Tetsuya Nomura

Tetsuya Nomura (野村 哲也 Nomura Tetsuya, born October 8, 1970) is a Japanese video game artist, designer and director working for Square Enix (formerly Square). He designed characters for the Final Fantasy series, debuting with Final Fantasy VI and continuing with various later installments. Additionally, Nomura has helmed the development of the Kingdom Hearts series since its debut in 2002 and was also the director for the CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.[1]

Tetsuya Nomura
Native name
野村 哲也
BornOctober 8, 1970 (age 48)
NationalityJapanese
OccupationVideo game artist, director and designer at Square Enix
EmployerSquare Enix

Early life

Nomura's father influenced his interest in art and games early on, creating little drawings and unique Sugoroku board games for him. Nomura started drawing at the age of three years and developed his own Sugoroku games during his elementary school years. As a child, he spent much of his free time playing baseball, swimming, fishing and building fortresses. When he was in middle school, his father told him that an era of computers would come and bought him his own computer. Nomura played Legends of Star Arthur: Planet Mephius on it and started creating his own video games by learning programming. He first tried a Nintendo product with the tennis and ping-pong variant of the Color TV Game console and later borrowed a Family Computer in high school. Around that time, Dragon Warrior became Nomura's favorite because it surprised him and introduced him to video games with story elements. His art teacher in high school pointed him towards the works of Final Fantasy illustrator Yoshitaka Amano. Nomura also created his own manga during class and intended to do this as a profession although he ultimately abandoned the idea.[2] Nomura went to vocational school to learn magazine and advertising artwork.[2] Nomura then looked for an advertising job at a publishing company. However, he eventually applied at the video game company Square after he had seen a job advertisement with a drawing by Yoshitaka Amano.[2]

Career

1990s

In the early 1990s, Nomura was hired by Square and at first worked as a debugger for Final Fantasy IV.[3][4] Some time later, the company's staff was divided and he was placed in the team in charge of Final Fantasy.[4] After he had received some training by artist Tetsuya Takahashi, Nomura designed the monsters for Final Fantasy V.[5][4][6] At that time, each Final Fantasy developer had their own plan book as a compilation of ideas to present to the director of a game. While the others typed their plan books at the computer and then printed them out, Nomura wrote his by hand and attached many drawings which impressed director Hironobu Sakaguchi and event planner Yoshinori Kitase.[4] Nomura then became the graphic director of Final Fantasy VI.[5] For this game, he conceived the characters Shadow and Setzer as well as their background stories.[7] Their designs were reused from some of Nomura's abandoned concepts for Final Fantasy V.[4] Following several smaller projects, Nomura was asked to be the principal character designer of Final Fantasy VII in replacement for Amano.[8] Nomura drew the game's characters in a stylized and super deformed way and came up with the idea for the "Limit Break" attacks.[9][10] He also took part in the making of the story and had a hand in plot elements such as Aerith's death.[5][6] In 1998, Nomura worked on both Parasite Eve and Brave Fencer Musashi. He then designed characters and monsters for Final Fantasy VIII in what he described as his "actual style of drawing", working alongside art director Yusuke Naora to realize the more realistic approach to the game's graphics.[10] Additionally, he wrote the character's background stories and was the battle visual director in charge of designing fight sequences.[5][10] Afterwards, Nomura worked on several different projects for Square, for example as a character designer of the 1998 fighting game Ehrgeiz which also used characters from Final Fantasy VII.

2000s

Nomura was the character designer for 2000's beat 'em up The Bouncer before he returned to the Final Fantasy series in the same capacity with 2001's Final Fantasy X. He worked with the staff so that the characters' clothes would be identical in full motion videos and in-game scenes, unlike in Final Fantasy VIII,[8] In February 2000, he started working as the director of Kingdom Hearts with the production team consisting of over one hundred members from both Square and Disney Interactive.[11] Nomura first heard of the game during a discussion between Shinji Hashimoto and Hironobu Sakaguchi regarding the use of the character of Mickey Mouse in a video game. He was inspired to work on Kingdom Hearts by Nintendo's platforming game Super Mario 64. After discussing with the Disney staff, Nomura convinced them to use original characters with him as the character designer.[12] The game's protagonist, Sora, became his favorite character he had designed so far.[13] Following Kingdom Hearts, Nomura worked once again on the Final Fantasy series with Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy X-2.

For the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII metaseries which featured new titles based on Final Fantasy VII, Nomura was once again the character designer. A sequel to Kingdom Hearts started development around the completion of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, an international version which added more foreshadowing elements regarding the series' plot.[14] Nomura continued his work on the series with Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories for the Game Boy Advance in 2004. He had originally planned to work directly on the PlayStation 2 sequel Kingdom Hearts II. However, desire from fans to play the original game on a portable console resulted in the creation of Chain of Memories which would bridge the gap between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II.[15] Afterwards, Nomura was the director and lyricist for the CGI animated film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children which was released in 2005 in Japan. This marked his film debut, and he redesigned the characters as well. Nomura joined the film's crew after producer Yoshinori Kitase called him and eventually became the director because of his attachment to the character of Cloud Strife.[16][17] He split the role of directing with Takeshi Nozue.[18]

Kingdom Hearts II was released in 2005, resolving the elements foreshadowed in the first game's secret ending. As a result of being set a year after previous titles, Nomura was careful to make the plot accessible to newcomers.[19] After Square Enix had finished development of the updated version Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+, Nomura was approached by Disney which expressed interest in a sequel. He said "We have various ideas, but we're not at the point where we can say that."[20] Wishing to stop using the character of Sora temporarily, Nomura instead wanted to continue the series with games that explained different subplots. This resulted in the creation of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days for the Nintendo DS in 2008 which explored events that set up the story of Kingdom Hearts II.[21] In mid-2007, Nomura mentioned a desire to create a spin-off Kingdom Hearts game on a mobile platform and wanted it to play slightly differently from other titles in the series. The resulted was Kingdom Hearts coded, a game set after the events of Kingdom Hearts II, which was later remade for the Nintendo DS in 2010.[22]

In the meantime, Nomura was also responsible for the main character designs and orchestration of The World Ends with You for the Nintendo DS. In 2009, he was also the main character designer of Final Fantasy XIII. The graphics capabilities of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 compared to previous consoles allowed Nomura to use more complex elements in the character designs than before, such as Lightning's cape and detailed facial features. This in turn meant that the art team had to do much more work for each character or area than in previous games. Nomura did not take an involved role in the creation of the non-playable characters.[23] In 2008, he was the character designer of Dissidia Final Fantasy. The game was originally envisioned by Nomura as a Kingdom Hearts spin-off featuring a cast of Disney characters. He later felt uncomfortable with the Disney characters fighting each other and instead opted to use Final Fantasy characters.[24] Nomura was responsible for the character designs, which changed much of the look and style of Amano's illustrations.[25][26]

2010s

In 2010, Square released Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, a prequel of the first Kingdom Hearts that explained scenes shown in Kingdom Hearts II and its updated version.[21] In early 2011, Square released a follow up to Dissidia titled Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy. The game carried several ideas Nomura had ever since early development, such as the inclusion of new characters and new gameplay mechanics.[27] For 2011's Final Fantasy XIII-2, Nomura only created the new characters' faces as other staff members designed their clothes.[28] Once the Kingdom Hearts coded remake was released, Nomura and his companions had already thought about creating Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, a game that would set up the events of Kingdom Hearts III. The game was released for the Nintendo 3DS owing to the team's positive reaction to the console's quality.[29][30] Nomura confirmed that he would be considering what he called an "HD Technical Test" in order to commemorate the series' tenth anniversary and to entice players new to the series.[31] This occurred on March 3, 2012 in the form of a premiere event where footage from the game, including its full CGI introduction sequence, was showcased to celebrate the game's release.[32] In May 2012, Nomura revealed he was working as the director of a new Kingdom Hearts game that had yet to be announced by Square Enix.[33] He was directing Final Fantasy XV which originally entered production as Final Fantasy Versus XIII shortly before its announcement in May 2006.[34][35] Nomura left his position of director on Final Fantasy XV following "changes in development structure" by Square Enix in December 2013.[36] After his departure from Final Fantasy XV, development of Final Fantasy VII Remake began, with Nomura directing the project and other key members of the original Final Fantasy VII development team, Kitase and Kazushige Nojima returning as producer and scenario writer. At E3 2015, Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced with Nomura confirmed to be the director of the game. Nomura designed the "Torna" organization for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, finally working with Tetsuya Takahashi again who had wanted to work with Nomura for over 20 years since it was decided Nomura would work on Final Fantasy VII instead of Xenogears.[37]

His current projects include Final Fantasy VII Remake, Kingdom Hearts III, Kingdom Hearts Union χ and Dissidia Final Fantasy NT.

Style

Nomura considers Yoshitaka Amano one of his biggest inspirations when doing artwork.[8] His four "seniors" Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yoshinori Kitase, Hiroyuki Ito and Tetsuya Takahashi were also described as major influences.[38] He even compared Sakaguchi to something "like a godly figure" during his early days at Square. At that time, Nomura was also taught the basics of game design by Ito. He told Nomura never to stick to existing concepts but rather to reuse just specific ideas and explained concepts such as ease of control and effortless accessibility of magic spells.[4] Ito's work as a battle system designer inspires Nomura when thinking of the gameplay system for the Kingdom Hearts games.[38] When designing characters, Nomura wants their names and outfits to be related with their personalities. An example occurs in Final Fantasy X where the protagonist Tidus was given a colorful uniform in order to reflect his cheerful personality and to contrast with the previous moody Final Fantasy characters. His name as well as Yuna's, another character appearing in the game, also have a common theme, the former being Okinawan for "Sun" and the latter Okinawan for "night".[8] Various characters such as Squall Leonheart and Lulu are given multiple accessories, making the games more challenging for the programmers.[8] When directing Advent Children, Nomura explained how the film was different from Western films due to the lack of direct answers from the plot. He added that he wants viewers to interpret certain scenes themselves and then discuss them with friends as another way to enjoy the film.[18] The same occurs within the Kingdom Hearts series where the scenes that show unknown characters are left to the player's imagination until the following scene reveals it.[39]

Works

Release Title Role(s)
1991 Final Fantasy IV Debugger[3]
1992 Final Fantasy V Battle graphics, monster designs[6]
1994 Final Fantasy VI Graphic director, character design [7]
Live A Live Tosa-ben translation
1995 Front Mission Graphic designer
Chrono Trigger Field graphic
1996 DynamiTracer Concept design
Super Mario RPG Special thanks
1997 Final Fantasy VII Character design, battle visual director
1998 Ehrgeiz Character supervisor
Parasite Eve Main character design
Brave Fencer Musashi Character illustration
1999 Final Fantasy VIII Character design, battle visual director, monster design, story[10]
Parasite Eve II Character illustration
2000 The Bouncer Character designer
2001 Final Fantasy X Character designer
2002 Kingdom Hearts Director, concept design, main character designer, storyboard designer, base story[40]
Final Fantasy XI Hume and Elvaan design, story NPC design
2003 Final Fantasy X-2 Main character designer
2004 Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII Concept, character design
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Director, concept design, scenario supervisor, character designer, base story[41]
2005 Musashi: Samurai Legend Main character designer
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Director, character designer
Last Order: Final Fantasy VII Supervising director
Kingdom Hearts II Director, concept design, base story, 2D character art: main artist
2006 Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII Character designer
Mario Hoops 3-on-3 Graphic supervisor
Dirge of Cerberus Lost Episode: Final Fantasy VII Character designer
Monotone Concept design, character design
Final Fantasy V Advance Monster design
Final Fantasy VI Advance Graphics supervisor
2007 The World Ends with You Creative producer, character designer
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Creative producer, character designer
2008 Kingdom Hearts coded Director, concept design, story
Dissidia Final Fantasy Creative producer, character designer
Ellark Character design, creator's design: demon equipment
2009 Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
Final Fantasy XIII Main character designer
2010 Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
Mario Sports Mix Special thanks
The 3rd Birthday Creative producer, character designer, concept design[42]
2011 Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy Creative producer, character designer
Final Fantasy Type-0 Creative producer, character designer
Final Fantasy XIII-2 Main character designer
2012 Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Creative producer
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
2013 Final Fantasy All the Bravest Creative producer, original concept
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
Kingdom Hearts χ Director
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Main character designer
2014 Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call Creative producer
Final Fantasy Record Keeper Creative producer, character design, concept designer
Gunslinger Stratos 2 "Riccardo Martini" and "Sakura Ayanokoji" character design
Puzzle & Dragons Battle Tournament Main character designer
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Character designer (2015 Cloud Strife DLC)
2015 Mobius Final Fantasy Collaborative event support
Rampage Land Rankers Character designer
Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ Director
Dissidia Final Fantasy Creative producer, character designer
2016 Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: All-Star Carnival Creative producer, character designer
World of Final Fantasy Creative producer,[43] character designer
Final Fantasy XV Lyrics, original concept, original director,[a] lead character design[44]
2017 Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia Creative producer, character designer
Tekken 7 Main character design (2018 Noctis Lucis Caelum DLC)
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Special thanks
Terra Battle 2 Guardian character design
Itadaki Street: Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Final Fantasy character supervisor
Final Fantasy Dimensions II Special thanks
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 "Torna" character design
World of Final Fantasy: Meli-Melo Creative producer, character design
2018 Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Creative producer, character designer
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition Lyrics, original concept, main character design
Idol Fantasy Character design[45]
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Cloud Strife character design
2019 Kingdom Hearts III Director, concept design, story, main 2D character designer[46]
TBA Final Fantasy VII Remake Director, character designer

Accolades

Nomura received the "Excellence in Visual Arts" award by the International Game Developers Association for his work on the first Kingdom Hearts game, alongside Shinji Hashimoto.[47] In IGN's "The Top 100 Video Game Creators of all Time" Nomura was listed at number 84.[5]

References

  1. ^ Nomura was the director of the project until December 2013
  1. ^ Next Generation staff (March 3, 2007). "The Hot 100 Game Developers of 2007". Next Generation. Future Publishing USA. Archived from the original on August 5, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c Sato (March 13, 2014). "Tetsuya Nomura Talks About His Childhood And How He Joined Square". Siliconera. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Ashcraft, Brian (October 28, 2013). "Unseen Tetsuya Nomura Sketches From the 1990s". Kotaku. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Sato (March 13, 2014). "How Final Fantasy V Was A Turning Point In Tetsuya Nomura's Career". Siliconera. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e Perry, Douglass C. "84. Tetsuya Nomura". IGN. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c "Afterthoughts: Final Fantasy VII". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (196): 104. October 2005.
  7. ^ a b "The Making Of... Final Fantasy VI". Edge. Future Publishing (251): 124–127. March 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d e Knight, Sheila (2003). "Tetsuya Nomura 20s". FLAREgamer. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
  9. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (May 16, 2012). "Nomura, Kitase and Nojima Discuss Final Fantasy VII's Development". Andriasang. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d "Interview with Nomura, Kitase and Naora". Shūkan Famitsu. ASCII Corporation. June 5, 1998. Archived from the original on February 23, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  11. ^ "Kingdom Hearts キングダム ハーツ" (in Japanese). Final Fantasy 2000. Retrieved May 30, 2007.
  12. ^ "Iwata Asks Tetsuya Nomura About Kingdom Hearts 3D". Andriasang. April 3, 2012. Archived from the original on August 3, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  13. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (March 18, 2010). "Tetsuya Nomura Interviewed at Twitter". Andriasang. Archived from the original on March 22, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  14. ^ GameSpot Staff (October 10, 2003). "Kingdom Hearts II's Tetsuya Nomura Q & A". GameSpot. Retrieved June 15, 2007.
  15. ^ Kingdom Hearts Ultimania: Revised Edition (in Japanese). Studio BentStuff. 2002. ISBN 4-7575-1349-6.
  16. ^ "Kingdom Hearts II's Tetsuya Nomura Q & A". GameSpot. October 10, 2003. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  17. ^ "Interivew with Kazushige Nojima and Tetsuya Nomura from FLAREgamer". FLAREgamer. October 10, 2005. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  18. ^ a b Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Prologue (in Japanese). Square-Enix. 2005. ISBN 4-08-779339-7.
  19. ^ キングダムハーツII アルティマニア [Kingdom Hearts II Ultimania] (in Japanese). Square Enix. 2005. ISBN 978-4-7575-1621-2.
  20. ^ Anoop Gantayat (October 30, 2006). "Nomura on Kingdom Hearts III - PS2 News at IGN". IGN. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
  21. ^ a b キングダムハーツII FINAL MIX+ アルティマニア (in Japanese). Square-Enix. 2007. ISBN 978-4-7575-2013-4.
  22. ^ Ransom-Wiley, James (May 4, 2007). "Next Kingdom Hearts to be portable spin-off, not KHIII". Joystiq. Retrieved September 22, 2007.
  23. ^ Final Fantasy XIII Scenario Ultimania (in Japanese). Tokyo: Studio Bentstuff. February 1, 2010. pp. 50–52. ISBN 4-7575-2775-6.
  24. ^ "Dissidia: Final Fantasy Originated From Kingdom Hearts". Siliconera.
  25. ^ KujaFFman (May 9, 2007). "Dissidia : Images et informations !". Final Fantasy World (in French). Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  26. ^ GameSpot Staff (May 12, 2007). "Final Fantasy XIII, Dissidia rock Square Enix Party". GameSpot. CNET Networks. Archived from the original on May 14, 2007. Retrieved May 12, 2007.
  27. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (September 27, 2010). "Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy Developer Interview". Andriasang. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  28. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (July 13, 2011). "Final Fantasy XIII-2 Play Chance Coming Soon". Andriasang. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011.
  29. ^ "Kingdom Builder". Nintendo Power. Nintendo of America (276): 40–41. March 2012. ISSN 1041-9551.
  30. ^ Anoop Gantayat (November 17, 2010). "Tetsuya Nomura Talks Kingdom Hearts 3DS". IGN. Retrieved November 20, 2010.
  31. ^ "Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance - release date revealed". GoNintendo. December 11, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  32. ^ "Kingdom Hearts 3D Game's Premiere Light Show Streamed". Anime News Network. March 23, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  33. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (April 30, 2012). "Tetsuya Nomura Expects New Kingdom Hearts Announcement Soon". Andriasang. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  34. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (May 31, 2006). "Gaimaga Blows Out Final Fantasy XIII". IGN.com. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  35. ^ "Final Fantasy Versus XIII Is Now Final Fantasy XV". WIRED. June 10, 2013.
  36. ^ Sato. "Final Fantasy XV's Release Date Was Already Decided Back In 2013". Siliconera.
  37. ^ Peckham, Matt (July 7, 2017). "Why 'Xenoblade Chronicles 2' Has a Character Designed by Tetsuya Nomura". TIME. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  38. ^ a b "Iwata Asks Vol. 11: Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] – 3. Square's Intentions". Nintendo. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  39. ^ Kingdom Hearts Another Report (Included with the video game Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix) (in Japanese). Square Enix. March 2007.
  40. ^ Studio BentStuff (June 13, 2002). "野村哲也インタビュー". Kingdom Hearts Ultimania. Square Enix. pp. 528–535. ISBN 4-7575-1344-5.
  41. ^ Studio BentStuff (December 17, 2004). "野村哲也インタビュー". Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Ultimania. Square Enix. ISBN 4-7575-1344-5.
  42. ^ "The 3rd Birthday Video - DKS3713 Trailer". Square Enix. December 15, 2008. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
  43. ^ World of Final Fantasy Interview with Director Hiroki Chiba | RPG Site
  44. ^ "Full Recap of Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report 6.0". FinalFantasy.net. June 4, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  45. ^ Sato. "Square Enix Announces Idol Fantasy Featuring Idols Designed By Tetsuya Nomura And Many Others". Siliconera. Retrieved 17 October 2018.
  46. ^ Nakamura, Toshi (September 25, 2014). "Tetsuya Nomura Talks Kingdom Hearts III, But Is Quiet on FFXV". Kotaku. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  47. ^ "IGDA Names Metroid Game of the Year". IGN. March 7, 2003. Retrieved April 28, 2012.

External links

Aerith Gainsborough

Aerith Gainsborough (Japanese: エアリス・ゲインズブール, Hepburn: Earisu Geinzubūru), transliterated as Aeris Gainsborough in the English releases of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Tactics—is a player character in Square's (now Square Enix) role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII. She was designed by Tetsuya Nomura with influence from Yoshinori Kitase, Hironobu Sakaguchi and Yoshitaka Amano.

In Final Fantasy VII, she is a young woman who joins the eco-terrorist organization AVALANCHE. As the story progresses, AVALANCHE begin to pursue the game's antagonist Sephiroth, and the player learns that she is the last surviving Cetra, or "Ancient", one of the planet's oldest races. She has also appeared in the later-released Compilation of Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts series.

Her voice actor is Maaya Sakamoto in Japanese. In English releases, her voice actors are singer and actress Mandy Moore in Kingdom Hearts, actress Mena Suvari in Kingdom Hearts II and Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, and actress Andrea Bowen in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. The character and the events surrounding her death in Final Fantasy VII have met with an overall positive reception from critics and fans.

Aqua (Kingdom Hearts)

Aqua (Japanese: アクア, Hepburn: Akua) is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. First making cameo appearances in Kingdom Hearts II and its updated version Final Mix, Aqua is one of the three playable protagonists who is introduced in the 2010 prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep. She is one of the Keyblade apprentices training under Master Eraqus alongside her friends Terra and Ventus. As the only one among her friends to obtain the rank of Keyblade Master, Aqua is assigned to monitor Terra and Ventus as she combats dark creatures known as the Unversed. She has also appeared in other Kingdom Hearts titles, most notably Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue in the playable episode Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep – A Fragmentary Passage.

Aqua is the only protagonist in Birth by Sleep whom Tetsuya Nomura did not have a point of reference to design from, and thus was designed from scratch. Later in the design process, Nomura became concerned that Aqua would not be popular, which drove his decision to make her more distinct in her personal bravery and combat abilities. Aqua is voiced by Megumi Toyoguchi in Japanese and Willa Holland in English. The character received mixed reviews from game critics upon her debut, citing boring plot lines and unenthusiastic voice acting combined with weak combat skills. However, her role in Kingdom Hearts 0.2 has been more positively received, with critics favoring her stronger characterization over previous depictions.

Barret Wallace

Barret Wallace (バレット・ウォーレス, Baretto Wōresu) is a player character in Square Enix's role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII. Created by character designer Tetsuya Nomura, he has since appeared in the CGI film sequel, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children as well as other games and media in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII series. As of Advent Children, Barret is voiced by Masahiro Kobayashi in Japanese and Beau Billingslea in English localizations.

Barret is first introduced in Final Fantasy VII as an eco-terrorist, leading the group AVALANCHE to bomb Mako reactors in the fictional city of Midgar, so as to avenge the losses dealt him by the megacorporation Shinra, the Planet's de facto world government, who operate under the pretense of saving the Planet. As the story progresses, Barret re-examines his efforts and focuses on pursuing the villain Sephiroth in an effort to protect the Planet and the future of his adopted daughter, Marlene. Elements of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII would later expand upon his character, detailing the character's history before and after the events of the original game.

The first dark-skinned playable character in the Final Fantasy series, Barret's appearance and sometimes profane speech has been heavily compared to that of actor Mr. T, earning much praise, but also criticism and accusations of racism by some.

Cloud Strife

Cloud Strife (Japanese: クラウド・ストライフ, Hepburn: Kuraudo Sutoraifu) is a fictional character and the main protagonist of Square's (now Square Enix's) 1997 role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII and several of its sequels and spin-offs. In Final Fantasy VII, Cloud is a mercenary claiming to be formerly of SOLDIER, a group of elite supersoldiers employed by the Shinra Electric Power Company, a megacorporation responsible for draining the life from the planet. Fighting against Shinra in the resistance group AVALANCHE, and driven by a feud with the primary antagonist, Sephiroth, Cloud learns to accept his troubled past and adapts to his role as a leader. Cloud reappears as the protagonist in the 2005 computer-animated sequel film, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, in which he fights a new threat to the world while dealing with a sickness that infected his body. He acts in a supporting role in other Compilation of Final Fantasy VII titles, and is featured in several other games outside the Final Fantasy VII continuity. Additionally, he has been featured in Nintendo's Super Smash Bros. series, and the Kingdom Hearts series by Square Enix.

Cloud was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, a character artist for the Final Fantasy series, whose role expanded during the title's development to include supervision over Cloud's personality. Yoshinori Kitase, director of VII, and Kazushige Nojima, one of the game's event planners, developed the story and wanted to create a mysterious character who acted atypically for a hero. After VII, Nomura assumed greater responsibility over Cloud's development, and his design was revised to better conform with the series' shift to a more realistic style.

Cloud has garnered a primarily positive reception from critics. Described as "iconic", Cloud has been cited favorably as an example of complex character writing in video games and as one of its first unreliable narrators. He has ranked highly in various character lists compiled by video game publications, and remains popular among fans, continuing to place highly in popularity polls conducted by Famitsu, Guinness, and other organizations. His characterization and design have also served as trope for other characters, most notably Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII. He has also become the basis for a variety of merchandise, such as action figures and jewelry.

Kingdom Hearts

Kingdom Hearts (Japanese: キングダム ハーツ, Hepburn: Kingudamu Hātsu) is a series of action role-playing games developed and published by Square Enix (originally by Square). It is a collaboration between Disney Interactive and Square Enix, and is under the direction of Tetsuya Nomura, a longtime Square Enix character designer.

Kingdom Hearts is a crossover of various Disney properties based in a fictional universe. The series centers on the main character, Sora, and his journey and experiences with various Disney, Final Fantasy, The World Ends with You and Pixar characters. The heroes of the series clash against the multiple incarnations of the primary antagonist, Xehanort, throughout the series. The Walt Disney Company owns almost all characters and worlds of the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

The series consists of thirteen games available for multiple platforms, and future titles are planned. Most of the games in the series have been positively received and commercially successful. As of February 2019, the Kingdom Hearts series has shipped more than 30 million copies worldwide. A wide variety of related merchandise has been released along with the games, including soundtracks, figurines, companion books, light novels, cards, and comic series.

Noctis Lucis Caelum

Noctis Lucis Caelum (ノクティス・ルシス・チェラム, Nokutisu Rushisu Cheramu), "Noct" (ノクト, Nokuto) for short, is a fictional character from Square Enix's Final Fantasy series. He is a playable character and main protagonist of Final Fantasy XV, originally a spin-off titled Final Fantasy Versus XIII. The crown prince and protector of Lucis, Noctis and his allies must defend their country when the empire of Niflheim attacks Lucis in an attempt to take control of its magical Crystal. Alongside Final Fantasy XV, Noctis has appeared in the game's expanded media, including Final Fantasy crossover titles, and other game titles including Puzzle & Dragons and the fighting game Tekken 7.

Noctis was created and co-designed by Tetsuya Nomura, with later design revisions being handled by Yusuke Naora. Nomura created Noctis as a type of protagonist not featured in a leading role in the Final Fantasy series before. He also wanted his personality to be unique in the series, being unlike protagonists like Squall Leonhart or Cloud Strife, instead focusing more on realism. Noctis' clothes were designed by Hiromu Takahara, lead designer for Japanese fashion house Roen. His clothing was created to be both asymmetric, mirroring the fashion house's trademark style, and indicative of the game's themes and atmosphere. Before his design was finalized, Noctis was given a story-inspired temporary outfit used in early trailers.

Since his original reveal, Noctis has been compared with other asocial characters seen in the series' other games based on his appearance. Following the release of the game, Noctis has been positively received by journalists, with many noting his growth over the course of the story, and contrasting him against other Final Fantasy protagonists. His appearances in both the expanded media of Final Fantasy XV and other games have gathered multiple types of responses.

Roxas (Kingdom Hearts)

Roxas (Japanese: ロクサス, Hepburn: Rokusasu) is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. First revealed during the final scenes of the 2004 title Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories, Roxas is a "Nobody", who was created from the series' main character Sora who briefly loses his heart during the first game of the series. Kingdom Hearts II reveals that Roxas is a member of Organization XIII, a group of Nobodies who need him as he can wield the Keyblade, a weapon that allows him to capture hearts. As a member of the organization, Roxas bears the title "Key of Destiny" (めぐりあう鍵, Meguriau Kagi, lit. "Serendipitous Key"). He is also the protagonist of the video game Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days, which revolves around his origins. In the Japanese games, Roxas is voiced by Kōki Uchiyama, while Jesse McCartney takes the role in the English versions.

Since his cameo appearance, director Tetsuya Nomura has said that Roxas is an important character in the series, and in order to explain his back story in more detail than was done in Kingdom Hearts II, Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days was created. Since his introduction in Kingdom Hearts II, Roxas has received positive critical response from video game publications with most of them focusing on his development in 358/2 Days. Various types of merchandise based on his character has been produced.

Sephiroth (Final Fantasy)

Sephiroth (Japanese: セフィロス, Hepburn: Sefirosu) is a fictional character and main antagonist in the role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII developed by Square (now Square Enix). Character designer Tetsuya Nomura conceived and designed Sephiroth as an antagonist to - and direct physical opposite of - the game's main character, Cloud Strife. The character was voiced in Japanese by voice actor Toshiyuki Morikawa and in English by both Lance Bass in Kingdom Hearts and George Newbern in all his subsequent appearances.

Sephiroth is later revealed to be the result of an experiment by the megacorporation Shinra, in which they injected him with cells from the extraterrestrial lifeform Jenova when he was still a fetus. Upon discovering this, Sephiroth decides to follow what he believes to be his destiny and take control of the Planet, while Cloud and the game's other protagonists attempt to stop him. Sephiroth's background and role in the story are expanded in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. Additionally, he appears as a boss character in the Kingdom Hearts series and other video games developed by Square. Sephiroth has been well-received within the video game community and is highly ranked on many lists of the best video game villains and Final Fantasy characters.

Sora (Kingdom Hearts)

Sora (Japanese: ソラ) is a fictional character and the protagonist of Square Enix's Kingdom Hearts video game series. Introduced in the first Kingdom Hearts game in 2002, Sora is portrayed as a cheerful teenager who lives in the Destiny Islands and has been best friends with Riku and Kairi since childhood. When they plan to go on a journey to see other worlds, they are separated by creatures known as the Heartless, with Sora obtaining a weapon called the Keyblade. Donald Duck and Goofy then recruit him in their journey across various worlds to aid King Mickey while Sora searches for his friends. Along the way, the trio protects the worlds they visit from various villains. In Kingdom Hearts II, Sora searches for Riku and fights against Organization XIII, who attempt to seize Kingdom Hearts for their own. Sora has also made supporting appearances in other games from the series, and reprised his role in manga and light novel adaptations of the games.

Sora was originally designed by Kingdom Hearts series director and character designer Tetsuya Nomura during a discussion between Disney and Square about who should be the protagonist of the series. Wanting an original character, Nomura made various sketches of Sora until the design met the approval of Disney. Nomura came to regard Sora as his favorite character that he had designed, and pushed for the character to have a leading role in the Kingdom Hearts story in spite of the character's youth. Throughout the series, Sora has been voiced by Haley Joel Osment in the English version and Miyu Irino in the Japanese version. For his depiction as a child in the prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, Sora was voiced by Luke Manriquez and Takuto Yoshinaga in English and Japanese, respectively. Sora's character has received generally positive critical response due to his warm personality and adventurous spirit. His personal and martial growth in the series also received praise, especially in his appearance in Kingdom Hearts II. Additionally, Sora has ranked high on various video game character popularity polls.

Squall Leonhart

Squall Leonhart (Japanese: スコール・レオンハート, Hepburn: Sukōru Reonhāto) is a fictional character and the primary protagonist of Final Fantasy VIII, a role-playing video game by Square (now Square Enix). In Final Fantasy VIII, Squall is a 17-year-old student at Balamb Garden, a prestigious military academy for elite mercenaries (known as "SeeDs"). He stands 177 cm (5 ft 10 in) tall. As the story progresses, Squall befriends Quistis Trepe, Zell Dincht, Selphie Tilmitt, and Irvine Kinneas, and falls in love with Rinoa Heartilly. These relationships, combined with the game's plot, gradually change him from a loner to an open, caring person. Squall has appeared in several other games, including Chocobo Racing, Itadaki Street Special, and the Kingdom Hearts series, as Leon (レオン, Reon).

Squall was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, with input from game director Yoshinori Kitase. He was modeled after late actor River Phoenix. Squall's weapon, the gunblade, also made so that it would be difficult to master. In order to make players understand Squall's silent attitude, Kazushige Nojima made the character's thoughts open to them. Squall's first voiced appearance was in the first Kingdom Hearts game, voiced by Hideo Ishikawa in Japanese and by David Boreanaz in English; Doug Erholtz has since assumed the role for all other English-speaking appearances.

Squall had a varied reaction from critics, with some judging him poorly compared to other Final Fantasy heroes due to his coldness and angst, and others praising his character development. Nevertheless, the character has been popular, and his relationship with Rinoa resulted in praise.

Terra (Kingdom Hearts)

Terra (Japanese: テラ, Hepburn: Tera) is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts, prominently featured in Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as one of the game's three playable protagonists. He appears in-game as a pupil of Master Eraqus who trains alongside his friends Aqua and Ventus to become a master of the Keyblade weapon. Terra's storyline highlights his struggle to tame his inner darkness, a negative attribute that serves as a source of both power and corruption for him. Prior to Birth by Sleep, he had a cameo appearance in a secret ending of Kingdom Hearts II and its re-release Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix; the later game included an optional boss fight against the Lingering Will (留まりし思念, Todomarishi Shinen), a hollow armor containing Terra's mind.

Series director Tetsuya Nomura designed Terra's character when preparing the secret endings of Kingdom Hearts II and Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix. He was developed to be reminiscent of series antagonist Xehanort as he appears in previous titles, as well as having a connection with Riku, one of the series' main characters. Ryōtarō Okiayu has done the voice of Terra in Japanese and Jason Dohring in the English version. Video game publications gave mixed responses to Terra's character, with many noting his similarity to the Final Fantasy VII character Zack Fair, and later commenting on his naive portrayal in Birth by Sleep.

Terra Branford

Terra Branford, known as Tina Branford (ティナ・ブランフォード, Tina Buranfōdo) in Japanese media, is a character in the Final Fantasy series of role-playing video games published by Square Enix. Designed by Yoshitaka Amano and Tetsuya Nomura for the main series installment Final Fantasy VI, she also appeared in the spin-off fighting games Dissidia Final Fantasy and Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, and made small appearances in several other games in and outside the Final Fantasy series.

In Final Fantasy VI, Terra is one of the protagonists. She is the daughter of a human and a magic creature known as an "Esper." Mentally enslaved by the antagonistic Gestahlian Empire, which exploits her magic powers for militaristic purposes, she is rescued by rebels at the beginning of the game. The character was very well received by journalists and fans alike.

Tidus

Tidus (Japanese: ティーダ, Hepburn: Tīda) is a fictional video game character in Square Enix's Final Fantasy series. He was introduced as the protagonist of the role-playing video game, Final Fantasy X, in 2001 as a 17-year-old expert in the fictional sport of blitzball from the city of Zanarkand. After a mysterious creature named Sin attacks his hometown, Tidus is apparently transported to the world of Spira. Shortly after his arrival he meets Yuna, a new summoner, and her guardians. The summoner will soon set out on a pilgrimage to destroy the creature which attacked Tidus' city; by joining them, Tidus hopes to find his way home. He has appeared in other video games, including the Final Fantasy X sequel Final Fantasy X-2, the Kingdom Hearts series, and several Square Enix crossover games.

Tidus was designed by Tetsuya Nomura with a cheerful appearance, in contrast to previous Final Fantasy protagonists. Scenario writer Kazushige Nojima wanted to expand the relationship between player and character with monologues describing the game's setting. Tidus is voiced primarily by Masakazu Morita in Japanese and James Arnold Taylor in English. Both actors enjoyed voicing the character, and Morita also performed his motion capture.

He has been generally well received by video-game critics. Tidus' cheerful personality and heroic traits make him an appealing protagonist, contrasting with previous male characters in the franchise. His character development and romantic relationship with Yuna are considered among the best in video games, although reviewers and fans were divided on Taylor's voicing. Tidus has been popular with fans, often ranking as one of the best Final Fantasy characters in polls. Action figures and Tidus-related jewelry have been produced, and he is a popular cosplay character.

Tifa Lockhart

Tifa Lockhart (Japanese: ティファ・ロックハート, Hepburn: Tifa Rokkuhāto) is a fictional character in Square's (now Square Enix) role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII. Created and designed by Tetsuya Nomura, she has since appeared in the fighting game Ehrgeiz and made cameo appearances in several other titles, as well as the CGI film sequel to Final Fantasy VII, Advent Children and related games and media in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII series.

A member of the eco-terrorist group AVALANCHE and owner of the 7th Heaven bar in the slums of Midgar, Tifa is the childhood friend of Cloud Strife, the protagonist of Final Fantasy VII. Convincing him to join the group to keep him close and safe, she later assists him in saving the Planet from the game's villain, Sephiroth. Installments in The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII later expanded upon her character, such as in the film Advent Children, where she attempts to convince Cloud to let go of his self-imposed guilt, and move on with his life after Sephiroth's defeat.

Named the pin-up girl of the "cyber generation" by The New York Times, Tifa has been compared to Lara Croft as an example of a strong, independent and attractive female character in video games. Media have repeatedly praised both the character's strength and appearance and described her as one of the best female characters in gaming.

Ventus (Kingdom Hearts)

Ventus (Japanese: ヴェントゥス, Hepburn: Ventusu), commonly referred to as Ven (ヴェン), is a fictional character from Square Enix's video game franchise Kingdom Hearts. Having first made cameos in Kingdom Hearts II and other related titles, Ventus was introduced in the 2010 prequel Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep as one of the game's three playable protagonists. In its story, Ventus is introduced as the youngest apprentice of Master Eraqus who trains him alongside his best friends, Terra and Aqua, to become experienced warriors with the Keyblade. When Terra goes on a mission to find Master Xehanort, Ventus follows him, having also become concerned about his fate. As Ventus journeys through various worlds and battles dark creatures called the Unversed, he learns about his own origins as well as his relation to Xehanort's apprentice, Vanitas.

Ventus was designed by director Tetsuya Nomura who wanted to create a character with an important connection with the series' main character Sora. Ventus bears a strong resemblance to the character of Roxas, both of whom are voiced by Kōki Uchiyama in Japanese and Jesse McCartney in English. After Ventus's first cameo, Nomura had to clarify that both of them are different characters, and that the reason for such connection would be revealed in Birth by Sleep. Video game websites also commented on Ventus's first appearance, initially confusing him for Roxas during the development of Birth by Sleep, but has since been well received.

Vincent Valentine

Vincent Valentine (ヴィンセント・ヴァレンタイン, Vinsento Varentain) is a player character in Square's (now Square Enix) 1997 role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII. Designed by Tetsuya Nomura, he also appears in various titles from the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, a metaseries set in the Final Fantasy VII continuity. Specifically, he is the protagonist in the 2006 third-person shooter Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII and its mobile phone tie-in Dirge of Cerberus: Lost Episode. Vincent is voiced in Japanese by Shōgo Suzuki and in English by Steven Blum.

In the backstory to Final Fantasy VII, Vincent is a Turk who is assigned to guard the scientist Lucrecia Crescent, with whom he falls in love. After a series of scientific experiments involving the cells of the extraterrestrial lifeform Jenova, Crescent gives birth to the game's antagonist, Sephiroth. Soon thereafter, Vincent himself became subject to experiments performed by Crescent's boss, Professor Hojo, resulting in genetic modification that means he will not age. If the player unlocks Vincent, he will join Cloud Strife's group to stop Sephiroth, as well as to seek revenge on Hojo.

Due to time constraints, Vincent was originally not intended to be playable in Final Fantasy VII; however, he was ultimately made an optional character. Despite his optional status and lack of concrete detail as to his background, he proved very popular with both fans and critics, and his history was developed greatly in other installments of the Compilation, primarily Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and Dirge of Cerberus.

Yuffie Kisaragi

Yuffie Kisaragi (ユフィ・キサラギ, Yufi Kisaragi) is a video game character from Square Enix's Final Fantasy series. Designed by Tetsuya Nomura, she was first introduced in the 1997 role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII as a young female ninja princess and thief. She can become one of the game's player characters after finishing a special sidequest. Yuffie reappears in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII series, expanding her background and showing her after the events of the original game.

Yuffie has further been featured in other Square Enix games, most notably the Kingdom Hearts crossover series, voiced by Yumi Kakazu in the Japanese versions of the games. In the English versions, Christy Carlson Romano provides her voice for Kingdom Hearts and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and Mae Whitman is Yuffie's voice for Kingdom Hearts II and Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII. The character has achieved a high level of popularity in Japan, but the English-language media reception has been more mixed.

Yuna (Final Fantasy)

Yuna (ユウナ, Yūna) is a fictional character from Square Enix's Final Fantasy series. She was first introduced as the female protagonist and one of the main playable characters of the 2001 role-playing video game Final Fantasy X, appearing as a summoner embarking on a journey to defeat the world-threatening monster Sin alongside her companions, including the male protagonist Tidus. Yuna reappears in Final Fantasy X-2, where she becomes the protagonist, searching for a way to find Tidus two years following his disappearance. Yuna has also been featured in other Square Enix games, notably Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy.

Tetsuya Nomura based Yuna's overall design on hakama, but also wanted to give her outfit something that would flow and so gave her a furisode. Nomura said that her name means "night" in the Okinawan language, which contrasts with Tidus' name, which is Okinawan for "sun". For Final Fantasy X-2, the game's staff wanted Tetsu Tsukamoto to redesign her costume to reflect her personality and the game's atmosphere. Yuna's character was well received by many media critics and fans and in particular praised for her relationship to Tidus, as well as her characterization and sex appeal. Despite this positive reception, there was a mixed reception for her role in Final Fantasy X-2 due to her redesign.

Zack Fair

Zack Fair (ザックス・フェア, Zakkusu Fea) is a fictional character first introduced as a non-player character in the 1997 role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII by Square (now Square Enix), and subsequently expanded upon in the metaseries Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.

In the original game, Zack is a late member of the paramilitary organization SOLDIER, the military wing of the megacorporation Shinra. During the game, Zack is revealed to have been Aerith Gainsborough's first boyfriend, as well as a friend of Cloud Strife, the game's protagonist. Zack ultimately died in the weeks leading up to the opening of the game protecting Cloud from Shinra's army after they had escaped from imprisonment and being the subjects of genetic experimentation. He is the second owner of the Buster Sword (バスターソード, Basutā Sōdo), and wielded it before Cloud, giving it to him as he died. Zack also appears in the Compilation titles Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, Last Order: Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and, most significantly, Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, a prequel in which he is the protagonist.

Zack Fair was originally not a part of Final Fantasy VII. However, scenario writer Kazushige Nojima wanted to bring a sense of mystery to the title, and created the character to help complicate Cloud's backstory. He was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, and his name derived from "fair weather," to contrast with Cloud Strife's name. With Zack's conceptual backstory in place for Final Fantasy VII, the staff decided to use Compilation of Final Fantasy VII to expand upon his character. Zack is voiced by Kenichi Suzumura in Japanese and Rick Gomez in English. Suzumura was chosen specifically by Nomura for his voice, and was given the role without an audition. Western critics have praised Zack's character, commenting on his development since Final Fantasy VII.

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