Emperor Vandole is the tyrannical monarch of the Vandole Empire and a major villain in the World of Mana video game series. He serves as the ultimate driving force in the backstory of Final Fantasy Adventures and its remakes Sword of Mana and Adventures of Mana, the first of which sees him reincarnated into his son, Julius. He appears to be the main villain in Secret of Mana, but is later revealed to have been but a pawn to the real mastermind, his vassal Thanatos.
Adventures of Mana
Decades before the start of the first game of the series, Emperor Vandole syphoned the power of Mana that sustains Fa'Diel to become invincible and came very close to invading the entire world, if not fully taking over.
Until the fated day when a maiden of the Mana Clan, the guardians of Fa'Diel, sealed away the Mana Tree (the physical incarnation of the Mana Goddess and source of all Mana Power) away from the rest of the world.
Cut from its power source, the empire was toppled by the protectors of the Tree, the mighty Gemma Knights, wielding the legendary Sword of Mana. Knowing that everything was lost, the Emperor hid his baby son in a cave, where he was found by the Dark Lord of the Duchy of Glaive (Granz Realm in Sword of Mana), who took him in.
Sword of Mana
The Emperor's role in the backstory is the same as in this remake. It is precised that Emperor Vandole wanted Mana for him alone, though whether it was the Mana Goddess herself or the leader of the Tree Maiden from the Mana Clan, or both, is unclear.
It is implied that he either used his last might to reincarnate into his son, or even that he faked his death by substituting the construct that would later serve Julius as his Shadow Double, and turned himself into an infant until he could regain power, with him and Julius being one of the same.
After the Dark Lord's death, Julius turns to the worst and becomes much more villainous and obsessed with Mana, like the late emperor was described. As such, he could be regarded as the true main villain of the story, depending on how much free will Julius had left. After Julius is destroyed, he states that he will always return as long as there is Mana (a defining characteristic of Anise).
Worse, it is suggested that Emperor Vandole is in fact a vessel of the Echoes of Mavolia, the somehow sentient heart of the Mana counterpart of Hell and the amalgation of everything wrong in the world, which Anise seeks to unleash.
Secret of Mana
In this game set in an alternate continuity, Emperor Vandole has ruled one of the two major global powers for decades, evidenced by his old age. He made a deal with Mavolia to gain huge demonic powers, evidenced by both his glowing orange eyes and the dark aura he emits in the artwork. The heroes never battle him and the only powers he displays are teleportation and monster control. Yet, his willingness to fight them indicates that he can, likely turning into a demon like his vassals, but the full extent of his might is never shown.
Vandole is unabashedly cruel, ruthless and power-hungry. He is cold, uncaring and imperturbable, completely unbothered by the deaths of his most devoted vassals, and unable to view the heroes as threats, even after they keep destroying everything he throws at them. He is cunning enough to fake parlays to get his foes out of hiding, and to send his vassals weaken opposing nations from within, but far too smug to realize that he is but a pawn to his much more dangerous vassal.
With the Empire described as peaceful until recently, it becomes all but stated that Thanatos had been pulling the strings from day one. Ironically, the previous game had the apparent main villain used by his Vandole vassal, while in this one Vandole falls victim to the same plot. Who he really was before Thanatos' corruption remains a mystery.
Role in the Story
The Emperor is behind the monsters swarming the world of Fa'Diel, the multiple Giant Monsters attacking settlements, spreading destruction on their wake, and the plots of his vassals, Thanatos, Sheex, Geshtar and Fanha, which the heroes, Randi the wielder of the Mana Sword, the noble girl Primm and the sprite Popoi have to fight.
The heroes first meet him in person in his castle in the Imperial Capital of Northtown, after he offered parlays to the Resistance opposing his tyranny, unsurprisingly a trap. They destroy the Metal Mantis monster he planned to feed them all to and barge into his throne room, but the tyrant is unfazed and lets Geshtar fight them.
Vandole starts personally leading his regular armies in his war against the powerful Republic of Tasnica, leaving the monsters and plots to his vassals. The heroes catch up with him in the Grand Palace located in the Sunken Continent, under which the Mana Fortress has been sealed. With this ancient, city-sized, flying warship of unbelievable might, he could easily take over Fa'Diel.
The gloating tyrant was waiting for them to personally break the seal on the last Mana Seeds, while his forces break the other seven, rising the Sunken Continent. He prepares to deal with them himself, but Sheex takes the stage. As the coalition led by the Tasnican General Gemma (a nod to the Gemma Knights) takes on his armies, the heroes rush after him in the Grand Palace. They catch up to him but he considers fighting them a waste of time with the Fortress so close.
This is the last time the heroes see Emperor Vandole alive. By the time they reach the altar, he has been killed by Fanha for he had outlived his usefulness for her true liege, Thanatos, who takes centre stage.
- A diary cut from the game would have revealed that the Emperor Vandole faced by the heroes was in fact a monster impersonating him and ruling in his stead. Whether the real Vandole would be still alive and using it as a decoy, or more likely that Thanatos had disposed of him remains unexplained.
Trials of Mana
Heroes of Mana