Zelos is the Chosen One from Tethe’alla. He is rarely serious and acts as a comic relief for the group, always ready to cheer the party up at heavy-hearted moments. Quite the ladies’ man (one of his possible titles is called Gigolo, which he gets by speaking to every female character in the world, while another, Casanova, can be received by his being in a party with three female characters), he has the ability to charm every woman he sees, who in turn give him gifts (the player will be able to take this advantage in the game). Zelos is quite handsome, and approaches most situations hoping to meet or impress any pretty girls nearby. He takes almost every opportunity to hit on his female team members, much to their annoyance, especially given the nicknames he gives them. He gets along poorly with Genis, whom he considers a brat.
However, he is actually quite perceptive, and can be surprisingly sensitive at times. After Corrine sacrifices himself to save Sheena at the Temple of Lightning, Sheena becomes depressed. In one of the optional Z-Skits, the player sees that Zelos is still acting lighthearted, as if Corrine had not just died. He is then chastised by the other members of the party for his lighthearted approach. When they leave, Zelos remarks to himself that, if the party members continue being visibly upset, Sheena will only get more depressed, and will not move on with her life; the only way to help her get over the loss is for them to move on.
Contrary to what one might assume, Zelos is actually very similar to Colette in some aspects. Both of them tend to bottle up any worries or insecurities they might be feeling and mask them with cheery personalities so that they don’t have to deal with others in the party asking them is something is wrong. Both of them also have to deal with the consequences of hoarding such feelings, in that they suffer alone and they ultimately end up causing others in the party to feel guilt for not noticing that something was bothering them sooner.
The first impression Zelos gives is that of a skirt-chasing, irresponsible and immature man. However, Zelos has more internal conflicts and emotional pain than he lets on (though clues are dropped throughout the storyline), a pain that is more severe than that of any other character in the game. As Zelos reveals to Lloyd in Flanoir (if the player chooses to talk to Zelos), his mother, Mylene, was told to marry his father, the Chosen at the time, by the Oracle of Cruxis, even though she loved someone else. Growing up, his home life was less-than-comforting. Neither his mother nor his father cared much for him; his father was already in a relationship with another woman, and his mother would only occasionally pay any real maternal attention to him. As such, Zelos’ main caretaker was Sebastian, the family butler.
When Zelos was a child, his father’s mistress, a half-elf, gave birth to Seles, Zelos’ half-sister. As children, Zelos and Seles got along with each other, Seles in particular enjoyed getting time to play with her big brother, but their relationship would become strained following the death of their father. Following his death, life became considerably harder for Seles’s half-elven mother. Wanting a better quality of life for herself and her daughter, she attempted to kill Zelos, knowing that if Zelos died, Seles (as the last relative of the half-siblings’ father) would by default become the Chosen of Mana. The incident occurred on a snowy day- supposedly the first day Zelos saw snow. Mylene had taken Zelos outside and was building a snowman with him when the half-elf unleashed a barrage of magic aimed at Zelos and Mylene was caught in the crossfire. Her last words to Zelos were: “You should never have been born.” Zelos would grow up to dislike snow, to the point he’d vacation in the farthest place away from Meltokio during it’s winters, as snow would be a constant reminder to him of the traumatic event. The image of snow stained red with Mylene’s blood is one of the defining memories Zelos has of the incident.
After Mylene’s death, Seles’ mother was executed without trial for her crime. Seles herself was sentenced to under house-arrest in an abbey for life. It is highly likely most of Zelos’s narcissist-like behavior stems from the fact that he was neglected and unappreciated throughout his childhood.
Following his mother’s death, Zelos began to develop a loathing for both himself and his status as a Chosen, blaming himself for his mother’s death and cursing the Chosen system for causing his mother’s misery in the first place. He grew up under the impression that he was worthless, a pathetic Chosen who could never save the world. This impression was further nurtured by the knowledge that Seles would have been a far more capable Chosen than he. Zelos lived in the knowledge that, had he died that snowy day in Meltokio, Seles would’ve possibly become the greatest CHosen that Tethe’alla had seen in decades. Both this and the knowledge that he could not live up to the expectations set upon him as Chosen further deepened Zelos’s lack of self-worth. Growing up in Meltokio’s uncaring society, Zelos was forced to lock his emotions away and adopt a mask of confidence, self-assurance, self-esteem, and superficiality. This “mask” allowed him to differentiate between those who merely had a passing interest in him and those who truly wished to know and befriend him. It also allowed him to defend himself from further emotional trauma.
Zelos is also somewhat prejudiced against half-elves, likely due to Mylene’s murderess being half-elven and being taught from birth that half-elves were “disgusting, filthy creatures.” Despite this apparent prejudice, he is actually more sympathetic to half-elves than his peers, exerting his influence to stop some of the Pope’s radical anti-half-elf legislature from becoming law even before he meets Lloyd. After meeting Genis and Raine, he eventually learns to accept them, despite his conflicts with Genis, at one point commenting on how they’re nothing like the half-elf stereotypes he’d been taught about, but remarking that he is not quite able to rid himself of feelings of prejudice. His slightly more sympathetic view on them is due to the fact he feels he can relate to them in some aspect, remarking once that “nobody wanted us to be born”.
When Zelos was six, he met a young Regal Bryant|Regal at the Princess’ birthday party. He is thus somehow able to recognize who he is when Regal joins their group; he repeatedly implies that Regal is the President of Lezareno, but the party fails to realize this until it is made apparent by Regal himself.
As he reached his teenage years, Zelos found that he was considered very popular amongst Meltokio’s noblewomen. It soon became apparent that these aristocrats were not interested in him for his personality, nor for his good looks; they only wished to be associated with the Chosen of Mana. Zelos used this superficial interest to his advantage, and soon gained a world-spanning reputation as a womanizer. He was educated at the Imperial Research Academy in Sybak, where his good looks and status allowed him to manipulate his female classmates into taking notes and tests for him despite the fact that, although he excelled at mathematics, he was less-than-proficient at most everything else. As such, he graduated at the top of his class.
Sometime in the years before meeting Lloyd, he was approached by Cruxis themselves, and was given the offer to rid himself of the Chosen status should he in return become their spy. By this time Zelos had already grown very bitter towards his position, as well as towards himself, and had given up practically all hope that things could get better for him or his sister, thus, he allied himself with them.
In both the manga and video game, it is made apparent the Sheena and Zelos knew each other before meeting in Meltokio with Lloyd’s party, although how long they’ve know each other and how they met is never made clear. Only that Sheena has some standing animosity towards him, most likely because he habitually makes unwanted passes at her. (A skit once revealed that he has attempted to watch her showering.) Despite this however they have been proven to have a stable, though rather dysfunctional, friendship, frequently chatting (or bickering) and bouncing ideas off of each other. During the game Zelos shows some concern for Sheena’s well being, and Sheena has admitted that she doesn’t doubt that deep down Zelos is a good person. Near the end of the game there’s a skit where Zelos offers to help Sheena find a place to relocate Mizuho should the event ever arise that they have to move.