You’d think that with a man as incredible as Sigurd for a father, Seliph would be the next Odysseus, right? Well, don’t expect too much from generation two of the Genealogy of the Holy War. Let’s meet Sigurd’s son, Seliph!
What’s in a Name?
It’s no secret that Japanese and English are radically different languages and the conversion between the two gets messy. The English transliteration of his Japanese name is Serisu (the U is silent). Comically, no one seemed to know how to render that name when localized. One source rendered his name as Serlis and another as Celice. It was not until 2017’s Fire Emblem Heroes that the West got the (more or less) official rendering: Seliph. Of course, the sound of the letter “s” and the sound of “ph” are nothing alike, which explains why his name was usually rendered as Celice. My guess is his name went from Celice to Seliph for two reasons:
- Celice is a feminine name.
- Seliph is the Heir of Light. What better invocation of light than angels, right? Seliph appears strikingly similar to the word “seraph.” In Christianity, seraphs are the highest rank of angel in the angelic hierarchy.
I once called Seliph “fake Marth” because of their similar designs. It’s not necessarily a fitting appellation.
Seliph is intriguing, since he’s not a one-trait pony. He’s one of the few lords who seems fully aware of how deep in trouble he is and actually acknowledges that. This appears to stem from the feeling that his father overshadows him. On the other hand, Sigurd’s shadow galvanizes him into action because his friends and family fondly remember Sigurd and see Sigurd in Seliph. While Seliph has his doubts, he is not craven. It is just regrettable that so little time is devoted to character building in Genealogy of the Holy War. It’s very interesting to see a lord claiming to be neither Hercules nor a tiny baby man. Like his father, his principles drive him, but he is rational enough not to let them control him.
“Heir of Light”
Seliph has a significantly shorter story than Sigurd. He grows up in Isaach under the care of his father’s friend, Edain. Seliph and his compatriots ride out to put down an uprising in Dozel. He then meets Julia, his half-sister. Seliph liberates Isaach from its overlords and learns about his father’s exploits from a bard who knew Sigurd. He and cousin, Leif, start knocking down imperial forces in every direction before marching on Chalphy, his homeland. Julia vanishes. Seliph clashes with Julius, Julia’s brother and Seliph’s half-brother, and Ishtar, granddaughter of Duke Reptor (one of the guys who pinned Prince Kurth’s assassination on Sigurd). Seliph recovers Tyrfing, storms Chalphy, and kills Arvis.
Side note: after Arvis killed Sigurd, he married Deirdre. Deirdre is Arvis’s half-sister. She bore him the twins Julius and Julia, which is how they are related to Seliph. Loptyrian cultists gave the tome of Loptyr, the fell dragon, to Julius. Loptyr’s power cursed Julius to go mad and kill Deirdre. This writing could make George R.R. Martin eat his heart out.
Finally, we get to the consummation of the long Jugdral saga when Seliph accepts his new mission: purge the continent of the Loptyrian Cult and its leader, Manfroy. Manfroy had kidnapped Julia and brainwashed her into regarding Seliph as the enemy. She reappears to attack Seliph’s army. Seliph avoids her and slays Manfroy, snapping Julia out of her trance. However, Julius is still possessed by Loptyr. Julia unlocks the Book of Naga, the only power that can negate Loptyr. She uses Naga’s power to vanquish Loptyr. After Julius is defeated, Seliph becomes Emperor of Grannvale.
What makes Seliph so compelling? We want to see him avenge Sigurd and Deirdre because that seems just. The big thing about him, though, is that his is a genuine commitment to morality. Revenge initially motivates him, but then he sees that there is a bigger role for him to play in the grand scheme of things. He accepts this, aware that becoming emperor has many pitfalls, and strives to be honestly good. He finds purpose in bringing stability into the world and thus fulfills his father’s legacy.
Seliph’s character begs for further exploration. I think Genealogy of the Holy War would be an excellent candidate for a remake like Fire Emblem Gaiden. After the success of Fire Emblem Heroes introducing Seliph to the West, weird name and all, Nintendo should give the fans a proper remake of Genealogy of the Holy War so we can witness Seliph in all of his brilliance.
That about covers it for Seliph. Next time, we’ll talk about the exploits of Seliph’s cousin, Leif!