the most ancient and revered of Hinduism's scriptures, and hold eternal wisdom. They date back to 2500BC and were written down in 6BC. While Yaska's work is the only one of its kind known, he makes several references to those who wrote Nirukta before him. The Nirukta contains meanings to Vedic words, quotes passages from the Vedas and attempts an etymological study on them.
Vajra is another Sanskrit word meaning thunderbolt or diamond. Again in Hindu mythology, the vajra was the thunderbolt weapon of Indra, King of the Gods (and god of weapons and war) and who – interesting enough – was at war with the Asuras. This was quite a weapon - not only is it indestructible and the most powerful item in the cosmos, it always returns to it's wielder. Similar to Zeus, it represented the natural phenomenon of lightning.
In Buddhism, the vajra is the symbol of Vajrayana, one of the houses of Buddhism. Again, this is translated as Thunderbolt or Diamond vehicle. Vajra is often prefixed onto words in both Hinduism and Buddhism to represent the importance of spirituality and there is also an instrument to symbolise vajra and the creativity it represents.
Acalanatha, or Acala or Achala, is the most widely known of the Five Wisdom Kings of the Womb Realm in the Vajrayana Buddhism. Acala is also the eighth of the ten stages towards Buddhahood. The Five Wisdom Kings represent the wisdom of the Buddha and inhabit a metaphysical space known as the Womb Realm.
All of the above four weapons in Tales of Symphonia do additional damage against undead enemies, while the Acalanatha also has fire elemental attributes. I was hoping to find some link between this and the real culture behind the names, but there really doens't seem to be.
Undine, from the Latin word unda which means wave, is a water nymph who obtained a soul by marrying a mortal and having a child with him. Although she gained a soul, she also took on all the trials and tribulations that come with being human. Undines come from Teutonic folklore, and this story comes from a tale told by Paracelsus in his Treatise on Elemental Sprites. In 1814, a German named Friedrich Heinrich Karl wrote a story based on this simply called Undine. The musical Ondine is loosely based on this story.
Sylph is another term that originates from Paracelsus, a physician and occultist of the 16th century. While there is no particular myth associated with them, he describes them as invisible beings, and the elementals of air. La Sylphide and La Sylphides are two famous musicals involving slyphs.
Efreet, also spelled Ifrit, are Jinn (genie) from Arabic mythology. They are fire elementals, and consider themselves superior to all other races. With this pride, they obviously resent the fact that humans can control them by magical means and will do what they can to show their masters just how little respect they hold for them. Efreet/Ifrit appears in other games like the Final Fantasy series, and also in Magic:The Gathering and Dungeons & Dragons.
Paracelsus calls gnomes the most important of the elemental spirits. The word itself is said to come from the New Latin gnomus, derived from the Greek gnosis, which means knowledge. They are earth elementals and move through the earth easily. It is said that they turn to stone if the sun's rays touch them. They are depicted as short, stocky men living underground, working with metal and guarding their material goods and knowledge. Gnomes often appear in fairy tales, and are also seen in modern fiction, like the Discworld series. They're also a playable race in World of Warcraft (obligatory: for the Alliance! – guess what faction I played).
Luna is the Latin for moon, and also the name of the Roman goddess of the moon. Her Greek counterpart is Selene.
Tales of Symphonia: The Animation is an four episode anime that follows the events of the original game. Sheena is obviously an important character. I did enjoy this OVA, although obviously due to the limited time in which to tell the story, a lot is cut out – including a lot of character development. But I thought it was well animated and acted, and enjoyed seeing more of the characters I enjoy.
Along with the anime, there was also a Tales of Symphonia manga released, made by mangaka Hitoshi Ichimura. It too followed the plot of the original game, and there were six volumes in total. a number of anthology collections were also released, with art done by various artists.
Tales of Symphonia: Dawn of the New World (or Knight of Ratatosk in Japan) is the sequel to the original game. It is set two years after Lloyd and the others united the worlds of Sylvarant and Tethe'alla. But not all is well and the world is still unsettled. The game has new characters as the protagonists, but the original ToS crew also appear, including Sheena.
Tales of the World: Narikiri Dungeon 3 is a 2005 Japan only Gameboy Advance game made by Namco featuring characters from various Tales games. A lot of the Symphonia crew show up, including Sheena.
Sheena also appears in Tales of Fandom: Volume 2, released in 2007. Like Narikiri Dungeon, it features characters from across the Tales series and was a Japan only release.