Final Fantasy 7 is perhaps the most beloved JRPG ever, and, with a remake in sight, it's a great time to talk about it again. With its release in 1997, a whole host of fans delved into the sometimes confusing but always fascinating world. Perhaps one of the most emblematic elements of this is Jenova, one of the villains that is at once both a source of mystery and a stumbling block to Cloud and co.
Jenova is a weird sort of science experiment that is entangled within the story of the main villain, Sephiroth. Now, with over twenty years of other releases separating us from the initial release and with the remake coming soon, it's easy to forget just what Jenova was all about. Or maybe you never even knew, either way, here are 10 facts about you never knew about Jenova in Final Fantasy 7.
10 Jenova Is An Alien
When the body of Jenova was first discovered by Professor Gast, he mistook it for the race sometimes called the Ancients and other times known as the Cetra, but he was wrong. Jenova was actually the being responsible for wiping out most of the Cetra and devastating their civilization. Jenova was known among the Cetra as the "calamity from the skies".
That was a pretty disastrous event, but, to their credit, they were able to seal Jenova in North Crater, the place where it first arrived, using a meteoroid as its spaceship. Additionally, Jenova is indeed true to its name, as its only purpose seems to be to destroy planets and then use the dead planet to find its next victim.
9 Jenova Is Uniquely Suitable For Ending Planets
Its genetic makeup ensures that it can adapt to any planet that it ends up landing on. It can take on the traits of any creature or being it finds in order to accomplish its destructive purpose. On the other end of things, it can insert its own genes into any organism, turning them into violent monsters.
Using these two particular abilities, it was able to infiltrate the Cetra. After killing one of them, it took their place so as to be able to escape detection until it was too late. Though by some miracle, the few remaining Cetra were able to band together to seal it. One more aspect of Jenova is that its cells, once separated, will attempt to gather together again regardless of whether they're in their own form or in a host. This is called the Reunion Theory by Hojo.
8 Jenova's Etymology And Gender
Contrary to what you might believe based on what you see, Jenova isn't necessarily female. Being an alien from outer space, it's unknown if Jenova even has a gender. In the game, Jenova definitely has a female form, and Sephiroth does refer to it as his mother. However, Ifalna, Aeris's mother, refers to Jenova as a 'he' or 'it' depending on which version of the game you are playing. This gives Jenova's gender a very uncertain nature and considering it is an alien, gender might not even matter.
The name Jenova might seem to just be some made-up word, but it is, in fact, a portmanteau, a blend of two different words. The two words in question are Jehova and Nova. Jehova comes from the Hebrew word which refers to Jesus Christ. Nova comes from the Latin adjective for new but could also refer to a terrestrial explosion, such as a Supernova.
7 SOLDIER Are Humans With Modified Jenova Cells
When Jenova was first discovered, it was believed to be a Cetra, so Shinra began experimenting using it. In their haste to find the promised land told of in the Cetra's legends, they began to fuse Jenova's cells with human subjects. The most famous example of this is Sephiroth, regarded as their most successful subject.
Sephiroth was created by injecting him with Jenova cells while he was still a fetus. Other subjects were merely treated with the cells and, as a result, turned superhuman. Not everyone who was subjected to Jenova's cells became a member of SOLDIER, but the most successful of them surely did.
6 Jenova Is Not Sephiroth's Mother
At different parts of the game, Sephiroth refers to Jenova as his mother. The reason behind this is Hojo, who lies to Sephiroth and tells him that Jenova is the name of his mother and that she died in childbirth. Sephiroth's real mother is Lucrecia Crescent, the same woman who Vincent fell in love with. Through a series of strange decisions, Lucrecia ended up with Hojo and she gave birth to Sephiroth, who was injected with Jenova's cells while still in the womb.
While Jenova is not Sephiroth's mother, it did have an impact on who he became. Jenova's cells gave him power and his insane belief that he was the son of Jenova, one of—if not the last—Cetra, warped his personality even further.
5 Jenova's Four Forms
Throughout the game, you fight Jenova four different times. The various forms are referred to as Jenova: BIRTH, LIFE, DEATH, and SYNTHESIS. The first three forms allude to the Buddhist belief of Saṃsāra, a cycle of life where the soul reincarnates to experience each state over and over. The SYNTHESIS form is Jenova's final and possibly truest form, the one it would presumably use to destroy the planet and then move on to its next victim.
At one point in development, each form of Jenova was intended to be a different body part, and there would most likely have been more than four forms. This is why Jenova: BIRTH is referred to as "the arm" by Cloud after their first boss encounter with Jenova.
4 The Jenova Project and Reunion Theory
The Jenova Project is what led to SOLDIER, Sephiroth, and so much more. It was split into two different and competing teams. One team worked on Project S, name after Sephiroth, the other team worked on Project G, name after test subject Gillian Hewley. Project S was deemed the most superior by far and became the basis for SOLDIER. Project G had the subjects receive cells from Gillian, who had been injected with Jenova's cells.
The reunion theory was created by Hojo and basically said that when Jenova's cells were separated, they would inevitably attempt to come back together into one form. This also includes anyone who was injected with Jenova's or Sephiroth's cells, but depending on various factors, the call could be resisted. Zack was able to ignore the call despite, or perhaps because, he was a member of SOLDIER. Cloud was only somewhat able to resist.
3 Jenova's Boss Mechanics And Weaknesses
While not necessarily the toughest boss you'll encounter, Jenova can still prove to be difficult for those who have neglected to prepare themselves. However, each form has different mechanics that you can exploit to achieve victory.
The first from, BIRTH, can be fought in a preemptive battle, giving you the first move. Arguably, its most dangerous attack is the Stop spell, but it can only cast it three times before running out of mana.
LIFE uses a lot of water magic, so a water ring will make this fight trivial. You can also deplete its magic using the magic hammer enemy skill, but be wary as Jenova will cast reflect in response. When it does, simply use de-barrier or any spell that goes through reflect. LIFE is also able to be paralyzed either through Clouds Cross-slash or some dazer items.
DEATH only uses fire attacks, so any equipment that protects against fire will do wonders. DEATH can also be paralyzed in the same way as LIFE.
Finally, SYNTHESIS is Jenova's most powerful form, and it shows as it has no weaknesses. Instead, you must employ your best attacks to quickly dispatch the tentacles. Once those are gone, the fight shouldn't give you any trouble.
2 Jenova's Boss Fights Have Three Different Musical Themes
Interestingly, only two of Jenova's different forms—and the Hojo boss battle—play the same musical track, J-E-N-O-V-A, those are the Jenova: BIRTH and DEATH forms. Jenova: LIFE, perhaps most appropriately, play's Aeris's Theme. SYNTHESIS plays its own unique track called Jenova Absolute. The transition from the J-E-N-O-V-A soundtrack to Jenova absolute helps instill in the player that now is the final battle with Jenova. It's gone through its different forms both in the game's boss battles and now in the music. Interestingly, there is no fanfare music after defeating Jenova: LIFE because of the events that just transpired with Aeris.
1 Sephiroth Takes Over Jenova
There can be no doubt that Sephiroth is the main villain in the game, but as you learn more, it gets confusing as to whether he is still alive or not. You know that Cloud cuts him down in a flashback, so how are they still chasing after him in the main game? Despite his powers coming from Jenova, Sephiroth is able to overcome Jenova's will and substitute it for his own.
When he was cut down by Cloud, he took Jenova's head with him and falls into the lifestream. The lifestream is unable to fully reintegrate him back into the planet because of his Jenova cells, and so he is able to remain sentient. He learns how to control those affected by Jenova's cells and, furthermore, is able to control parts of Jenova. So when you see Sephiroth back in Midgar and even as you chase him across the world, that is actually the Jenova body you find in Shinra Headquarters.