Safer Sephiroth

Sephiroth (Final Fantasy)

is a fictional character and recurring villain in Square's (now Square Enix) role-playing game Final Fantasy VII. He was designed by character designer Tetsuya Nomura and is characterized as a tall man with long silver hair. His appearance was intended to contrast directly with that of the main character, Cloud Strife. Sephiroth's English-language voice actor is Lance Bass in Kingdom Hearts and George Newbern in all other appearances. His seiyū is Toshiyuki Morikawa, although Shin-ichiro Miki voiced the character in Ehrgeiz.

In Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth serves as the primary antagonist who attempts to destroy the world by summoning a meteor to fall on the planet. He has also made appearances in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts series.

Sephiroth has been well-received within the video game community due to his complex motivations and his iconic appearance, particularly his extremely long sword, Masamune. As a result, he is regularly featured in top positions on many "best villain" lists and character polls assembled by game publications and fans.

Concept and creation

Sephiroth was designed by Final Fantasy VIIs character designer Tetsuya Nomura. Illustrator Yoshitaka Amano and Nomura drew the artwork of Sephiroth. He has long silver hair and bright cyan eyes with cat-like pupils, and is portrayed in a black coat decorated with metallic pauldrons. In the Kingdom Hearts series, he has a black angel wing on his back. Nomura has stated that Sephiroth was made to be a complete contrast to the game's main protagonist, Cloud Strife's original designs of slicked-back, black hair with no spikes. His name comes from Kabbalah, in which the ten sephirot on the Tree of Life represent different aspects of God. His weapon, the Masamune, which has been featured in numerous Final Fantasy titles, is a long sword, and it is said that it can only be wielded by Sephiroth. He usually uses his left hand predominantly when wielding his weapon with one arm, although in the first installment of the Kingdom Hearts series he holds it with his right hand. The Masamune is named after the famous Japanese swordsmith Masamune Okazaki, whose blades are considered national treasures in Japan today.

Appearances

Final Fantasy VII

Thought to have been killed over five years ago, notions of Sephiroth's apparent death are put into question when Cloud and his company AVALANCHE are detained in Shinra's headquarters. On the eve before a public execution, their cell doors are opened. A trail of blood leads the group to discover that President Shinra has been impaled by Sephiroth's sword. Cloud and his friends decide to pursue him. Sephiroth's plan, revealed later in the Temple of the Ancients, is to drain the planet of its energy with the aid of the Black Materia and its cataclysmic power referred to as "Meteor." Aerith Gainsborough, the last Cetra, attempts to stop him with the White Materia and its power, "Holy". Aerith succeeds in summoning Holy, but Sephiroth, using Jenova as a vessel, stabs her shortly after it is activated. Later, Cloud procures the Black Materia, but is manipulated against his will into surrendering it to Sephiroth, who then summons Meteor and barricades himself inside Northern Crater, waiting for its arrival. In the story's climax, the Northern Cave barrier is penetrated by Shinra's mako cannon, allowing Cloud and his party to descend into the crater for a final confrontation. Sephiroth manifests himself as "Bizzaro Sephiroth" and attacks. Upon being weakened, he transforms again into "Safer Sephiroth", a bizarre angelic figure. After being defeated again, Sephiroth's spirit makes a final mental assault upon Cloud within the Lifestream. However, Cloud has already rediscovered himself and Sephiroth is unable to attack. Cloud easily dispatches Sephiroth and leaves the Lifestream.

Related Final Fantasy VII appearances

In Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth plays a minor role as Zack's superior and an investigator. After going insane when he discovers his origins, he sets fire to Nibelheim and proceeds to go to the reactor. There, he fights with both Zack and Cloud, who manage to wound him, and he falls into the mako reactor core.

In the CGI film Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, taking place two years after the original game, a disease known as "geostigma" has spread throughout the planet, affecting many with its symptoms. The now reclusive Cloud finds himself confronted by a strange trio of silver-haired brothers who are the Remnants of Sephiroth, physical manifestations of his will and spiritual energy. Their leader, Kadaj, later transforms into Sephiroth after absorbing Jenova's head. After his resurrection, Sephiroth reveals that he has been using geostigma in a plan to corrupt the Lifestream and grant him control of the entire planet. He and Cloud then engage in a duel, in which Sephiroth displays enormous power. Despite being outmatched, Cloud defeats him, causing Sephiroth to change back into Kadaj; however, Sephiroth vows to return.

In the original video animation Last Order: Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth and Zack are sent on a mission to investigate a Shinra research manor and mako reactor at Nibelheim. When Sephiroth goes insane after discovering his origins, Zack pursues him in an attempt to stop him, but is defeated. While liberating Jenova, Sephiroth is caught off-guard and stabbed from behind by Cloud, who is armed with Zack's Buster Sword. Sephiroth exits the chamber with Jenova's severed head while Cloud attacks. However, Cloud is impaled by Sephiroth, and after being thrown against a wall, Sephiroth proceeds to jump into the reactor core, as he does in Before Crisis.

Sephiroth plays a minor role in Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, appearing in flashbacks when Lucrecia Crescent would have premonitions of what her unborn son would become.

Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII reveals Sephiroth's character before the events in the first game. It is explained that Angeal Hewley and Genesis Rhapsodos, two of Sephiroth's friends, along with Sephiroth himself, were experimented on at the fetal stages with Jenova cells that gave them great power. The three became 1st Class SOLDIERs, with Sephiroth being portrayed as the hero. Eventually Genesis, annoyed with the public view of Sephiroth, challenges him during training. Sephiroth easily wards off his attacks, and Genesis, during his final attack, gets a shoulder injury when Angeal tries to stop him. After Genesis left SOLDIER, Sephiroth ended up working with Zack Fair several times and began to develop a friendship with him, which continued after Angeal left SOLDIER as well. Sephiroth goes insane soon after an encounter with Genesis while on a mission in Nibelheim with Zack and two infantrymen, one of which is Cloud Strife. Sephiroth severs Jenova's head at the mako reactor and defeats Zack but is stopped by Cloud, who stabs him with Zack's sword. Sephiroth impales Cloud with the Masamune, but is thrown into the reactor core by Cloud.

Other appearances

His first outside appearance was as a selectable character in the fighting game Ehrgeiz, which also features appearances by other characters from Final Fantasy VII. Sephiroth also appears in the English and Final Mix versions of Kingdom Hearts. Like all the Final Fantasy characters in the Kingdom Hearts universe, he is developed as an entirely different character. He appears as an optional boss in the game's arena setting using his various techniques from Final Fantasy VII. Sephiroth's third outside appearance is in another optional boss fight in Kingdom Hearts II. In this title, his role is expanded beyond its sub-quest status in the original game as he makes an appearance during the main story of the game, as well as being part of a sub-plot involving Cloud Strife. Sephiroth's history is not revealed, though he is said to be the manifestation of the darkness in Cloud's heart and states that he has fallen many times to Cloud, but always came back to fight again. After confronting Sora he instructs him to tell Cloud to come before him to settle things. Both engage in battle, Tifa eventually appears and fights briefly, before Sephiroth and Cloud resume their fight and disappear in a flash of light. Sephiroth's fourth outside appearance is in the Itadaki Street games Special and Portable, where he appears as a unlockable playable character along with Cloud, Aerith, and Tifa from Final Fantasy VII. Sephiroth is set to appear in the Final Fantasy crossover fighting game Dissidia: Final Fantasy, where he is seen battling Squall Leonhart.

Musical themes

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. 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.

Cultural impact

Critical reception

Due to his iconic appearance and complex motivations, Sephiroth has become one of the most recognized and famous villains in video game history, according to IGN. As such, he appears regularly in character polls and compiled lists. In an issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly, Sephiroth was listed number one in a top 10 "Video Game Bosses" list. He is also a regular runner-up in character battles featured on GameFAQs, while he was the winner in a GameFAQs character battle of villains. Sephiroth has also been named the number one villain in an episode of G4's Filter. 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..." In late 2007, Sephiroth was named 14th best character of all time in Dengeki PlayStations retrospective awards feature about the original PlayStation. 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. 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. 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 distintive elements between it and those found in other games. A feature published by GamerHelp included Sephiroth's Kingdom Heart'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.

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. A different model was released as part of the Play Arts collection following the release of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. 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, 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. 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. Other types of merchandise includes collectible cards, keychains, lighters, phonecards and plush toys.

References

External links

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