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Jenova was a Calamity that fell from the sky a long, long time ago, and tried to destroy the planet...

Jenova is an extraterrestrial life-form in the Final Fantasy VII series who serves as a major antagonist; experiments conducted on its cells have produced many of the setting's adversaries, key among them Sephiroth.

Throughout Final Fantasy VII Jenova is often referred to as "she", though Ifalna calls the entity "he" (or "it" in the PC version). This alien has a feminine form and is said to be the "mother" of Sephiroth. The Cetra call it the "calamity from the skies" or the "crisis from the sky" (空から来た厄災, sora kara kita yakusai?, lit. disaster which came from the sky), or "heaven's dark harbinger".

Profile[]

Appearance[]

Jenova-CC-model

Jenova in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-.

A dormant Jenova appears as a gray-skinned woman (shown as blue-skinned in Final Fantasy VII, or only appearing blue through its container in the mako reactor on Mt. Nibel in other games). Although Jenova appears feminine, its gender is ambiguous, being an extra-terrestrial lifeform. Jenova is known as the "calamity from the skies" in the legends, and in Final Fantasy VII Ifalna refers to Jenova as either "it" or "he" depending on the version of the game.

Jenova is bare (other than what appears to be an external biological system), with something resembling a heart at its feet. Connected to the heart-like organ are a number of tubes that reach to different parts of the body, the largest of which, pinker in color and similar to an umbilical cord, inserts into its abdomen (or in Final Fantasy VII, an apparently empty space in its abdomen). On its back Jenova has appendages along with what resembles a wing protruding from its left, and a stub of a wing from its right.

Jenova has long silver hair parted through the center. Its left eye glows red and it has no right eye, often being covered by hair. Jenova's headgear links to her container and has an inscription that has had a different message between different depictions of the scene. Above the headgear, an exposed brain lies within Jenova's cranium.

As Jenova bears female anatomy, the body has two breasts. In the original depiction the right breast has what appears to be a nipple resembling an eyeball, but in the remake this is missing. The pubic area is obscured by the tube from the abdomen.

CloseJenovaHead

The plaque on Jenova's head.

The inscription on Jenova's head can be read in a number of its appearances:

  • In Final Fantasy VII, it reads:
    MADE IN HONG KONG
    ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 1996
    SQUER COMPANY LIMITED
  • In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children it reads:
    |µ|-Era 19591010 Hakken
    |µ|-Era 19670702 Fuuin
  • In Last Order -Final Fantasy VII-, it reads:
    STRICT SECRECY
    SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY SECTION
    SHIN-RA COMPANY LIMITED


Jenova Doll[]

Jenova doll

Jenova Doll in Final Fantasy VII.

At the Nibel Reactor Jenova's container is covered by what has been referred to as the "Jenova Cover" or "Jenova Doll". The effigy is a presumably man-made metal construct that resembles the torso of an angel that obscures Jenova while the wings cover the side of the container. Presumably connected to the roof are cables bearing the appearance of golden hair, offering cover to the higher areas of the container.

A tube links from the chamber's entrance to the effigy's abdomen, possibly meant to resemble Jenova who has a similar tube. Whereas Jenova's tube leads to a heart-like organ, the area the cover's pipe leads to has tubes that resemble ventricles. The tube linking to the cover can be used as a path to reach the container. At the entrance to the chamber lies a sign reading "JENOVA".

Nature[]

Nibel Reactor Jenova FFVII Sketch 1

Artwork of Jenova in her tank.

Jenova's genetic structure is a two-way conduit: it can both take in the individualistic traits of its prey, while inserting its own genes into other lifeforms, turning said organisms into violent monsters. Once Jenova lands upon a planet, it will destroy every form of life it finds. Seeking to absorb its prey's memories and form, it can hide as their loved ones to ensnare them.

As stated in Professor Hojo's Jenova Reunion Theory, once Jenova's cells have been separated from the main body, they will seek to reunite. If they are inside a host body, they can influence its mind and body to join the Reunion—sometimes so severely the host organism is killed. Lucrecia Crescent states in Final Fantasy VII that the "Jenova inside her" did not let her die though she sought death,[1] but Gillian Hewley in Crisis Core seems to not have felt this effect. Organisms affected by Jenova often grow a single wing capable of flight.

Once Jenova has destroyed a planet, it uses its remains as a vessel to travel the cosmos to find another planet. Jenova's age is unknown, but since it can lay dormant for millennia if necessary, it might be older than the planet of Gaia itself.

History[]

Arrival[]

Meteorite that destroyed the Cetra from FFVII Remake

The meteorite that brought Jenova to the planet as visualized by Shinra's VR theater in Final Fantasy VII Remake.

Approximately two thousand years ago, an alien creature landed on Gaia when the meteorite it traveled on crashed into the planet. The impact created the North Crater, which froze over and a glacier formed around it over time. The creature approached the Cetra, assuming guises of their departed loved ones while injecting some with a virus (hinted to be genetic material from the creature itself) that mutated them into monsters.[2]

In this way, the creature nearly destroyed both the Cetra and human civilizations. Some of the Cetra banded together to defeat the invader and quarantined it within the North Crater. Despite their victory over the "calamity from the skies", the Cetra civilization's low numbers allowed it to be ultimately destroyed by the humans. The alien, hinted to have influenced the humans into disposing of the Cetra for it, would lie in wait for millennia while forgotten as the Cetra fall into legend.

Rediscovery[]

Jenova's casing-AC

The Jenova effigy in Advent Children.

Roughly two millennia later, almost all memory of the creature had faded. The Shinra Electric Power Company use their mako-harnessing technology to become a world power, seeking more efficient ways to harvest the energy while consolidating their power. The Cetra legend of the promised land piqued their interest, leading the company to begin its research into the Cetra legend.

Approximately 30 years before the main events of Final Fantasy VII, Professor Gast Faremis exhumed the alien creature's remains. Having mistakenly identified it as a Cetra, he ended up naming it Jenova. The Jenova Project became an effort by a number of Shinra scientists to use said being's cells to create a human-Cetra hybrid who would lead them to the promised land.

Shinra was, of course, unsuccessful at creating a Cetra with Jenova's cellular tissues, but those treated with its genome matrix proved useful as super-soldiers, which led to many operatives of SOLDIER, the company's elite privatized military force, being injected with Jenova's cellular matter. Sephiroth, Genesis Rhapsodos, and Angeal Hewley were born from the project during its first stages when Shinra was still trying to create a Cetra. Most of the early research took place in Nibelheim's Shinra Mansion, while Jenova was contained within the mako reactor at Mt. Nibel.

Sephiroth's "mother"[]

Jenova Tank

Jenova's tank in the Nibelheim Reactor.

Sephiroth was infused with Jenova cells when still in the fetal stage. He was never told of his role in the Jenova Project, Professor Hojo only telling the young Sephiroth his mother's name was "Jenova" and that she died giving birth to him. Sephiroth's real mother being Lucrecia Crescent, it is unknown why Hojo chose to fabricate Sephiroth's parentage.

Many years later, Sephiroth was sent to the Nibel Reactor along with a fellow SOLDIER First Class, Zack Fair, and an infantry soldier named Cloud Strife. They found it filled with makonoids, ordinary humans infused with such high levels of mako they had mutated into monstrous entities. Suspecting his origins to be of a similar nature, Sephiroth's anxieties were confirmed when Genesis (who had deserted and rebelled against Shinra) revealed to him part of the true nature of the Jenova Project and how Sephiroth was the "perfect monster" to come out of it. Sephiroth ventured into the Shinra Mansion's basement to read about the Jenova Project, but the strain of these discoveries pushed him into insanity.

Believing himself a descendant of the Cetra whom the humans had "betrayed" Sephiroth went on a killing spree. He burned Nibelheim to the ground and returned to the reactor to collect his "mother". However, Sephiroth could only take Jenova's head before Cloud hurled him into the lifestream below the reactor.

Jenova Headless

A headless Jenova in Shinra HQ.

Shinra forces took over the reactor and gathered any lingering survivors of the massacre (except the local guide, Tifa, who had been saved by her martial arts instructor Zangan) for Professor Hojo's experiments. Hojo injected the survivors with Jenova's cellular matter to test his Jenova Reunion Theory, creating the Sephiroth-clones, people whose psyches would be overridden by Sephiroth's will due to the Jenova cells in their bodies. Sephiroth was declared dead, and Jenova's headless remains were taken to Midgar and placed in Hojo's lab in the Shinra Building.

Due to the Jenova cells present in his body, the lifestream could not absorb Sephiroth completely. His will persisted and learned everything about Jenova, the Cetra, and the circle of life, formulating a plan to be reborn as a god and rule the planet. Sephiroth's will overpowered Jenova's, and he gained the ability to exert his influence on those infected with the creature's biomass and even turn them into vessels imitating his semblance, thus facilitating a plan to have them deliver the Black Materia to him that would allow him to cast the ultimate black magic spell.

In Sephiroth's form[]

Jenova Dreamweaver from FFVII Remake render

Jenova Dreamweaver in the game's remake.

Five years after the Nibelheim Incident, Sephiroth put his scheme into action by acquiring Jenova's main body and slaughtering Shinra employees and President Shinra. In the original, it looks as if the body itself broke out of containment, but in Final Fantasy VII Remake, Jenova's body was taken by two Sephiroth-clones, one of whom transformed into Jenova Dreamweaver and died while the other clone escaped with Jenova's body. When Cloud interacted with the clones, he saw them as Sephiroth himself.

Cloud and his party chased "Sephiroth" across the planet while unaware it was Jenova under Sephiroth's control, who was leaving behind pieces of her body that absorb those with Jenova cells to transform into monsters to hinder their progress. While on the ship Shinra-8 traveling from Junon to Costa del Sol, Cloud and his friends encountered Jenova∙BIRTH/Jenova Emergent which Sephiroth created from Jenova's arm. Sephiroth later creates Jenova∙LIFE/Jenova Lifeclinger in the City of the Ancients after he murdered the last Cetra, Aerith Gainsborough.

A third battle with Jenova occurred in the Whirlwind Maze with Jenova∙DEATH, Cloud afterward realizing that what they had been pursuing was not the real Sephiroth.[3]

Cloud was being influenced on a subconscious level by the Jenova cells inside him as the result of being a subject of Hojo's Jenova Reunion Theory experiment. Having created a fake persona, thinking he was in SOLDIER, the cells made him mentally unstable and easy for Sephiroth to manipulate. The party found the real Sephiroth crystallized in hibernation. Cloud, whom Sephiroth had manipulated into doubting his own personhood, relinquished the Black Materia, allowing Sephiroth to summon Meteor. Sephiroth's ultimate goal was to wound the planet so greatly the lifestream would be summoned to heal the afflicted area, allowing him to absorb it and become a god-like being.

Jenova∙SYNTHESIS.

Cloud recovered and threw off Sephiroth's influence. Together with his party he descended into the Northern Cave to defeat him. Before the final battle they fought Jenova∙SYNTHESIS, a form of Jenova composed of its remaining cells. Once it was defeated, the party reached an evolved Sephiroth and defeated him.

Remnants[]

Rufus' Geostigma

Geostigma.

At least one biological remnant of Jenova remained in a crevasse close to Icicle Inn, discovered by Kyrie and Evan while fleeing from Kadaj. Evan eventually kicked what remained of Jenova into a lifestream pool, prompting Kadaj to dive in after it, causing him to dissolve.

Even with its main body destroyed, Jenova's cells remained within the lifestream and infected thousands who came in contact with them during the time lifestream washed over the planet to help destroy the Meteor Sephiroth had summoned. The infection with Jenova cells manifests as a plague called Geostigma, caused by the body overcompensating to try to eliminate the cells, leading to the development of sores and scars. Not fully diluted in the lifestream, Sephiroth manifested his remnants into being: Loz and Yazoo, and also recreating Kadaj.

Jenova's-Head-FFVIIAC

Jenova's remains in a sealed box.

The trio was compelled to find any physical remains of Jenova. Unbeknownst to them, Rufus Shinra withheld Jenova's remains all along, having had his Turks retrieve them from the North Crater. When Rufus attempted to discard the remains, Kadaj salvaged them. After being defeated by Cloud, Kadaj absorbed the Jenova cells and Sephiroth was reborn in his body.

During his fight with Cloud, Sephiroth unveiled his intentions to assimilate the planet and use it to journey to another world to continue Jenova's work. Sephiroth was defeated and Kadaj was left on the verge of death. Aerith's Great Gospel brought a healing rain upon Midgar and Edge, curing those suffering from Geostigma while Sephiroth's remnants ceased to be. Due to Jenova's high adaptability and previous ability to survive, whether this is its true end is unknown.

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Gameplay[]

Jenova∙BIRTH.
Jenova∙LIFE.
Jenova∙DEATH

The three manifestations of Jenova in the original version of the game.

In Final Fantasy VII Jenova is fought four times. Jenova∙BIRTH is fought on the Cargo Ship. Jenova∙LIFE is fought in the Forgotten City at the end of Part I. Jenova∙DEATH is fought at the Whirlwind Maze, and Jenova∙SYNTHESIS is fought at the end of the game in the depths of Northern Cave.

In Final Fantasy VII Remake, Jenova Dreamweaver is fought on the Shinra Building.

In Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, Jenova Emergent is fought on the Shinra-8. Jenova Lifeclinger is fought in the Forgotten Capital.

Musical themes[]

Jenova has two signature themes in Final Fantasy VII. The first is "JENOVA", played in fights with Jenova∙BIRTH and Jenova∙DEATH, in the fight against Hojo, and also in the stairway at the end of the game. The theme was remixed in the remake with elements of “One Winged Angel” The second track is "JENOVA COMPLETE", played during the fight with Jenova∙SYNTHESIS.

In the fight against Jenova∙LIFE, "Aerith's Theme" plays instead.

In Final Fantasy VII Remake, Jenova's theme is called "J-E-N-O-V-A - Quickening". It has a new arrangement of the original theme as its third part, as well as two new arrangements for the first two parts. The theme plays during the battle against Jenova Dreamweaver.

In Final Fantasy VII Rebirth, Jenova has two musical themes, first, "J-E-N-O-V-A - Emergence", played during the battle against Jenova Emergent, and the second, "J-E-N-O-V-A - Tenacity", is played during the battle against Jenova Lifeclinger.

Other appearances[]

Final Fantasy Record Keeper[]

Jenova's boss forms appear as enemies in Final Fantasy Record Keeper.

Final Fantasy Brave Exvius[]

Jenova, most especifically Jenova・LIFE appears as an enemy boss during the Temple of the Ancients event. Additionally a creature from the game's fourth season known as Omega, while being named after a recurring enemy is largely inspired on Jenova herself, being an alien lifeform threatening the world of Levonia via its progeny the Omega Cores, parasitic fragments of Omega capable of infecting living beings turning them into feral monsters known as Omega Spawn who are equally capable of infecting others through injury.

Other media[]

Jenova Chen, designer of award-winning games such as Flower and Journey, took his name from the character Jenova and says that Final Fantasy VII is an influence to his work.

One of the servers of Final Fantasy XIV is named Jenova.

Behind the scenes[]

Development[]

Nibel Reactor Jenova FFVII Sketch 2

Artwork of Jenova.

According to the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega, in an early version of the Final Fantasy VII script the fact the party is chasing Jenova rather than Sephiroth was made more explicit. During the party's confrontation with Jenova in Sephiroth's form on the cargo ship, "Sephiroth" would open his cape to shoot out a piece of Jenova, its hand. The Sephiroth-clones were not individual people infected with Jenova's cells but pieces of Jenova floating in air hiding under cloaks in the shapes of people. Each piece was named to be either its hand, thumb, or heart; this is why Cloud refers to Jenova∙BIRTH as the "arm" of Jenova upon its defeat. There were also two more boss fights: one between Cosmo Canyon and Nibelheim, and one in the Temple of the Ancients.

It has been suggested from the material present in the Ultimania Omega that rather than there being several Black Capes, there was just one, Jenova, who was cutting off bits of its body as it journeyed towards Sephiroth until all that remains is a heart. In the original version the party would catch up with the Black Cape in the Whirlwind Maze, and the figure would remove the hood to show it has no face, and then take off the cloak to show it is nothing but Jenova's heart floating midair, the final piece, which would then transform into a monster.

Nibel Reactor Jenova Cover FFVII Sketch 1

Artwork of the Jenova effigy.

Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega[4] goes further to reveal that in the game's early plans Jenova wasn't an extraterrestrial being, but rather, a certain region of the human brain, or genes. The name "Jenova" was supposed to have originated from a book written by the Cetra. The element "Jenova" wasn't meant to surface under normal conditions, but rarely people were born in whom "Jenova" awakened naturally. The Jenova element could have been awakened through artificial means by exposing the person to mako energy. The book of Jenova was said to have been written by the Cetra and known in the legends as both the "Book of God" and the "Book of the Devil" detailing everything unknown of the human brain (or genes).

"Thaumaturge" was a name given to those whose Jenova had awakened, used to denote those with special senses ordinary humans lack, regardless whether the abilities were innate (Aerith) or acquired (Sephiroth). Thaumaturge's abilities varied but they shared a common ability to be drawn to and sense one another. Those especially skilled were even sensitive to the thoughts of others. The Turks were planned to be experts at searching out the Thaumaturge.

The original idea of Jenova being a state of mind was later used in Parasite Eve and Xenogears, both also produced by Square.

In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, though Jenova's remains are referred to as "Jenova's head", the film's staff have stated the remains are merely random clusters of its cells and the term "head" was used due to a lack of an official term, and it stuck. The staff ensured the cloaked Rufus was never shown to move his left hand leaving viewers to presume he was injured, but the intention was that Rufus was gripping onto Jenova. During development, an early idea tossed around was that Kadaj would eat the Jenova cells to complete Sephiroth's reunion.[5]

Jenova only has a single line of dialogue throughout the entire Compilation credited to it. The line comes directly after the party defeats Jenova∙LIFE, and says, "Because‚ you are... a puppet" to Cloud. In the PlayStation version of the game, the line was: "Beacause, [sic] you are......a puppet".

Final Fantasy VII Remake[]

Sephiroth holding a clone from FFVII Remake

"Sephiroth" holding the headless Jenova wrapped in black cloth in the remake.

Getting Jenova's design to pass the ratings restrictions was something of a challenge. Even though Jenova is not human, her being headless and naked was a potential issue. To rectify this, the developers reluctantly added a mechanical apparatus to her head and covered her in a cloth when Sephiroth was carrying her. The developers wanted to include Jenova's blood trail, but using red blood was not possible to keep a lower age rating. Instead, she leaves behind a fantasy-like purple substance. They still needed it checked numerous times before it was permitted.[6]

The incarnation of Jenova fought in Final Fantasy VII Remake is named Jenova Dreamweaver in the game's final English localization, but is known as Jenova Beat (ジェノバBeat, Jenoba Bīto?) in the Japanese version, and the data in the leaked demo build indicates that it was originally localized as "Jenova PULSE" at some point prior to the game's release, a name that was kept for the Italian localization (as "Jenova Pulse"). It is named "Jenova-Puls" in the German localization, "Jenova-PULSATION" in the French localization, "Jenova Onírica" in the Portuguese localization, and "Jenova alfa" in the Spanish localization.

Shiva loading screen from FFVII Remake

Shiva's loading screen description mentions that according to legend, she once saved the planet from catastrophe by "staunching a great wound with a glacier", alluding to Jenova's arrival to the planet that has since encased the Icicle Area in snow. In the original Final Fantasy VII, based on Gast and Ifalna's taped conversations found in the Icicle Inn, it is explained that the north of the planet never melts because the planet's energy is gathered there to heal its injury.[7]

Pop culture allusion[]

Jenova's ability to copy other organisms and its cells being semi-independent organisms to themselves, as well as its being an alien found sealed in the arctic, are reminiscent of The Thing. Final Fantasy VII: Remake and Rebirth build up on that similarity with Jenova Emergent and Jenova Lifeclinger absorbing Sephiroth Clones. Jenova shares its trait as a cosmic world-consuming threat with the character Lavos, from the Square Co., Ltd. developed game Chrono Trigger. Sephiroth's ability to assimilate Jenova's cells while maintaining his identity is similar to Edward Pretorius from From Beyond with his devotion to Jenova and insanity reminiscent of Norman Bates from the Psycho franchise started by Alfred Hitchcock.

Gallery[]

Etymology and symbolism[]

Jenova's name could be a portmanteau of "Jehovah" and "Nova". "Jehovah" is a widely-accepted romanization of the ineffable Hebrew name 'יהוה', the covenantal name of the Abrahamic God. Nova is from the Latin feminine adjective for "new".

Nova means "new" in Latin. A nova is a cataclysmic nuclear explosion caused by the accretion of hydrogen onto the surface of a white dwarf star. Supernovae are extremely luminous and cause a burst of radiation that often briefly outshines an entire galaxy, before fading from view over several weeks or months. During the 16th century, astronomer Tycho Brahe observed the supernova SN 1572 in the constellation Cassiopeia, describing it in his book De stella nova (Latin for "concerning the new star"), giving rise to the name nova. Given Jenova's association with planetary and universal themes, this may or may not be a coincidence.

The "jen" segment may hint at "genetics", a theme within the game. In this way, the name can be interpreted as "gene-nova".

Jenova has also been known as the "calamity from the skies".

All of these combine to form a name that alludes to planetary catastrophe (Meteor), genetic traits and experiments (Hojo's creations, Aerith's Cetra genes, Jenova's genetic "children"), and the birth of a new god (Sephiroth).

Final Fantasy VII draws heavily from the Lurian Kabbalah (a type of Jewish Mysticism) and Gnosticism. Both Kabbalah and Gnosticism proclaim that humans have inside their bodies a spark of divine light from the Absolute, which returns there upon death. This Absolute is an infinite wellspring of spiritual energy, knowledge, and goodness, mirroring the function of the lifestream. The Kabbalah states that the Absolute is the Abrahamic God, whereas early Gnostics believed him to be an incompetent or malicious false god known as the demiurge ("artisan" in ancient Greek) who merely believed himself the uncreated deity because he was shielded from the Absolute by his "mother", an emanation from the Absolute (known as an Aeon) who fell from the skies. This demiurge, trapped in the material world, cannot create anything good, and instead corrupts the sparks of light, just like Jenova's corruption of the lifestream and of human beings.

Jenova being known as "the calamity from the skies" and being a deceiving abominable yet obscured menace of Gaia draws allusion to Lucifer or Satan, who was cast down upon the earth from heaven for rebelling against God due to his pride, and upon declaring himself "ruler of this (earthly) world", became the ruler of hell and tempts and corrupts God's creations to make for himself an army upon the end of the world.

Citations[]

  1. Final Fantasy VII, Lucrecia: I wanted to disappear... I couldn't be with anyone... I wanted to die... But the Jenova inside me wouldn't let me die...
  2. Final Fantasy VII script:
    Ifalna: That's when the one who injured the Planet... or the 'crisis from the sky', as we call him, came. He first approached as a friend, deceived them, and finally...... gave them the virus. The Cetra were attacked by the virus and went mad... transforming into monsters. Then, just as he had at the Knowlespole. He approached other Cetra clans...... infecting them with... the virus...
  3. Final Fantasy VII script
    Cloud: Jenova's cells... ...hmm. So that's what this is all about. The Jenova Reunion...
    Tifa: Not Sephiroth!? You mean all this time it wasn't Sephiroth we've been after?
    Cloud: I'll explain later. Right now, the only thing I'm thinking about is beating Sephiroth.
  4. Early Material Files Worldview & Terminology – p. 523-525 of the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega (Accessed: April 11, 2020) at The Lifestream
  5. Advent Children Staff Commentary (Accessed: April 11, 2020) at The Lifestream
  6. Team, FF7 (2020, August 28). "Final Fantasy VII Remake Ultimania Interview with Motomu Toriyama, English Translation". From game8. Archived from the original on 23 February, 2021.
  7. Final Fantasy VII, Gast: Hmm, even here so close to the North Cave, the snow never melts. Is that because the planet's energy is gathered here to heal its injury?
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