Lightning (Final Fantasy)
|Final Fantasy character|
Lightning as she appears in Final Fantasy XIII
|First game||Final Fantasy XIII (2009)|
|Created by||Motomu Toriyama|
|Designed by||Tetsuya Nomura|
|Voiced by (English)||Ali Hillis|
|Voiced by (Japanese)||Maaya Sakamoto|
|Weapon||Blazefire Saber (Gunblade)|
|Special attack||Army of One, Legion of One, Zantetsuken|
Lightning (ライトニング Raitoningu ), real name Claire Farron in English and Éclair Farron (エクレール・ファロン Ekurēru Faron ) in the original Japanese language version, is a fictional character and the main protagonist of the video game Final Fantasy XIII developed and published by Square Enix. She was created by Motomu Toriyama, the game's director and scenario writer, and designed by Tetsuya Nomura. Her Japanese voice actress is Maaya Sakamoto; in English, she is voiced by Ali Hillis.
Claire is an orphan who took the code name of "Lightning" after losing her parents to escape the vulnerabilities and insecurities of her former self and to become a different person—strong enough to care for her younger sister Serah. During Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning is a former soldier who embarks on a quest to save her sister who is turned into a crystal as a result of a curse. She has also been featured in the sequel Final Fantasy XIII-2 as well as the crossover game Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, and will be the sole playable character in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII.
Critical reception to Lightning's character has been mixed owing to her cold personality which resulted in comparisons with Cloud Strife, another character from the Final Fantasy franchise. Nevertheless, her strength across the game and her development were well received for standing out within female characters in video games.
Director Motomu Toriyama wanted Lightning to be a new type of female character, with an athlete's body and a less feminine nature than some of the previous female characters of Final Fantasy. His guideline to character designer Tetsuya Nomura was to make her "strong and beautiful", "someone like a female version of Cloud from FFVII". Multiple designs were considered for her, including some designed by other staff members. Some of her original characteristics were blonde hair and Asian-looking features. Nomura defines Lightning as "serious," "unforgiving," "relentless," and "a kind of individualistic person," in direct contrast with Snow Villiers' passionate nature. The final art was made less Asian-looking than originally conceived, while the silver hair color was given to Hope Estheim in favor of pink.
Her pink hair color was made to reflect this more feminine side of her. Although Nomura explained that she is essentially a "cool character" and that "you can't have a cool character without anything inappropriate, it was also stated that Lightning originally had a more flirtatious aspect to her character, which was transferred to Oerba Yun Fang when the latter character's design changed from being a male character to a female. The game's producer Yoshinori Kitase also commented on the difficulty of balancing Lightning's depiction, as she is both a woman and a professionally trained warrior, and noted that Sakamoto's acting helped bring out Lightning's femininity. Her weapon, the Blazefire Saber (known as Blaze Edge (ブレイズエッジ Bureizu Ejji ) in the Japanese version) was created to mirror the transforming nature of the game's summons, the Eidolons, as well as the theme of change found within the game.
While her real name, Claire, is only loosely related to the weather or skies (Claire means "clear," which can tie in with clear skies), which is a common tradition of naming Final Fantasy protagonists when Tetsuya Nomura is the character designer, her alias of "Lightning" is the more proper representation of this tradition. The name was not chosen by Nomura, who was surprised by it, as he was thinking about stopping this naming tradition. Eclair, the romanization of her Japanese name, is French for "lightning." According to Toriyama, there is "a strong element of mystery about her character". Lightning's home never appeared in Final Fantasy XIII, but the original work by Isamu Kamikokuryo, is contained in an artbook. The house was built on an island and overlooks a park; several models were constructed before this aspect of Lightning's life was removed from the game due to spacing issues. According to plastic PSICOM tablets released by Square Enix, Lightning's parents are deceased and notes her former roles as a member of the Guardian Corps and a member of the Bodhum Security Regiment.
Due to global demand and the development staff's desire to further Lightning's character, development began for a sequel to Final Fantasy XIII. The original game ended with a lingering question: "Is Lightning really happy?" The conclusion of the story in Final Fantasy XIII-2 would provide a clear answer to this question. After Nomura made a sketch to show how Lightning should look in the sequel, Isamu Kamikokuryo did the final design. She was originally designed with a qipao-style outfit, but Toriyama discarded it since he felt it clashed with the tone of the game. Her outfit in Lightning Returns was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, who was told by Toriyama to create something representative of her final battle, with "strength" as the main guideline. The outfit was designed along the lines of a "leather body suit", with the arms given patterns in the style of a spinal column and the primary colors as white and red. In addition to the new costume, Lightning's bust was enlarged and several of her outfits for Lightning Returns were made to show her off in a more feminine way. Toriyama claimed that Lightning was the Final Fantasy series' "first female protagonist" with her solo role in Lightning Returns.[note 1]
Across all her spoken appearances, Lightning is voiced by Ali Hillis in English and Maaya Sakamoto in Japanese. Hillis was given the role of Lightning after reading a few lines provided to her, then given a book all about the universe of Final Fantasy XIII, which she said was a little "overwhelming" when she read it. Part of the challenge for Ali was listening to the Japanese dialogue and trying to capture the emotion and energy of Sakamoto's performance for the English rendition of Lightning. She also said later that she tried to help the staff of the XIII games portray Lightning as a real person, saying: "I think that was my main priority, to make sure that Lightning had every single layer of who she was as a person, not just a game character, but a real person with layers and history and relationships to every single character in the game...even the Chocobo!". Over the course of the trilogy, Ali felt that Lightning "maybe [became] a little more sarcastic...a little more hardened to everything that's going on around her and has [needed to evolve] into a real warrior". She also said she was impressed by how much the character had impacted on the Final Fantasy fanbase.
Final Fantasy XIII series
In Final Fantasy XIII: Episode Zero: Promise, it is revealed that Lightning and Serah's parents died when they were young and Lightning worked hard so she could become a protector for her sister, but ended up neglecting her in the process. Thirteen days prior to the main events of the game, Lightning is saved by Snow and the other members of rebel group NORA from an attack by dangerous wildlife. Despite this, Lightning disapproves of the group's activities, and Snow's relationship with Serah. Lightning realizes too late, on her 21st birthday, that Serah has been branded a l'Cie by the Pulse fal'Cie Anima, originally thinking that Serah was using it as an excuse to get married. After resigning her position as a member of the Guardian Corps with the rank of sergeant and submitting herself for the Purge, she goes with Sazh Katzroy to save her sister.
In Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning advances on Anima to save her sister. Joined by Snow, along with Hope Estheim and Oerba Dia Vanille, two of the surviving exiles, Lightning finds Serah, who turns into a crystal after asking them to save Cocoon. Lightning and the party defeats Anima, and they are marked as l'Cie when PSICOM destroys the Vestige. Lightning, skeptical of Snow's faith to save her sister, and the others leave Snow behind in a fruitless attempt to break Serah out of her crystal stasis. The party later separates following a brief airstrike. After she inadvertently summons Odin, her Eidolon, she trains Hope to fight against the Sanctum. From there, she learns of Hope's mother, Nora, and helps support Hope's intention to kill Snow and the Sanctum. However, after meeting Oerba Yun Fang, Lightning realizes that she is misdirecting her anger and tries to persuade Hope to prevent his attempt on Snow. During the course of the game, Lightning struggles to deal with her nature as a l'Cie while eventually realizing that she had hated herself for distrusting her sister, acknowledging Snow's relationship with Serah and his faith that they will restore her to normal as a result. After killing Orphan to save Cocoon, Lightning is allowed to continue her life as a human and ends the game reconciling with Serah, who has also been restored to normal.
In Final Fantasy XIII: Episode I, an epilogue chapter set after Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning leaves to find a way to save Fang and Vanille from their fate, after giving her blessing to Snow and Serah's marriage. Eventually, she finds herself in a dark void, but decides to keep moving forward.
In Final Fantasy XIII-2, Lightning vanishes from Gran Pulse with everyone except Serah thinking she sacrificed herself to save Cocoon with Vanille and Fang. In reality, Lightning was whisked away to Valhalla, the Invisible World at the end of time, as a direct result of Etro's intervening to release her and the other l'Cie from crystal stasis. In turn, this causes the timeline to become distorted and Lightning to be erased from that moment in history. Though tempted by Caius Ballad to return to her own world, she chooses to stay in Valhalla and accepts her new role as the dying Etro's protector. It is she who instructs Noel Kreiss and Serah to stop Caius from releasing Valhalla's chaos into the Visible World and destroying time. In her DLC episode, Requiem of the Goddess, Lightning is defeated by Caius after learning of her sister's death and her role in it. Though she nearly falls into despair, she is comforted by Serah's spirit, who reassures her that she knew what she was doing and asks Lightning not to forget her. Promising to not lose hope and remember Serah, Lightning sits on Etro's throne and enters crystal stasis, allowing her be unaffected as the chaos is released and reforms Gran Pulse in Valhalla's image.
In Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII, Lightning wakes from her crystal stasis five hundred years later into a post-apocalyptic world, Nova Chrysalia, which is fated to end for good in thirteen days. She is charged by the god Bhunivelze to be the "Savior", a messiah-type figure who will guide souls into a new world set to appear when the old one dies. This entails her freeing her former allies of deep burdens on their hearts, and brings her into conflict with factions who see her as a threat.
Aside from her appearance in the XIII games, Lightning has appeared in several spin-offs of the Final Fantasy series. In the fighting game Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, Lightning is one of the warriors summnoned by the goddess Cosmos during the 12th war between her and Chaos. She was meant to have first appeared in Dissidia Final Fantasy, but the idea was scrapped as Final Fantasy XIII had yet to be released and Square Enix did not want to reveal her abilities ahead of time. During Dissidia 012, Lightning's group is confronted by beings called Manikins. She leads an expedition to the portal where the Manikins are emerging from, and the group sacrifices their lives to close it. Lightning bears three alternate outfits in the game, one based on her Yoshitaka Amano concept art, the second based on the female military uniforms seen in Final Fantasy XIII, and a bonus third alternate based on Aya Brea from The 3rd Birthday, made available as downloadable content by using a given password when purchasing The 3rd Birthday.
In the rhythm game Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, Lightning is a playable character representing Final Fantasy XIII. In Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade, Lightning is featured in her Final Fantasy XIII-2 form, and she also makes an appearance as a premium character in Final Fantasy: All the Bravest. Several cards depicting Lightning are also in the Final Fantasy Trading Card Game, and she also appears in Final Fantasy in Itadaki Street Mobile as a chibi-styled figure. Outside the Final Fantasy franchise, Lightning makes an appearance in Kingdom Hearts Re:coded as a player avatar. Beyond games, Lightning appeared in a live-action PlayStation commercial titled "Michael", alongside characters like Nathan Drake, Kratos and Cole McGrath. Alongside this, cosplayers have portrayed Lightning and have been featured in Cosmode as winners of the "CURExCOSMODE Contest" on at least two occasions.
Lightning has been used as the theme for multiple pieces of Final Fantasy XIII-themed merchandise produced by Square Enix. The two pieces directly inspired by the character are Lightning's necklace and a mild perfume. Along with this, action figures of Lighting in her three main iterations were produced by Play Arts Kai, who have frequently made action figures of characters and creatures from the Final Fantasy series. In April 2012, Lightning and other characters from Final Fantasy XIII-2, were featured in a 12 page section in the male fashion magazine Arena Homme + showcasing Prada's designs.
Lightning's character has received mixed reviews. When Final Fantasy XIII was still in development Anime News Network's writer Todd Ciolek expected Lightning's activities in the game to be similar to the ones from previous games, and found the baby chocobo to be more likable than her. In a game review, Ciolek commented that Lightning is initially "far too distant and cold, as though the writers were so intent on creating a tough, competent heroine that they forgot to make her at all compelling". However, he mentioned that after hours of playing the title, Lightning becomes a more appealing lead character. VideoGamer.com simply referred to Lightning as the female version of the Final Fantasy VII lead character Cloud Strife. Jeremy Parrish 1UP.com commented that if it were not for Lightning's scenes in which she shows a thoughtful side, she "could simply be your typical, sullen Square protagonist". On the other hand, GameSpot called Lightning a "likeable, strong-willed beauty" while commenting on her interactions with the other main characters of the game. IGN UK stated that Lightning "instantly endears herself" due to the scenes in which she punches Snow whenever he gets full of himself. On the other hand, they commented that due to the fact her backstory "soon gets bogged down in generic swash", the character of Sazh became more appealing than her. Additionally, her backstory was deemed as regular by GamesRadar who called Lightning as one of the most notable "as one-dimensional and boring" characters from the title.
Nevertheless, Lightning has been popular among characters in gaming. During February 2010, Lightning was ranked as the 34th most popular video game character in Japan in a Famitsu poll. Out of all the Final Fantasy XIII cast, Lightning was voted as the most popular character in a Microsoft poll. In a VideoGamer.com's listing of the best ten Final Fantasy characters, Lightning was sixth with the writer Yin Poole finding her interesting in the course of the game despite still finding her similar to Cloud. In GameZone's list regarding the same subject, Lightning was eighth owing to her visual appearance as well as the character's determination which made her "one of the strongest female leaders of the Final Fantasy series." Cheat Code Central also listed her as one of the top ten "badass" women of video games for her independence that distances her from previous Final Fantasy heroines. Lightning also ranked second in AfterEllen's list of the "hottest" video game characters. In Game Informer's "Top 10 Heroes of 2010", Lightning was ranked eighth with comments praising her as the only protagonist in Final Fantasy XIII who seems capable of taking on the corrupt government of Cocoon and that her no-nonsense approach to her mission makes her the game's standout hero. In 2013, Lightning was voted the favorite female Final Fantasy character in an official poll by Square Enix. That same year, she was also ranked as the 39th greatest heroine in video game history by Complex.com.
- Director Motomu Toriyama's full quote: "We feel that every person within the party is a main character, but we feel Lightning is very impactful as the main female protagonist in the Final Fantasy series. Not only is she the first female protagonist, she is very powerful, cool, calm, and collected. So we believe that is another attractive feature of hers." This official statement addressed the common claim of Final Fantasy VI's Terra as being the first female protagonist; but does not address Final Fantasy X-2 or Final Fantasy XIII itself. According to this official statement; Square Enix identifies Lightning as the first female protagonist; without expanding on the criteria as being the female protagonist in a single character title or conventional definitions of female protagonists.
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- Square Enix. Final Fantasy XIII. (Square Enix). PlayStation 3, Xbox 360. (2010-03-09) Lightning: You became a l'Cie, so now you're gonna marry this idiot? And you think I'm gonna buy that? Full points for originality. But don't forget. If you really are a l'Cie, it's my job to deal with you. / Serah: Sis... / Lightning: This is ridiculous. Worst birthday ever.
- Square Enix. Final Fantasy XIII. (Square Enix). PlayStation 3, Xbox 360. (2010-03-09) Lightning: It was too much. / Snow: Hm? / Lightning: What happened to Serah. All I could think about was, 'What could I have done?' I hated myself for not trusting her. It hurt too much. I couldn't face it.
- Square Enix. Final Fantasy XIII. (Square Enix). PlayStation 3, Xbox 360. (2010-03-09) Snow: We will see her again, right? / Lightning: Don't go there. No room for doubt. / Snow: You're right. / Lightning: We'll see her again. And soon. You've convinced me of that. So stay strong. / Snow: Don't worry. We'll finish this, and go see her together.
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- Square Enix. Final Fantasy XIII-2 DLC: Another Beginning, Lightning's Story; Requiem of the Goddess. (Square Enix). PlayStation 3, Xbox 360. (15-05-2012) Lightning:I'll never forget. I promised you that. Even if I stand to lose everything, I'll preserve your memory for the tomorrows yet to be. [...] There are ways to keep a thought alive, and I know one that works for sure; indestructible crystal. [...] This shall be my legacy, and my atonement. But most of all, my final hope.
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