Veni, Veni, Venias. Ne me mori facias. Sephiroth! Sorry I just listened to One-Winged Angel seventeen times to psyche myself up for this feature. Anyway, Sephiroth is one of the greatest and most iconic villains in not just the pantheon of Final Fantasy games, but in the wide world of video games as well. His image is sprawled across numerous fan sites with tons of artwork to go alongside it. Why has he stayed with us for so long and why is he so far above everyone else? Well the simple answer is Final Fantasy VII remains one of the most popular entries in the franchise to those that don’t even like RPGs, or games in general.
It launched at the right time with some particularly amazing marketing ads. It took Final Fantasy into new territory by introducing elements from reality into this fantasy based RPG. In terms of Sephiroth he was also a constant in the story because of his relationship with Cloud. He wasn’t some evil God people knew about and just brought up from time to time. He was a human who fell from grace and eventually did become that all-powerful God, but you get the point. A good villain is well rounded, someone you can sympathize with and understand where he or she is coming from. I’m not saying his portrayal is perfect because there are some crazed leaps in logic Sephiroth takes in order to summon a giant rock to crush the planet for his mother, but compared to some of the other villains in the series, he’s definitely top tier. So let’s get to know him a little better.
17 Lance Bass Voiced Sephiroth in Kingdom Hearts
While Final Fantasy VII had CG cutscenes, it didn't have any voice work. The first main game in the franchise to offer it was Final Fantasy X. However, the first game Sephiroth got voiced in was Kingdom Hearts, as he was a secret boss in the Olympus Coliseum. When it was announced that the pop idol Lance Bass, formerly of NSYNC, was going to be voicing him, I couldn't have been more afraid, but he actually turned out to be good. Now he didn't have more than a dozen words, from his brief encounter with Sora to his ability shouts during battle, but I liked what I heard. I was actually a little disheartened when he was replaced, as I kind of wanted to see his interpretation more. Oh well, bye bye bye.
16 Sephiroth’s Current Voice Actor
Sephiroth is currently voiced by George Newbern. He took over the role for the villain in Kingdom Hearts II and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children in 2006, which both released a month apart from each other. We never got to see Bass' range past grunts and I'm not sure why he was switched out, but, with that being said, Newbern is terrific. The last game he played Sephiroth in was Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy in 2011. It hasn't been announced yet since the remake is so far off, but I'm sure he'll reprise Sephiroth in that game. Notably. he is also currently on the ABC show Scandal and also voices Clark Kent and Superman in various DC games and animated specials. It's the ultimate good versus the ultimate evil, which is kind of funny.
15 Sephiroth’s Boy Band
There's a ton of musical tributes to Sephiroth out there from fans, ranging from originals to covers of One-Winged Angel. The most interesting homage is with the pseudo boy band Big Bad Bosses, which reimagines Sephiroth, Egg Man, Ganondorf, and Bowser in a bad boys style pop group. Big Bad Bosses launched their first, and as of now, only album entitled Power Overwhelming in 2015. Some of their songs are group efforts, while others single out one character. Angel is about Sephiroth, for example, and their big hit is probably the most parody influenced song they have, which is called I’m the Boss. It’s not only about the Final Fantasy, Sonic, Mario, and Zelda franchises either, but naming them off would kind of ruin the surprise. I can definitely see Sephiroth as a teen sensation in this context.
14 Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring
I know I'm already painting a rather weird career path for him, but Sephiroth also used to wrestle. Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring is a hybrid fighting/wrestling game that was released in Japanese arcades in 1998 and the original PlayStation in 1999 for North America and Europe in 2000. The arcade version included Tifa and Cloud from Final Fantasy VII while the PS1 port added our beloved Sephiroth, plus Yuffie, Vincent, Red XIII, and Zack. It looks like Aeris, Barret, and Cid weren't good enough for this ring, brother. Anyway, other than through emulation, it's kind of hard to get outside of Japan now. It was re-released as a digital download on PSN, but nowhere else. It's actually pretty good and the PS1 version has a rogue like RPG dungeon crawler built in.
13 Dissidia Final Fantasy
Ehrgeiz isn't the only fighting game Sephiroth appeared in. I'm of course talking about Dissidia Final Fantasy, which launched in North America in 2009 for the PSP. For those who are unaware, it's a fighting game that pits Final Fantasy heroes vs the series’ villains in an epic clash of good versus evil. It's more along the lines of an arena fighter like Power Stone, instead of something like Tekken. Plus there are RPG elements inserted, such as gear to equip and spells to arrange in move sets. It's a bit complex at first, but it's a great fighter nonetheless. It’s a shame it was never ported to any consoles post PSP, as it is an obscure system outside of Japan. Right now a new entry is being made for arcades in Japan and Square Enix has been cagey about a console release of it, but we can always hope.
12 Sephiroth Early Concepts
From an early stage the developers wanted the game to showcase Cloud and Sephiroth's rivalry. Originally, he would have revealed himself sooner and been the main focus of Cloud chasing after him. Their rivalry was inspired by the relationship between the famous samurai of Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojiro. Other tidbits about his origins include Sephiroth being Aeris' sibling that then evolved into him being Aeris' lover who was then replaced by Zack. One of the strangest early drafts was Sephiroth being revealed to be a female, which players would have found out in that Northern Crater scene where we first see Sephiroth's real body frozen. The long hair and pretty boy looks would have made that pretty ingenious. Thankfully we wound up with his current status, but I would have enjoyed the twist. You can read more about these early concepts, like I did, here and here!
11 Merchandising! Merchandising!
Sorry ladies, but despite what you may wish, Sephiroth is not real. He will never be with you in real life, but I guess that also applies to anyone in the fantasy world. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t physically ogle his body. There are tons of figures out there to collect and the weirdest of which was a promotion held with Coke in Japan to insert mini figures of Final Fantasy characters with products. There are also necklaces, plushies, shirts, and all kinds of other knick-knacks out there, but if you really want to squeeze Sephiroth there is a full sized body pillow. It’s not official as it’s on Etsy, but it's still cool for any fans who can't enough of the 'roth.
10 See All of FFVIII In LittleBigPlanet 2
Tying into merchandise a little bit, Sephiroth’s likeness was applied to games outside of Square Enix. LittleBigPlanet 2 added DLC costumes, which included items for Sephiroth, Aeris, Cloud, Vincent, and Tifa. Seeing Sackboy dressed up as these beloved characters is both adorable and badass. Additionally, because of this DLC, one fan painstakingly remade the entirety of Final Fantasy VII in LittleBigPlanet 3 and you can watch it all on YouTube. It was released in 2014 on the LittleBigPlanet Show channel with 113 videos. all of which range between ten and fifteen minutes, so watching the entire thing is a daunting task, but it's incredible to say the least and a miraculous showcase of dedication to both the LittleBigPlanet and Final Fantasy franchise.
9 Theatrhythm Final Fantasy
We have one more adorable spinoff to talk about and that’s the always difficult to spell Theatrhythm Final Fantasy, which launched on the 3DS in 2012 and later that same year for iOS devices. It’s a music rhythm game that also adds in some RPG elements, Players need to tap on the notes as they play through various songs from the franchise. The RPG parts come in when choosing characters, which level them up through rhythm boss battles. It’s not that hard at first, but both the battles and through strung along music paths can get tricky once you turn the volume up on the difficulty settings. Like the Itadaki Street game, Sephiroth was included as an unlockable character and boy, does he look both creepy and precious.
8 Final Fantasy VII’s Spinoffs
With the franchise spinoffs out of the way, let’s talk about everything included in just the Final Fantasy VII cannon. Sephiroth has appeared in every spinoff, including a very brief cameo in Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, he’s resurrected as the moan villain in Advent Children, and he plays a supporting role in both Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII prior to him becoming evil. There’s also a novella tied in to Advent Children, On the Way to a Smile, wherein one chapter focuses on Aeris and Sephiroth in the Lifestream and why/how he creates Geostigma prior to the film’s events. These pieces of fiction not only expand the entirety of this game’s universe, but also fill in some gaps as well. It was great to see Sephiroth as a “good guy” for once and not the maniacal villain hell-bent on destroying the world. Crisis Core is the offshoot you need to check out both in terms of the story and for actually being a great game overall.
7 Did He Really Kill Aerith?
This is a fun plot point that many people may not realize while playing Final Fantasy VII and it took me awhile to understand it too, which is why I enjoy replaying the game so much, as I always learn something new. Anyway, despite Sephiroth being the game's main antagonist, he is barely in the game technically. The real Sephiroth is seen through Cloud’s flashbacks, the aforementioned spot in Northern Crater, and at the end of the game. Every other appearance is actually a clone created from cells of Jenova. Theoretically, all of those caped men heading towards the Reunion are failed clones on their way there, while other clones transform into the Jenova bosses to halt the party's progression. By this logic, you could say Sephiroth didn't kill Aeris, but was actually Jenova. Mind blown?
6 Sephiroth’s Mother Complex
Speaking of Jenova, Sephiroth is the only FF villain whose mother is part of the plot. Now we can all assume the other bad guys at the top of each Final Fantasy adventure came from somewhere, but mothers are never specifically mentioned. The only other villainous mother I can even think of is Queen Brahne, Garnet’s mother, who technically isn’t evil, but just mind controlled for the first third of the game. While Square Enix backed down from Sephiroth being a girl, you could surmise the real villain of the game is Jenova controlling Sephiroth like a puppet, making that only three Final Fantasy games wherein the main antagonist is female. There’s Jenova, Ultimecia from Final Fantasy VIII, and Cloud of Darkness from Final Fantasy III. Of those three, Jenova is by far the most interesting and villainous as the other two just kind of appear right at the end.
5 Sephiroth’s Left Hand of Evil
Let's put games aside for a minute and talk about the man himself. I actually never noticed this before, but canonically Sephiroth is left-handed. By itself, that’s not that interesting, so I decided to delve deeper. According to this article for 2014, only 12% of the global population is left-handed and back in medieval times, those that used their left hand predominantly were thought to be possessed by the devil. In Latin, sinistra means left and this combination is where sinister comes from. Also lefties are statistically better at being fencers. It may be just a coincidence that he is evil, favors his left hand, and is a skilled swordsman, but I choose to believe it wasn’t. Either way it’s a cool little factoid for Sephiroth fans.
4 Why is he a One-Winged Angel?
Sephiroth's references to Christianity and the Bible continue with his alter ego as the One-Winged Angel. In the game, Sephiroth was one of the best in the SOLDIER program and looked upon fondly. Then he basically went crazy and betrayed those that looked upon him, along with the organization he was aligned with. Delving deeper, Sephiroth's fall from grace is similar to Lucifer, the favored angel in heaven, before he was cast down for trying to defy God thus becoming Satan. Now in the Bible, as far as I know or found, it doesn't mention anything specifically about his wings although in the epic poem Paradise Lost, Lucifer is cast down as a one-winged angel. Now we could go all day analyzing a bunch of different references to the Bible and perhaps how Sephiroth is actually more like Jesus as he comes back from the dead, like in this article I found, but let’s leave it at the wing stuff for now. Again it could be just a coincidence, but interesting nonetheless.
3 One-Winged Angel Lyrics
Okay, so now that we know why perhaps he was a One-Winged Angel in reference to Lucifer, let's look at what the heck they're saying in Latin for his theme song. Whatever it is, back in the day I thought it was pretty dang catchy and it remains one of the best songs in the series. Did you know it was the first song in the series to feature vocals? No the opera scene in Final Fantasy VI doesn't count, as it was mimicking voice like sounds and not actually using voices. Anyway, there are a few translations out there, but this one I found is a good break down of both the Latin language and English to see what everything translates into. Reading it out in English isn’t as cool as seeing in Latin though, but that can be said for any basic translation script. As for what’s happening in the song, one could interpret it as Jenova praising her son so he'll come back to her, but saying how awesome and powerful he is. Something to that effect at least, or it’s just awesome nonsense.
2 The Meaning Behind Sephiroth
Now let's look at where Sephiroth's name is actually derived from. Sephirot is a term in the Kabbalah referring to a chain of ten attributes The Infinite One uses to present himself to man. Now I'm not going to pretend to know anything about the Jewish faith even from what I read, so rather than upsetting someone with some incorrect facts, I'll skip ahead and mention Sephirot is often translated to Sefirot, or Sefiroth. So Christianity isn't the only realm Square Enix pulls from. So, he is a devil for using his left hand, has one angel wing for betrayal, and is named after a way in which God can reveal himself as. Yeah, that pretty much sounds like Sephiroth’s course throughout Final Fantasy VII, as he takes on many forms and names throughout.
1 The History Behind Sephiroth’s Masamune
Lastly let’s talk about Sephiroth’s insanely long blade, Masamune. Now the only time you get to see it’s name is during the flashback stuff with Cloud on Mt. Nibel. If you inspect his equipment in the menu screen, you can also see it there. In Japanese history, Goro Nyudo Masamune was believed to be the best swordsmith in the land, during the 13th and 14th centuries when he was alive. The blade then is named simply after him as a sign of respect. This ons is more of an Easter Egg than anything else, as you'd need to inspect his gear int he menu to know. Oh right and if you want to see a recreation of the blade in action, check out this Man At Arms video for all kinds of awesomeness.