Yesterday Holly did a list of some of our favorite Final Fantasy Heroes. And while the heroes get the most airtime, for sure – you control them, after all, throughout what is generally 60+ hours – the villains are a major part as well. Though there is often an underlying order-vs-chaos sort of story going on, and many of the earlier bosses were just personified Chaos (and they certainly play this up in the Dissidia games), many of the villains have their own life and story and are interesting in their own right. So here are my favorites of the villains from the Final Fantasy series!
Because where would a list like this be without the badass of kicking-your-buttery himself, Sephiroth? This guy just won’t stay dead, showing up in all sorts of prequels and sequels. Nothing says Sephiroth quite like the iconic shot of him walking back into the fires of Nibelheim, though. And though he’s the enemy, and kind of sort of trying to end the world, that doesn’t stop Cloud from spending pretty much the whole game wishing he were him. And maybe the players, too. But more than the Joker, even, this guy just wants to watch the world burn.
Final Fantasy VII steals two spots on my list, because while there’s Sephiroth and he is the face of the evil, there’s also Jenova who you are constantly plagued by and trying to figure out. Is Jenova the big bad? Is Sephiroth? They spend a lot of time trying to really explain what they were going for in VII, and maybe finally got it as clear as they could in Advent Children. Jenova rode a previous planet, like a meteor, across the cosmos, until crashing into a new planet. Now Sephiroth, following Jenova’s mission, is trying to turn his world into a new meteor, and send it through space and crash into another new world. Jenova never really gets to talk or act much in direct ways, and is much more of a concept than a villain. And yet, because of Jenova, all these bad things keep happening. And that idea, of the calamity from across the stars, making its way through the cosmos, destroying as it goes… well, like mother like son, with Sephiroth, I guess. What a pair.
Plus, that amazing theme music:
Fujin and Raijin
Whoa, okay, serious universe-destroying stuff aside, how about some fun villains? Fujin and Raijin from Final Fantasy VIII were always just so much fun on the screen. There are a number of comedic duo villains in the Final Fantasy games, including even Wedge and Biggs in VIII. However, Fujin and Raijin are my favorites. Fujin, with her constant dialog in all-caps, seemingly shouting at everyone all the time, taking her role in the Disciplinary Committee seriously. And the laid-back Raijin, ending every sentence in ya know – so much so that your characters start saying it and have to stop themselves! They eventually know when to call it, too, with a great moment later on when Fujin finally speaks in lowercase letters (all lowercase, if I recall) and tells their leader, Seifer, that enough is enough. They’re not the big bad, they were really just supposed to be a rule-keeping committee. And so they stay out of the final conflicts of the game – and instead go fishing.
I’ve already mentioned The Joker once this post, which I suppose may have been jumping the gun if it wasn’t in relation to the crazy clown of Final Fantasy himself – Kefka. It’s hard to pick a favorite hero from Final Fantasy VI, as the ensemble cast is so compelling (though Holly went out on a limb and said Shadow!). However, there is a single villain unifying this ensemble cast, bringing them together to save the world, and that’s Kefka. He’s crazy, doesn’t mind destroying continents, killing kings, abusing magic, or merging himself in crazy ways with crazy things. I mean, I don’t understand what’s really going on in the final boss fight of VI, I just know I like the music. And while many of the Final Fantasy villains are aloof, or don’t appear much, Kefka is a constant presence, talking a lot, joking, laughing, scheming, backstabbing. He’s a strong presence, and holds the game, plot, and myriad heroes together.
Kain is the best example of the hero-turned-enemy-turned-back-into-a-hero from the Final Fantasy games – something they don’t often have happen. He’s your friend, and one of your starting characters. Then he turns, you fight – often – and he’s gone. It’s a long stretch of game where he is against you, before you finally get him back. And things are still a little frosty after that! The Cecil/Kain conflict in Final Fantasy IV is so good – and it’s due in large part to what they did with Kain, committing to him being against you for so much of the game, and then trying to integrate him in. There’s story there, drama there, conflict there.
So, while Holly picked a favorite hero Cid – Cid Highwind of Final Fantasy VII – I’m picking a villain Cid. Dr. Cid in Final Fantasy XII was an interesting mad scientist – because he’s less mad, and more calculating. He’s figured out what’s going on in the world – something it takes the characters most of the game to figure out. The all-powerful dieties are not kind or benevolent, it seems, nor are they necessarily all-powerful. Instead, they can potentially be combated or removed with the power of the Nethicite, and it is to this Cid has turned all of his concentration. Creating all sorts of technology, airships, and even Manufacted Nethicite – an excuse to use the fake word “manufacted” all the time – Cid puts power in the hands of the humans of their world. He even, at points, is ready and willing to just share power out to everyone, not just to himself – just to combat the deities (and their Deifacted Nethicite). Villain, then? Or are they?
Holly and I love Final Fantasy XIII-2, but we had trouble at points with the main villain, Caius. What’s up with him? Do we care? Is he over the top? But then we started seeing him more – understanding him more – and his is a frightening story. Cursed with eternal life, he has been alive since long ago, and lives all the way to the end of time, ending up at the battle at the end of the universe leading the forces of Chaos. For he has the Heart of Chaos – and wants to make Chaos reign. However, he has the Heart of Chaos to defend the seer, Yuel – who is reborn in every generation, as roughly the same person, and lives, uses her powers, and dies. So Caius watches Yuel die, his charge to defend, over and over in history. And so, as you time travel, and run into Caius throughout time – you aren’t seeing him in the same order. He’s living through it, immortally, start to finish. Watching Yuel die, over and over. Something breaks inside of him, and really, who can blame him? But he’s such a good villain because he then – in the face of fighting against time travelers, mind you – comes up with a plan that actually works. And he defeats you, and the goddess falls, and chaos reigns. And that’s where we’re cliffhung, right now, in what is shaping up to be a Final Fantasy XIII trilogy – what’s going on with the universe? Excited for Lightning Returns to find out!
So who are your favorite Final Fantasy villains?
*Photo credit: all photos from http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/