There was one SOLDIER named Sephiroth, who was better than the rest, but when he found out about the terrible experiments that made him, he began to hate Shinra. And then, over time, he began to hate everything.
Marlene Wallace, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
Sephiroth is the main antagonist of Final Fantasy VII, and one of the major antagonists in its extended universe. In spin-off appearances, Sephiroth is depicted as Cloud Strife's archenemy, and is seen as a symbol of Cloud's troubled past that haunts him. Sephiroth is a former renowned SOLDIER, who became twisted. While Sephiroth is the main antagonist, he isn't the central focus until much later in the game, after Cloud and his allies leave Midgar to find him.
Before his fall from grace, Sephiroth was one of the most lauded success stories of the Shinra Electric Power Company's SOLDIER program. His successes in the field of battle during the conflicts surrounding Shinra's bid for global domination led to his status as a celebrity war hero and the poster boy for both the Shinra Military and the company's SOLDIER program. Learning of his true origins drove him insane, causing him to be driven by a desire to destroy the world.
- 1 Biographical data
- 2 Profile
- 3 Story
- 4 Gameplay
- 5 Behind the scenes
- 6 Musical themes
- 7 Other appearances
- 8 Other media
- 9 Merchandise
- 10 Gallery
- 11 Etymology and symbolism
- 12 References
- 13 External Link
As Sephiroth's records were sealed by Shinra, most guides do not give any personal details about him. The European and North American manuals give his details as "unknown," except his job as a top ranking SOLDIER officer, that he fights with Long Swords, and his height. Japanese manuals omit even these details. The Final Fantasy Art Museum cards from 2001 and the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega released in 2005 also give these details as "unknown," and do not list a height. His birthplace is listed as unknown. The Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania gives his birthplace as a "?", but later in his section states he was born in Nibelheim. Volume 2 of the Final Fantasy 25th Memorial Ultimania/Final Fantasy Ultimania Archive released in 2012 lists his birthplace as Nibelheim.
It is unknown where the height from the localized manuals originated. This is the same for Red XIII whose height is absent in all the aforementioned Japanese publications, but present in the English manuals.
Even if Sephiroth's age has never been given, it can be approximated from the timelines.
Sephiroth is a tall man with a muscular build. He wears a long black coat with silver pauldrons, black boots and black trousers. The top of his coat is open to reveal his chest, with his leather SOLDIER suspenders crossed over it. Sephiroth's long silver hair has bangs parted to either side of his face. In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, the bangs are shorter. Sephiroth has green cat-like eyes and wields the Masamune, a seven-foot long katana he is rarely seen without. His battle stance with the sword is to hold it over his left shoulder with the blade curving downward, known in the Japanese sword stance as Te Ura Gasumi No Kamae, which is primarily used in Ninjitsu and Tenshin Shōden Katori Shintō-ryū, the latter of which is one of the oldest extant martial arts.
Sephiroth usually wields the Masamune two-handed, in later appearances a single black wing emerges from his right shoulder. Sephiroth is left-handed, but has been depicted wielding his sword in his right hand in many pieces of art and merchandise.
In the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth's uniform remains the same as in Final Fantasy VII, but his coat has several buckles instead of just one, and the original SOLDIER logo in his belt is replaced with the redesigned version for the Compilation. According to a Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- fan letter mailed to Zack, Sephiroth uses an entire bottle of both shampoo and conditioner to wash his hair. Both are provided by the Shinra Company and are scented with thirteen kinds of perfumes. In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, a Sephiroth fangirl in Midgar mentions she would "love to see him stripped to the waist", a reference to how he appears during the final scripted battle in Final Fantasy VII.
In the Kingdom Hearts series, Sephiroth retains his core design of silver hair and a black coat, but his clothing is given red linings and is of different shape. His sleeves have small red wings, and he bears a dark blue and black wing over his right shoulder. He bears two additional wings underneath his coat in Kingdom Hearts II, acting as a subtle reference to his boss form from Final Fantasy VII. Unlike his other appearances, Sephiroth has blue eyes, and other characters comment he looks like Cloud, as the Kingdom Hearts incarnation is implied to be an embodiment of Cloud's inner darkness.
In Dissidia Final Fantasy, Sephiroth's design in his base outfit is similar to his Final Fantasy VII design, but his pauldrons are changed to resemble Yoshitaka Amano's artwork of him, and his coat is closed by a belt as in Tetsuya Nomura's design. Beneath his coat are two white sashes with lavender on the edges, a reference to both Amano's artwork of Sephiroth and his wings as Safer∙Sephiroth.
Prior to his madness, as shown in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Sephiroth maintains an outwardly professional demeanor during his time at Shinra. While his cold exterior and professional attitude turn people away, he is not anti-social, as he values his friendship with his only friends Angeal Hewley and Genesis Rhapsodos and willingly tells Zack and Tifa about Mako and Materia on Mt. Nibel. He can act more humane and caring than his reputation would suggest, disobeying orders due to conflict of interest if it would impact his friends, and offering his blood for a transfusion to help Genesis when he was injured.
Sephiroth is intelligent and respects those he deems worthy—he considers Professor Gast Faremis a great scientist, but scorns Professor Hojo. Well-spoken and graceful, Sephiroth is calm, collected, and in control, and has a dry sense of humor. Rarely, he can be frustrated and caught off-guard. As the strongest SOLDIER alive, Sephiroth is confident to the point of arrogance, yet has no interest in personal glory, as he tells Genesis, who envies Sephiroth's reputation, that he can have it.
Following his fall into insanity, Sephiroth retains most of his personality traits, but becomes murderous, ruthless and vengeful. He develops a messiah complex, proclaiming to be "the chosen one" destined to lead the Planet. He becomes sadistic and enjoys mentally torturing Cloud. Sephiroth is devoted to Jenova and its cause, even though its body serves as little more than his avatar. He has become an agent carrying out Jenova's will.
In Dissidia Final Fantasy Cecil Harvey notes sorrow in Sephiroth's eyes. In the PlayStation Portable Dissidia games, when he is defeated, Sephiroth calmly remarks, "I'll fall into the shadows," implying he either accepts defeat, or does not care. When he is defeated by the Warrior of Light, he asks if the Warrior participates in the war because he enjoys battle, implying Sephiroth himself enjoys it. This is reinforced in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy when Kefka mentions that Sephiroth was made for combat. He is willing to work alongside his nemesis when necessary, as showcased in Dissidia Final Fantasy NT.
In the Japanese releases, Sephiroth uses the pronoun ore prior to his insanity, a common masculine pronoun used by confident males. Following the Nibelheim Incident, he begins to use watashi instead, a more formal pronoun that is genderless in formal context, likely because he now sees himself as superior to everyone else. This post-madness mannerism carries into his spin-off appearances, such as Dissidia Final Fantasy.
Sephiroth's strength is unreal. He is far stronger in reality than any story you might have heard about him.
Cloud Strife to his party
The full extent of Sephiroth's abilities is unknown. The official book Reunion Files states that the Sephiroth seen in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children has "ascended to a new level of existence" and is stronger than before. Though Cloud and others have battled him competently, it is implied that in most of these fights Sephiroth was not fighting at his full potential, his power being somehow limited or he was holding back.
Even prior to the Nibelheim Incident, Sephiroth's superhuman physical abilities and fighting prowess marked him the greatest fighter produced by Shinra. An immensely skilled swordsman, Sephiroth is the only one deemed capable of using the Masamune proficiently. He is also fully capable of fighting hand-to-hand. In his boss battle in Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- he can teleport. One of his trademark abilities is to summon angels to drain his opponent's health. Sephiroth can cast powerful blades of energy by swinging the Masamune. In Dissidia Sephiroth has more energy-oriented powers: he can empower his blade, generate shields and bursts of energy, and even slow down time for his opponents.
Though preferring swordsmanship, Sephiroth was proficient in magic even before his immersion in the Lifestream. After absorbing the knowledge of the Ancients, he no longer needs Materia to use magic. After gaining the Black Materia, he can use the most devastating destructive magic of all: Meteor. His special attack is Supernova, which has been described as his Limit Break.
Sephiroth had great resilience even before his ascension to something of an immortal being. Even after his physical body is destroyed, his will persists. Having gained control over Jenova's cells, he can construct avatars in his likeness, as well as other eldritch entities, enabling him a physical presence in the world of the living and attaining a sort of immortality. He can remotely control Jenova cells inside living organisms, control the thoughts and actions of those injected with her cells, and in severe cases can outright puppeteer their bodies. His ability to project his will through these avatars is limited, but is compounded by the subject's willpower (or lack thereof), and intensifies over shorter distances, being strongest at the Northern Crater (the site of his physical body).
Being immersed in the Lifestream has granted Sephiroth psychic powers, allowing him to read others' minds, making him adept at emotional manipulation, preying on his foes' dark emotions. He can project illusions and levitate objects and even people, float even without his wing, and can summon the Masamune at will. He can erect an impenetrable energy barrier to cover a entire crater.
Birth and early life
I knew ever since I was a child, I was not like the others. I knew mine was a special existence. But this is not what I meant!
Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII
Sephiroth was born to Professor Hojo and Lucrecia Crescent approximately twenty-seven years before Final Fantasy VII (exact date of birth unknown). Hojo and Lucrecia were working as assistants to Professor Gast, Shinra Electric Power Company's top scientist, on the Jenova Project that studied the remains of an extra-terrestrial entity. Jenova was mistaken as one of the Cetra, an ancient people who had the power to "talk to the Planet." Hojo injected cell samples from Jenova into the pregnant Lucrecia and her unborn baby. She carried Sephiroth to term, his fetal form merging with the Jenova cells as he developed. After the baby was born, he was taken by Shinra scientists and Lucrecia never had a chance to hold him.
Sephiroth never gained the ability to talk to the Planet, as he is not a Cetra descendant, but Shinra found another use for him and raised him to be a super soldier. They told him nothing of his true parentage, instead saying his mother's name was "Jenova" and telling him nothing of his father. Sephiroth felt different from other children but didn't know of the experiments that had created him. Sephiroth came to respect Professor Gast until he left Shinra, considering Professor Hojo a hack scientist in comparison.
Sephiroth joined SOLDIER, and during the Wutai War was instrumental in ensuring Shinra's dominance. He rose to the rank of SOLDIER First Class and was admired and respected as a great war hero, while those in Shinra considered his strength unequaled even by other First Class SOLDIER members. Many young men, including Cloud Strife and Genesis Rhapsodos, idolized Sephiroth, and sought to join SOLDIER to become heroes like him, making Sephiroth useful for Shinra as a propaganda tool.
Whether your words... are lies created to deceive me... Or the truth... that I have sought all my life... it makes no difference. You will rot.
Sephiroth to Genesis
Near the end of the Wutai War Sephiroth had only two close friends within SOLDIER, Angeal and Genesis. The three would go to the training room when the Second Class SOLDIERS were off to access the virtual reality Junon to train. Genesis challenged Sephiroth one-on-one and used magic to empower himself and his weapon. Sephiroth remained stronger but the fight ended inconclusively when Angeal intervened before either hurt the other too badly. The small wound Genesis took did not heal and Sephiroth offered his blood for a transfusion, but was told it was not compatible. Shortly before the Wutai War ended, Genesis vanished and is declared missing in action.
In the months after the war the anti-Shinra group AVALANCHE intensifies its actions, raiding Junon. Sephiroth engages the AVALANCHE leader, Elfé, who asks if he fights for a reason, which has a profound effect on Sephiroth; the results of Sephiroth choosing to fight for a reason would one day threaten the Planet's existence. It is discovered Genesis has defected with a Shinra scientist Hollander, creating an army using copy technology to graft Genesis's cells onto other traitor SOLDIER members with which to rebel against Shinra. Angeal goes rogue torn between his loyalties, and the two are declared killed in action.
As Sephiroth participates in the AVALANCHE Insurgency and Genesis War, his loyalties and emotions continue to be thrown into turmoil leading to him refusing missions concerning Genesis and Angeal, and on a later assignment he allows them to escape. Zack Fair, one of Sephiroth's SOLDIER First Class comrades, kills Angeal and apparently Genesis, but the latter resurfaces several months later. Sephiroth participates in a mission to "rescue" Professor Hojo who had almost defected with the AVALANCHE forces attacking the Shinra Headquarters. In September of 0002, Sephiroth tells Zack he is considering retiring from Shinra, and their next mission together will likely be his last.
On September 22nd 0002, Sephiroth arrives at Nibelheim to investigate a monster outbreak believed to be connected to Genesis near the town's Mako Reactor. He arrives with a small entourage, including Zack and two Shinra infantrymen, one of whom is the sixteen-year-old Cloud Strife. Sephiroth asks Cloud how it feels to be back in his hometown, as he lacks one. When questioned by Zack about family, Sephiroth explains his mother, Jenova, died during childbirth, but stops short of mentioning his father before proceeding with the mission. In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, Zack is suspicious upon learning that Jenova was Sephiroth's mother, due to having learned about Jenova and her role in the creation of Genesis and Angeal.
At the Mako Reactor Sephiroth, suspicious at the discovery of the purification valves being broken (the cause of the malfunctioning reactor), finds several pod-like chambers containing monstrous creatures who used to be human, mutated by exposure to Mako. He finds a chamber labeled "JENOVA" containing a feminine-looking creature. When Zack suggests a connection between SOLDIER and the creatures in the tanks, Sephiroth flies into a rage, horrified the reason he is "different" may be because he was created similarly to the monsters in the pods.
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- shows an expanded version of events at the Nibelheim Incident. Genesis plays a part in inciting Sephiroth's madness by revealing Sephiroth was born from the Jenova Project, its goal to produce the "perfect monster." Sephiroth rejects Genesis's request for Jenova cells from him, and claims the latter will "rot" due to horror at the discovery of his own conception.
Disturbed by the creature in the reactor having the same name as his "mother," along with the once human monsters in the pods and Genesis's words, Sephiroth makes his way to the manor that had been occupied by Shinra researchers. For several sleepless days he pores over the research notes in the basement library wondering why he was never told the truth of his origins. He comes to believe Jenova is a Cetra, and therefore he, as Jenova's "son", is the last Cetra survivor. He comes to believe the human race had betrayed the Cetra 2,000 years ago leaving them alone to defend the Planet from a calamity (eventually revealed to have been Jenova itself), and resolves to take vengeance for his "ancestors."
On October 1st Sephiroth destroys Nibelheim, setting the town on fire and killing many of the townspeople, before returning to the reactor to claim Jenova's remains. He is pursued by Tifa's father, Tifa, Zack, and Cloud. Tifa, a girl living in the town who had been Sephiroth's group's guide up the mountain, takes up Sephiroth's Masamune from her father's corpse and attacks him, but he disarms her and cuts her down.
Mother, let's take back the planet together. I... I had an epiphany... Let's go to the promised land, mother. […] Mother, they're here again. You should have ruled this planet. You were stronger, smarter. But then they came. Those inferior dullards. They came and took this planet away from you. But don't be sad, mother. I am with you now.
Sephiroth converses with his "mother" Jenova during the Nibelheim Incident.
Shortly after Sephiroth enters Jenova's chamber, Zack arrives to confront him, but Sephiroth only keeps talking to his "mother", saying they will reclaim the planet and head to the Promised Land. He tears off the effigy blocking Jenova's remains. Sephiroth defeats and tosses Zack out of the Mako Reactor as he continues to declare himself "chosen" to rule the planet. Cloud enters with Zack's Buster Sword and impales Sephiroth from behind through the abdomen. The severely wounded Sephiroth decapitates Jenova and stumbles across the room and is again attacked by Cloud. Sephiroth stabs him with his Masamune, but Cloud uses it as a lever to hurl Sephiroth into a pool of Mako below the reactor. Sephiroth vanishes with Jenova's head still in his grasp, apparently falling to his death. In Last Order -Final Fantasy VII-, Sephiroth jumps into the pool of Mako willingly, having noted he is unable to defeat Cloud.
Shinra seals the records on Sephiroth, declaring him killed in action, and rebuilds Nibelheim to cover up the incident, populating it with Shinra employees paid to act as the villagers.
Sephiroth fell into the Lifestream, his willpower too great to allow himself to be consumed. Over the next several years Sephiroth traveled the Lifestream, the Planet's life energy and the afterlife for its spirits that contains the summation of the cognition its inhabitant have accumulated. Growing in power and knowledge, the fragments of his body congregate at the Northern Cave inside the North Crater, joining to recreate Sephiroth's physical form in a cocoon of Mako. Sephiroth's new goal is to merge with the Lifestream and seize control of it to become a god.
Though his physical body is encased in Mako, Sephiroth can control Jenova's cells as an extension of his body and thus act out his plans through the remains of Jenova's body. Hojo has injected Zack, Cloud and the survivors of Nibelheim (save for Tifa who was rescued by her mentor Zangan before Shinra found her) with Sephiroth's cells, turning them into Sephiroth Clones: people whose wills have been over-ridden with Sephiroth's will. Hojo believes the Jenova cells within Sephiroth would call for a "reunion" of those who share its cells, and wishes to see his theory put to test.
Approximately five years after his supposed death, in December 0007, Sephiroth enacts his plan and puts out the call for the reunion to summon the Sephiroth Clones to the North Cave. Jenova's remains, which had been moved to the Shinra Headquarters in Midgar, shapeshift into Sephiroth's form and break out of containment. Jenova/Sephiroth releases Cloud (who had escaped Shinra Manor with Zack but has forgotten many details about it) and the members of the second reincarnation of AVALANCHE, who were being held prisoner. Sephiroth kills President Shinra after declaring Shinra should never acquire the Cetra's fabled Promised Land. Cloud, seeing Sephiroth's Masamune left at President Shinra's murder site, suspects Sephiroth is alive, and sets out with AVALANCHE to find him and settle the score for what happened to Nibelheim. However, what Cloud doesn't know is that his drive for going after Sephiroth is actually the Jenova cells forcing him to go to Sephiroth to reunite with the main body as per Hojo's "Reunion Theory".
The party finds Sephiroth on the cargo ship headed to Costa del Sol, where he alludes to the reunion and leaves Jenova's arm behind that transforms into Jenova∙BIRTH. He appears some time later in Nibelheim Shinra Manor basement, where he mentions the reunion and calls for Cloud to follow him. At the Temple of the Ancients Sephiroth reveals the full extent of his plans—the Planet relies on the Lifestream to heal itself when wounded, and the North Crater, where the Lifestream is abundant, is where Jenova fell two thousand years ago.
Using the Black Materia, Sephiroth plans to call the Ultimate Destructive Magic—Meteor—to injure the Planet and place himself at the center of its impact zone as the Lifestream emerges to heal the Planet's wound. Sephiroth plans to merge with the Lifestream, becoming a god.
Cloud acquires the Black Materia first, but Sephiroth exerts his influence over the Jenova's cells within Cloud's body and takes control of him, forcing Cloud to hand the Materia over. Aerith Gainsborough, the true last survivor of the Cetra and a member of Cloud's party, uses the White Materia to summon Holy, the only power able to counter Meteor. During her prayer Sephiroth (or rather, Jenova transformed into his image) impales her with his sword, killing her. Though Aerith had successfully called Holy, Sephiroth holds it back within the Planet. Cloud and his allies continue tracking Jenova's remains in Sephiroth's form to the North Crater.
Cloud and his party kill Jenova in Sephiroth's form and reclaim the Black Materia. Cloud entrusts it to a party member for safekeeping while he and Tifa continue deeper into the crater and find themselves in an illusion of Nibelheim's destruction that Sephiroth conjured. Sephiroth wants to break Cloud by making him believe he is but a simulacrum created by Professor Hojo with false memories. Sephiroth deceives Cloud into thinking he is a mere cluster of Jenova cells that assumed the identity of a boy named "Cloud" from Tifa's childhood. Tifa tries to tell Cloud Sephiroth is lying, but cannot deny that she never saw Cloud at Nibelheim during its destruction.
Tifa's words along with Sephiroth's manipulations take their toll and shatter Cloud's fragile mind. Sephiroth projects an illusion of Tifa before the party members left behind to bring the Black Materia to Cloud. Once Cloud takes back the Black Materia he hands it to Sephiroth's true body residing within a Mako cocoon. Sephiroth summons the Meteor, which awakens the Planet's defense mechanism, the Weapons. The walls of the area crumble as the Weapons, colossal monsters, arise from their slumber, and Sephiroth's Mako cocoon falls into the crater. Cloud's allies flee with Rufus Shinra, the new president of the Shinra Company, on the airship Highwind while Sephiroth erects an energy barrier over the crater to keep the Weapons from detecting him.
Sephiroth is mentioned frequently in Hoshi wo Meguru Otome, as the deceased Aerith's spirit observes the effects Sephiroth's actions are having on the Lifestream and the Planet.
Sephiroth begins shapeshifting his body into a form befitting a god, awaiting Meteor's arrival. Cloud recovers upon discovering the truth about his past. In late January 0008, Shinra fires the Mako Cannon, known as the Sister Ray, at the North Crater, piercing Sephiroth's barrier and allowing Cloud and his allies to enter the crater and reach Sephiroth.
They find Sephiroth at the Planet's core, blocking Holy. Emerging from his larval Bizarro∙Sephiroth form upon defeat, Sephiroth becomes the angelic Safer∙Sephiroth, a being with seven wings. Cloud and his allies destroy him, but his mind endures. Pulling Cloud into a metaphysical final battle, Sephiroth attempts to take control of him, but Cloud's mental defenses have grown, and he defeats Sephiroth who dissolves into the Lifestream, seemingly destroyed. With Sephiroth gone, Holy is released from the Planet's core and Aerith helps the Lifestream emerge and keep the Meteor at bay for Holy to destroy it.
Sephiroth is the focus of the On the Way to a Smile novella "Case of the Lifestream - Black" where he uses the Lifestream's emergence to fight Meteor to infect the Planet with Geostigma, dispersing his memories among the Lifestream to spread the disease. Sephiroth avoids dissolution into the Lifestream by focusing on his hatred of Cloud, which allows him to maintain a core sense of being and remain separate from the other spirits. With his peripheral memories, including those of his personal appearance, stripped away over time, he uses memories of how others in the Lifestream see him to craft his avatars and sends them to find Jenova's remains to reform a true body for himself.
Good to see you, Cloud.
During the events of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children in 0009, Sephiroth remains an active force terrorizing the Planet. Geostigma has spread throughout the world, afflicting many with extreme fatigue and skin sores. The plague is caused by Jenova's remaining consciousness in the Lifestream, and primarily affects children due to their weaker immune systems. Cloud has also contracted the disease and experiences visions of Sephiroth.
The now-reclusive Cloud finds himself confronted by a trio of silver-haired men who are physical manifestations of Sephiroth's will. The three, Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo, believe they are guided by their "mother" Jenova, but rather, it is Sephiroth himself who forces their actions. The three seek Jenova's cells to be reunited with her, unaware of Sephiroth's ultimate plan to recreate a new body for himself using Jenova's last remnants.
When Kadaj absorbs Jenova's cells Sephiroth exerts his power over Jenova to shapeshift Kadaj's body into his own visage, restoring him to life. Sephiroth faces Cloud and, disappointed his adversary was cured of Geostigma, reveals his plan to taint the Lifestream with those dead of the disease to the point he can control it. Sephiroth plans to use the Planet as a vessel to travel space and find a new planet to rule.
Sephiroth and Cloud fight in the ruins of Midgar that was never rebuilt after being ravaged by the Meteor, with Sephiroth dominating and severely injuring Cloud, but Cloud is reinvigorated by memories of his friends and family and destroys Sephiroth with Omnislash Version 5, using his Fusion Swords to assault him from all directions. When Cloud demands he stay in his memories, Sephiroth only replies "I will... never be a memory."
His black wing folds around him and he fades away leaving a weakened Kadaj to die and fade into the Lifestream as Aerith's spirit calls healing rain to cure the Planet of Geostigma.
Chronologically, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is Sephiroth's final appearance in the Final Fantasy VII timeline, and his current status is unknown, though it is likely, given his past tenacity, that he continues to exist within the Lifestream.
Although Sephiroth himself does not appear during the events of Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-, he is mentioned in a flashback with Lucrecia, who, while pregnant, experienced a vision as to what her child would become. The second mention is from Weiss the Immaculate, when explaining he is actually Hojo possessing his body. In another flashback when Lucrecia is trying to save Vincent Valentine, she demands that Hojo give back her baby (Sephiroth).
In Final Fantasy VII Sephiroth is fought as a boss three times in succession as part of the final battle. First, he is fought with multiple playable parties as Bizarro∙Sephiroth. He is fought as Safer∙Sephiroth with a single party in the most challenging boss fight. Finally, he is fought as a cinematic boss fight that the player cannot lose.
Sephiroth also appears as an AI-controlled guest character during Cloud's flashback. His Materia are mastered, and neither his Materia nor equipment can be removed. While he cannot level up, he has set stats with stat growth. Sephiroth is invincible and his attacks always critical.
Behind the scenes
Final Fantasy VII development
Sephiroth was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, who wanted a story where the player would chase him. Following a moving enemy had not been done before in the Final Fantasy series, and Nomura thought that chasing something would help pull the story along. Director Yoshinori Kitase has later named Sephiroth as his favorite Final Fantasy villain, whom they had created to be "kind of like a mystery novel" to create the impression of an evil force.
Aspects of Cloud and Sephiroth's rivalry, particularly their showdown and their weapons, were inspired by the legendary swordsmen Sasaki Kojirō and Miyamoto Musashi. Sephiroth's long hair was tricky to make with polygons at the time, and Nomura wanted to show a contrast between Cloud and Sephiroth in their designs.
According to the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega, Sephiroth's relationship with Aerith was changed numerous times during production. At some phases they were to be lovers, in others siblings. As a sign of their implied connection, Nomura gave the two similar hairstyles.
In early drafts Cloud was meant to be more directly controlled by Sephiroth. As Sephiroth fell to his death in the Nibelheim Mako Reactor, his strong will to live would have manifested itself in Cloud as he needed a body that could move freely to bring him the Black Materia. It would be told that Cloud's memories are a phantom created by Sephiroth himself out of his emotions when he was "killed" in the Nibelheim Reactor. Cloud would later have discovered that due to the SOLDIER process, Sephiroth was directly trying to take control of him, and that Cloud's own complexes combined with Sephiroth's willpower, created his alternate persona that obscured who Cloud really was. This version was altered after the introduction of Jenova and the fleshing out of Zack's story. Sephiroth's will was to be used to create an army of monsters borne out of crystallized Mako. In another deleted point, when Sephiroth's true body is first seen in the Northern Cave, it would have the contours of a female.
According to Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omegain the early story drafts Sephiroth was planned as a man whose "Jenova" element was artificially awoken using the power of Mako energy. His base personality was to be brutal and cruel, with a strong interest in destruction and slaughter. He was to possess a powerful will and ego, calm judgment, and a sharp mind. In the original story drafts Sephiroth would succumb to Mako addiction and suffer withdrawal symptoms, and while a normal person would have been crippled, Sephiroth was an exception: only his madness would be amplified while he would retain his composure.
During the scene at the end Part I of Final Fantasy VII, when Sephiroth is descending from the ceiling, his hands are bare. However, in the rest of the scene, he has gloves on.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children development
In the Reunion Files, scenario writer Kazushige Nojima has stated that Sephiroth's goal is to take revenge on Cloud. His revival had been decided on early in the project, but not the exact reasons or means of how he would be revived, which were decided later. Among several other ideas discussed, one was that Sephiroth would return, but only Cloud would be able to see him.
Sephiroth's dialogue was made to sound profound, as "he thinks on a level higher than humans," and his hair and eyes were difficult to animate. His hair was animated by hand to ensure it looked as real as possible, and his eyes were almond shaped and slanted upwards, designed to strike a balance between realistic and otherworldly. Various other minor details emphasize Sephiroth's character as an ascended being: he never blinks, almost never grunts or breaths, and even in the heat of battle keeps his voice calm and controlled. Co-director Takeshi Nozue stated the developers wanted Sephiroth to have a sense of allure and charm, and gave him "an attractive nose and thin lips. It's a face you'd never see in real life."
His voice evokes fear even when speaking normally, and although he's not deliberately trying to be overbearing, he has this tremendous strength.
Tetsuya Nomura, The Reunion Files
In Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring, Sephiroth is voiced by Shin'ichirō Miki. In all subsequent Japanese voiced appearances, he has been voiced by Toshiyuki Morikawa. On directing Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Tetsuya Nomura said that when creating Sephiroth, his appearance was set, but he had trouble deciding what kind of voice he should have—once Morikawa auditioned, Nomura knew he was exactly what he wanted. Morikawa noted that, with Sephiroth's on-screen presence, he knew his final lines had to be done properly, and with input from the director, gave Sephiroth's iconic final words a sense that "he's not done yet".
In the original Kingdom Hearts, Sephiroth is voiced by Lance Bass, a former member of the 1990s boy band NSYNC. As he was not added until the Western release, he has no Japanese voice actor for the first game: the Final Mix release uses the English voices (barring the release of HD 1.5 ReMix, where he has a re-recorded Japanese voice). In Kingdom Hearts II, George Newbern voices him in the English release after fans criticized Bass's performance, and has voiced Sephiroth in all subsequent appearances until Final Fantasy VII Remake, where Sephiroth's role is taken over by Tyler Hoechlin. Newbern voiced Sephiroth in a very stoic manner.
Sephiroth is the focus of three pieces of theme music written by the series composer Nobuo Uematsu. His official theme in Final Fantasy VII is "Those Chosen by the Planet", a piece using chimes, low drums, a deep chorus, and rising guitar strings. An abridged version only including the chimes and low drums from the first part was used for both the scripted battle against the dragon and the final battle against Sephiroth, and to a lesser extent when Cloud arrives at the Nibelheim mansion up to Sephiroth leaving to "see [his] mother." "Birth of a God" accompanies the battle against Bizarro∙Sephiroth, the first of Sephiroth's final two forms.
The most noteworthy piece (and a lingering fan favorite) is the song that plays during the confrontation with Safer∙Sephiroth, "One-Winged Angel". In Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, a slightly altered version called "The World's Enemy" plays, and another version called "Advent: One-Winged Angel" plays during the battle between Cloud and Sephiroth in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. "One-Winged Angel's" appearance in every release in which Sephiroth appears has made it more widely recognized as Sephiroth's theme, as opposed to "Those Chosen by the Planet".
"FINAL FANTASY VII Symphony in Three Movements" is a symphony arranged and orchestrated by Jonne Valtonen for the Final Symphony concert series. The first movement, titled "Nibelheim Incident", is based on Sephiroth. The three-note motif of Sephiroth is used throughout the first movement as an element of structural integrity. In the final phase "The One-Winged Angel" emerges before distorting as all of the earlier themes are gradually built on top of each other. This distortion is a reflection of Sephiroth's internal chaos as he becomes aware of his past. At the end of the movement, things slow down. As Sephiroth is reborn, the familiar pulse is heard "in almost spiritual context".
Sephiroth has appeared in the following games throughout the Final Fantasy series:
- Final Fantasy V as a loading screen cameo.
- Dissidia Final Fantasy 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 boss.
- Theatrhythm Final Fantasy series 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 & boss.
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius as a summonable vision.
- Mobius Final Fantasy on cards, as a boss, and as an Ultimate Hero.
- World of Final Fantasy as a summonable Champion.
- Final Fantasy Trading Card Game as a series of cards.
- Triple Triad as a series of cards.
- Final Fantasy Brave Exvius as a summoned character.
Non-Final Fantasy guest appearances
Sephiroth has made key guest appearances in the following non-Final Fantasy games:
- Kingdom Hearts as a boss.
- Itadaki Street as a playable character.
- Ehrgeiz: God Bless the Ring as a playable character.
- Puzzle & Dragons as a playable character.
- Monster Strike as a playable character.
- Yo-kai Watch: Wibble Wobble as a playable character.
While Sephiroth himself does not appear in Final Fantasy Tactics, when Cloud is transported to Ivalice by a device called the Celestial Globe, the first thing he says is, The heat! Inside my skull... No, stop... Sephiroth---no! A black-caped swordsman is also mentioned in one of the Errands. One of the enemies, Marquis Messam Elmdore, bears a resemblance to Sephiroth and wields a Masamune in battle.
In Final Fantasy XIV an NPC may say the following to the player: Why, if it isn't Sephiroth! Or was it Sephiross? Setirophx? xXxSephirothxXx? referring to Sephiroth and common variations used to name characters on MMOs (and by proxy, Final Fantasy XIV itself).
The main antagonist of the 1.0 version of Final Fantasy XIV, Nael van Darnus, refers to Sephiroth. In "United We Stand", after wounding the player, Nael takes his leave similarly to that of Sephiroth in the Nibelheim burning scene. Nael seeks to destroy Eorzea and purify it by using forbidden magicks to summon the moon Dalamud, similar to how Sephiroth attempts to destroy Gaia.
In Final Fantasy Dimensions Chapter 4, the Mask mentions a spell called Meteo and when the group questions him Alba says: "You don't mean to summon a meteor so the lifestream comes together so you can be reborn a god, do you!?"
Seraphimon from Digimon has a DigiCode on his breechcloth which translated to Japanese reads (全ては我と共に, Subete wa ware to tomoni?, lit. All shall be one with me), a quote of Sephiroth's.
A Sephiroth costume was announced to be available as downloadable content for the character Sackboy in the PlayStation 3 game LittleBigPlanet, but was never released. On July 4th, 2011, the Sephiroth costume, along with costumes of Cloud, Tifa, Aerith, and Vincent, was instead released on July 13th 2011 for the sequel, LittleBigPlanet 2.
Sephiroth's costume was released in November 2014 for Gunslinger Stratos 2.
As part of a collaboration between Capcom and Square Enix, Tetsuya Nomura was asked to design various new armor types for the playable characters, and their feline companions, in Monster Hunter 4 Ultimate. The weapon that comes with this collaboration set, the Wing of Judgement, is based on Sephiroth. His face can be seen on the shaft of the weapon, where the handle stops and where the blade begins. The blade is a single bloodied wing, fitting his title of the one-winged angel.
Sephiroth appears in a Final Fantasy VII-themed update to the mobile game Rampage Land Rankers.
Sephiroth's attire is available as a costume in Mobius Final Fantasy.
Although Sephiroth himself does not appear in Super Smash Bros. unlike his rival Cloud, he, alongside his actions in the Nibelheim Incident, are referenced in the latter's All Star Mode congratulations message, where Cloud watches as Palutena walks through flames in a similar manner to Sephiroth's iconic scene. Sephiroth and his plans with Meteor are referenced in the Omnislash trophy description in the Wii U version.
Many models and action figures of Sephiroth have been released. Play Arts has released figures of Sephiroth as he normally appears, as well as Safer∙Sephiroth and Sephiroth's appearance in Kingdom Hearts. Among these figures are Sephiroth himself, Sephiroth standing atop Meteor, and a figure featuring Sephiroth in the Shinra Building ruins based on his battle with Cloud in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children—a partner figure to this one features Cloud in a similar environment. A new Advent Children Play Arts figure was released in December 2016.
A cold cast statue of the final show-down of Cloud vs. Sephiroth made by Kotobukiya limited to 1000 pieces is considered a very rare collectible. It is modeled a statue in Ganryujima depicting the legendary swordsmen Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojirō, who were also inspiration for the characters of Cloud and Sephiroth for Final Fantasy VII. A "Static Arts Bust" of Sephiroth as he will appear in the Final Fantasy VII Remake, casting Meteor, was released October 2017. One of the most expensive official merchandise is the Sephiroth theme Seiko watch at $2,500.
Other Sephiroth-related items include pendants and rings with the theme of his single wing and/or the Black Materia, cold cast statues and even a fragrance. A life-sized statue of Sephiroth hibernating in the Northern Cave was housed in the floor of the Square Enix Character Goods Show Case in Tokyo, Japan.
Etymology and symbolism
Sephirot; also spelled Sefirot), is a plural noun in Hebrew; the singular is Sephirah (also spelled Sefira). The Sephiroth are described in the Kabbalah as the manifestations of God that allow him to manifest in the physical and metaphysical universes. Sephiroth also means "counting" (of numbers).Səphīrōth (סְפִירוֹת, medieval Hebrew form of
These traits refer to Sephiroth's simultaneous existence in the Lifestream and the Planet, and his manifestations through Jenova. The counting aspects may allude to the Sephiroth Clones.
Sephiroth's penultimate form, Bizarro∙Sephiroth, is a mistranslation, and "Rebirth Sephiroth" would be more apt.Bizzarro means bizarre in Italian and Portuguese.
It is often believed the name Safer∙Sephiroth is a mistranslation, similar to how Helletic Hojo should have been translated as "Heretic Hojo." A common rumor is that "Safer" is a misspelling of "Seraph" (שרף) due to Safer∙Sephiroth's angelic appearance. A Seraph (plural "Seraphim", שְׂרָפִים) is described in the Hebrew Bible as being a humanoid angel with six wings.
Safer∙Sephiroth could easily be seen as a Seraph, with a seventh wing in place of his arm. However, the origin of the name Safer∙Sephiroth is Hebrew; the boss's name as written in Japanese is "セーファ・セフィロス," or Sēfa Sefirosu; "safer" can also be transliterated as "sefer", "sapher", and "sepher".Sepher (סֶפֶר) is Hebrew for "book". Thus, Safer Sephiroth (Sefer Sfirot) translates to "Book of Numerations", possibly linked to the mathematical formulae that appear during his Supernova attack. However, it more likely refers to the Sefirot, the ten aspects of creation according to Jewish Mysticism.
Sephiroth having one black wing as Safer∙Sephiroth specifically refers to a fallen angel. In the non-canonical pseudepigraphical work, the Testament of Solomon, a one-winged demon named Abezethibou is summoned by King Solomon. Abezethibou has a single red wing, this mutilation symbolizing his fall from heaven, following his betrayal of God to serve the Prince of Hell, Beelzebub.
Sephiroth's plan in Final Fantasy VII to ram a meteorite into the Planet and use the overflow of Lifestream to become a god refers to a concept in Zohar regarding the Tree of Life, where it is said that if someone tries to fill all of humanity into a vessel, the vessel will break, alongside the universe, causing life to flow erratically yet in a familiar pattern.
Sephiroth considering Jenova to be his mother, yet also being implied to have become one with her, may allude to the Christian belief of Jesus Christ being the Son of God, yet also being one and the same with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit via the blessed trinity.
- Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, p.081
- Final Fantasy VII EU manual, p.06
- Final Fantasy VII NA manual, p.10
- Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega, p.052
- Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, p.076
- Final Fantasy 25th Memorial Ultimania vol.2, p.54
- Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy: Museum: Sephiroth: Final Fantasy VII
- Final Fantasy Masterminds Reminisce About Their Favorite Moments (Accessed: April 29, 2016) at Game Informer
- Weekly Famitsu Issue no. 1224: Tetsuya Nomura Interview (Accessed: March 08, 2020) at The Lifestream
- Nomura, Kitase and Nojima Discuss Final Fantasy VII's Development (Accessed: May 16, 2012) at Andriasang
- Early Material Files Worldview & Terminology – p. 523-525 of the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega (Accessed: August 11, 2009) at The Lifestream
- Final Symphony / Game Concerts (Accessed: February 23, 2015) at Game Concerts
- 『ランページ ランド ランカーズ』レジェンドダンジョン：ファイナルファンタジーVII編 (Accessed: December 20, 2015) at YouTube
- Final Fantasy VII – 1997 Developer Interviews