Veni veni venias... we knew it was coming, and now "One-Winged Angel" will be stuck in our heads through the entirety of this article, which was my goal. The overall consensus from the Final Fantasy community is that Sephiroth is by far one of the most notable and feared villains not just within the Final Fantasy franchise, but in all of video gaming history. There are those who will, of course, try and debate that... luckily, this article isn't about his strengths as a near-god. It's about the random facts about him that don't necessarily make sense, whether it's because of the American translation, the addition of the movie, his appearance in other Square Enix games (no thanks to you, Kingdom Hearts), or just a lack of explanation.
These things I've listed that make no sense are more head-scratchers than they are literally "not making sense." In the game, they might make perfect sense because, well, it's a video game. In theory, however, they might make you think a little bit more about the character who is Sephiroth on a deeper, slightly amusing, realistic level. On the outside, he looks like a force to be reckoned with, but once his story (at least some of it) is revealed, we find that we have a lot more questions than we do actual answers for. We're going to dive into the deep depths of this wannabe god and get down to the nitty-gritty of who Sephiroth is and why, exactly, he is the way he is. We're going to try, anyway... but I have to warn you, a lot of it may not make sense.
20 Psycho, Sociopath, Or Neither?
Anyone who utters the words, "Tell me what you love most. Give me the pleasure of taking it away" is undoubtedly a bit mental. While this is one of my favorite lines from any video game, it denotes a particular sense of psychotic that we can only attribute to Sephiroth's mental break.
The problem is this: He's calculating and cold, which would give him sociopathic tendencies.
However, during the first phase of his mental "break" upon learning his history in Neibelheim, he does feel something even if it's only pure rage and fury. I mean, you don't just burn down an entire town without feeling some kind of pyromaniacal rage. So could that mean he's neither socio- nor psychopath? Who knows, but he's insane.
19 It's Easy To Feel Empathy For Him, But Why?
I don't care what anyone says, it makes zero sense to feel empathy for a villain who's responsible for burning down a town and the main protagonist's mother in the process. So why do we? Towards the end of the game, you finally begin piecing together what happened to Sephiroth to make him so evil. In the process, you begin to realize that not only was he once the most valued Shinra SOLDIER known to man, but had all of that taken from him when he learns what really happened to his mother. Cecil Harvey from Dissidia said it best, "There is sorrow in those wintery eyes."
18 The Chosen One... Wait, What?
It's not even surprising that a villain like Sephiroth has such narcissistic tendencies and after his complete destruction of Nibelheim, firmly believes he's "the chosen one." As if torching an entire town wasn't enough of a public display of hatred and anger, his plans to obtain the black materia, call on a massive meteor to wound the planet, and absorb the Lifestream's mako energy in the process, is certainly a large undertaking for someone who doesn't think highly of themselves.
But while we accept his self-proclaimed "chosen one" title, what exactly made him the "chosen one" other than a tragedy that sparked utter destruction? Granted, he does have some of Jenova's cells coursing through his veins, that does not make him the god of destruction.
17 Hojo Created THAT?
Sephiroth's childhood is completely twisted which explains why you have to feel some empathy for the guy. He is the son of Hojo and Lucrecia, who is his real mother. Upon learning that he's been injected with Jenova's cells, he begins to lose it and calls Jenova his mother, whose cells course throughout his body.
Unfortunately for Lucrecia, her son is about to become the trial experiment for her partner.
Jenova is Hojo's creation and as such, Sephiroth is his as well. It's easy to see the narcissistic parallels between Sephiroth and Hojo, as nothing stops him from "success." The question is, why on earth would you mess with what you don't understand? Especially when Hojo admitted he had foreseen the events? Who knows.
16 What Is He Though?
He wants to be a god, but what is he before that? Simplified, he's been injected with Jenova's cells via the way of Hojo, who might just be crazier than he is. Because of this, he's able to control others through the way of Jenova's cells, but he's still considered to be "human" in most senses of the word. By the end of the game, he's hit two different forms: Bizarro Sephiroth and Safer Sephiroth. Both of these have been confirmed as his ultimate god-form since he does accomplish meteor, but... what do we call him prior to these ultimate transformations? I'm going with a mutation.
15 He Plays The Role Of A Villain Much Better
Okay okay, it's not unusual for villains to have a turning point in their life where they go from good guy to bad guy. What's odd about Sephiroth is that although he started out as a good guy, a SOLDIER hero even, from birth he was destined to be the villain. The tragedy therein lies in his not completely human form, the Jenova cells he's been injected with, and the eventual truth that finds him at the end of the game.
For some reason, it's actually weird to think of Sephiroth once being a hero rather than the be all and end all.
It doesn't make any sense, but seeing him as anything other than destructive Sephiroth is just not believable.
14 Utterly Misguided
Some of this may be due in part to the fact that the translation from Japanese to English was a bit simplified when making its way overseas, but it's still relevant. Sephiroth's backstory isn't exactly flawlessly explained, and it's hard to pinpoint how he went from learning about his crazy biological history to torching a town, and ultimately believing his (fake) mother Jenova was a Cetra. This would make him the last Cetra, destined to defend the planet because he believes humanity has abandoned the Cetra, to protect them against... well, the forces of Jenova. So let me get this straight... wait, what?
13 If He Was Crazy, Why Was He So Calm?
This is something you wouldn't think about unless you're as Sephiroth-obsessed as I am and have spent a lot of time thinking about the psychological ramifications of his actions versus his personality. In the game, without any voice acting or discernable facial expressions, it's challenging to figure out Sephiroth's true character aside from what he says. It wasn't until the appearance of Advent Children that we learn how truly cold and calculating he is, which definitely raises the question of how he so calm, cool, and collected while carrying out absolute and total annihilation. I repeat: sociopath? Psychopath? Muscle relaxers?
12 "Mother" Is A Bunch Of Mutated Cells
Connecting the dots to Sephiroth's eventual mental downfall is easy enough to do. What's not easy, is trying to figure out how he's so convinced that Jenova is his mother when he's well aware that he's only been injected with her cells. Rumor has it that his story is a little clearer in the original game before it was released internationally, but for us over in North America, things are a little... muddy. Anyone who doesn't know of their past couldn't be blamed for drawing conclusions based on what they do know, but Sephiroth takes this logic to the extreme. Even after seeing what, not who, Jenova really is, he's still insistent that she is his "mother."
11 An Odd Bromantic Hatred
Cloud Strife and Sephiroth: possibly the biggest love/hate relationship even know in any video game, at least in the Final Fantasy franchise. Cloud has a well-known idolization of Sephiroth as the strongest SOLDIER member known to man, and after he finds out Sephiroth's dark history, has an obsession over his hatred for him, Sephiroth feels very much the same way as Cloud, but instead feels the need to put Cloud down for good when he can no longer control him. The whole thing is some weird, manipulative relationship, but it's like a bad, dark soap opera... we just can't look away.
10 A Slightly Unnecessary Long Journey
Nearly the entire game is a lot of journeying and getting to the turning point everyone waits for... when Cloud is finally about to face off with Sephiroth. The weird thing is that when we get to that point, fans quickly realize that despite their character's best efforts to keep meteor from happening... it happens.
The reason for Gaia not being destroyed is due to Aerith's abilities.
But 90% of the game up until Cloud's mental, metaphysical battle with Sephiroth is almost for naught. The same fate comes around and while Cloud is able to ultimately "defeat" Sephiroth this time around, Aerith is the reason meteor doesn't destroy the planet. Phew, the confusion is real.
9 The Whole Thing Was Slightly Useless
Sephiroth needed the black materia. The black materia was necessary for summoning meteor, which wasn't stopped anyway. Aerith, who is viewed as the most useless playable character in the game, is responsible for encouraging the Lifestream to push out the meteor before its impact with Holy.
If you look at it realistically and not from a game perspective, there was a lot of detective work and backstory for everyone else, when Sephiroth could have just controlled Cloud from the get-go and gotten rid of the others lickety-split. Instead, Sephiroth dragged out the manipulation of Cloud adding to his psychopathic? sociopathic? tendencies and making him even more messed up than we realize.
8 Aerith Should Have Been His Real Enemy
Ah, Aerith and her Holy ability. Literally, she was able to attempt to cast Holy to prevent meteor from completely destroying Gaia. Now reader, before you think what we all know you will, yes... Aerith was ended in the most shocking way possible before she finished casting Holy. Her magic, however, was still tangible by the end of the game after Sephiroth is defeated. If it wasn't, the Gaia we know would have been blown to smithereens and the game would have been a disaster of a tragedy. So really, who was Sephiroth's real enemy? Cloud, for vengeance? Or Aerith, because of her power?
7 He Literally Never Goes Away
You can't even argue this. Now that Advent Children is up and out there, Sephiroth was confirmed to have not been "gone" at the end of the seventh game.
It's something about those cells, man, that keep the evil intact.
Instead, he comes back in the form of Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo... all bearing a striking resemblance to Sephiroth (because not all of him dissipated in the Lifestream, obviously). Along with calling Cloud their "brother" because he shares the same cells that Sephiroth did, they attempt to reunite with Jenova until, once again, Cloud finishes them off. Or so we think, anyway... saying he "will never be a memory" doesn't give us much hope in the way of that, though.
6 An Obsession Keeps Him Alive
His obsession with Cloud, his obsession with Jenova, his obsession with getting rid of Aerith. It's what Sephiroth lives for which is crazy because out of all the playable characters, none of them is his real "enemy" for reasons other than their efforts to stop him. His enemy is humanity for turning their backs on the ancient Cetra and Cloud and his buddies are just the unfortunate souls who need to stop him.
Unfortunately for them, his obsession with Jenova is what ultimately keeps him alive literally and figuratively.
If you've seen Advent Children, you're familiar with his creepy clones. Or shall we say Jenova's children? His "mommy issues" are strange, extreme, and a little bit Freudian when he had the all of SOLDIER following his lead as the hero.
5 Blame Kingdom Hearts
Square Enix, Squenix as I like to refer to them, enjoy crossovers between their games. The biggest being Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts, where Sephiroth is a nearly unbeatable (don't play me, you know you've tried at only a level 50 in the hopes of somehow surviving that Masamune attack) optional boss. This makes zero sense after Advent Children, and even less when you hear Kingdom Hearts' explanation of him being alive because of "Cloud's darkness". More like you're alive to be an inducer of every Kingdom Hearts' player's first rage-quit in the middle of an optional boss battle. Not that it really matters, because KH Sephiroth makes it obvious that Cloud will never quit his "darkness."
4 His Narcissism Is Uncanny
We get it, he's full of himself. What we don't get is why as a villain, he's so much more full of himself than he was as the SOLDIER hero of Shinra. The story goes that Sephiroth was the greatest soldier Shinra Inc. had ever seen and as such, was also a great leader and role model, mainly to Zack and Cloud. At some point during his mental break, we're left with this mildly terrifying quote from the One-Winged Angel: "Ha, ha, ha… my sadness? What do I have to be sad about? I am the chosen one. I have been chosen to be the leader of this Planet." Yikes... Is it that same attitude that made him the best?
3 He Falls To "Darkness," But Isn't He Already Darkness?
Kingdom Hearts messes everything up for Final Fantasy fans... just kidding, I too am a lover of the keyblade wielders. At this point (we obviously can't speak for Kingdom Hearts III), Sephiroth is the only main antagonist who appears in the game as an optional boss. He appears with his own explanation, and is intended to be "Cloud's darkness."
Sephiroth claims he only exists because of Cloud, saying, "No matter how many times I fall, your darkness keeps calling me back."
So does that mean he doesn't really exist because of Jenova? Understandably, different game, different rules...But it is an interesting thought to ponder.
2 A Pyromaniac
Everyone has their rage fits because anger is a natural part of life. You know what's not a natural part of life? Burning down an entire town and its people for the sake of your own personal tragedy. The fire in Nibelheim is how Cloud becomes an enemy of Sephiroth and no longer his biggest fan, but it's a little crazy that Sephiroth immediately thought, "my past is a mess, my life is a lie... let me burn down Nibelheim in an effort to destroy a past I knew nothing about." Again, this furthered the storyline, but it's a tad dramatic unless you are a pyro; to each their own I suppose.
1 Masamune And The Lone Wing
Sephiroth's look is iconic and one of the reasons many a fan have fallen in love with him (guilty). The appearance of his lone black wing wasn't explained in FFVII, but was alluded to in Crisis Core so if you haven't played, its appearance is a mystery in VII.
Crisis Core makes it clear that any survivor of the Jenova Project has the ability to possess the wing but it's unclear why.
Another explanation is the massive amounts of mako coursing through his system, transforming his non-dominant arm into a black wing. As for his obnoxiously large sword? It's a Final Fantasy thing, and just what he's been gifted with.