Ugh! I'm gonna die anyway. I won't have to be afraid anymore. But I'm not gonna die alone. You're all coming with me!
Kuja is the main antagonist of Final Fantasy IX. He operates behind the scenes, at first working in Queen Brahne of Alexandria's shadow. He wishes to acquire the power of the eidolons to come to rule Gaia. He is a powerful sorcerer who rides a silver dragon.
Kuja speaks in metaphors, referring to Garnet as a "canary" and Brahne as "the elephant-lady". His refined nature juxtaposes his role as a sadistic war-bringer. Kuja loves luxury, as evidenced by his home at Desert Palace and spending time in the nobles' district in Treno.
- 1 Profile
- 2 Story
- 3 Gameplay
- 4 Voice
- 5 Musical themes
- 6 Other appearances
- 7 Other media
- 8 Gallery
- 9 Etymology and symbolism
- 10 References
Kuja has silver hair that falls halfway down his back. At 24 years old, Kuja is the youngest main antagonist in the Final Fantasy series. He wears a large feather in his hair, has light-blue eyes and pale complexion, and is of medium height and light build. He wears white sleeves with a violet mantle around his shoulders. A white robe covers the back of his legs down to his ankles held up by four straps that act as a codpiece. He wears armored, dark purple boots, with golden buckles.
When in Trance, Kuja becomes covered in red fur and his clothes, which turn white, become tattered. He has a long furred tail in this form.
Peace is but a shadow of death, desperate to forget its painful past... Though we hope for promising years after shedding a thousand tears, yesterday's sorrow constantly nears. And while the moon still shines blue, by dawn, it will turn to scarlet hue.
Kuja is narcissistic in contrast to Zidane's humility. Kuja has an ego to match his power, and he lets his pride rule his head. Kuja once chose to let Zidane live even if he had a chance to kill him to prove himself superior. After discovering his destiny as a mortal, Kuja's cultured personality turns into insanity, believing life should not be allowed to continue without him. His descent into insanity and rebellion against Garland are implied to stem from the fear of oblivion as Garland intended to recycle Kuja's soul for a new Genome. He is unfazed by being wounded, shown when being attacked by Bahamut.
Kuja uses his elegance to hide his insecurities, and deep down is conflicted over his existence. Kuja scorns the black mages he helped create, but also finds himself identifying with them. As explained in Final Fantasy IX Ultimania, Kuja never experienced childhood, and thus his emotional growth is stunted and he cannot use Trance. Kuja is thus initially unable to empathize with others or feel remorse for his actions. It appears that learning of his fate as a mortal and rebelling against this destiny allows Kuja to grow, as after losing his fight he comes to see at least some of the repercussions of his actions and to regret them.
In the Japanese versions of Final Fantasy IX and Dissidia, Kuja refers to himself with the boyish pronoun boku and addresses others with the familiar/informal kimi.
Kuja is an exceptional mage. He knows the technology to manufacture black mages from Mist, and even with no outside help can summon Mistodons. He can control monsters as well as an army of Silver Dragons led by the Nova Dragon. He also commands the monster Deathguise that attacks Zidane's party in the Crystal World.
Kuja is largely immune to injury; even Bahamut's attack barely draws blood from him. Even when not in Trance he can cast the powerful Flare Star. After entering Trance Kuja's power increases exponentially. He knows the strongest spells including Curaga, Holy, Flare and Flare Star. He destroys Terra with Ultima, and uses it as a final attack when on the verge of defeat.
Kuja is a Genome created by the ruler of the dead planet of Terra, Garland, in 1776. Garland's ultimate plan is for Terra to assimilate the planet of Gaia via replacing the Gaian souls with Terran ones. To accelerate the process Garland created Kuja and sent him to Gaia to incite war so Gaian souls would be replaced faster. However, Garland initially deemed Kuja a failure. According to the Final Fantasy IX Ultimania, Kuja was created as he is and never experienced a childhood. Thus he never developed full human emotions and would never be able to enter Trance, the world's ultimate power.
A strong mind of his own with no feelings of remorse or conscience was a dangerous mix, perfect for inciting war but difficult for Garland to harness. Garland thus placed a limit on Kuja's lifespan and created another Genome who would be different from Kuja from the outset: Zidane was created as a child able to learn and grow, and thus develop the ability for complex emotions needed to enter Trance, making him superior to Kuja.
While Garland never told him, Kuja was only a temporary Angel of Death meant to kill people on Gaia until Garland could perfect the true Angel of Death: Zidane. Kuja felt threatened by the new Genome and kidnapped him and abandoned him on Gaia. Garland continued using Kuja while a third Angel of Death, Mikoto, was eventually created, but outraged at Kuja's behavior, Garland banished Kuja from returning to Terra. Kuja, defiant of his master, made his home in the Desert Palace instead, though he frequents Treno and is known there as a nobleman.
Scheming against Garland
According to the Final Fantasy IX Ultimania Kuja destroyed Madain Sari on Garland's instructions. Garland, fearful that the summoners' power to call forth the magical eidolons would come between him and his plans, wanted to eradicate the practice from Gaia. Kuja grew curious about these mythical beasts his master so feared, and came to pursue them himself.
The strongest eidolon in human memory, Alexander, was summoned only once 500 years ago. After being deemed dangerous its summoning crystal was split up in four fragments so it may never be summoned again and distributed between the kingdoms of the Mist Continent.
It sounded perfect to Kuja who was scheming towards his own goals and only appeared loyal to Garland on the surface. Kuja knows if Garland's plan to fuse the planets was to succeed his role as the Angel of Death would end and his soul would no longer be his own as Garland would want to turn him into a regular Genome, a mere soul vessel. Kuja decided he had found the perfect weapon to overthrow Garland and become the master of both Terra and Gaia. With this idea in mind, Kuja began to pursue Alexander's crystal shards.
Mwahaha... So the curtain rises! Perfect, my canary. Let me show you the truth about your mother! First Act: The End of Ugly Desire. It's showtime!
Kuja, to Garnet
In early 1799 Kuja becomes a weapons supplier to Queen Brahne so she can conquer the neighboring nations of Burmecia and Lindblum and capture their crystal shards. The weapons Kuja supplies are the black mages, soulless golems who wield powerful magic. It is hinted Kuja knows how Genomes are manufactured and used this knowledge in making of the black mages.
Kuja kidnapped Hildagarde Fabool in July 1799, a noblewoman from the nation of Lindblum, who had taken a prototype airship from Lindblum named after her that flies on advanced technology, the Hilda Garde. Kuja kept Hilda captive and, in need of an audience to fuel his narcissism, told her of his plans to conquer Terra an Gaia while taking the airship for himself.
Burmecia is conquered, and Zidane—now a thief living in Gaia with no knowledge of his origins—sets out on a quest to find out what is happening alongside his friend, a Burmecian Freya Crescent, and a sentient black mage, Vivi Ornitier, as well as possibly a Qu gourmand, Quina Quen. The four arrive too late to defend the kingdom and are defeated by General Beatrix of Alexandria. Kuja observes Zidane before boarding his dragon and departing the site.
Brahne, under Kuja's advice, extracts her daughter's eidolons and summons Odin to destroy the Burmecian survivors at Cleyra and to capture Cleyra's crystal shard. Zidane and his allies sneak aboard Brahne's airship and teleport back to Alexandria Castle.
Zidane and his friends rescue Brahne's daughter Garnet, who learns of her roots as a summoner. The group splits with Zidane, Garnet, and Vivi returning to Lindblum, only to witness Brahne conquer it with Atomos and her army of black mages. The surrendered Regent Cid tells Zidane's party about Kuja's role as Brahne's weapons supplier, and the three turn their attention to defeating him and cutting off Brahne's supply of black mages. Armed with the knowledge that Kuja came from the north, they set out to the Outer Continent.
Zidane, Vivi, and Garnet track Kuja, following leads to the Black Mage Village and the summoners' ruined village of Madain Sari, recruiting Quina, Eiko Carol, and Amarant Coral along the journey. The group continues to the Iifa Tree, a gigantic tree that assists in filtering the Gaian and Terran souls—the Mist that Kuja uses to create the black mages is a by-product of this process. The party kills Soulcage, stopping the flow of Mist, but Kuja arrives on his dragon and tells them he no longer cares.
Brahne's fleet arrives, and Brahne, deeming she no longer needs him, attacks Kuja. Kuja survives Brahne's onslaught and she summons Bahamut. Kuja enslaves Bahamut by calling forth the Invincible, a Terran airship able to house souls, and kills the queen by destroying her fleet.
Your former master is here, Bahamut. Play a requiem for her and all of Alexandria!
Garnet is crowned the new queen and Kuja returns to Alexandria intent on killing her with his new eidolon. Kuja summons Bahamut and commands it to destroy the kingdom. Garnet and Eiko rush to Alexandria Castle's turrets and call forth the eidolon guardian of Alexandria, Alexander, by bringing the four crystal fragments together.
Alexander destroys Bahamut and Kuja attempts to enslave the former by calling the Invincible. Garland has learned of Kuja's rebellion and commands the Invincible to destroy both Alexander and Alexandria, frustrating Kuja, and leaving him without an eidolon to manipulate. Kuja vows he will find an eidolon even stronger than Alexander and departs.
Zidane and his allies return to Lindblum where Cid tells them Kuja has been spotted in control of his Hilda Garde airship, and has recruited the sentient black mages from the Black Mage Village. They use Cid's sailing ship, the Blue Narciss, to return to the Outer Continent and find Kuja's Desert Palace. Kuja captures the group, and tells Zidane he will release his friends if he retrieves an artifact for him, sending Zidane to Oeilvert with three friends of his choosing.
While Zidane is at Oeilvert Kuja attempts to kill his companions who were left behind. They narrowly escape, but Zidane returns before Kuja finds the escapees and hands over the Gulug Stone. Kuja escapes with Eiko, and Zidane follows him to Mount Gulug where Kuja commands Zorn and Thorn, Brahne's jesters that now work for him, to extract Eiko's eidolons, but the attempt fails because she is too young.
Eiko's pet moogle Mog enters Trance, unleashing her true power as the eidolon Madeen. Kuja realizes that to enter Trance one needs to experience a surge of powerful emotions, and formulates a new plan. He decides he doesn't need an eidolon to fight Garland after all; he simply needs to enter Trance.
Return to Terra
So, Master Garland. You are no longer needed. And after you've worked so hard...I shall rule Terra and Gaia with my unconditional love from now on...
Kuja loses all his allies when the black mages realize he had tricked them and return to their village. Zorn and Thorn were killed by Zidane's party, who have rescued Hilda and taken back the airship Hilda Garde. With help from Hilda Zidane and his companions open the path to Terra. Zidane meets Garland who reveals his and Kuja's past, claiming Kuja is in denial of his existence as a Genome.
Garland attempts to take Zidane's soul and turn him into an ordinary Genome when Zidane defies his plans. He survives and Zidane and his allies attack Garland. A weakened Garland is usurped by Kuja who has returned to Terra on his Silver Dragon and taken control of the Invincible.
Kuja enters a Trance and crushes Zidane and his friends with Ultima. Perhaps because Kuja is a Genome, a being designed as a vessel for souls, he has been able to be empowered by the captive souls on the Invincible, including the soul of Queen Brahne; her feelings of greed, hatred, and jealousy were the emotional surges Kuja needed to enter such a powerful Trance. Kuja kicks Garland off the precipice of Castle Pandemonium and declares he will rule both Gaia and Terra.
Garland's spirit lingers and speaks to Kuja, telling him he was created to last only until the real Angel of Death, Zidane, reached maturity. Kuja realizes he is but a temporary pawn, much like the black mages he so despises. The revelation of his impending death drives Kuja mad, and he declares he won't let the world exist without him.
A mortal...? ...I'm finished? I don't believe you! Why would I believe such a silly story! You're telling me that I'll die soon, now that I'm more powerful than anyone? I'm gonna...die!? Lose my soul...? Ha... HAHAHAHAHAHA! What comedy! Zidane, isn't it hilarious!? I'll die just like the black mages I so despise! I single-handedly brought chaos unto Gaia, but in the end, I'm nothing but a worthless doll!
...I won't let it happen. I won't... I won't let this world exist without me!
Kuja destroys Terra with a barrage of Ultima spells and returns to Gaia. Zidane and his friends escape on the Invincible along with the other Genomes they saved. They find Gaia covered in Mist and surmise Kuja is at the Iifa Tree. With the help of Beatrix commanding an alliance of the survivors of the Mist Continent's kingdoms, Zidane and his friends penetrate the barrier into Memoria, a world made manifest of the planet's memories. Guided by Garland's spirit, they travel deeper into Memoria and travel back in time to the origin of the universe, the Crystal World.
In the Crystal World they find Kuja at the Crystal, the source of all life. Kuja summons Deathguise who is summarily destroyed. Kuja engages Zidane's party himself, and upon his defeat casts Ultima, defeating them. Zidane and his friends appear in the Hill of Despair and encounter Necron, a being summoned by Kuja's fear of death to destroy all life and save it from the suffering of existence. Necron is defeated, and life is allowed to continue.
After you guys beat me, I had nothing left...nothing more to lose. Then, I finally realized what it means to live... I guess I was too late.
Kuja, who has lost his Trance, uses the last of his powers to teleport Zidane and his friends outside the Iifa Tree. Zidane stays behind to rescue him as the tree's trunk and roots start to collapse. A weakened Kuja is full of self-loath and regret, but is glad to hear Zidane's friends have escaped unharmed. As Kuja's body goes limp, the tree's interior collapses and Zidane protects the former as flailing roots converge on them. Mikoto, the third Angel of Death Garland had created, later tells Kuja in spirit how he taught the Genomes they can be more than mindless vessels and has given them hope for the future.
Kuja is fought as a boss in Pandemonium and in Trance form in Memoria. Both times he casts Ultima upon his defeat, so although the party wins the battle, for storyline purposes Kuja prevails. At the end of his fight in Pandemonium, Kuja morphs into Trance form, but cannot be fought, and casts Ultima ending the fight.
Kuja is the only main antagonist in the series who defeats the player party every time he is battled. His final form falls after he casts Ultima, ending the battle in "double KO".
In the Dissidia Final Fantasy series he is voiced by Akira Ishida in Japanese.
In the English versions he is voiced by JD Cullum. Kuja speaks in an aristocratic manner with a narcissistic pitch.
"Kuja's Theme" is a sinister piano theme accompanied by a heavy beat which plays during many of his appearances, most prominently during his first appearance in Burmecia.
"Dark Messenger" plays during the fight against Trance Kuja in the Crystal World. It starts with the organ like the original Kuja theme, but turns into synthesized electric guitar accompanying the original theme.
Kuja has made appearances in the following games in the Final Fantasy series:
- Final Fantasy Dimensions II as a signet summon.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy (2008) as a playable character.
- Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy as a playable character.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy NT as a playable character.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy Opera Omnia as a playable character and enemy boss.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Curtain Call as an enemy boss
- 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 Record Keeper as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius as a summonable vision.
- Final Fantasy Trading Card Game as a series of cards.
- Tetra Master as an opponent and cards..
- Triple Triad as a series of cards.
In the GBA, PSP, and mobile remakes of the original Final Fantasy, there is a town in the Whisperwind Cove where a child asks the party if they have a "Trance Kuja action figure," because it's the only one missing from his collection.
Non-Final Fantasy guest appearances
Kuja has made key guest appearances in the following non-Final Fantasy games:
- Lord of Vermilion series.
- Puzzle & Dragons as a playable character.
- Monster Strike as a playable character.
A costume based on Kuja for Gunslinger Stratos 2 was released on November 2014.
Etymology and symbolism
In Hindi, kuj or kuja means "born of the earth". In Hindu cosmogony Kuja is the name of the planet Mars, which is also the name of the Roman God of War.
In Tagalog, kuya formally means "older brother". Informally, it may also be used to refer to an older male person, usually a blood relative, within the same generation as the addressor.
"Born of the earth" may symbolize Kuja's birth on Terra (terra is Latin for Earth), and reflect Kuja's role to incite war and destruction on Gaia. Mars is known as the red planet, fitting with Terra being the red planet to contrast Gaia's blue. Kuja could also be considered to be Zidane's brother.
An alternative Japanese spelling of kuja is 九蛇, which translates to "nine snakes", referencing both the title from which he hails as well as his untrustworthy and scheming characteristics.
Kuja's name may also be derived from the Japanese word kujaku, which means "peacock", an animal befitting of Kuja's flamboyant and vain nature.
Kuja's story arc about going to extremes to ensure his soul is preserved even at the expense of others takes from Japanese cultural views, in particular the concepts in Zen Buddhism, Neo-Confucianism and Shintoism regarding the inevitability of death and how one should not have an aggressive ego due to it harming oneself and others.
- FFIX World Chronology – p.44-46 of the FFIX Ultimania - Characters' personal timelines (Accessed: December 07, 2018) at The Lifestream
- World Establishment (development materials) continued – p.41 and 42 of the FFIX Ultimania (Accessed: December 06, 2018) at TheLifestream.net
- FFIX World Chronology – p.44-46 of the FFIX Ultimania (Accessed: December 06, 2018) at TheLifestream
- Kuja: It's Trance! You know how it works. But a normal Trance won't be enough to defeat you... [...] When I saw that in Gulug Volcano, I came up with a plan. It was easy. I just needed to borrow the power from wretched souls that can't die... Where did I acquire it? It was the Invincible, or should I say, that large eyeball in the sky? The ship sucked up the souls of Madain Sari, the Iifa Tree, Alexandria, to feed upon them... When it fought Bahamut at the Iifa Tree, the Invincible drew in a powerful spirit... Can you guess to whom it belonged? Queen Brahne's soul! The soul of your mother! The souls trapped inside the Invincible welcomed me with open arms. They were fed up with being your prisoners, Garland.