Once a scientist, always a scientist, I must say.
Professor Hojo（宝条教授）is a major character in the Final Fantasy VII series. He is a secondary antagonist in Final Fantasy VII, and the main antagonist of Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-. He also appears in Final Fantasy VII Remake and Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-.
Hojo is the main mastermind behind SOLDIER and the Jenova Project, and initially heads the Shinra Electric Power Company's Science Research Division. His goals differ from Shinra's, with a focus on scientific pursuits and monitoring the actions of his greatest creation. Hojo's actions with SOLDIER and Jenova connect him to most of the major antagonists of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.
- 1 Profile
- 2 Story
- 3 Gameplay
- 4 Behind the scenes
- 5 Gallery
- 6 Etymology
- 7 References
Profile[edit | edit source]
Appearance[edit | edit source]
Hojo is a gaunt middle-aged man with a long black ponytail. He wears small round glasses and a white lab coat, white oxford-style shirt, blue tie, gray trousers with a brown belt, and gray shoes. He has a distinctive hunched, shuffling walk.
Personality[edit | edit source]
Hojo is the archetypal mad scientist who does not care about the well-being of others when he puts his hypotheses and theories to the test. He is arrogant and condescending, referring to people as "test subjects" and not bothering to learn their names unless, like Sephiroth, they prove exceptional. Hojo's only desire is the pursuit of science and understanding of the planet, willing to go to any lengths to further his knowledge.
Hojo performs many horrific experiments on unwilling human subjects with no regard for their welfare, and eventually even experiments on himself. He is also secretive and conniving, possessing full knowledge of Jenova's true calamitous nature while keeping such details from the rest of the Shinra board of directors. When his actions put the city of Midgar at risk, Hojo considers it just another price to pay in pursuit of science. Even when the entire planet is in peril, he does not seem to fully comprehend this, narrowly focusing on the scientific implications.
Hojo admits he hates himself for his ignorance, having foreseen Sephiroth's power surpasses the science he believes in. In Hoshi o Meguru Otome, Hojo has no regrets over his actions and cares about nothing other than seeing his greatest experiment be completed.
Hojo's appearances in Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- focus on his megalomania and enjoyment in seeing others suffer, laughing maniacally at sights of death and carnage, and gloating about how both Vincent and the Tsviets were mere pawns in his plan. Several flashbacks focus on Vincent confronting Hojo about the ethics of the Jenova Project; the first time Hojo dismisses him, saying he and Lucrecia are scientists and know what they are doing. Hojo displays a conflicting attitude towards his assistant, as after he found her trying to infuse Vincent with Chaos, he praised her on using a "fine specimen", saying, "Once a scientist, always a scientist". However, he also dismissed her theory as "utter nonsense". When Lucrecia returned after breaking off from Vincent, he condescendingly stated that she came to her senses by choosing him. Whether Hojo was in love with Lucrecia is unknown, but it is implied he admired her solely for her appearance and intelligence. Given his penchant for experimentation, it is likely he married her to create a being with superior intelligence and abilities.
Story[edit | edit source]
Jenova Project S[edit | edit source]
Approximately thirty years prior to Final Fantasy VII, Shinra's top researcher, Gast Faremis, discovered Jenova, a destructive extraterrestrial being, buried in the North Crater. He mistakenly believed Jenova to be a Cetra, a member of a mystical ancient race that inhabited the planet before present day humanity. Dr. Hollander, Hojo, and another Shinra scientist named Lucrecia Crescent, were assigned to work on the Jenova Project under Professor Gast. The project's ultimate goal was to create a human with the powers of the Cetra who could lead Shinra to the Cetra's promised land. It was believed this could have been realized by testing the effects of Jenova cells on an unborn child. Hojo worked on what would come to be called "Jenova Project S" while Hollander worked on "Jenova Project G".
Lucrecia became the romantic interest of Vincent Valentine, a member of the Turks assigned as the scientists' bodyguard. Due to her guilt over causing Vincent's father's death, Lucrecia rejected him and entered into a relationship with Hojo. Lucrecia became pregnant, and she and Hojo offered up their unborn child to the Jenova Project. Vincent objected, and during a heated argument, Hojo shot him and performed experiments on his body before leaving him sealed in a coffin in the Shinra Manor basement in Nibelheim.
After an incident where Lucrecia attempted to save Vincent's life by infusing him with Chaos, and his brief transformation into Chaos, Hojo conducted an experiment to summon Omega and see the results of Omega's awakening. Eager to produce a superior specimen to Hollander's methods, where Hollander had injected a woman named Gillian Hewley with Jenova cells and then transferred her cells to a fetus, Hojo injected Jenova cells into Lucrecia's unborn child. The child Lucrecia had was Sephiroth. Eventually the superiority of Sephiroth over Hollander's specimen, Genesis Rhapsodos, led to Hojo taking control of Shinra's Science Research Division and all experiments involving Jenova.
Although Sephiroth did not gain the powers of the Cetra as originally envisioned, his physical strength was exceptional, and so Shinra raised Sephiroth to be the ultimate soldier, becoming a hero in the Wutai War. Sephiroth was unaware of his parentage, being told his mother was named Jenova, and never knowing Hojo was his father.
Sephiroth came to detest Hojo, referring to him as "a walking mass of complexes" and seeing him as an inferior scientist to Gast. Gast left the Jenova Project prior to Sephiroth's birth, Shinra finding a true Cetra named Ifalna. Although Shinra intended to use her for research and experimentation, Gast fell in love with her and abandoned Shinra. The two fled to Icicle Inn where Gast recorded logs of her knowledge of Jenova and the planet as they had a daughter together: Aerith. Hojo led a raid on the inn twenty days after Aerith’s birth and killed Gast and captured Ifalna and Aerith before overlooking his predecessor's video logs, holding the two captive at the Shinra Building in Midgar before they escaped to the Midgar Slums. Ifalna died from wounds sustained in their escape, entrusting Aerith's care to Elmyra Gainsborough before her death. Hojo had Shinra salvage Ifalna's corpse, with her cells being extracted from hair, skin, bones and internal organs for the research on the Ancients.
Genesis experiments and the Nibelheim Incident[edit | edit source]
In Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII-, Hojo indirectly fuels Fuhito's ambition to create the Ravens, Fuhito's twisted counterpart SOLDIERs. Hojo had implanted the Zirconiade materia within Elfe, the leader of the first Avalanche. The Turks mention Hojo when they are dispatched to Cosmo Canyon to capture Red XIII to be used as a test subject.
Do you think that a scientist who does not even know about the Jenova Project can stop deterioration?
Hojo to Zack and Sephiroth about Hollander
During Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Hojo works in the Shinra Building Training Room prior to the first attack by the Genesis Army. He tests programs he created aiming to prove his genius by having a SOLDIER member Zack defeated. When Zack survives, Hojo tells him they will have a special relationship. During his visit, the scientists normally stationed there show their fear and disgust of Hojo. Hojo continues to challenge Zack in the Hojo's Lab series of missions, pitting him against genetically enhanced monsters and virtual reality simulations.
When Genesis rebels against Shinra he attempts to kill Hojo on behalf of Dr. Hollander, but Zack and Angeal Hewley intervene. Hojo mocks Genesis, and tells him Hollander won't be able to halt his degradation, referring to his former colleague as a "second-rate hack who couldn't even cure a cold", and implies Hollander doesn't even know about the Jenova Project. During the encounter Hojo demonstrates knowledge and dislike of the epic LOVELESS—he claims to have read it in the belief it might further his research, but denounces it as "pure drivel".
Five years prior to the start of Final Fantasy VII Sephiroth leads a Shinra team on a mission to investigate a malfunction of the Nibel Reactor. The mission ends in a disaster when Sephiroth learns of the experiments tied to his birth and destroys the village of Nibelheim in a rage and attempts to reclaim Jenova stored in the reactor. It is implied in Final Fantasy VII that Hojo deliberately left enough clues for Sephiroth to figure out his origins to manipulate him for his final experiment. SOLDIER First Class Zack Fair and a Shinra guardsman Cloud Strife combat Sephiroth, and though Cloud throws Sephiroth into the pool of mako within the reactor, both Zack and Cloud are badly wounded.
Arriving at Nibelheim during Shinra's clean-up, Hojo decides to further his research of Jenova and test his "Jenova Reunion Theory" of divided Jenova cells seeking to reunite. Hojo injects the survivors, including Zack and Cloud, with samples of Sephiroth's genetic material and infuses them with mako, turning them into Sephiroth-clones. Only Tifa is spared, having been rescued by Zangan before Shinra arrived.
Hojo believed the subjects' minds would break down and they would be driven by the desire to reunite with Jenova. Hojo had numbers tattooed on the bodies of each of his successful Sephiroth-clones, but Zack and Cloud were deemed failures: Zack because his SOLDIER training and strong will made him resistant to Jenova cells and prevented his mind from collapsing, and Cloud because his mind was too weak and was rendered catatonic due to mako poisoning. The two would be kept captive beneath the Shinra Manor in Nibelheim until they break out several years later and escape.
Original continuity[edit | edit source]
Jenova Reunion Theory and Meteorfall[edit | edit source]
In Final Fantasy VII when Cloud's group infiltrates the Shinra Building in Midgar to rescue Aerith after the Turks abducted her, they witness Hojo participate in the Shinra executives' meeting where he explains to President Shinra his intent of breeding Aerith with another test subject, revealed to be Red XIII, as Hojo seeks to create a specimen with a long enough lifespan to withstand the lengthy study. Following Hojo to his lab, Cloud and the others rescue Aerith and Red XIII attacks Hojo before unleashing a monster to attack the group before escaping.
The party encounters Hojo again at Costa del Sol during his brief period of retirement from Shinra. Hojo spends his time relaxing on the beach, surrounded by beautiful women. He taunts the heroes and hints at Cloud's status as a Sephiroth-clone and the Jenova Reunion Theory. Much later, at the North Crater, Hojo has returned to Shinra and accompanies them into the depths where Cloud's group and the Shinra executives congregate.
With Cloud's mind reeling from Sephiroth's manipulations and revelations about his false memories, Hojo reveals his Jenova Reunion Theory. When he finds Cloud never received a number, he brushes him aside as a "failed experiment". This insult is the last in a series of traumas that causes Cloud to have a severe mental breakdown, and he willingly hands over the Black Materia to Sephiroth whose body lays dormant in the crater. As the Weapons awake Hojo and the others escape on the Shinra airship Highwind.
Having summoned the Meteor, Sephiroth remains in the North Crater and erects a barrier over it preventing his enemies from disturbing him. Shinra's mako cannon, the Sister Ray, is fired at the barrier to destroy it, killing Diamond Weapon along the way. The Weapon's final salvo of attacks decimates the top floors of the Shinra Building, and the new president Rufus Shinra is presumed dead. With Midgar in chaos and Shinra's leadership fractured, Hojo commandeers the Sister Ray, intending to fire the cannon at the North Crater to grant Sephiroth further mako energy, which Hojo states he does to see the results of his research blossom.
Hojo's actions risk the city's destruction by overloading the mako reactors, so Cloud's group parachutes into Midgar to confront him. Hojo reveals he is Sephiroth's father, concedes that Cloud is the most successful Sephiroth-clone, and that he has injected himself with Jenova's cells (which is implied to have cost him what little sanity he had). The party attacks Hojo as he mutates into grotesque forms, and is killed.
In the novella Hoshi o Meguru Otome, it is revealed Hojo's soul was unable to diffuse through the lifestream as in accordance with the natural order due to his experiments and his utter lack of regret for his sins in life. As Sephiroth absorbs the lifestream, Hojo allows himself to be assimilated into Sephiroth's body to grant his son more power and witness the ultimate results of his experimentation by being a part of it.
Deepground conflict[edit | edit source]
In the prologue to Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- when Vincent and Yuffie are evacuating Midgar, Vincent detects a faint sign of life emanating from the tower console where the party previously defeated Hojo. Rushing over to the area, he discovers Hojo's corpse sitting at the still operational console showing "Start Fragment Program".
Three years later, power is restored and the Worldwide Network with it. A computer-simulated copy of Hojo's personality and memory that he had implanted in the network before his death reassembles and possesses Deepground commander Weiss the Immaculate. Through Weiss, Hojo commands Deepground to massacre the people, triggering the summoning of Omega, the ultimate Weapon that gathers the lifestream and delivers it to another planet when it senses Gaia is in dire danger.
Hojo within Weiss reveals himself to Vincent and explains his plan three years ago was to inject himself with Jenova cells to perfect his body to merge with Omega. This evidently did not go as planned and Avalanche had finished him off. As a back-up, Hojo implanted a copy of his personality and memories on the Worldwide Network, allowing a "neo-Reunion" when it came back on-line and the fragments of the program reunited. Vincent defeats Weiss/Hojo in battle, and Weiss's brother, Nero the Sable, merges with Weiss. Hojo, protesting that Nero will "corrupt" his vessel for Omega, fades away as the brothers become one.
Remake continuity[edit | edit source]
The Turks capture Aerith and bring her to Hojo's lab in the Shinra Building where Hojo psychologically torments her by revealing that Shinra had salvaged Ifalna's corpse. During the Shinra directors' meeting, he states his intentions to breed Aerith with a SOLDIER candidate to create more test subjects for him to study. Cloud and the others infiltrate the Shinra Building and attempt to force Hojo to show where Aerith is, but he unleashes one of his test subjects on the group before escaping. The party finds Aerith on their own. When they meet again Hojo recognizes Cloud, and recalls that he was never in SOLDIER. Before he can reveal more he is blown away by the Whispers, with Red XIII in pursuit. Hojo monitors Cloud and his friends' trek in the depths of his laboratory, and pits them against various monsters and machines, not caring that Cloud and friends destroy them all. Following Sephiroth spiriting off Jenova's remains, Hojo laughs over the turn of events.
Gameplay[edit | edit source]
Hojo is fought as a boss at the end of Part 2 in Final Fantasy VII as Hojo, Helletic Hojo and Lifeform-Hojo N. Though he has many forms only one resembles him as a human, as the others are mutated monsters. In Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-, Hojo is fought as Weiss Empowered.
Behind the scenes[edit | edit source]
According to the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega, in the early story drafts of Final Fantasy VII Hojo's death happened earlier and under different circumstances. In the game's original story ideas Sephiroth was not the one who was "cloned," but rather, Red XIII. Red XIII would have been a beast-type SOLDIER and Hojo would have produced clones of him, all following the same naming pattern of color and number. Originally, the party was planned on having to face the Red XIII clones, and after having defeated them, the party would have been forced to fight Hojo and kill him.
Voice[edit | edit source]
Hojo's original Japanese voice actor, Nachi Nozawa, also voiced Vexen in the Kingdom Hearts series. Following Nozawa's death, Shigeru Chiba, who previously portrayed Kefka Palazzo, took over his role as of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Chiba also replaced Nozawa's voice as Vexen, both characters of the mad scientist archetype.
Gallery[edit | edit source]
Etymology[edit | edit source]
"Hōjō" is a common Japanese family name with historic importance as well. The Hojo clan was a family of regents of the Kamakura Shogunate between 1203–1333 A.D. Another clan named Hojo, founded in 1493 and dissolved in 1591, was a daimyo in the Sengoku period (1467–1603).
The individual kanji of Hōjō (宝条?) mean "treasure"（宝贝）and "article / item / strip / method"（条件、一条衣服、条理） respectively. It is perhaps an ateji or transliteration of a Japanese name using Chinese characters.
It is unknown whether "Hojo" is his first or last name, but since Professor Gast is referred to by his first name with his title, the same may be possible for Professor Hojo.
He and Rufus are the only characters to have their name in Kanji.
References[edit | edit source]
- Final Fantasy VII Remake Ultimania, p.047
- Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- Signature Series Guide, p.007
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- 『FFVII リメイク』レッドXIIIと宝条のビジュアルが公開！ ｢なんでも屋クエスト｣など新要素の情報も！ (Accessed: February 14, 2020) at PlayStation blog (jp)
- Early Material File Character Files – p. 519 and part of p. 520 of the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega (Accessed: February 14, 2020) at The Lifestream