Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy

What is it?

A project that encompasses a series of recent games in the exceedingly popular Final Fantasy series of JRPGs. Translated from Latin as “The New Tale of the Crystal”, you can think of it as separate games united by a similar mythology and themes.

Five years and counting…

The first game of this group of games, Final Fantasy XIII, was released over five years ago in 2010 and to this day, Square Enix (The Japanese company developing these video games) are still releasing content related to this Fabula Nova Crystallis mythology. If anything, it shows an unwavering commitment to this ten year project, which was first conceptualized in 2004.

The games are generally developed by different teams within Square Enix, but there is one constant amongst all these titles: The character designer, Tetsuya Nomura.

From debugger to character designer

Nomura’s career began in 1990, debugging another numbered game in the series, Final Fantasy IV. From there, he moved onto more creative roles, designing monsters and storyboards. He eventually rose to prominence by designing the characters of Final Fantasy VII, one of the most popular video games of its era and arguably, of all time. He’s been a lead character designer ever since and has also been directing games.

Noel Kreiss, the deuteragonist of Final Fantasy XIII-2: Your standard JRPG pretty-boy with a tragic past and fascinating pants.

His character art is generally very Anime-like with spiky hairstyles and lots of bright, contrasting colours. Style-wise, he is pretty all over the place with loads of interesting and very weird outfits drawn more for spectacle than utility. He’s also quite fond of outfitting his characters with an obscene amount of unnecessary belts and zippers.

As it relates to Fabula Nova Crystallis and specifically Final Fantasy XIII and its direct sequels, we have, again, lots of non-neutral, flashy colours. Accessories are prominent on these characters, from neck bandanas to belt scarves (?) and fingerless gloves. A special mention to character Noel and his absurdly puffy pants.

The motley crew of Final Fantasy XIII. Pretty much living, breathing clich├ęs of Anime and JRPG stereotypes. And if you think these characters look weird, you haven’t seen anything yet.

Final Fantasy Type-0 features a group of weapon-wielding students with magical powers. They attend a school (Cutely named “Akademeia”) tasked with training student-soldiers for the war effort in said game. Of course, this being a magical private school of sorts, the main characters are all follow a similar dress code. The default uniforms are coloured red, black and gold. Both sexes wear black jackets and red mantles, with white pants for the males and red plaid skirts for the females. Nothing too outrageous style-wise surprisingly given the setting and character designer.

Participate in the war effort in your practical, but more importantly, stylish school threads!

Noctis Lucis Caelum (CENTER), a crown prince and the protagonist of the upcoming Final Fantasy XV, and friends.

An upcoming game, Final Fantasy XV, has its main characters in a more real-life setting not unlike today’s world (Of course, with magic spells and giant monsters roaming the land). The clothing here reflects that and is more contemporary, albeit still outlandish to a degree. Predominately black, their outfits feature jackets, pants and shorts in various stages of undress. Plenty of humorously gaudy shirts and different types of footwear ranging from Doc Martins to dress shoes to biker boots. Intentional or not, the red soles are reminiscent of Christian Louboutin.

Final Fantasy x Prada

Or more specifically, Final Fantasy x Arena Homme+ Magazine, which is a bit less sexier. This was an interesting collaboration between Square Enix and a UK biannual men’s fashion magazine named Arena Homme+. Using characters from the Final Fantasy XIII games as models, they were outfitted with clothes from Prada’s 2012 Spring Menswear Collection for the magazine. You can see the golf-inspired collection here.

It was an unusual collaboration, but fascinating all the same for those who follow fashion. Personally, I love seeing fashion labels, animation and video game companies think outside the box to market their content. The video game community is not known to be a target audience for high-end fashion labels and vice versa, so I’m not sure how or why this all came about. Not that I’m complaining. I’d love to see more of this, where real-life clothing is outfitted on fictional characters, regardless of how out-of-place it looks. For aesthetic purposes, of course, and not just for product placement.

The stoic Lightning (LEFT). Not only the most prominent character in the Final Fantasy XIII games, but also apparently one of the most popular women in the entire Final Fantasy universe, according to a Japanese poll. In Prada Menswear for Arena Homme+ Magazine. Click here to see additional scans from the issue.

Final (?) Fantasy

Despite a mixed reception, Square Enix’s Fabula Nova Crystallis project is still charging forth. These games may not have the universal praise of past Final Fantasy games, but they’re still printing money and seem to be a dying breed of tentpole JRPG development (Spending years of work and millions of dollars on a single game release). Whatever the future holds for Square Enix, I’m sure Mr. Nomura will be involved. I’m not the biggest fan of his erratic sense of style, but darn if I don’t get morbidly curious every time his name pops up.

Final Fantasy XIII, Final Fantasy XIII-2 and Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII are available on PlayStation 3, Xbox 360 and PC.

Final Fantasy Type-0 has been recently re-released on PlayStation 4 and Xbox One.

Final Fantasy XV is still in development for the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One and has no set release date.