Sephiroth (video game character): Wikis


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Sephiroth
Sephiroth.png
Sephiroth artwork by Tetsuya Nomura
Series Final Fantasy
Compilation of Final Fantasy VII
Kingdom Hearts
First game Final Fantasy VII
Designed by Tetsuya Nomura
Voiced by (English) Lance Bass (Kingdom Hearts)
George Newbern (all other appearances)
Voiced by (Japanese) Toshiyuki Morikawa
Fictional information
Class/Job SOLDIER 1st Class
Weapon Masamune

Sephiroth (セフィロス Sefirosu?) is a fictional character in the role-playing game Final Fantasy VII developed by Square Co.. Introduced there as the main antagonist, character designer Tetsuya Nomura wanted his role in the story be different from the other Final Fantasy villains while his design is intended to contrast directly with that of the main character, Cloud Strife. His Japanese voice actor is Toshiyuki Morikawa;[1] in English, he was first voiced by Lance Bass in Kingdom Hearts and by George Newbern in all his subsequent appearances.[2][3]

In Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth is the result of an experiment by the mega-corporation Shinra in which they used cells from the extraterrestrial lifeform Jenova. Feeling he is better than all the humans, Sephiroth decides to become a god to take control of the planet and so Cloud and the other game's protagonists decide to stop him. Sephiroth's role in the story as well as his background are expanded in the titles from Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. Additionally, he appears as a boss character in the Kingdom Hearts series, and other video games developed by the same company.

Sephiroth has been well-received within the video game community and is regularly featured in top positions on many villain lists as well as list of Final Fantasy characters. While his role in the story has been praised, many websites commented on how difficult it is to defeat Sephiroth in the games he is featured. Various types of merchandise based on his appearance have been developed such as figurines.

Contents

Concept and creation

Sephiroth was designed by Final Fantasy VII's character designer Tetsuya Nomura. His character existed since Nomura thought that the game's plot would be about Cloud Strife pursuing Sephiroth with him already being the main antagonist.[4] In the making of the plot, Nomura wanted Sephiroth to appear early in the game and then follow his way so that gamers would not meet the game's final boss late in the game. During development from Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth was meant to be Aerith Gainsborough's first love interest who she remembers when seeing Cloud. Before finishing the game, Sephiroth was replaced by Zack Fair whom Nomura considered to be sudden. Director Yoshinori Kitase has regarded Sephiroth's role in the game as one of the reasons why the game has become very popular.[5] Sephiroth was also meant to be the creator of the Cloud the player uses through the game in order to have a body to move freely as the real one was sealed in Northern Crater. In another removed scene, when his true body is first seen in the Northern Crater, it would have the contours of a female.[6] His name comes from Kabbalah, in which the ten sephirot on the Tree of Life represent the ten attributes that God created through which he can manifest.[7]

Illustrator Yoshitaka Amano and Nomura drew the artwork of Sephiroth. He has long platinum hair and bright cyan eyes with cat-like pupils, and is portrayed in a black coat decorated with metallic pauldrons. Since appearing as Safer Sephiroth, Sephiroth has had a black angel wing on his back which references the theme music "One Winged Angel".[8] Nomura has stated that Sephiroth was made to be a complete contrast to the game's main protagonist, Cloud's original designs of slicked-back, black hair with no spikes.[9] His weapon, the Masamune, which has been featured in numerous Final Fantasy titles, is a long sword.[10] The Masamune is named after the famous Japanese swordsmith Goro Nyudo Masamune, whose blades are considered national treasures in Japan today.[11]

Sephiroth was added to Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, the film sequel of the series, as script writer Kazushige Nojima thought that the film's plot would become less entertaining without him. Nomura originally planned to make him appear since the start, but the staff spent two years to develop his design which caused them difficulties. Toshiyuki Morikawa, Sephiroth's Japanese voice actor, was aided by the staff to make Sephiroth's lines so that his words would mean how superior the character feels. The voice director and Morikawa agreed to make Sephiroth's voice to sound calm to the point he would not have been defeated by Cloud, giving a feeling to Morikawa that he may reappear to continue their fight.[1]

Appearances

Final Fantasy VII and Compilation of Final Fantasy VII

Sephiroth appears as the main villain in Final Fantasy VII. Sephiroth was once the best and the most powerful member of SOLDIER, the elite warriors division of Shinra and rose to the status of celebrity during the war. After the war, however, Sephiroth is sent on a mission to the village of Nibelheim, wherein he discovers that he is the product of a biological experiment using Jenova cells.[12][13] Driven insane, Sephiroth burns down the entire village and kills many, but is assumed dead after a confrontation with the game protagonist Cloud Strife.[8][14] Four years later, Sephiroth once again appears, killing Shinra's president in the process.[15]

Sephiroth's primary objective is to become a god that rules over the entire planet by merging with the planet life force, known as Lifestream, and taking control over it. In order to do so, he must summon Meteor, a destructive meteorite entity from the outer space that can catastrophically damage the planet, thus allowing Sephiroth to merge with the exposed Lifestream.[16] To this end, he has to face both the game protagonists (Cloud and his comrades)[17] as well as the antagonistic mega-corporation Shinra.[15] Despite appearing multiple times in the games, it is revealed that it was Jenova who was taking his shape, while the real Sephiroth's body was sealed in Northern Crater.[18] In the game's last battle, Sephiroth takes two forms to fight: the first one is Bizarro Sephiroth (リバース・セフィロス?), a cocoon-like Sephiroth, and Safer Sephiroth (セーファ・セフィロス?), an angel-like Sephiroth.[8] After his defeat, Sephiroth reappears in Cloud's mind, having previously tricked him into believing him he was a clone from him but is once again defeated.[19]

Sephiroth also appears shortly in Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, a CGI film set two years after Final Fantasy VII's ending, wherein Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo, the movie's main antagonists and "remnants" of Sephiroth's will, try to reincarnate him. Although Kadaj eventually succeeds, Cloud Strife once again defeats Sephiroth, whose body changes back to Kadaj's.[20] Sephiroth is also the focus of the novella Case of the Lifestream - Black. Set during Final Fantasy VII's ending, Sephiroth creates the disease Geostigma, a non-contagious disease that infects people who come in contact with tainted Lifestream.[21]

Sephiroth appears as one of the antagonist of the original video animation Last Order: Final Fantasy VII as well as a main character of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.[22] These two titles explain in greater details what was briefly covered in Final Fantasy VII flashbacks about Sephiroth's past. In Crisis Core Sephiroth's role is initially supporting as he and the protagonist Zack Fair go in the search of two rebelled SOLDIERs whom they are close,[23][24] but during Nibelheim's destruction he appears as a boss character. Director Kitase is pleased with Sephiroth's role in Crisis Core as there he has a "much more human side".[25] Sephiroth has brief cameo appearances in Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, a first-shooter action game, and Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, a role playing game; in the former, his birth is explained, while in the latter, it is shown how he betrays Shinra.[8]

Other appearances

His first appearance outside Final Fantasy VII was as a selectable character in the fighting game Ehrgeiz.[26] A redesigned Sephiroth also appears in the Kingdom Hearts as a boss character in Olympus Coliseum.[27] Lance Bass would voice Sephiroth in this game, while in subsequent titles he is replaced by George Newbern. In the Final Mix version of the title, an additional scene was added in which Sephiroth fights Cloud Strife although the result of the match is not revealed. He was not included in the sequel Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories as Nomura could not give him a storyline related to Cloud and he feared negative fan response if Sephiroth did not have a notable role in the story.[28] Sephiroth's third outside appearance is as another optional boss fight in Kingdom Hearts II in which he makes an appearance during the main story of the game, as well as being part of a sub-plot involving Cloud.[29] Nomura said that in this game Sephiroth represents Cloud's dark side in contrast to Tifa Lockhart who represents his light side.[30] Sephiroth's fourth outside appearance is in the Itadaki Street games Special and Portable, where he appears as an unlockable playable character.[31][32]

Sephiroth also represented the villain of Final Fantasy VII in Dissidia: Final Fantasy.[33] His fight against Cloud in such game was based on their fights from Final Fantasy VII and Advent Children.[34] He also appears in the puzzle platformer video game LittleBigPlanet as a character model; Media Molecule's Alex Evans felt "honored" with the addition of Sephiroth to the title.[35]

Musical themes

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In Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth is the focus of three pieces of music written by series composer Nobuo Uematsu. His primary theme is "Those Chosen by the Planet", a piece utilizing bells, low drums, and a deep chorus, which accompanies Sephiroth's appearances throughout the game. In the final battle, "Birth of a God" plays while the player combats Sephiroth's first form, "Bizarro Sephiroth" (also known as "Reverse Sephiroth"). The most well-known piece is "One-Winged Angel" which is played during the final confrontation with Sephiroth. In an interview featured on G4's Game Makers (formerly Icons), Uematsu revealed that this piece was designed to be a fusion of the musical styles of Russian composer Igor Stravinsky and rock musician Jimi Hendrix. The song revolves around his character, as Uematsu was thinking about him when writing it.[36] Two official covers have been done of this song, the first one being a different orchestration present in Kingdom Hearts. In Advent Children, a revised "One-Winged Angel" theme is played throughout the battle between Cloud and Sephiroth, this time with the progressive metal stylings of Nobuo Uematsu's band The Black Mages as well as orchestral elements and new lyrics. There is also a fourth version titled "The World's Enemy" that plays in Crisis Core.[37]

Cultural impact

Critical reception

The gaming magazines, on multiple occasions, have chosen Sephiroth as one of the the highly notable characters from the series; In March 2006, IGN listed Sephiroth as number 2 in its "Top 10 Tuesday: Most Memorable Villains".[38] In October 2005, Electronic Gaming Monthly listed Sephiroth as number one in a top 10 "Video Game Bosses" list.[39] In December 2009, UGO Networks placed Sephiroth 25th on their list of "Top 25 Japanese RPG Characters" calling him "one of the most visually striking villains of all time" while praising how different he is from previous Final Fantasy villains.[40] In Spring of 2005, Sephiroth was the winner in a GameFAQs character battle of villains.[41] Sephiroth has also been named the number one villain in an episode of G4's Filter.[42] PCWorld placed him 2nd in "The 47 Most Diabolical Video-Game Villains of All Time" with praise focused on his story.[43] GameSpy put him 8th in their "Top 10 Villains in Games" by Cary Schwartzman who commented on how difficult is to defeat him in Final Fantasy VII.[44] In late 2007, Sephiroth was named 14th best character of all time in Dengeki PlayStation's retrospective awards feature about the original PlayStation.[45] A reader's choice poll organized by GameSpot placed Sephiroth at the top spot of the list. In this contest the character got five times more votes than Bowser who finished in second place, most of the comments noted the difficulty of the fight as well as distinctive elements between it and those found in other games.[46] Sephiroth was listed at the top of IGN's "Final Fantasy VII: Top 10 Characters" in which writer Dave Smith commented he is the "heavyweight champion of Final Fantasy villains", praising his appearance and the reasons for why he became a villain.[47] He would take the same spot in the "Top 25 Final Fantasy Characters" by the same site.[48] In IGN's "Final Fantasy Reader's Choice", also written by Smith, Sephiroth was 4th with comments focused on his activities in the game's plot.[49] IGN also put Sephiroth in the articles "Big Boss of the Day" and "Baddie Brawl", with the latter comparing him with Liquid Snake from Metal Gear Solid.[50][51] In a retrospective on Final Fantasy antagonists, GamesRadar listed Sephiroth as their top pick, citing his developed motives and acts of evil.[52] During February 2010, Famitsu ranked Sephiroth 21st in their "Coolest characters" poll.[53]

Some game editors have criticized Sephiroth's unclear motivations as a character flaw. David Smith of IGN stated that "Sephiroth was certainly a good-looking fellow, but his motivations were about as clear as mud..." when analysing the Final Fantasy antagonists.[54] When comparing Sephiroth with the Final Fantasy VI villain, Kefka Palazzo, GamesRadar commented he "seems as interesting as a dead accountant painted brown."[55] 1UP.com took a humorous approach to Sephiroth's several appearances after apparent deaths and in other games, ranking him third in their "They Is Risen" feature, which covered the ten most notorious video game resurrections. The publication noted that if the character continued to be used Square Enix would eventually "run out of ways to remix One-Winged Angel."[56] The nature of Sephiroth's boss fights have received a similar reception. Game Informer listed his original appearance in the third place of the publication's "Top Ten Boss Fights", saying that the "battle against Sephiroth is top-notch."[57] A feature published by GamerHelp included Sephiroth's Kingdom Hearts's fight in a feature titled "The Hardest Bosses of All Time", noting that regardless of the player's skill "walking away from this match unscathed" is not possible, to the point of saying that the fight was more difficult than the entirety of Final Fantasy VII.[58] He was also featured alongside Cloud in ScrewAttack's "Top Ten Coolest Characters" although they preferred more Cloud than him.[59] GameSpy editor Ryan Scott called Sephiroth the "King of Overrated Characters" during GameSpy's villain feature for Dissidia: Final Fantasy saying that gamers were impressed by him only because of his design and by how he kills Aerith during Final Fantasy VII.[60]

The scene in which Sephiroth kills Aerith during Final Fantasy VII also resulted in comments regarding Sephiroth's murder; ScrewAttack noted that with such action Sephiroth was established as "the biggest bastard" when comparing him with Cloud.[61] GamesRadar simply called him "the biggest cock blocker in the gaming world" as writer Shane Patterson found Aerith's character to be appealing and due to the fact Sephiroth killed her, players were unable to use her anymore.[62] Also referring to the scene as a shocking moment, GameSpot found Sephiroth's FMV sequence of him appearing between Nibelheim's fire "might be one of the most recognizable cutscenes ever to grace video games."[63] GamesRadar's article "Non-playable characters we wish were playable" featured Sephiroth as a character that they wished would have been playable in Final Fantasy VII as that "could relive skewering Aerith like an annoyingly dainty, needlessly chaste salmon over and over."[64]

Merchandise

Sephiroth's appearance has served as basis for several types of merchandise. These include being part of the "Extra Knights" action figures first published by Bandai in Japan and released in 1997.[65] A different model was released as part of the Play Arts collection following the release of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. Kanji Tashiro, Square Enix's manager of merchandise, said at the 2008 San Diego Comic-Con that this figure became one of their best-selling item.[66] With the release of the movie he was also included in a series of promotional material, primarily consisting of posters. Kotobukiya has included the character in numerous merchandise including a series of cold casts based on his appearace in both the original game and the movie sequel. As a result of promotional campaigns organized in Japan by Square Enix and Coca-Cola, a version of Sephiroth drawn in a super deformed style was featured in the first two volumes of a promotional collection. Products not connected to the release of the games or movies have also been produced. These include a figure as part of the Final Fantasy Trading Arts Vol. 1 series,[67] a set as part of the Square Minimum Collection along Cloud, and a rare figure of "Safer Sephiroth" as part of the Final Fantasy Creatures series (Chromium). "Reverse Sephiroth" was also released as a normal figure in volume 2. A figure based on his appearances in the Kingdom Hearts games was released in the second series of the Play Arts Kingdom Hearts sub-line.[68] Some replica weapon companies have produced replicas of Sephiroth's sword, the Masamune, as a 6-foot long katana with a stainless steel unsharpened blade.[69][70] Other types of merchandise includes collectible cards, keychains, lighters, phonecards and plush toys.

References

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  16. ^ Square Co. Final Fantasy VII. (SCE America). PlayStation. (7 September 1997) "Aeris: How do you intend to become one with the Planet? / Sephiroth: It's simple. Once the Planet is hurt, it gathers Spirit Energy to heal the injury. The amount of energy gathered depends on the size of the injury. ...What would happen if there was an injury that threatened the very life of the Planet? Think how much energy would be gathered! Ha ha ha. And at the center of that injury, will be me. All that boundless energy will be mine. By merging with all the energy of the Planet, I will become a new life form, a new existence. Melding with the Planet... I will cease to exist as I am now. Only to be reborn as a 'God' to rule over every soul. / Aeris: An injury powerful enough to destroy the Planet? Injure... the Planet? / Sephiroth: Behold that mural. The Ultimate Destructive Magic... Meteor."
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