- "An enclosure for Crystal Pillar made by Esthar. 3 miles tall and 1.5 miles wide, the enormous enclosure boasts a high-tech facility. It floats by causing a reaction with the Crystal Pillar. A stone from the moon is sealed inside. It was probably built to cause the Lunar Cry through artificial means."
- —Lunatic Pandora - FFVIII Info Corner
The Lunatic Pandora (ルナティックパンドラ, Runatikku Pandora) is the name of a huge structure in Final Fantasy VIII that can induce Lunar Cry. The structure is first introduced in a Laguna flashback sequence, where Laguna, Kiros and Ward pass through the Crystal Pillar, which would later become the Lunatic Pandora. In the flashback sequence, depending on the things the player does as Laguna, different items become available for the later visit with Squall.
The Lunatic Pandora consists of two parts: the Crystal Pillar interior, with cave-like tunnels that run throughout; and the surrounding case, a large, semi-rectangular structure built around the pillar made of a dark material, most likely a type of metal. It can be assumed that Esthar constructed the case, since the nation's emblem is prominent on the structure's side.
Originally the Lunatic Pandora was a Crystal Pillar that, according to the Ultimania, fell on earth from the moon during the Lunar Cry that destroyed Centra 80 years previously. The destruction left behind only the massive crater that now makes up most of the "modern" Centra continent. The Crystal Pillar buried beneath the soil, only to be rediscovered by the Estharian troops during the Sorceress War. During the time Esthar was excavating the Pillar, Laguna and his party were sent to investigate, almost managing to get themselves killed in the process. Lunatic Pandora is a name which encompasses the Crystal Pillar and the casing that was built around it to make it mobile.
Lunatic Pandora was designed by Dr. Odine under Sorceress Adel's rule, who wanted to use Lunatic Pandora as a weapon in the on-going Sorceress War. Laguna, after he was captured on his way to Esthar, used to work in the Lunatic Pandora Laboratory. To compliment the Pandora, Tears' Point was constructed; when the Lunatic Pandora and the Crystal Pillar it houses couple with Tears' Point, it forces a super-intense reaction with the moon, leading to a Lunar Cry of epic proportions.
During the Laguna flashback in which he is filming a movie on the Vienne Mountains, he can spot Lunatic Pandora hovering in the distance, though he doesn't know what it is. Later, when the player gains access to the mobile Balamb Garden, they can discover a crater on the mountain region which prevents the player from crossing over to Esthar. The Ultimania confirms the crater was formed by a Lunar Cry that Esthar induced by bringing the Pandora to the region, perhaps to test its powers.
After the Estharian Resistance, led by Laguna, managed to dispose of Sorceress Adel and Laguna became Esthar's president, Lunatic Pandora was deemed too dangerous, and was sunk in the bottom of the ocean. During the events of Final Fantasy VIII, Seifer raises the Lunatic Pandora from the sea and moves it to Tears' Point, activating the Lunar Cry, which brings down Adel's Tomb. The Tomb was kept inside the Pandora while Adel awakens from her cryogenic slumber.
Squall and his comrades enter the Lunatic Pandora and dispatch Adel. After been released from Adel, Ultimecia possesses Rinoa and Ellone sends the two back in time to allow Ultimecia to cast Time Compression. The Lunatic Pandora fades as Squall, Rinoa and their allies fall through time, and its ultimate fate is not revealed. If the player leaves Ultimecia Castle and returns to the world map, the Lunatic Pandora has vanished, leaving the possibility that it was simply absorbed into time during Time Compression.
The Lunatic Pandora/Crystal Pillar is seen in different locations throughout the game. First it was being excavated in the Centra Excavation Site then moved to be studied by Esthar at the Lunatic Pandora Laboratory. Years later, after being abandoned and then re-activated from its watery grave in the ocean, it was brought to Tears' Point where it stood until the end of the game.
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The musical theme "Lunatic Pandora" plays whenever the player enters the gargantuan structure.
"Lunatic Pandora" refers to the fact that the Crystal Pillar is a gateway for monsters to be released on the Planet, an analogy of the Jar that brings all kinds of evil according the myth of Pandora's Box. "Lunatic", aside from meaning "a reckless impetuous irresponsible person" is also the adjective corresponding to the Latin word "Luna", "Moon". "Lunatic Pandora" therefore is the name of the object, a box, filled with Evils from the Moon.
- All the monsters inside Lunatic Pandora when entered in present time (i.e. not as Laguna) are on level 1.