Japan has an interesting relationship with controversy, to say the least. In their daily lives, Japanese people are expected to comply with the idea of "tatemae," which relates to the behaviour and feelings one is allowed to display in public. But behind closed doors and with trusted loved ones, individuals are encouraged to share their "hon'ne," or their true opinions and desires, more freely. In some ways, it leads to a repressive society where people's opinions on sexuality, religion, and violence are unable to be spoken aloud — but this repression allows such ideas to spill out into pop culture.
The Final Fantasy series is the perfect example of this. While Japanese men and women struggle with keeping their intimate feelings and desires to themselves, they are able to explore these ideas through the freedoms of a video game: and this leads to some pretty weird stuff. Final Fantasy is rife with images of hyper-sexualised girls (and the occasional guy) with swords and short skirts, damning critiques on religion and excessive gore, none of which would be accepted in public Japanese society.
But while these images are accepted in a Japanese context, they don’t always go unchallenged in international markets. Countries such as the US have different standards for what constitutes “controversial,” and changes are often made to avoid game ratings that could exclude younger players. In this list, we’ll be looking at the fifteen most controversial and offensive characters in Final Fantasy’s large catalogue, along with their respective censorships in countries outside of Japan. Prepare yourself for an obscene amount of cleavage.
15 Gerogero (Final Fantasy VIII)
In the original Japanese release of Final Fantasy VIII, Gerogero is the true form of Fake President Deling, a decoy political figure sent to trick the members of resistance group the Forest Owls. After the party has weakened the Deling imitation, he will collapse on the ground, and Gerogero will emerge from his crumpled, lifeless body as the true boss to defeat.
Square clearly thought that this monster’s big reveal was a little too creepy for international audiences, because they colour swapped Gerogero in international releases to a blue-hued palette. No real changes were made to the design of the monster, apart from the fact that his nails now have a beautiful ombre polish on them. But replacing red for blue definitely makes Gerogero look a little more comical and a little less nightmarish, especially in the context of the scene.
14 Emina Hanaharu (Final Fantasy Type-0)
Emina is one of the main non-playable characters in Type-0, and the mystery surrounding her past makes up one of the main sub-plots in the game. In her entry in the Rubicus, an in-game encyclopedia the player builds throughout their playthrough, it is teased that Emina is an “avid connoisseur of bikinis,“ but that no one has ever seen her in one. However, by using the game’s built-in model viewer the player can view Emina in a black bikini, which inadvertently reveals a tattoo hinting towards her backstory.
Sadly, for her more perverted fans, Emina’s bikini figure was excluded from international releases of the game. It’s unknown exactly why it was removed, but it most likely has to do with the fact that Japan is much more forgiving of fan service type materials than international audiences are.
13 Chadarnook (Final Fantasy VI)
Chadarnook first appeared in Final Fantasy VI, where she took the form of a demon attempting to possess a painting. When removed from the artwork, Chadarnook is revealed as a nude woman whose modesty is barely covered by a smattering of fog surrounding her body. Clearly, this was thought to be too risque for American audiences, because Chadarnook was covered up with some extra fog for international releases, and with even more for the games subsequent remakes.
In a cool easter egg, gamers can encounter monsters called Chadarnook’s in Final Fantasy XV, and are requested to take a photo of one for Vyv’s magazine. When they give him the finished photograph, he comments that the picture is too revealing for his publication and that he can’t release it, referencing the enemy's initial censorship over twenty years earlier.
12 Wol (Mobius Final Fantasy)
We’re cheating a little with this one, because Wol’s original design was never officially released anywhere in the world, but it’s fair enough to say that international outcry about his costume forced a reconsideration of his entire look. The protagonist of Mobius Final Fantasy, Wol was initially designed with a “bare bones” type of costume to reflect his position as an ‘Onion Knight,’ or a character with no specialty or job.
When fans first saw Wol’s design, however, the reaction was so negative that Square decided to cover him up, removing all traces of bare skin around his torso. His strappy outfit was changed to a solid black leather and a collar was even added around his neck to preserve his décolletage. At least Square pays attention to some of their fans outcries.
11 Dancing Girl (Final Fantasy IV)
Back in the SNES days, every pixel counted, and each was used to create a very specific impression for the audience. This is most exemplified by Dancing Girl, who would regularly appear throughout pubs in Final Fantasy IV. In the games original Japanese release, Dancing Girl would strip off her red dress to reveal a bikini before dancing for the player and dressing again. For the American release, however, Dancing Girl stays fully clothed the entire time, dancing around in her red dress like she owns the place.
Thankfully, Dancing Girl was back in her bikini for the 3D remakes, although she seems to have dyed her hair pink. She can even be battled in the Developer’s Office, where she uses a Bomb to take down the party all from the comfort of her blue bikini. Now she just needs to work on getting a real name!
10 Rydia (Final Fantasy IV: The After Years)
You may not even have heard of Final Fantasy IV: The After Years, the direct sequel to Final Fantasy IV released seventeen years after its predecessor. The game was a big deal in Japan but never quite took off internationally, despite being remade countless times for Wii, Playstation Portable, PS3, iOS, Android, and PC. And like countless other Final Fantasy titles before it, the game also had some changes made when it came to America.
The character of Rydia appeared in quite a provocative outfit in the original release of the game, working a tiny corset that barely covered up her cleavage and groin but didn't hide much else. But when the game was localized, Rydia's modesty was protected a little more with a skin-tight green undergarment covering up the gaps her corsetry didn't. She still looks pretty come-hither, but much less skin is on display.
9 Siren (Final Fantasy VI)
Final Fantasy VI's Siren has to be the most risqué appearance on the list. The summon turns up when she is given to the party by Ramuh, at which point she can be used in battle whenever the player desires. However, her battle ability is far outweighed by her provocative appearance, which features simply a short top and absolutely nothing else. Yes, Siren's backside is on full display every time she appears.
The next few decades found Square Enix tiptoeing right to the line of good taste as they censored Siren's sprite again and again. In the North American version of the SNES release, her backside was covered up completely by a short skirt. The Playstation release reversed this, using the same sprite as the original Japanese release. Then, she was censored differently in the GBA edition with just a bandage of fabric covering her intimate areas. Finally, the mobile release of the game found her back in short shorts, but this time slightly shorter than the ones in the SNES version. No wonder Square hasn't had time to work on the Final Fantasy VII remake.
8 Porom (Final Fantasy IV: The After Years)
Porom is another character from The After Years who faced the censorship treatment. First appearing in Final Fantasy IV as a young girl, Porom has transformed entirely by the game’s sequel, with her brown hair turning pink and her red eyes turning blue. And like Rydia before her, Porom was also covered up when traveling internationally.
Porom's censorship seems to have been a little more of a rushed job, because not too much has changed. Her bare waist is still on full display, but her cleavage has been covered up a little more by her top. Moreover, the outline of Porom's breasts and groin, which can be clearly seen through the sheer fabric of her top in the original artwork, has been hidden in the redesigned version. I guess she finally found underwear!
7 Ursula (Final Fantasy IV: The After Years)
Ursula is a new character in The After Years, turning up as the daughter of the original game's Yang. While her outfit is less revealing than many of her female cast mates, that doesn't exempt her from censorship, although her changes are a little more subtle. Ursula's bare skin is still pretty much on full display, with the only difference being a barely visible pair of shorts that cover up Ursula's upper thigh as she sits.
It’s also interesting to note that like Rydia and Porom, Ursula’s art style was changed between Japanese and international releases. Her original Japanese artwork was more sketched and seems to be hand coloured, perhaps with watercolours - while her international artwork seems to have been digitally enhanced to sharpen the lines and make the colours a little more vivid. Put it down to another weird cultural difference.
6 Melusine (Final Fantasy V)
Melusine is a boss who appears in Final Fantasy V as one of the Demons of the Rift, battling the party in the Guardian Tree portion of the plot. In traditional European mythology, Melusine is a female siren-like spirit who inhabits bodies of water and possesses snake-like characteristics; and her appearance in FFV is no different, with the boss surrounded by a trio of snakes. Melusine is completely nude in her original appearance, with only a precariously positioned red snake curling around her body to cover up her intimate areas.
In the international remake of the game, Melusine is still pretty bare-skinned, but her red snake seems to have gotten a little fatter in order to cover up more of her bare flesh. She also seems to wear some kind of skin-tight stocking that covers up random parts of her body, but this is barely visible to the naked eye. Her appearance is still pretty provocative, and we wonder why they bothered redesigning her at all.
5 Shiva (Final Fantasy XV)
Shiva is a recurring character in the Final Fantasy series, generally playing the part of a goddess who can be summoned for help in battle. And regardless of which game she appears in, she’s almost always seen in her trademark barely-there outfit which consists of a little white lace which may or may not be removed halfway through battle. This seemed to be fine right up until Final Fantasy XV, at which point Shiva’s costume was abruptly changed in Chinese releases of the game.
In these versions, Shiva’s typical negligee remains but is now supported by a skin-tight latex bodysuit underneath where there used to be just skin. Weirdly, Shiva’s skin tone was also changed from her typical shade of ghostly pale blue to a more healthy glow, perhaps to emphasize the outfit change more obviously. We wonder what prompted the change after so many years?
4 Dahling (Final Fantasy VI)
Dahling is yet another censored character from Final Fantasy VI, and like Chadarnook before her, she appears as a “picture of a lovely lady” in Owzer’s gallery. Like Chadarnook, Dahling’s censorship also pertains to smoke; although in this case, the issue has to do with the cigarette hanging from her mouth more than the fog surrounding her body. Dahling’s cigarette remains intact regardless of which game you play, but the smoke emerging from it is censored in the original American release of the game.
Weirdly, Dahling’s smoke returns in international remakes of the game, and she’s even given a new name to reflect her rekindled love of tobacco. In the Gameboy Advance and mobile releases of the game, Dahling is renamed to Misty, which references a brand of cigarettes introduced in 1990 by Brown and Williamson. What changed?
3 Statue Of Minerva (Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-)
Minerva appears in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, where she is character related to the planet’s consciousness who is seen by some as a mythical goddess. A statue of Minerva as artists recreated her appears in the Banora Underground section of the game, and is at one point part of a plan to summon the goddess herself. However, the statue’s design was changed in international releases of the game after developers found that it was too similar to traditional depictions of the Virgin Mary.
In the original version of the statue, Minerva is depicted with a veiled robe and her hands almost touching in prayer in a 'Pieta'-like pose. In later releases, however, her veil is replaced by a headdress, her outfit is changed to a more Grecian-inspired gown, and her hands are positioned one on top of the other. She still looks blatantly religious, but the similarities to Mary aren’t as obvious.
2 Kazusa Futahito (Final Fantasy Type-0)
Kazusa is one of Emina’s former classmates in Type-0, and like her, he can also be viewed in a significantly more revealing costume in the model viewer. In his alternate model, Kazusa appears completely shirtless with only boxers covering up his lower half. Unlike Emina, however, there’s no reason as to why this model should exist, as nothing in the Rubicus hints towards Kazusa’s preference of going pantless and he never bares all in a cutscene.
While we appreciate the gender equality in having both sexes strip down in Type-0, we have to say that we’re a little disappointed that Square chose the hottest girl and the most unattractive guy to get nude together. Like Emina before him, Kazusa’s more revealing model was excluded from international versions of the game; but unlike Emina, we can’t say we’re too disappointed not to have this one in our possession.
1 Statue Of The Gods (Final Fantasy VI)
Out of all of the censorships on this list, Final Fantasy VI's Statue of the Gods is the one to face the most changes, thanks to the fact that it is a tower made up of nine different bosses the player must defeat in turn. The statue represents the three phases of Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven as the player slowly ascends it to converse with a demigod; and to match its religious theme, many of the bosses are depicted in the games original release as classical nude sculptures.
The boss Magic is given shorts in the international version of the game to cover his bare waist; Power is given a loincloth to mask his backside; and Lady, the final boss in the sculpture, has her veil widened to cover her breasts. I'm shocked they didn't go all out like they did with Minerva and remove all religious significance entirely.