A Magitek knight forged by the Empire and tempered in battle. None have ever truly known the woman beneath the general's guise...
General Celes Chere, also spelled as Celes Chère, is a playable character in Final Fantasy VI. A genetically enhanced Magitek Knight initially serving as a general of the Gestahlian Empire, she becomes disillusioned with the empire and turns her back on them to join the Returners.
Celes was close to Cid while growing up, an imperial scientist who raised her as if she were his own daughter. She was forced to be genetically enhanced as a Magitek Knight for the empire, giving her unique magical abilities. Celes became one of the empire's generals, aiding in its conquest of the world. After becoming disillusioned by the empire's conquest, she is sentenced to death for betrayal. She is rescued by Locke Cole before her execution, and joins the Returners. Celes is Locke's love interest, and works as a foil to Terra Branford, their character development and abilities paralleling each other.
Celes is one of two characters in the game who learns some magic spells without magicite, and her spells focus on ice and defensive status effects. She can use equip most weapons and armor including female-exclusive equipment, and her unique ability is Runic that lets her nullify magic effects with her sword.
Celes is eighteen years old and has long blond hair, blue eyes, and pale skin. In concept art and renders in the Final Fantasy Anthology release, she wears yellow and purple armor with high boots and a sword as her weapon. In-game, Celes's sprite wears a long white cloak over a green leotard with white boots. When disguised as the opera singer Maria, Celes wears an elaborate white and beige gown, and keeps her hair tied back in a ribbon.
Initially, Celes is aloof and independent. She refuses Locke's assistance, preferring to remain imprisoned to face her execution with pride. Celes's bond with the other party members forms slowly, and outside of Terra and Locke, few of them take kindly to her when they first meet. She tells them to judge her based on her actions rather than trying to convince them by words. Despite her upbringing in the Empire and having committed atrocities herself in the past, Celes's morals don't allow her to support their more egregious acts, and she accepts the mantle of traitor to try to stop them.
Although she protests the notion of being "love-starved" or suited to perform an opera, her actions don't support her statements. As she becomes attached to Locke, she worries he sees her as a replacement for Rachel and is hurt when he questions her loyalty. She has difficulty connecting with the other members of the group even after they begin to trust her; when she tries to talk to Terra, for instance, she misunderstands Terra's questions about love and takes it as mockery.
Celes is adaptable, capable of deceit and sabotage as well as martial skills. Even after cutting ties with the Empire, Celes retains a degree of pride in her rank and skills in battle. Her time with the Returners gives her a different perspective and outlook on life, and she forms a strong bond to the group becoming a driving force to bring them together. Celes finds genuine companionship preferable to the power and status the Empire gave her.
I'm a general, not some opera floozy!
Cid has known Celes since she was a child and doted on her like a daughter, but she was forced to become a Magitek Knight. Celes became one of the Empire's top generals, but retained a good and honorable spirit. As a general Celes led an Imperial attack on Maranda, subjugating the town to Imperial rule, and met Terra but their first meeting is not elaborated on.
Two years into the Third Gestahlian Campaign Celes became disillusioned with the Empire's conquest and was imprisoned in South Figaro to be executed while the Empire occupied the town to push north into Narshe. The specific reason for her arrest is never mentioned, although it is implied she spoke out against Kefka's plan of poisoning Doma. During Locke's campaign to stall the Empire's advance he finds Celes in chains and releases her, helping her to safety. Celes accompanies Locke to Narshe and joins the Returners to defend the town from Kefka and his troops. Celes meets Terra, and recognizes her as a former imperial.
In the battle's aftermath Terra transforms into an esper and flies to the southwest. Finding her in Zozo, Ramuh advises the Returners to infiltrate the Magitek Research Facility and free the espers there in the hopes one of them can help her.
Celes volunteers to lead a team to Vector to infiltrate the facility, and Locke accompanies her. In Jidoor, the group discovers Celes bears an uncanny resemblance to a famous opera star Maria. With the knowledge that the owner of the airship Blackjack, Setzer Gabbiani, intends to kidnap and marry Maria, the Returners set a trap for him at the Opera House. Though initially hesitant, Celes impersonates Maria and takes her place in the opera, the plan being that Setzer will kidnap her and Celes can sneak Locke and the others aboard his airship.
Despite interference from Ultros at the climax of Act I, the plan succeeds and the group boards the Blackjack. Using a two-headed coin borrowed from Edgar, Celes bets her hand in marriage against Setzer's airship and wins, earning his allegiance. Though aware he was cheated, Setzer is delighted by the trickery and agrees to her terms, ferrying them to Albrook on the southern continent.
Infiltrating the Magitek Research Facility, the group frees several espers from captivity but the espers are too weak and transform into magicite, entrusting their power to the Returners. Cid approaches Celes and asks her about the rumors that she had feigned treachery to infiltrate the Returners as a spy. Kefka appears and taunts the group, claiming Celes had deceived them and was loyal to the Empire. Locke grows hesitant and Kefka has his soldiers attack them. Celes spirits Kefka and his soldiers away along with herself, buying the others time to escape the facility to the Blackjack and flee Vector.
With their new magicite powers and Terra's true heritage as a half-esper revealed, the Returners open the sealed gate to the Esper World. The espers decimate the Empire and Emperor Gestahl calls a truce, asking the Returners to join him in locating the espers before they cause further chaos. Terra and Locke are dispatched to Thamasa under the command of General Leo Christophe. The ninja mercenary Shadow and Celes are part of the Imperial force accompanying them, Celes retaking her rank as general.
Locke attempts to approach her but she refuses to speak to him. The Empire-Returner alliance turns out to be a trap — when Terra and Locke locate the espers with Strago's help, Kefka arrives with a force of Imperial soldiers and kills the espers, claiming their magicite, and incapacitates the Returners and Leo's men alike. When Leo attempts to stop Kefka, Kefka slays him. Leo is laid to rest in Thamasa and Celes rejoins the Returners.
Gestahl and Kefka enter the Esper World and raise the Floating Continent, the Warring Triad at its summit. The Returners storm the continent to confront the pair and Celes attempts to reason with the emperor. Gestahl paralyzes Celes's allies and offers her the chance to rule the world with him and Kefka. Kefka hands Celes a sword and tells her to kill them, but Celes stabs Kefka instead. He flies into a rage, and demands the Triad give him their power.
Kefka kills Gestahl when he intervenes and knocks Celes aside, moving the Warring Triad out of alignment. Shadow buys time for Celes and the others to escape, but the damage is done: Kefka has disrupted the balance of power between the gods and drastically shifted the face of the planet.
A year later Celes awakes from a coma on a Solitary Island in Cid's care who tells her the world has been sliding further into ruin and whatever survivors remained on the island with them have perished or killed themselves. Celes repays his kindness by caring for him while he is ill and depending on the quality of food she feeds him Cid will either live or die.
If he dies, Celes travels to the northern part of the island and leaps into the sea to kill herself. She survives and washes ashore where she finds a wounded bird, its wound wrapped in a bandana. Celes takes this as a sign Locke is alive and finds a letter from Cid, directing her to a raft hidden in the basement of their home. If Cid is saved he shows Celes the raft himself. Celes leaves the island to return to the mainland and find her friends.
Celes lands near Albrook and continues north to Tzen, reuniting with Sabin. His safety convinces Celes the other Returners are still alive. The two travel east to Mobliz and find Terra caring for its orphaned children since Kefka's Light of Judgment destroyed the town. Though they help defend the village from the demon Humbaba, Terra is struggling to understand her budding love for the children and remains in the village. In Nikeah, the leader of the Crimson Robbers bears a suspicious resemblance to Edgar. Following the robbers on their ferry to South Figaro and through a cave into Figaro Castle's engine room, Edgar drops the charade and rejoins the two.
The three use Figaro Castle to burrow east to Kohlingen where they find Setzer in a drunken stupor since losing the Blackjack in the apocalypse. Celes convinces him to rejoin the fight, and Setzer proclaims they'll retrieve another airship, the Falcon, formerly belonging to his friend Darill. At the depths of Darill's Tomb Setzer raises the Falcon and the four take to the skies, the new airship filling them with hope that they have a chance to set things right. The former Returners are reunited, and the group land atop Kefka's Tower and confront him as the God of Magic since he has drained the Warring Triad on their strength.
At the tower's summit the group finds Kefka basking in his power, declaring the lives of mortals meaningless and insignificant. The group rejects Kefka's claims, telling him they've each found meaning in their lives even in the ruined world—Celes cites her ability to find acceptance from Locke. The group engages Kefka and his servants in a final battle. With Kefka's death the tower begins to collapse and magic vanishes from the world. Terra uses the last of her powers to lead the group to safety.
On the way out, Celes drops the bandana she found on the Solitary Island and rushes back for it. The floor collapses under her but Locke dives to take her hand and pulls her to safety, berating her for risking her life for it. If Locke has not joined the Returners for the final battle, Setzer instead dives to save Celes, reminding her she promised to perform the Maria scene from the opera for him. Celes comments how the bandana is her good-luck-charm and mentions how she hopes Locke will be there to look out for her in the future.
As the group escapes in the Falcon Terra's powers give out and she falls through the air. Setzer dives forward to catch her, Celes pulling her to safety.
Celes is a Rune Knight, has very balanced stats and a wide range of equipment, making her useful in both physical damage roles and magical damage roles. Her equipment includes all female-exclusive equipment, swords (including Ultima Weapon and Lightbringer), maces, some daggers, heavy armor, some hats and robes, and all shields. She is one of the two characters to learn Magic abilities naturally by levelling up. Her ability is Runic, which negates the next magical ability used and heals Celes an MP amount equal to the MP cost of the ability. Her Desperation Attack is Spinning Edge, which deals magical damage to one enemy.
Creation and developmentEdit
After it was decided Final Fantasy VI would feature an ensemble cast with no clear main protagonist, everyone in the development team was encouraged to provide ideas for characters and their episodes. Celes's character and story were colored by influence from Yoshinori Kitase.
Celes was originally meant to be a "conflicted spy" archetype—a spy working for the antagonists, but swayed by the benevolence of the people she was supposed to be spying on and how nice Locke was to her. She was to be psychologically unstable, like Kefka, due to a similar magic infusion process. Although the "conflicted spy" idea was not used in Final Fantasy VI itself, the archetype was later used for Cait Sith in Final Fantasy VII.
Celes was Yoshinori Kitase's favorite Final Fantasy VI character from a developer's point of view. Kitase has stated that Celes did not have as much of a role at first, but this changed later in development. The player starts the World of Ruin storyline with Celes because it "made sense in the overall flow of the story" and because the developers were concerned that starting it with Terra would place too much importance on her story. The developers did not initially intend to create a "world of ruin". Rather, the plan was for the party to save the world and defeat Kefka just as the world was about to be destroyed. However, because the game was coming along more smoothly than expected, the developers could free up time to implement another version of the world after its "end". Yoshinori Kitase had an emotional attachment to Celes ever since he started event planning for the second chapter where they would try to make her the main character.
Kitase has later commented him having taken a liking to Celes ended up making her a more important character in the game than originally envisioned:
I ended up so involved with each personality while scripting the scenarios that there were points where, looking back at the game today, it's clear that I somewhat lost this balance. For example, as the scenes featuring Celes and Kefka progress, these characters (while not directly playable in the game) became far greater and more influential than originally intended when development began.
The scene where Celes is being tortured by the Empire was removed for the Game Boy Advance release of Final Fantasy VI. This is because the original Final Fantasy VI was created before the Japanese ratings board, CERO, existed. Violence is rated strictly in Japan, and Square wanted a CERO A rating for the Game Boy Advance version, which would have been impossible if a game depicts violence against a restrained human.
Celes is the only character other than Terra introduced without her theme music; instead, the song "Under Martial Law" is playing. It is not until after her performance in the opera that Celes's theme makes an appearance.
The original version of "Celes" is included on the fourth disc of the Final Fantasy Vinyls collector's edition set, and appears as a song in Theatrhythm Final Fantasy All-Star Carnival. The original SNES version of "Celes's Theme" is obtainable as a battle music from a Theatrhythm Final Fantasy event (2018/01) in the arcade version of Dissidia Final Fantasy NT.
Celes has made appearances in the following games in the Final Fantasy series:
- Final Fantasy Tactics S as a playable character.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia as a playable character.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy as a playable character.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call as a playable character.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy All-Star Carnival as a playable character.
- Pictlogica Final Fantasy as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade as a summonable Legend.
- Final Fantasy Artniks as a series of cards.
- Final Fantasy All the Bravest as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Record Keeper as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius as a summonable vision.
- World of Final Fantasy as a summonable Champion.
- Final Fantasy Trading Card Game as a series of cards.
- Triple Triad as a card.
In 1994, Square released pencil toppers and key chains featuring the cast from Final Fantasy VI in their super-deformed forms, Celes included. The pencil toppers and key chains were available in vending machines. At least two different versions of the Celes key chain exist: one in her in-game sprite outfit and one dressed as Maria.
The Final Fantasy Cold Cast Collection is a limited edition collectible series featuring cold cast statues that display notable scenes from Final Fantasy series. Only 3,000 Celes and opera house cold casts were made, each coming with a card and card stand that had the statue's limited number and description. The series has been out of production since 1999.
Celes is possibly derived from Latin caeles, which means "celestial" or "heavenly". It could be related to Celeste, a female given name in Italian, French and Spanish that also means "celestial" or "heavenly" (or, additionally, "sky-blue" in Spanish and Italian). This would provide a contrast to the English name of her foil protagonist Terra, terra being the Latin word for "land" or "earth". However, Terra was chosen for Tina's localization name by Ted Woolsey, meaning Celes's name wasn't originally meant to parallel Terra's. An alternative theory is that her name is Ceres, after the Roman goddess of fertility.
Both of these etymologies are problematic because Celes's Japanese name is セリス (Serisu?), and Japanese tends to adapt Classical Latin c as a [/k/] sound in all positions; for instance, the usual Japanese name for Ceres is ケレース (Kerēsu?) or ケレス (Keresu?). But Japanese セリス (Serisu?) has also been used to adapt other names like Celice, Celis and Cerise, none of which are from Classical Latin. Celes was the romanization prescribed for the name upon the original release of Final Fantasy VI in Japan.
The French Chère is the feminine form of cher, meaning "dear", "precious", "treasured" or "expensive".
- The original English description of Celes, translated by Ted Woolsey for the Super Nintendo Entertainment System version of the game released in 1994, read: "Battle-hardened magitek knight, product of genetic engineering, with a spirit as pure as snow."
- Due to the bypass event glitch it is possible to sneak out of South Figaro without recruiting Celes. This leads to Celes being replaced by Moghan, one of the Ten Moogles.
- It is possible to tackle Kefka's Tower before retrieving all the characters in the World of Ruin, but Celes is one of three playable characters always available before it becomes accessible; the other two are Edgar and Setzer. It is technically possible to complete Kefka's Tower and finish the game with only these three characters, but since the game forces a split into three separate parties for the three paths, each of the three characters must finish one of the paths by themselves.
- Celes is the only Rune Knight in the main series Final Fantasy games and the only Rune Knight able to learn Meteor.
- Celes invites comparison to Medieval French heroine Joan of Arc, who is popular in Japan and may even have been the inspiration for Celes being given a French name. Joan, who has been the subject of a number of operas, was a general at the young age of 18 and was opposed to morally-lacking tactics in warfare (including the poisoning of the water supply of a city under siege) and was captured as a result of her defiance of her kingdom's military policies (albeit more indirectly than Celes). Joan of Arc is a Saint of the Roman Catholic Church, but secular sources have often claimed that—like Celes—she was psychologically unstable (a famous example being Luc Besson's 1999 film The Messenger), and she, too, threw herself from a great height purportedly in a suicide attempt. Finally, Celes's affinity for ice would suggest fire to be her nemesis; Joan of Arc was burned to death.
- ↑ 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Final Fantasy VI Settei Shiryō-hen, p.36
- ↑ 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive Volume 1, p.272
- ↑ 3.0 3.1 The Making Of: Final Fantasy VI (dead) (Accessed: February 21, 2015) at Edge Online
- ↑ V Jump issue (in Japanese) (dead) (Accessed: September 25, 2009) at Infoseek
- ↑ 5.0 5.1 Final Fantasy VI – 1994 Developer Interview (Accessed: December 09, 2018) at shmuplations
- ↑ Final Fantasy: Kitase's Inside Story (dead) (Accessed: October 13, 2012) at 1Up
- ↑ 25 Years Since The Release Of Final Fantasy VI – Looking Back At The Passion (Accessed: April 09, 2019) at One Million Power
- ↑ Inside Gaming - Interview with Former Square Enix Translator Tom Slattery (Accessed: December 09, 2018) at RPGamer Archive
- ↑ Bob Rork Woolsey Interview