Grim Fandango‘s protagonist is Manny Calavera, travel agent of death. After committing unknown sins in an earlier life, he was assigned a job at the Department of Death that involves reaping freshly deceased souls and providing them with a travel package to cross the perilous Land of the Dead.
Few qualify for the most luxurious of packages: a golden ticket on the Number Nine, a train that takes passengers to the Ninth Underworld — the land of eternal rest — in four minutes rather than four years, avoiding the dangers that exist throughout the Land of the Dead. As far as Manny’s clients go, nobody seems to qualify at all.
Manny eventually discovers that corruption and deceit surround him, robbing his clients of their travel packages earned through living a good life. This sets off a chain of events that leads him and his good friend Glottis across the entire Land of the Dead, at first merely to save his own butt, but eventually in pursuit of love and saving those whose paths he crosses.
- Manny has a very competitive personality, usually excelling at whatever he chooses to do. He becomes a nightclub owner after starting out as a cleaner, a ship captain after starting out as a cook, and for a very short amount of time Hector LeMans’ favoured salesman at the Department of Death — albeit years after originally working there — before revealing himself to be Hector’s enemy.
- The Curse of Monkey Island contains an easter egg that features Manny or somebody whose skeleton looks just like him. While some fans have speculated that this means Manny was a pirate before his death, this doesn’t coincide with Tim Schafer’s original intention of Manny having a still-living brother who appears during the fourth act of the game.
Behind the scenes
- During the fourth act of the game, Manny was to visit his brother who lives on in the Land of the Living. This was to happen while crossing the snowy landscape leading to the Temple, via one of numerous portals that exist throughout the Land of the Dead. Other known portals are in El Marrow and Rubacava, the latter of which is suspended in mid-air — hence the ‘LOL’ airships.
- Manny was to have earned his golden ticket as a reward given to all retired civil servants. This was never depicted in the final game, but as it’s never explained where exactly he got his ticket from it’s most likely the case that this happened off-screen.
- Reaping souls — as Manny is shown doing for Bruno and Mercedes Colomar — is meant to resemble a butterfly escaping from its cocoon and being able to fly away.
- “My scythe — I like to keep it next to where my heart used to be.”
- “This deck of cards is a little frayed around the edges. Then again, so am I, and I’ve got fewer suits.”