Characters of the Final Fantasy VII series

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Tetsuya Nomura's designs of the main playable characters in the original Final Fantasy VII game. Clockwise from top right: Cait Sith, Tifa, Barret, Cloud, Aerith, Yuffie, Red XIII, Vincent and Cid

Final Fantasy VII, a role-playing video game developed by Square (now Square Enix) and originally released in 1997, features a large number of fictional characters in both major and minor roles. VII has been followed by multiple sequels and prequels, grouped into the multimedia series Compilation of Final Fantasy VII: these include the 2004 mobile game Before Crisis, the 2005 movie sequel Advent Children, the 2006 shooter spinoff Dirge of Cerberus, and the 2007 action game Crisis Core. Other media include spin-off books and the original video animation Last Order. The setting of Final Fantasy VII is a world that has been described as an industrial or post-industrial science fiction milieu.[1] It is referred to as "the Planet" in most of the games, and was retroactively named "Gaia" in some Square Enix promotional material.[2]

VII follows Cloud Strife, a troubled mercenary who joins with an eco-terrorist group to stop Shinra from draining the life of the Planet to use as an energy source. As the story progresses, conflicts escalate and the world's safety becomes their central concern as new forces emerge to challenge the original group. Cloud and his team eventually face off against the game's antagonist, Sephiroth. Other important characters in the series include Aerith Gainsborough, a flower seller who becomes a good friend to Cloud; Zack Fair, Cloud's friend, a former soldier of Shinra and the main protagonist of Crisis Core; and Vincent Valentine, a man made immortal by Shinra experimentation and the main protagonist of Dirge of Cerberus. The conflict between Cloud and Sephiroth forms the core narrative around which many of the series' stories are built. Other playable characters include the Turks, a covert group which originally worked for Shinra.

The original characters were designed by Tetsuya Nomura, who had done monster designs for Final Fantasy VI and chosen for the role after his designs impressed producer Hironobu Sakaguchi. Nomura was responsible for many of the characters and their stories. The scenario for the original was written by Sakaguchi, Yoshinori Kitase and Kazushige Nojima. Nomura, Kitase and Nojima have been involved in other titles in the Compilation. The characters of VII have met with positive criticism in contemporary and modern reviews, while their portrayal in the Compilation titles has been mixed: while Crisis Core was generally praised, the focus on secondary characters in Dirge of Cerberus drew mixed opinions from some, while their appearance in Advent Children was generally cited as confusing or poor for newcomers to the series. The entire cast, along with multiple side characters and villains, have remained popular among critics and series fans over the years, with many lists and opinion poles citing them as some of the best characters in the Final Fantasy series.

Concept and creation[edit]

The original concept for Final Fantasy VII '​s world was for a fully modern setting, but after the project moved from the 2D SNES onto development for the PlayStation console, the setting altered with it. Elements from the original concept were later used in Final Fantasy VIII and Parasite Eve.[3] The game's producer, Hironobu Sakaguchi, chose character designer Tetsuya Nomura to create the main cast. Nomura had previously worked on Final Fantasy VI. Sakaguchi chose Nomura after being amused by the way Nomura did the storyboarding for the cutscenes.[4] Talking of his role as character designer, Nomura stated that when he was brought on, the main scenario had not been completed, but he "went along like, 'I guess first off you need a hero and a heroine', and from there drew the designs while thinking up details about the characters. After [he'd] done the hero and heroine, [he] carried on drawing by thinking what kind of characters would be interesting to have. When [he] handed over the designs [he'd] tell people the character details [he'd] thought up, or write them down on a separate sheet of paper."[5] Nomura also created Zack Fair, who was a late addition to the cast meant to add depth to Cloud and Aerith's relationship, and came up with the name for Red XIII, wanting an "interesting" name that combined a color and a number.[5] Although the game was Nomura's favorite Final Fantasy project, he felt that it was hindered by graphical limitations, and that his designs were, consequently, very plain in comparison to his "true" style.[6]

The game's plot was created by Sakaguchi, although the majority of scenario writing was done by Yoshinori Kitase and Kazushige Nojima, who conceived the Shinra plot thread, Cloud and Sephiroth's relationship and Cloud's backstory. The Lifestream, the source of life for the planet, was one of the earliest concepts created for VII, but its depiction and purpose changed drastically during development.[7] The concepts behind the Lifestream and Aerith's iconic death scene was inspired in Sakaguchi by the death of his mother, which inspired a want to create a realistic death for Aerith rather than a "Hollywood" sacrificial death.[8] The "dark" theme described by Nomura is continued throughout the Compilation, with characters such as Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and the Tsviets in Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII. Producer Yoshinori Kitase stated that voice acting was one of the topics to which the Compilation team paid close attention. As Cloud and Vincent have similar personalities, care was taken to differentiate between them and their dialogue.[9] The compilation was originally conceived as only one title (Advent Children), which focused on Tifa and Cloud, but they eventually created other games in the compilation focusing on other characters, such as Zack and Vincent.[10] Nomura himself requested Hajime Tabata, the director of Before Crisis, to create a game focusing on the Turks.[11]

Playable characters[edit]

Cloud Strife[edit]

Main article: Cloud Strife

Cloud Strife (クラウド・ストライフ Kuraudo Sutoraifu?) is the protagonist of Final Fantasy VII and Advent Children, and a recurring character through the Compilation. In Final Fantasy VII, he is a mercenary claiming to be a former member of SOLDIER, employed by the eco-terrorist organization AVALANCHE.[12] until a traumatic experience helps him discover lost memories of his true self.[13] Cloud is voiced by Steve Burton in English and Takahiro Sakurai in Japanese.[14]

Tifa Lockhart[edit]

Main article: Tifa Lockhart

Tifa Lockhart (ティファ・ロックハート Tifa Rokkuhāto?, originally romanized as "Tifa Lockheart") is a childhood friend of Cloud. She is one of the lead members of AVALANCHE and it is she who initially convinces Cloud to join them in their rebellion against Shinra. She ultimately helps to unlock Cloud's missing memories when they fall into the Lifestream together, and she is originally the only character who knows of Cloud's past. Tifa appears in all the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII titles. She is voiced by Rachael Leigh Cook in English an Ayumi Ito in Japanese.[15]

Aerith Gainsborough[edit]

Main article: Aerith Gainsborough

Aerith Gainsborough (エアリス・ゲインズブール Earisu Geinzubūru?, originally romanized as "Aeris Gainsborough") was a flower peddler on the streets of Midgar, sought after by Shinra's research department because she was the last of the Cetra (also known as the Ancients), and as such, Shinra believed she was the key to finding the fabled Promised Land. She asks Cloud to be her bodyguard after a run-in with the Turks, and subsequently joins AVALANCHE. While with AVALANCHE, Aerith realizes that she is the one who must stop Sephiroth's plot and save the planet. However, Sephiroth realizes that Aerith is a danger to him and kills her in the Forgotten City as she prays. Despite her death, however, Aerith's spirit maintains her cognitive powers and she is able to retain her individuality while in the Lifestream. Aerith, or her influence, appears in nearly every title in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. Aerith is voiced by Mena Suvari in Advent Children and Andrea Bowen in Crisis Core. Her Japanese voice actress is Maaya Sakamoto.[16]

Barret Wallace[edit]

Main article: Barret Wallace

Barret Wallace (バレット・ウォーレス Baretto Wōresu?) is the former leader of the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE, opposed to Shinra's use of Mako technology, which he believed to be killing Gaia. He is also the adoptive father of Marlene, the daughter of his dead friend, Dyne. Initially, he distrusts and dislikes Cloud, believing him to be nothing more than a heartless mercenary-for-hire, but eventually changes his opinion of him for the better. After AVALANCHE disbands, Barret chooses to continue his mission to save the Planet by trying to find a new energy source to replace Mako. He is voiced by Beau Billingslea in English and by Masahiro Kobayashi in Japanese.[17]

Yuffie Kisaragi[edit]

Main article: Yuffie Kisaragi

Yuffie Kisaragi (ユフィ・キサラギ Yufi Kisaragi?) is an optional character in Final Fantasy VII, where she is the daughter of the leader of Wutai, who feels her country has lost its former glory in the aftermath of a war with Shinra and has become a resort town.[18] Yuffie also appears in Before Crisis when the player Turk visits Wutai and they are forced to work together in order to survive. In Advent Children, she reunites with the group to fight against Bahamut SIN, and in the film's prequel On the Way to a Smile novella "Case of Yuffie", she sets out to find a cure for Geostigma.[19] She reappears in Dirge of Cerberus to help Vincent and aid the World Regenesis Organization in their fight against Deepground, and she appears briefly in Crisis Core; after Zack encounters her, she enlists his help to find treasures in several side missions. Yuffie is voiced in English by Christy Carlson Romano in Advent Children, and by Mae Whitman in Dirge of Cerberus. Her Japanese voice actress in Yumi Kakazu.[20]

Vincent Valentine[edit]

Main article: Vincent Valentine

Vincent Valentine (ヴィンセント・ヴァレンタイン Vinsento Varentain?) is an optional character in Final Fantasy VII, where he is not required to complete the game. However, he later became the protagonist of Dirge of Cerberus and its mobile spinoff. Approximately thirty years before the start of Final Fantasy VII, whilst working as a Turk, Vincent fell in love with the scientist Lucrecia Crescent, who saved him after he had been shot, by implanting him with the Chaos gene, and the protomateria with which to control Chaos. He was subsequently experimented on by Hojo, and consequently failed to age, also developing superhuman abilities.[21] Cloud and the others eventually discover him sleeping inside a coffin in the basement of the Shinra Mansion, where he joins them in their quest to hunt down Sephiroth. Vincent reveals very little about himself after his original introduction, and his backstory is explored in Dirge of Cerberus as well as other Compilation of Final Fantasy VII titles. He is voiced by Steven Blum in English and by Shōgo Suzuki in Japanese.[22]

Zack Fair[edit]

Main article: Zack Fair

Zack Fair (ザックス・フェア Zakkusu Fea?) is a minor character in Final Fantasy VII, although he is the protagonist of its prequel, Crisis Core. In the original game, Zack appears only in flashback sequences, which portray him as almost identical to Cloud in physical appearance, except for his black hair. When Cloud is able to resolve his conflicted memories, Zack's true past is revealed. Zack was Aerith's first love, and it was he who gave the Buster Sword to Cloud, as it had been given to him by Angeal Hewley. He was born in the town of Gongaga, where he lived until leaving to join SOLDIER. Eventually he worked his way up to SOLDIER 1st class. He was captured along with Cloud after a battle with Sephiroth in Nibelheim, and experimented upon. After four years, he was able to escape with Cloud, and attempted to return to Aerith in Midgar. A year after their escape, however, Zack was killed by Shinra. Zack also appears in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII titles Before Crisis, Last Order and Advent Children. He is voiced in Japanese by Kenichi Suzumura and in English by Rick Gomez.[23]

Red XIII[edit]

Red XIII (レッドXIII Reddo Sātīn?, pronounced "Red Thirteen"), birth name Nanaki (ナナキ), is a powerful, intelligent member of an unnamed feline species with the ability to speak.[24] In Final Fantasy VII, he temporarily joins Cloud's team after they rescue him from Hojo at the Shinra building, who was attempting to breed him and Aerith together in order to preserve what he believes to be two endangered species.[25] Red XIII believed that his father, Seto, was a coward who abandoned their home, Cosmo Canyon, during a war with the Gi Tribe. Upon returning to Cosmo Canyon, however, his adoptive grandfather, Bugenhagen, brings Red XIII to the petrified body of Seto and reveals that he had sacrificed his life to save the village and single handedly fought the entire invading army.[26] Learning the truth, Red XIII becomes inspired and gains the courage to permanently join Cloud's group.[27] Red XIII makes additional appearances throughout the Compilation. In Before Crisis, he defends a female of his species named Deneh and is subsequently captured by the Turks. In the On the Way to a Smile novella "Case of Nanaki", Red XIII struggles with the knowledge that he will outlive his friends.[19] He also appears briefly in Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus; in the former, he aids in the fight against Bahamut SIN and in the latter he is briefly glimpsed resting with Shelke. In Final Fantasy VII Lateral Biography Turks -The Kids Are Alright-, he saves a young girl from drowning, and briefly encounters Tseng.[28]

Red XIII was the fourth character to be created by Nomura, who wanted a four-legged playable character in the cast despite inevitable graphical difficulties: he was originally conceived as a member of SOLDIER. His standard name, "Red XIII", was thought up by Nomura during the concept stage because he wanted something that didn't sound like a normal name. The final name came from combining the character's hair color with the number 13, an unlucky number. His real name, Nanaki, was chosen by other staff members.[29] Nomura gave Red XIII tattoos and a general Native American motif. The character's tail having a flame at its tip was made to add more color.[2] The name Nanaki was chosen due to its Native American sound, which linked with Red XIII's theme and backstory.[30] Red XIII has made only one voiced appearance in the Compilation: Advent Children. In the film, he is voiced by Liam O'Brien in English and Masachika Ichimura in Japanese.[31]

Cait Sith[edit]

Cait Sith (ケット・シー Ketto Shī?, pronounced "Kett Shee")[32] is a robotic talking cat.[33] In Final Fantasy VII, he rides on the back of an unnamed robotic moogle; in later installments in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, he either walks by himself or rides Red XIII. As a robot, he can be rebuilt and replaced, and is controlled by Reeve Tuesti, whose original intent during Final Fantasy VII was to infiltrate Cloud's group and sabotage their resistance efforts on behalf of his Shinra employers.[34] Having a change of heart, he decides to help the group, even risking his life at one point by destroying a version of himself to extract the Black Materia needed by Sephiroth to summon the Meteor spell.[35][36] He appears briefly in Advent Children, and acts as a supporting character throughout Dirge of Cerberus. He is voiced by Greg Ellis in English and by Hideo Ishikawa in Japanese.[37]

Cid Highwind[edit]

Cid Highwind (シド・ハイウインド Shido Haiuindo?) is an airship pilot. He is first encountered trying to restart a rocket program cancelled by Shinra due to the actions of his assistant Shera when she was concerned for the safety of the rocket.[38] He ends up blaming Shera for the incident due to not believing her concerns were justified, verbally abusing her.[39] However, her concerns regarding the oxygen tanks were eventually proven to be correct when an explosion temporarily traps Cid during a later successful attempt to launch the rocket against Meteor. Knowing this, Cid is able to forgive her.[40] Cid also appears in Before Crisis, Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus'. In Advent Children, he briefly rejoins the party to fight against Bahamut SIN. In Dirge of Cerberus, he aids the World Regenesis Organization in launching an attack on Deepground headquarters, and later in fighting Omega WEAPON. He is voiced by Chris Edgerly in English and Kazuhiro Yamaji in Japanese.[41]

Turks[edit]

The Turks (タークス Tākusu?) are a group of covert operatives who work for Shinra through many of the events of VII, and later become an independent force. In Final Fantasy VII, several Turks serve as recurring antagonists, although they are not above forming temporary alliances with the game's group of central characters.[42] They are also the playable characters and protagonists of the Final Fantasy VII prequel, Before Crisis, which focuses exclusively on their actions in the years leading up to the events of the original game. The player chooses from eleven unnamed Turks, each with his or her own backstory, personality, strengths and weaknesses. With one exception, each Turk is identified based on their weapon and gender. Among important Turks in the series are:

  • Reno (レノ?) and Rude (ルード Rūdo?), two of the original Turks from VII, originally portrayed as antagonists working with Shinra against AVALANCHE. In Advent Children, they act as allies towards Cloud and his friends, while glimpses of their earlier days with Shinra are portrayed in Before Crisis and Crisis Core. Reno is voiced by Quinton Flynn by English and Keiji Fujiwara in Japanese.[43] Rude is voiced by Crispin Freeman in English and Taiten Kusunoki in Japanese.[44]
  • Tseng (ツォン Tson?), the leader of the Turks after Veld leaves the Turks in the aftermath of Sephiroth's attack on Nibelheim. Initially portrayed as an antagonist in VII, he acts as an ally in Crisis Core and is a minor character in Advent Children.Tseng is voiced by Ryun Yu in English and Junichi Suwabe in Japanese.[45]
  • Cissnei (シスネ Shisune?), a playable character in Before Crisis and a supporting character in Crisis Core. Bearing the codename Shuriken (Female) (手裏剣 (女) Shuriken (Onna)?). While around Zack, she uses the name "Cissnei", though it is not her real name. Cissnei is voiced by Carrie Savage in English and Asumi Nakada in Japanese.[46]
  • Veld (ヴェルド Verudo?), alternately called Verdot,[47] is the former leader of the Turks. Originally a loyal member, he falls out of favor with the company during the struggle against AVALANCHE, which includes bungled operations and the company trying to use the Turks as cannon fodder.[48] Veld eventually resigns his position upon finding out that his daughter, whom he thought dead in a bungled Shinra operation, is still alive under the name "Elfé". While he is declared an enemy of Shinra and apparently killed, he is in fact spirited away with his daughter to he can live his life in peace.[49]
  • Legend (レジェンド(男) Rejendo (Otoko)?, Legend (Male)), a Turk who acts as one of the main characters of Before Crisis. Generally known under the moniker of "Legendary Turk, and formally an anti-Shinra activist known as "Death God of the Battlefield", he is recruited into the Turks by Veld. While he leaves the Turks for a time, he returns after Veld resigns.[50]

Main antagonists[edit]

Sephiroth[edit]

Sephiroth (セフィロス Sefirosu?) is the main antagonist of Final Fantasy VII and Advent Children. Originally a member of Shinra's SOLDIER elite, a traumatic incident involving his true origins drove him insane, prompting him to abandon his humanity and attempt to attain godhood by absorbing the Lifestream, the source of life on the planet.[51] He manipulates and tortures Cloud over the course of Final Fantasy VII, and kills Aerith at the Forgotten City. Cloud ultimately destroys him at the end of the game, but he returns in Advent Children, where he is reborn and subsequently defeated again by Cloud. Sephiroth also appears in nearly every title in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. The character is voiced by George Newbern in English and Toshiyuki Morikawa in Japanese.[52]

Jenova[edit]

Jenova (ジェノバ Jenoba?) is an extraterrestrial lifeform who crash landed on the planet two thousand years prior to the events of VII, portrayed in multiple titles in the Compilation as a female humanoid. When Jenova originally crashed, it began infecting the Cetra with a virus, to the point that they were almost wiped out. However, a small group managed to seal Jenova in a tomb, which was later excavated by Shinra. Jenova was mistaken for a Cetra, and samples from her remains were used in the experiments that created SOLDIER and Sephiroth.[53][54][55] Sephiroth and Jenova's goal in both Final Fantasy VII and Advent Children is to take control of the planet and use it to roam through space until they find another world to build on. In Advent Children, Jenova's last remains are acquired by Rufus, whilst the Remnants hope to find and use them to resurrect Sephiroth. Jenova is also responsible for the disease Geostigma, which infects all those who came into contact with the tainted Lifestream after Sephiroth was defeated.

Jenova's original forms during VII '​s development were very different from her final incarnation: the original Jenova was a hostile region of the brain that would awake in people possessing certain genes. The name "Jenova" was to have been inherited by a book written by the Cetra on the subject.[54] While Jenova's "head" is the term used to describe her remains in Advent Children, this is not technically true, and the term was only used because nothing more suitable could be thought of. One of the ideas discussed for Sephiroth's resurrection was for the remnant to eat Jenova's remains.[56] The disease caused by Jenova's presence in the Lifestream, Geostigma, was based on a discarded concept for Final Fantasy X.[2]

Rufus Shinra[edit]

Rufus Shinra (ルーファウス神羅 Rūfausu Shinra?) is the former Vice President of Shinra, who is promoted to President after his father is killed by Sephiroth. Depicted as callous, cunning and ruthless during much of Final Fantasy VII, his attitudes towards how the Shinra Company should be run causing his father to attempt barring him from ever controlling the company.[57][58][59] As shown in Before Crisis, Rufus was anonymously supplying information to AVALANCHE, intending to have them kill his father. This failed and he is placed under house arrest. However, almost immediately upon his father's death, he claims control over the company and quickly begins running it by way of his preferred method. He later leads Shinra's efforts to find the Promised Land, as well as Shinra's military in battling the WEAPONs. Rufus was thought to have died when his office in Shinra Headquarters was hit by an energy blast from Diamond WEAPON, but in Advent Children, it is revealed that he survived, albeit after sustaining great injuries. The On the Way to a Smile novella "Case of Shinra" depicts his survival, as well as his plans for the future, and how he contracts Geostigma.[19]

He appears in Advent Children in possession of Jenova's remains, and claims that he intends to repair the damage Shinra had caused to Gaia. In Advent Children, Rufus uses a wheelchair and covers himself with a white sheet, and although these are later shown to be a facade while he was holding Jenova's remains.[60] While not seen in Dirge of Cerberus except in a flashback, it is hinted that he is secretly funding the WRO (World Regenesis Organization).[61] Rufus is voiced by Wally Wingert in English and Tōru Ōkawa in Japanese.[62]

Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo[edit]

Kadaj (カダージュ Kadāju?), Loz (ロッズ Rozzu?) and Yazoo (ヤズー Yazū?) are the main antagonists of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Known as "Remnants", they are manifestations of Sephiroth's will, driven to find samples of their "mother" Jenova to trigger Sephiroth's resurrection and get vengeance upon the world. The three frequently come into conflict with the remains of Shinra and Cloud. Eventually, Kadaj is successful in merging with Jenova's cells, triggering Sephiroth's resurrection. Kadaj, as Sephiroth, is mortally wounded by Cloud and dies in his arms, while Loz and Yazoo die in a final attack on Cloud.

The remnants were created to represent different aspects of Sephiroth's personality: Kadaj represented his cruelty, Loz represented his strength, and Yazoo represented his allure.[63] To fit in with the film's theme of the "next generation", they were all made younger than Cloud and Sephiroth.[64] Kadaj's original moniker during production was "Lost Name".[2] Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo are respectively voiced by Steven Staley/Shotaro Morikubo, Fred Tatasciore/Kenji Nomura and Dave Wittenberg/Yuji Kishi.[62]

Professor Hojo[edit]

Professor Hojo (宝条 Hōjō?) is the biological father of Sephiroth and was the head of Shinra's "Department of Science and Research" until he resigned after being attacked by Red XIII at Shinra headquarters. While studying Jenova, he infused his unborn child with its cells: the result of this was Sephiroth, who would eventually grow up to have an element of control over Jenova.[53] He was also responsible for making Vincent immortal. In Final Fantasy VII, Hojo is defeated by Cloud and his allies while trying to aid Sephiroth's plans, but in Dirge of Cerberus, it is revealed he survived long enough to store a digital copy of himself in the worldwide network; he subsequently takes control of Weiss' body and attempts through him to summon Omega WEAPON, which will drain the Lifestream from the Planet and launch into space in search of a new world.[65] He is stopped by Vincent with the help of Nero, who merges with Weiss and frees him from Hojo's control, destroying Hojo in the process.[66] Hojo also briefly appears in Before Crisis, Last Order, and Crisis Core. Hojo is voiced in Japanese by Nachi Nozawa and in English by Paul Eiding.[67]

Deepground[edit]

Deepground (ディープ グラウンド ソルジャー Dīpu Guraundo Sorujā?, Deepground Soldier) is a military force created by Shinra which acts as the main antagonist of Dirge of Cerberus, created by the company using genetic engineering to be a covert force.[68] The leaders of Deepground are the Tsviets, an elite who were infused with genetic material belonging to Genesis Rhapsodos.[69] The Tsviets' original leaders, the Restrictors, were overthrown when the Tsviets used one of their own who had yet to be fully indoctrinated to kill the Restrictor leader.[70] During the events of Dirge of Cerberus, they are manipulated by Hojo possessing their leader into attempting to awaken OMEGA, a means for the Lifestream to escape the planet during times of catastrophe.[71] Although one of the members, Shelke, is rescued from the group, the others are killed, although Weiss' body is rescued by Genesis and transported somewhere.[69] The Tsviets are:

  • Weiss the Immaculate (純白の帝王ヴァイス Junpaku no Teiō Vaisu?, lit. "Weiss the Immaculate White Emperor"), leader of the Tsviets and Nero's elder brother. While controlled by Hojo for most of the game, he ultimately acts as the game's true antagonist. Weiss is voiced by Jōji Nakata in Japanese and Dave Boat in English.[72]
  • Nero the Sable (漆黒の闇ネロ Shikkoku no Yami Nero?, lit. "Nero the Jet-Black Darkness"), a member of the Tsviets and Weiss' younger brother. He holds the power to control darkness, and prior to the events of Dirge of Cerberus, he was kept in close confinement as his power was highly dangerous. Nero is voiced by Mike Rock in English and Ryōtarō Okiayu in Japanese.[72]
  • Azul the Cerulean (蒼きアスール Aoki Asūru?), a physically imposing member who acts as Shalua's handler. He first appeared in Before Crisis as a SOLDIER candidate who attracted Shinra's attention and was indoctrinated into Deepground.[73] Azul is voiced by Brad Abrell in English and Tesshō Genda in Japanese.[72]
  • Rosso the Crimson (朱のロッソ Aka no Rosso?), a sadistic member of the group who was mentally damaged by the Deepground training program. She is the one who succeeds in extracting the Protomateria needed to activate OMEGA weapon from Vincent's body.[74] Rosso is voiced by Mary Elizabeth McGlynn in English and Atsuko Tanaka in Japanese.[72]
  • Shelke the Transparent (無色のシェルク Mushiki no Sheruku?, lit. "Shelke the Expressionless (Colorless)") is the youngest member of the group and the younger sister of Shalua Rui. Kidnapped when she was nine years old, Shelke was experimented on: the experiments give her the ability to send her consciousness into the Planet's worldwide network, but traps her in a child's body that needs constant Mako injections to stay alive and mentally scars her.[75] Shelke is voiced by Kari Wahlgren in English and Fumiko Orikasa in Japanese.[72]

Genesis Rhapsodos[edit]

Genesis Rhapsodos (ジェネシス ・ラプソードス Jeneshisu Rapusōdosu?) is a character first seen in Dirge of Cerberus who acts as the main antagonist of Crisis Core. Genesis was a product of the same program that created Sephiroth, but Genesis was not as stable as Sephiroth and began suffering from a degenerative process called "degradation" after being wounded during a sparring match with Sephiroth and Angeal.[69] Allying with a rogue Shinra scientist named Hollander, Genesis fights against the company while seeking a way to stop his degradation using Sephiroth's stable cells.[76][77] Eventually, Genesis is first defeated by Zack, then cured of his degradation by the Lifestream.[69] Genesis was taken in by Deepground, who gave him the codename "G", and used him to create the Tsviets.[78] Refusing to follow along with the Tsviets plans after their rebellion, he seals himself in a cave until he is needed. During the secret ending of Dirge of Cerberus, Genesis awakes, determined to protect and defend the planet.[69]

Genesis' outfit was designed by the character's Japanese voice actor Gackt Camui, who also composed and sang the theme song for Dirge of Cerberus. While originally intended as a minor character cameo, Hideki Imaizumi, the producer of Crisis Core, found such a passing use of a character to be a waste and asked Gackt whether he was interested in further involvement. Gackt was eager to continue with the character, ending up being one of the key creative minds behind Genesis' manners and personality. Genesis' outfit became one of Gackt's commonly worn outfits during concerts.[79] Genesis is voiced in English by Robin Atkin Downes in Dirge of Cerberus and Oliver Quinn in Crisis Core.[80]

Other characters[edit]

AVALANCHE[edit]

AVALANCHE (アバランチ abaranchi?) is an important eco-terrorist organization in the world of Final Fantasy VII. It is introduced as the main rebel force against Shinra, being openly opposed to the company's Mako-based energy production, which is draining the planet of life. Two versions of the organization existed: the first acted as the main antagonists of Before Crisis, while the second featured many of the protagonists of VII. While the first version of the movement was indirectly destroyed by the actions of their leader, Shinra eventually crush the movement completely, going to the lengths of destroying a sector of Midgar to kill most of the operatives in their hideout.[81] Among its notable members were:

  • Fuhito (フヒト?), the scientific brains of AVALANCHE and the main antagonist of Before Crisis. Holding a warped view of how humans are harming the Planet, he comes to believe that humanity needs to be destroyed for the planet to heal properly. To do this, he seeks the power of Zirconiade, a powerful summoned monster.[82] While successful in summoning Zirconiade, the summon and Fuhito are defeated by the Turks, then Fuhito is killed by Shears.[83]
  • Elfé (エルフェ Erufe?) is the leader of AVALANCHE, later revealed to be Veld's lost daughter Felicia (フェリシア Ferishia?). Originally thought dead in a bungled operation during which her mother died and her town was destroyed, she was in fact taken to a Shinra facility and experimented on by Hojo, who implanted the Zirconiade materia into her body.[82] While saved from death, she is apparently shot with her father by the Turks on orders from Shinra: the shooting was in fact a bluff to give Elfé and Veld a chance to live in peace.[49]
  • Shears (シアーズ Shiāzu?), AVALANCHE's second-in-command. Intensely loyal to Elfé and disliking Fuhito, he is quick to see that Fuhito only wants to use Elfé when he founds out about the Materia she has in her. Allying with the Turks to save Elfé, he eventually sacrefices himself to destroy Fuhito.[83]
  • Biggs (ビッグス Biggusu?), Wedge (ウェッジ Wejji?) and Jessie (ジェシー Jeshī?), three AVALANCHE members who worked with Barret and Cloud to infiltrate and destroy one of the Mako Reactors.[84] All three are killed along with the majority of AVALANCHE when Shinra destroys the sector of the city where they are hiding out.

Reeve Tuesti[edit]

Reeve Tuesti (リーブ・トゥエスティ Rību Tuesuti?) is the former head of Shinra's "Department of Urban Development", and is controller of the robotic cat Cait Sith. In Final Fantasy VII, Reeve originally worked against AVALANCHE, until later deciding to help them in their quest against Sephiroth: feeling repentant about his role, he aids the group through Cait Sith.[85] He is temporarily arrested after Rufus' apparent death, but is released in time to organize an evacuation of Midgar's population before the arrival of Meteor. He also brings the news of Aerith's death to Elmyra Gainsborough, the adoptive mother of Aerith. Reeve plays a minor role in Before Crisis, as the architect responsible for designing Mako reactors and aiding the Turks with the use of Cait Sith. He is not seen in Advent Children, but is heard leaving a message on Cloud's cell phone. He plays a significant role in Dirge of Cerberus, where he has established the World Regenesis Organization, which is dedicated to restoring the Planet. In the On the Way to a Smile novella "Case of Denzel" and its OVA adaptation On the Way to a Smile - Episode: Denzel. He is voiced by Jamieson Price in English and by Banjō Ginga in Japanese.[72]

Shalua Riu[edit]

Shalua Rui (シャルア・ルーイ Sharua Rūi?) is a minor character in Before Crisis and a supporting character in Dirge of Cerberus. When her sister Shelke was taken by Shinra for their Deepground unit, Shalua went in search of Shelke, joining AVALANCHE in the hope that they would lead her to her sister. During her time there, she received grave injuries resulting in the loss of her right eye and arm, and massive internal damage. This incident prompted her to leave AVALANCHE for good.[86] In Dirge of Cerberus, she is part of the World Regenesis Organization, and is responsible for saving Vincent after he is overcome by the power of Chaos.[87] She is eventually plunged into a coma while she is helping Vincent and Shelke escape and her life support mechanism, her artificial arm, is destroyed. Her ultimate fate is not specified. Shalua is voiced by Kim Mai Guest in English and Yuu Asakawa in Japanese.[72]

Angeal Hewley[edit]

Angeal Hewley (アンジール・ヒューレー Anjīru Hyūrē?) is a SOLDIER 1st Class who is Zack Fair's friend and mentor, the original owner of the Buster Sword, and a close friend of Genesis and Sephiroth. Produced by the same project that birthed Genesis, when he finds out about his origins, he turns against Shinra and works with Genesis for a time.[69] As he begins suffering from the same degradation as Genesis, he begins seeing himself as a monster and leaves Genesis, temporarily allying with Zack.[88][89] Zack is eventually forced to fight and kill him. Angeal lives on for a while through Lazard Deusericus, the former director of SOLDIER who is made a copy of Angeal, and an animal-like copy. Both eventually die. Angeal is voiced by Josh Gilman in English and Kazuhiko Inoue in Japanese.[46]

Lucrecia Crescent[edit]

Lucrecia Crescent (ルクレツィア・クレシェント Rukuretsia Kureshento?) is a Shinra scientist first introduced in VII who acts as an important character in Dirge of Cerberus. A scientist working in Nibelheim under Hojo, she worked on both the research into Chaos, which she injected into Vincent while he was a Turk assigned to protect her, and sired Sephiroth with Hojo.[53] Ridden with guilt over her actions, she seals herself inside a crystal, essentially becoming immortal and virtually cut off from the outside world.[90] Her memories are uploaded into Shelke, and through them and recordings left behind for him, she is able to communicate with Vincent, eventually leaving a final message that she is glad he survived.[91][92]

Lucrecia was originally a fairly minor character in VII. It was hard for the staff to recreate her for Dirge of Cerberus as they needed to rely on low-detail concept art and in-game models. To create the new model of Lucrecia, the concept team used Sephiroth's appearance as a base, deciding that the latter would have a maternal rather than paternal resemblance.[90] Lucrecia is voiced by April Stewart in English and Rio Natsuki in Japanese.[72]

Marlene Wallace[edit]

Marlene Wallace (マリン Marin?) is the young daughter of Barret's friends, Dyne and Eleanor, and the adopted daughter of Barret. Eleanor was killed by an attack from Shinra prior to the events of Final Fantasy VII, and Dyne assumes Marlene to be dead as well. In actuality, Barret adopts her, thinking Dyne is dead. Barret later encounters Dyne, who has gone insane. After fightning Barret, Dyne entrusts Marlene to Barret's care and commits suicide. For most of Final Fantasy VII, Marlene is left in the care of Elmyra, Aerith's adopted mother. During Advent Children, she lives with Cloud, Tifa, and Denzel, while Barret is searching for a new power source for the Planet. She is instrumental in making Cloud return to his friends and continue fighting against Sephiroth's Remnants. Marlene is voiced by Grace Rolek in English and Miyū Tsuzurahara in Japanese. In Advent Children Complete, she is voiced by Ariel Winter in English and by Sumire Morohoshi in Japanese.[62]

Denzel[edit]

Denzel (デンゼル Denzeru?) is a young boy who resides with Cloud, Tifa, and Marlene in the city of Edge. He first appears in Advent Children as a sufferer of the incurable disease Geostigma. He and many other sick children are lured to the Ancient City of the Cetra, where they are brought under Kadaj's control. Denzel regains his senses after Tifa protects him from Bahamut SIN during the final conflict. He is later healed of his Geostigma by drinking the water in Aerith's church. Denzel is voiced by Aaron Refvem and Kazumu Izawa in Japanese.[62]

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The characters of VII received near-unanimous praise from critics for their original appearance. In an article on GameSpot, it was stated that, despite the premise not being unique, it was "Cloud's interactions with other characters, especially between him and [Sephiroth] which make the story so special."[93] Thierry Nguyen of Computer Gaming World found that the both the story and character development were strong, saying that as the players progressed through the game, "these characters intrigue you, and you get so attached to them that you might jump as a reaction to a shocking event on the first disc. Final Fantasy VII evokes that kind of emotional response."[94] Steve Bauman of Computer Games Magazine called the characters "funky", saying that the characters "worked wonders" on some of the poorer dialogue.[95] Simon Parkin of Eurogamer praised the characters' "clear motivations, desires and flaws".[96] RPGFan generally praised the characters, especially Cloud, Tifa and Sephiroth, and said that "while on the surface they certainly do appear to fit certain stereotypes, a second look will reveal that they transcend these qualities and are compelling and complex personalities underneath."[97]

While on mobile game Before Crisis, the first Compilation game title to be released, has received limited western commentary, writers at AnimeFringe felt that "the chance to reverse the good and bad guy roles should be welcomed by many."[98] Advent Children received mixed views from critics. Carlo Santos of Anime News Network felt that, due to the film's pace and context, viewers were not given enough time to get to know the characters.[99] These sentiments were echoed by John Eriani of Mania Entertainment, who particularly faulted the lack of character names or explanations of the villains' motives.[100] Chris Carle of IGN was critical of the lack of motivation for those who were not familiar with the series, but praised both the English and Japanese voice acting.[101] Michael Beckett, while generally less than impressed by the overall story, said that it "[provides] some interesting insights into a few of the less-developed characters of the game, though Cloud receives most of the attention and development as the story unfolds.[102]

Opinions on the characters of Dirge of Cerberus were again mixed to positive. IGN's Jeremy Dunham was fairly positive, saying that the new characters "go through quite a bit of development and even some of the old ones have a chance to shine." He was also pleased with Vincent's portrayal and development in the title.[103] Rob Fahey of Eurogamer felt that the focus on characters that were secondary or optional in the original was a weak point of the game, and that those not familiar with the original game would possibly feel lost.[104] GameSpot's Greg Mueller praised the game's focus on Vincent's origins and development, despite finding the large number of new characters a little confusing.[105] Crisis Core' '​s characters was generally praised. GameSpot's Kevin VanOrd said that, despite new and familiar characters appearing, it was the further-explored characters of Zack and Sephiroth that he found himself sympathising with: "The way their personal stories weave in and out of each other--and set the stage for the events in Final Fantasy VII--makes Crisis Core not just the finest role-playing experience available on the PSP, but also one of the best Japanese RPGs in years."[106] Ryan Clements, writing for IGN, was pleased by the story's focus on Zack and his interactions with other characters rather than a grand narrative.[107] Gerard Villorria of GameSpy was also positive, saying that exploring the relationships between old characters was "a key element", while finding the new characters and their backstories "equally interesting".[108]

Legacy[edit]

The characters of Final Fantasy VII and the Compilation have remained highly popular, often being cited as some of the best characters in both the Final Fantasy series and video games in general by both critics and fans. Reader and critic lists on gaming site IGN have all placed them high, with one reader pole in 2014 having multiple VII characters dominating a list of the top ten characters in the series as a whole.[32][109][110] Sephiroth remains one of the most popular villains in video game history, unanimously voted number one by the staff of Electronic Gaming Monthly in their "Top 10 Video Game Bosses" list in October 2005.[111] In late 2007, Dengeki PlayStation named Cloud Strife the best character of all time in their retrospective awards feature about the original PlayStation. Aerith placed fifth, Tifa placed eighth and three other characters placed in the top 50; Sephiroth at fourteenth, Reno at fifteenth, and Yuffie at forty-second.[112] Cloud was placed second in a Famitsu reader pole for the country's favorite video game character.[113] In a list of the best Final Fantasy characters made by Complex, characters from Final Fantasy VII occupied seven out of the twenty places, with Sephiroth and Cloud coming third and first respectively.[114] The character of Cloud has also influenced character design in the series, having had a profound influence on the design and portrayal of Lightning, the central protagonist of Final Fantasy XIII and its sequels.[115][116]

References[edit]

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