This is a response to a post irisangel made in new_shinra87, re: whether or not Tidus' return at the end of X-2 made Yuna's journey less significant...I ended up writing a big 'ol essay instead of just a comment, so I'm posting it here to save space on her comments page :)
I see your point...and a part of me has felt a similar tug as far as thinking perhaps he should not have come back...but I questioned it more because it served to counter the story itself rather than potentially causing Yuna to regress. The story, while about many, many things, is also a story of sacrifice. The sacrifice of the citizens of Zanarkand, of the Fayth, of the Summoners, of Jecht, of the Aeons, and of Tidus and Yuna...of selfless giving to the entire world, whether or not that world is appreciative or even aware of how deep the sacrifice goes.
By Tidus coming back to her, what Yuna gave up is no longer there. She was able to save the world--twice--go through some very intense soul-searching, and after all was said and done, he was still with her. It also diminishes *his* sacrifice. We are led to believe that he has a complete memory of the time he was alive, and so they can pick up where they left off. It takes away from the significance of what they did, I think, by saying that yes they went through an incredible challenge, but it was only temporary. Their losses were not permanent, and in the end they were able to have it all. Which is not what the point of sacrifice or martyrdom is all about. Which then I suppose ties into what you said--that Yuna's journey to self-discovery was prompted by the shattering of her faith, and Tidus' influence towards becoming an autonmous individual.
But, there is the other side. Even though Yuna did not know Tidus' fate until the very end, and therefore that knowledge did not influence her decisions--I believe she still suspected she would lose him, in the end. Yuna was naive, but she wasn't stupid--she knew he was hiding something from her. And while it is possible that she never consciously made the connection that he might disappear, it is also possible that the thought *did* occur to her, but she ignored it. Which could explain why she never pushed him to divulge his secret--as long as she did not not have to confront it, she could pretend it wasn't there, and that it was not a sacrifice she was going to have to make.
Add all of that to the fact that within only two years (and in the grand scheme of the universe, two years is an incredibly short period of time), the world that she was ready to die for, and the world that she (by the acceptance of the loss of Tidus, Auron, and the Aeons) gave a very deep part of herself to, started to tear itself apart, making things look like everything that she did was for nothing. That even though Sin was gone, without the presence of a timeless enemy that attacked without prejudice, the path of human behavior that had prompted the spawning of Sin in the first place had only continued, and had gained more strength during its 1000 year incubation period. Shuyin, taking advantage of the division in humanity, brought Spira closer to destruction than Sin had ever come.
Yuna's change did not occur gradually over the course of those two years. The promo video 'Eternal Calm' shows Yuna just before she joins the Gullwings, and she is very much as FFX left her, though a bit more jaded. She has been living on Besaid, trying to stay as uninvolved with politics as possible, helping those who need her, and attempting the most normal life she can. She is not happy, but she seems to have accepted her fate, as well as the fates of those around her. Tidus is a memory she still holds onto very strongly, one she feels is always with her, but she does not appear to harbor any secret hope that he may come back. Even after Rikku shows her the sphere from Mt. Gagazet, while confused, she does not seem to really believe it is him returned. And though she does show signs of wanting to learn more, she does not become adamant in that decision until after Rikku and Wakka argue back and forth about whether Yuna should leave Besaid. As for the popstar thing, I really wish I had an explaination, because it doesn't fit anywhere in continuity. I understand the reasoning behind the concert on the Thunder Plains and think it is incredibly significant...but I don't think SE did a very good job building up *why* Yuna is a popstar...so that change in her personality, unfortunately, I can't explain away :-\
But to get back on track (and I think I have a point...), the way I see it, at the top of X-2, Yuna has reached a point where she either has to move forward or be permanently stuck in the past. She has lost almost everything she ever held dear to her, and is almost completely alone (because even the surviving members of their party are not as close to her as they could be--Wakka and Lulu are starting a family, Rikku is immersed in projects with the Al Bhed, and Kimahri has his hands full as the Ronso Elder). To top all that off, she still has a good portion of the world looking to her for all the answers, and thus has never been given time to mourn her losses, and she is being pulled in every direction possible by the many bickering factions of Spira, all attempting to use her to push their own agendas, and all of whom serve as nothing more to her than a reminder that her mission failed: Spira is not united. Her vision from her speech at the end of FFX has not come into light; instead, as she will soon come to realize, the world is facing destruction. She has nowhere to go--she has already gone through the experience of being used by the church and by politics: not just as a Summoner, but the announcement of her engagement to Seymour, and then eventually as a scapegoat, her name being thrown around as a means of gaining power and of swaying opinions, and now the same thing is happening to her again. Finally, assuming that she *did* suspect Tidus would disappear with the success of her mission, she not only has the grief of losing him, but she is lacking any closure over it--living with the understanding that if she had been brave enough to ask, or had not hidden from a truth that she suspected, she would have been able to tell him goodbye, she probably feels a sort of guilt over his disappearance.
When Rikku enters with the sphere, a door opens for Yuna. She has a reason to leave Besaid. At first, she doesn't seem to actually believe she will see Tidus again; but his potential invovlement may give her the opportunity to find out more about him, and maybe ease away some of her own personal demons. Her journey now starts out strictly personal: to reconcile the futility of her sacrifices and the deteriorating state of the world, and the potential to even settle some of her guilt.
In this regard, Tidus coming back does not negate the meaning of X, nor Yuna's development. While she does not have two completely separate character arcs, there is neither one continuous arc; rather, the arc that she started on in X takes a slight descent once Sin is defeated. With the loss of Tidus, she lost a lot of her flame. She once again becomes a quiet, lonely girl living on an island, ignoring her own needs for the needs of others, only now instead of her pilgrimmage looming in front of her, she is on the other side, caught in its shadow. By her choosing to leave, she is able to resume the arc that she began in X--becoming a stronger individual who is not afraid to speak her mind, and who does believe that she can save the world and still maintain a sense of personal happiness. The Gullwings even continually tease her about her inability to say no to someone who needs her help. But she does finally reach her point of no return in this change, demonstrated through her words to Nooj in the Farplane before they fight Vegnagun: (And I'm putting the whole quote because I think it is paramount to Yuna's character...and I love it :D)
Your plan is awful. Think about it. It’s no different than what we did
two years ago. We destroyed our own allies. We destroyed the aeons who had
fought together with us, at our sides. We didn’t have a choice then. We
believed that was the only way we could save Spira. Do you know what it felt
like to watch them die? Right before my eyes? It was the only thing we could
do. It was the only choice we had. I gave in, I accepted, I believed. I allowed
it to be true. I thought I’d be able to go through with it without ever
doubting myself. But I... It hurts so much.
Everyone was so happy. “Great job, Yuna. You did it. You saved us all.”
There were too many smiles to count. And I know that I was smiling, too. But
now...when I look back... The people who should be here aren’t. The ones who
should be smiling with me aren’t here.
“We had no choice.” Always “we had no choice.” Those are our magic words.
We repeat them to ourselves again and again. But you know... The magic never
worked! The only thing we’re left with is regret.
No. I don’t want this anymore.
I don’t want friends to die...or fade away. I don’t want battles where we
have to lose in order to win. Nooj, I know that what you say is what you mean
to do. Give me your resolve. Believe in Yuna.
I believe that to be the defining moment of Yuna's change. It shows that she has accepted her past, that she knows she cannot change it, but that she has learned from it, and will use it to change the future. In this, she can truly release the Fayth--before she merely released them from their dream, but she did not assume their responsibility in bringing Spira into a new age. Similarly, she has become the person that she saw in herself once Tidus entered her life: a person who does not accept things because it seems like there is no other way, a person who is not okay with loss and sacrifice as long as the goal is achieved: she now refuses to accept, to go with the direction and the path that she is placed on, to a much stronger degree than she felt at the end of X--she found the strength she had in the battle with Yunalesca, and improved upon it.
It is in that way, I believe that Tidus coming back does not diminish what she has done, nor will it cause her to relapse into the person she used to be. Or rather...she is still the person she used to be. She is still quiet, and kind, and will put someone else's needs before her own; but she will not make allowances any longer, nor will she remain quiet if something needs to be said. Had she not lost Tidus, she probably would not have made that change at all. Even though he came back, they are not truly picking up where they left off: the pain of those two years is something that will always be with her, and she will never forget what it meant to make that sacrifice. Perhaps the Fayth always intended for him to come back, but could not allow him to until Yuna had completed her arc; had become the person she two years ago wanted to become. Or maybe they just saw that she would not take his return for granted, nor let it lessen the significance of her journey and her growth, and gave him back to her as a gesture of thank you for finally finding the strength to carry out their dreams from over 1000 years past.
Ooh, and then just to touch on whether or not they stay together (I promise I won’t write another dissertation on that!), I do believe they will. Even though by saying this it kind of completely goes against everything I just said, they are, in a sense, destined for each other. And I hate saying that, since I just wrote this whole thing about the point of Yuna’s journey was that she learn how to control her own destiny and not let circumstance write it for her…but she and Tidus were literally and inarguably brought together by an outside force; the Fayth. But that aside, there is an element to their romance that is not really seen in any of the other FF couples (not to say others do not come close…particularly Garnet & Zidane), and it is how Tidus and Yuna developed together. With most other FF couples, there is an element of imbalance in the relationship until the end…Tidus and Yuna never had that. Their differences in background were not through class, education, training, or geographic location: they literally did not even come from the same world. They also started out trusting each other: there was never a time when he was pulling her in one direction and she was reluctant, or vice versa. From their first conversation outside the Temple in Besaid, they moved together. Any imbalance they may have had, was before Tidus knew the fate of a Summoner, but even then, their differences were mainly rooted in what they wanted for after her journey; not differences in desire, just Tidus’ ignorance of Spira.
Despite all the “This is MY story” speeches Tidus spits out, he states on more than one occasion that he feels his role is to protect Yuna: that is the only thing that matters to him, and he doesn’t care why, or how, or against whom, keeping her safe is his first priority. He learns his own fate early enough to where he could have allowed her to go on with the Final Summoning, but he does not even want to tell her what happens to him, for fear that in an attempt to protect him she may endanger herself. And, whether through his own will, or through the blessing of the Fayth, their bond is strong enough to bring him back from a world of non-existence over two years after they parted. As for Yuna, once he disappeared, she never let go of their time together: she may have accepted it, but as with everything I said above, she held onto him, and never let go of their connection. The pain of losing him was so strong that it drove her to become a stronger person, and to turn the memory of him into something she could use to change the future.
And there is yet the slightly weaker argument (or at least, I cannot argue it very well), that Tidus and Yuna are, in a sense, another chance for Lenne and Shuyin. I don’t know if SE planned on X-2 when they made X though, so I don’t want to try and argue it but so much…but assuming it was planned that way, Tidus, as a dream, was probably modeled after Shuyin due to the remarkable resemblance that Yuna bore to Lenne. They were a couple whose love greatly affected the course of Spira 1000 years ago, and so Tidus was sent to Yuna so that the two of them would have the chance to make an even bigger change. By this argument also, they are meant to be with each other, by reasoning of giving Lenne and Shuyin a second chance at love, since the politics of the world interfered with them the first time.
But mainly, I think (assuming the Fayth do not take him back) that Tidus and Yuna will be together for the remainder of their time on Spira because of how they balance each other, and that even though she is a much different person…by the end of X he was as well. He matured a lot, and learned a lot about himself and how he interacted with each other. They are very yin and yang. :)
Also...if anyone read through all that...please double check me on a lot of my facts, and especially on my assumptions. Most any assumption I make is based upon whatever is canon combined with my education in religion, myth, and psychology...but it is still my interpretation. If any conclusion I've drawn can be refuted by something in the storyline I may have missed, or by SE, please tell me...theories though they may be, I still want to be consistent :)