Was Aerith ever going to come back to life? Are Final Fantasy 10 and Final Fantasy 7 set in the same world? Is Gogo actually Daryl? Thanks to Yoshinori Kitase, we now have the answers to all of these questions. And they're mostly "No."
Kitase, whose résumé is far too long to list in one paragraph but includes director credits on Final Fantasy 6, Chrono Trigger and Final Fantasy 7, was in Seattle last week for PAX West to talk about his most recent game, Mobius Final Fantasy. Of course, as I told him, I couldn't resist the urge to ask about his older work, too.
I told Kitase I wanted to ask about some popular Final Fantasy fan theories. Laughing, Kitase addressed each one, debunking (and, once, quasi-confirming) the wild hypotheses that fans have dreamed up over the years.
On the theory that Final Fantasy 6's costumed Gogo is really Daryl, Setzer's old friend:
"That's probably not true," Kitase said, speaking through a translator. "I don't think there's any background setting like that. If that's true, then because Daryl had that beautiful ending, if [she] ended up being Gogo, that would just destroy all that."
So, I asked, did Gogo have a secret identity? Was he supposed to be General Leo or perhaps Adlai Stevenson?
No, Kitase said. Final Fantasy 6's two optional characters, Gogo and Umaro, "actually did not carry any background story. They were just there for you to select if you want them to be in battle."
On the theory that Final Fantasy 8's Squall dies at the end of Disc 1 when he's stabbed by Edea's ice spear and that the rest of the game is his dream:
"No, that is not true," Kitase said, laughing. "I think he was actually stabbed around the shoulder area, so he was not dead. But that is a very interesting idea, so if we ever do make a remake of Final Fantasy 8, I might go along with that story in mind."
On the theory that Final Fantasy 8's Rinoa is really Ultimecia:
"No, that is not true," Kitase said. "I don't think I'll incorporate that even if we do remake the game. But that being said, both Rinoa and Ultimecia are witches, so in that sense they are similar, but they're not the same person."
On the theory that Final Fantasy 7's Knights of the Round are really the Cetra that defeated Jenova a thousand years before the events of the game:
"Everyone's thinking too deeply, reading between the lines too much," laughed Kitase. "That makes it difficult because if you think about it that way, we might have to make it that way. That's definitely not true."
Kitase added that artist Tetsuya Nomura, best known as the director of Kingdom Hearts, created all of the summons in Final Fantasy 7. "They don't have any background story attached to them," Kitase said.
On the theory that in Final Fantasy 7 you'd originally be able to bring Aerith back to life, but that was cut from the game:
"We did hear that there were talks amongst fans that if you use a bug in the game you can revive Aerith and she will be with you until the end of the game," Kitase said. "It might be good in a fantastical story that you can revive the characters, but with FF7, we wanted to really take another look at that, look at human life, and [make people] realise they don't come back."
When Kitase and his team first started development on Final Fantasy 7, he added, they saw some other company give a survey to little children that asked if they thought people come back to life after they die. "A lot of the kids actually said yes to that question," Kitase said. "There are all these fantasy stories where, [for example], the princess would come back from death with the kiss of her prince. For children, it was normal for them that people would come back to life. And we wanted to question that idea and thought. So we wanted to depict that there is weight to life, and just put weight on the loss as well to life, and that's where we all started with Final Fantasy 7. That was our core concept."
And finally, on the theory that Final Fantasy 10-2's Shinra character went on to start Shinra in Final Fantasy 7, meaning that both universes are connected:
"I won't completely come out and say that it is the same world," said Kitase. "However, Shinra in FF10-2 was created by [Kazushige] Nojima, the scenario writer, and when he thought him up, he thought it might be good if people would imagine that after a few years after the story of Final Fantasy 10-2, that person Shinra will grow up and start the Shinra company. So that is something that he did hint in there. That being said, I'm not gonna say that it's the same."
One out of six ain't bad!