February 28, 2021
Height: 185cm or 6’1″
Weight: 80kg or 176 lbs.
The Tasnican knight Jema is one of Randi’s mentors, not only educating him on the concept of Mana, but also providing inspiration and advocacy at various points. Despite being absent for the middle section of the game, he stands out as the most influential supporting character. Koichi Ishii mentioned in the Art of Mana that Jema’s look was inspired by Bogard from Final Fantasy Adventure.
Jema makes his first appearance in the exposition, right after Randi draws the Mana Sword. He happens to be in the right place, forcing us to ask why an official from the other side of the world would be in the backwoods at just the right moment. A fan of this project noted similarities between Secret of Mana and Xenogears, which was designed by much of the same team. That game has similar elements in the opening—the main character is unsure of his origins, and lives in a village that comes under attack. It’s later revealed that this attack is initiated by someone to cause the main character to realize his abilities. While that’s not exactly the case with Jema, it’s very possible that he could sense a coming change in Mana that centered around the Sword in Potos.
But Jema was also close to Randi’s father Serin, and the game never reveals if he’s aware that Randi is Serin’s son. In Tasnica, we learn about this camaraderie, as well as more background about Jema:
He was the good rival of the legendary knight Serin, who played an active role in the great war 15 years ago. (This line confirms that they had a positive rivalry—i.e., pushing each other to be better.)
Even though Jema was previously the leader of the knights, he himself threw away that title. I suppose it was because of shock caused by the death of his rival, Serin, in the last war.
Even His Majesty considers Jema to be a man without parallel.
The 2018 remake’s Official Setting Guide adds that Jema was startled by sudden shifts in Mana throughout the world (likely due to the Empire’s schemes), and went to study with Luka after leaving the Tasnican guard.
As he tells us at the Water Palace:
JEMA: Once, it was the case that I studied/trained under Luka. It was then that I was taught of Mana, the power that sustains this world. It is that which is now in the process of being lost.
Jema has a natural confidence in Randi, and advocates for him when others have doubts. We hear this from the king of Pandora after Randi saves the kingdom:
KING: You did it, Randi! Once again, brightness has returned throughout the country! What Jema said about you and the Mana Sword was true after all!
And also after saving Tasnica:
KING: I was quite worried when I heard from Jema that a child had pulled out the Mana Sword, but if it was you, then it may well be so…
While we never see Jema in action, it’s clear that he’s a capable military commander and fighter himself. Most of the game’s large battles happen off camera. He mentions one at Pandora while Randi’s at the Water Palace:
JEMA: Monsters released by the Empire came to attack Pandora, too, but somehow we’ve driven them off.
And later at the Grand Palace:
JEMA: We’ll stop Imperial reinforcements here. Go find the soldiers who went ahead!
We don’t see Jema between the Gaia Lowlands and Tasnica, but Randi hears in various places that he’s travelled throughout the world, spreading the word about the Empire’s motives and keeping tabs on the state of the Mana Seeds. In his own words:
JEMA: I’ll return to my own country, and work to hold back the Empire’s movements to the best of my ability.
In addition to Luka, Jema is also a disciple of Sage Joch, who imparts the importance of “true courage” on him. Joch also gave Jema the teaching about the Pure Land, which he passes onto Randi when it seems that all hope is lost. Curiously, Jema’s dialogue doesn’t change after Randi meets the Mana Tree, leaving it unclear how much he knew about the connections between Randi, Serin, and the Mana Tree.
- In most Mana games, Jema’s name (or characters loosely affiliated with him) is localized as Gemma.
- The line that states the king’s high opinion of Jema has an idiom referring to a one-stone handicap in Go (一目置く).