Celebrities who should totally appear in Final Fantasy games
Square Enix recently announced that teen idol Ariana Grande would bring her simpering smile to its Final Fantasy mobile game, Brave Exvius. Grande is only the latest real-world star to grace the franchise, however: Gakuto Kamui -- better known by his stage name Gackt -- has appeared in Final Fantasy VII spin-offs Dirge of Cerberus and Crisis Core, while fashion designer Vivian Westwood got a namedrop (and an original dress design) in last year's Final Fantasy XV.
Final Fantasy as a franchise has long embraced real-world pop culture as part of its overall schtick. And as more Hollywood stars lend their likenesses to big-budget games, this seems like a great opportunity to suggest some other big names who ought to grace Final Fantasy's shiny and chrome magical worlds.
This one's a gimme, if you ask me. The Star Wars and 12 Years a Slave star revealed on Jimmy Kimmel in 2014 that she played all too much Final Fantasy VIII as a teenager, which is about the most Final Fantasy a Final Fantasy can get, except maybe FFXIII. Tell her she's playing an evil enchantress with ice powers and an alien mom and she'll dive right into it.
Kanye West and Kim Kardashian
Still one of the entertainment world's biggest power couples, Kardashian has a best-selling mobile game and West is in the midst of developing a game of his own. More than that, they each have a penchant for turning up in fashions which seem right out of Tetsuya Nomura's sketchbook.
Some fans have gone so far as to photoshop mock covers (left) of the couple as Final Fantasy protagonists. It helps that both boast such outsized personalities that it's also easy to imagine them in a larger-than-life story of cyborg wizards or wherever a given Final Fantasy lands on the sci-fi-to-fantasy spectrum.
They'd make great final bosses too. West especially has a sort of 'villainous' reputation that could easily lend itself to an antagonist role. I'm pretty sure "defeat the mega-rich performing artist and their spouse's media empire" is already the plot of a JRPG or three somewhere.
In the West she's most widely recognized for her role as Mako Mori in Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim, but Kikuchi also has a considerable fanbase in her native Japan. (One of her weirder roles is the body horror shorts anthology Funky Forest. Brace yourself before watching that one.) With Final Fantasy's tendency to veer from sci-fi to high fantasy at unpredictable intervals, a woman best known for piloting a giant bipedal robot with a nuclear heart would fit right in. She'd have to wield a sword, of course.
Another no-brainer, the Japanese-American singer-songwriter is already well-known among Final Fantasy fans for singing the main themes to another of Square Enix's franchises, Kingdom Hearts. Given Final Fantasy's similar Western-facing aesthetic and Utada's bilingual musical chops, I see no reason why she couldn't ascend to Square Enix's flagship series. FFX-2 is due for a proper sequel anyway.
Also, that illustration above? The artist is none other than Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts character designer Tetsuya Nomura himself. So he won't even have to come up with a new costume for her.
The Iceland-born, multitalented avant-garde artist Björk already has Final Fantasy's sensibilities down pat, from the outrageous conceptual runway fashion to her ageless, genre-defying music. She's often compared to David Bowie (RIP), with influences ranging from medieval music to glitch and white noise.
If Final Fantasy were a person, Björk would probably be that person. The only tragedy here is that Square Enix has somehow not contracted with her already.
Pretty much half the acts from Eurovision
As one of a growing number of Americans hooked on the European song contest Eurovision, I am in favor of its performers and practices being adopted anywhere and everywhere up to and including as a preferred form of international government. If we decided our presidents by song competition, we'd be in a much different place as a country right now.
Fashion at Eurovision is stuck in a perpetual timewarp mixing together past decades with by-the-numbers pop songs, so it's pretty Final Fantasy already. Add to that, contestants often perform on high-tech stages with everything from swirling CGI projections to fireworks. It's bombastic, corny, and goddammit, I eat it up with a spoon each year. The "this person looks like a Final Fantasy summoner/final boss lol" tweets are also part of the yearly ritual, so why not make it official?
(Jedward can stay home, though.)
Like Lupita Nyong'o, mega-popular Japanese fashion model Kayo Satoh is no stranger to games -- she's actually a top-ranked Street Fighter player, even besting Japanese champion Daigo Umehara in head-to-toe Chun-Li cosplay. A more ass-kicking woman you are not likely to find, and she'd be in swell company among Final Fantasy's many fighting heroines like Celes, Tifa, and Lightning. And I'm just saying, she could come to mocap sessions in full costume.
Satoh is also one of few transgender models working anywhere in the fashion industry today. And before you get up in the comments about "reverse discrimination" or "tokenism" or whatever BS, this too is well in keeping with Final Fantasy's themes, which have often explored gender presentation and identity. I'm not saying Square Enix has necessarily always nailed the landing when exploring these ideas (actually, the track record is kinda bad), but it's possible for the company to do better in the future. One way they can do that is bring in transgender talent to share their lived experiences with the world.
Work with me here. Any game Felix "PewDiePie" Kjellberg features on his channel tends to rack up sales, so it only follows that a game PewDiePie is in would be a smash hit as well. You're welcome for this winning business strategy, Square Enix.
In all seriousness: PewDiePie may get a lot of flack for his exaggerated performances (the screaming, for instance), but he's undeniably an internationally-recognized star. He also has a substantial following among -- guess what -- young women. You know what else has a huge female fan following? That's right: Final Fantasy.
Lastly, a character from the anime Yuri on Ice, figure skater Emil Nekola (that's him above), bears no small resemblance to the guy. It was so striking that PewDiePie himself tweeted about it (though, the tweet has since been deleted). So he's already anime, you might as well go the rest of the way.
I mean. Why not, at this point?