February 28, 2021
Sheex is my favorite character, as if you needed me to tell you that.
Sadly, we only meet him three times. Once is in Vandole’s castle where he has no lines. Next is as the Dark Stalker in Tasnica, during his attempt to gain control of the kingdom. Finally, he makes a stand at the Tree Palace, where he drops important information about the Empire.
Sheex has two forms with a complete set of sprites, only one of which appears in the game. According to tcrf.net, his animation is unfinished. This is likely because only his static version is shown, with the exception of a short walk (thanks to reader Celes Destiny for pointing this out). His second, unused form involves his regular sprite with a helmet.
Sheex is first mentioned by an NPC who tells us all about the Emperor’s inner circle.
In the Empire, there is a group of elite imperial guards called the “shitenno” that report directly to the emperor.
The leader, the knight of darkness, Sheex…
The machine rider, Geshtar…
The sole woman, Fanha…
And the magic knight, Thanatos…I still don’t have many details on that one.
It’s left out of the English release that Sheex was the inner circle’s leader, and probably Vandole’s right hand man.
At some point, he infiltrates Tasnica and impersonates the king. Luckily, Randi and Jema sniff him out:
KING: What the–who are you? O-oh! So you’re the spies!? Spies!! Help meee!!
RANDI: That’s not right, we’re–
GUARD: Quiet down! Scoundrels who sought the king’s life!
KING: Heeeey, what are you doing? Hurry up and kill them!
JEMA: Hold it! He’s not the king! Look, he’s got no shadow!
KING(?): Ku ku ku, as expected of Jema! I thought that I’d possess the King and totally surrender [this country] to the Empire, but since I’ve been found out, I have no choice. Take this!
RANDI: What did you do to Jema and the others?
KING(?): Kukuku, around now I expect they’re wandering around the castle entrance. Take this chance to bump off the king for me!
RANDI: Like we’ll let that happen!
There’s some similarities between Sheex and some other Square characters of the time. Final Fantasy IV comes to mind, as he can loosely be compared with Edge, and of course, Cecil the dark knight.
The closest analogue to Sheex is the Darkshine Knight of Trials of Mana:
He’s essentially presented as Mech Rider’s sprite with a facelift, and a palette very close to Sheex. In fact, in SoM, Mech Rider’s body sprite was used with a different palette for the dark knight enemy. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Darkshine Knight was the intended boss at Tasnica that couldn’t be finished in time, or was an idea that was moved to the sequel.
The last time we encounter Sheex is in the Tree Palace. The Emperor asks who wants the “job” of ending the triumvirate, and…
SHEEX: Your Majesty–leave this to me! Go with Fanha to the altar! You dared stand in my way in the Tasnican Republic!
RANDI: The Dark Stalker [from then]..!?
SHEEX: So I was–yet you will pose no danger to my transformed self! Behold! My true power! Ha ha ha! As if we, who have attained the might of [Mavolia], could be defeated by mere children!
RANDI: What!? Then, the Emperor, too!?
SHEEX: It’s obvious, isn’t it!? In order to grasp the world in the palm of our hands, we formed a contract with Mavolia and were bestowed its power! So that humans cannot hope to defy us, we shall cause the Mana Fortress to revive! As for you, you shall sleep here…
SHEEX: T-to think that a mere…Uwoaa…
Sheex mentions that they’ve been working with Mavolia, a hellish realm that’s not explained much in the USA version. Randi and friends then battle Sheex as Aegagroplion, which looks like a watermelon with legs. According to the Wiki of Mana, this name is derived from the plant known as marimo. After further research, I learned that these are large green balls of algae which form at the bottom of the ocean. They do resemble the Aegagroplion monster’s central sphere, sans teeth of course. You can even grow them in your kitchen, feed them and have your very own alternate underworld form. According to user regrs of the GameFAQs forum, there was an attack left out of Aegagropilon’s AI, involving some chomping.
Aegragropilon is weak to Sylphid, which makes sense as he’s a water entity, but the dark stalker was weak to Lumina. Since Sheex was merely a dark knight at Tasnica, it fits well. The top level of magic for each bodyguard is Thanatos (8), Sheex (7), Fanha (6), Geshtar (5), a ranking that makes sense with the hierarchy. The Secret of Mana Fundamental Knowledge Compliation, never translated into English, mentions that Sheex’s alternate form is a conduit to a dark dimension—i.e. if he’s successful in devouring you, you’ll likely find your mangled self in Mavolia. It also mentions that dark stalkers were once broken men who followed some spiritual path and became ninjas. Sheex’s unrevealed backstory just might involve a similar tale.
- The fact that Sheex is a master of the Sword of Darkness is a nice contrast with Randi’s holy Mana Sword, but this isn’t mentioned in the English script.
- The 2018 remake referred to Tasnica’s king as a chancellor. This was to correct a mistake in the Japanese script that referred to him as the “Republic’s king”, which makes no sense. There’s also a symmetry with the Empire having an Emperor, Pandora having a king, and Tasnica having a chancellor. Of course, this fellow wears a crown and a red robe, not very chancellory.