Compilation of Final Fantasy VII series
Tifa Lockhart artwork by Tetsuya Nomura
|First appearance||Final Fantasy VII|
|Designed by||Tetsuya Nomura|
|Rachael Leigh Cook|
Tifa Lockhart (ティファ・ロックハート Tifa Rokkuhāto ) is a player character in Square Enix's role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII. Created by character designer Tetsuya Nomura, she has since appeared in the fighting game Ehrgeiz and cameo appearances in other titles, as well as the CGI film sequel to Final Fantasy VII, Advent Children and related games and media as part of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII series. As of Advent Children, Tifa is voiced by Ayumi Ito in Japanese, and by Rachael Leigh Cook in English.
A member of the terrorist group AVALANCHE and owner of the 7th Heaven bar, Tifa is the childhood friend of Cloud Strife, the protagonist of Final Fantasy VII. Convincing him to join the group to keep him close and safe, she later assists him in saving the planet from the game's villain, Sephiroth. Elements of The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII later touched upon her character further, such as the film Advent Children in which she attempts to convince Cloud to let go of his self-imposed guilt and move on with his life after Sephiroth's defeat.
Conception and design
Designed by Tetsuya Nomura, Tifa was not present in early versions of Final Fantasy VII, and instead only three characters were intended to be playable: protagonist Cloud Strife, heroine Aerith Gainsborough, and Barret Wallace. However during a phone call to project director Yoshinori Kitase, the idea was suggested at some point within the game to permanently kill one of the characters, and after heavy discussion it was decided to have Aerith die. Nomura later joked that this was his idea to introduce Tifa into the game. Regardless, the notion of having two concurrent heroines and the protagonist torn between them was something Kitase liked, describing it as something new not present in past Final Fantasy games.
Tifa was developed to use the "Martial Artist" character class that appears in previous games in the series. She has long, black hair in a style resembling a dolphin's tail at the tip, and garments described as simple and monotone consisting of a white tank top and black mini-skirt. In addition, red boots and gloves cover her hands, sleeves extend up her arms from her wrists to her elbows, suspenders connect her skirt to her shoulders, and a large metal guard covers her left elbow. She stands about 5 feet 4 inches (167 cm) tall, and has three sizes of 36-24-35" (92-60-88 cm).
Initially Nomura had difficulty deciding whether to give her design the mini-skirt or long pants. Seeking input, he passed his sketches around Square's offices, and the majority of the staff members approved of the mini-skirt design. This additionally served as a contrast to Aerith, whose "Long Skirt" was her trademark. The attire was explained in respect to the game as giving her freedom of movement due to her affinity of weaponless fighting, and the skirt, noted as "quite short [...] giving a considerable degree of exposure", kept as a staple of her alternate costumes. The developers additionally noted that due to her figure, her otherwise plain garments took on a pleasant appearance.
When developing Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, director Takeshi Nozue had difficulty developing a framework for Tifa's body that was "balanced, yet showed off her feminine qualities". Her outfit was also redesigned at this point, with emphasis on expressing those qualities while being pleasing to the eye. A white tank top with black zipped up vest covers her front, a pink ribbon wraps around her left biceps, and boots cover her feet. A black buttoned-up skirt covers her thighs with shorts beneath, with a piece of cloth similar to a coat tail ending at her ankles extending from the back of the skirt's waistband. While her gloves remain, they are worn only during the film's fight scenes, her hands otherwise being bare. Her hairstyle was changed to end at the middle of her back, additionally removing the dolphin tail tip from her original design. This last alteration was done due to the difficulty of animating her original length of hair, as well as problems that arose due to its black color and lighting.
Nomura described Tifa's character as having several dimensions, calling her "like a mother, a sweetheart, and a close ally in battle" and "remarkably strong, not only emotionally, but physically as well". He noted he liked Ayumi Ito as an actress, and wished to work with her on the project. With Aerith's voice actor decided already, Nomura requested Ito take on the role of Tifa for the film, feeling her "husky voice" would offer a good contrast to Aerith. Nomura additionally noted that after completing Tifa's updated design they debated on her finalized details, but once Ito had been cast for the role they chose to blend many traits from the voice actress into the character's completed appearance.
Final Fantasy VII
Introduced in Final Fantasy VII, Tifa is the childhood friend of protagonist Cloud Strife, owner of the 7th Heaven bar and member of the terrorist organization AVALANCHE, who oppose the city of Midgar's Shinra corporation and their use of "Mako" energy from the planet as a power source. She convinces Cloud to join the group to keep a closer eye on him after noticing his personality had changed, and follows him in pursuit of the game's antagonist, Sephiroth. Unable to keep him from being influenced by Sephiroth's control, she helps him recover after his mind becomes fractured, and they realise their mutual feelings for each other and work together to help defeat Sephiroth.
In flashback cutscenes detailing events prior to the game, it is revealed that as children Tifa and Cloud had decided to follow a path to a mountain near her home town of Nibelheim only for both to be injured, with Tifa in a coma for a week and her father holding Cloud responsible for the incident. Cloud eventually left to join Shinra's "SOLDIER" program in order to become stronger, later revealed to be done in order to earn her attention. In response, she requested if she was ever in danger, he would return to save her. Years later he rescued her from a berserk Sephiroth after he had destroyed the town of Nibelheim on an expedition for Shinra, beating him to a stalemate but with both Cloud and Tifa critically injured. Surviving the incident, Tifa is taken elsewhere by the martial artist instructor Zangan, eventually arriving in Midgar and meeting AVALANCHE's leader, Barret Wallace, and joins his group in order to get revenge for the destruction of her home town. She eventually encounters an incoherent Cloud at the city's train station, and convinces him to work for Barret to keep him close and safe.
In early drafts of Final Fantasy VII, Tifa was to be a background character, her role in AVALANCHE was to support behind the scenes, and to cheer everyone up after missions, as well as a particular fondness for Cloud. She was additionally mentioned to have a large scar on her back caused by Cloud, and partial amnesia from when she had received it. A scene intended to imply her and Cloud having sex was proposed by Masato Kato, one of the event planners, but was replaced with a toned down version by Kitase in which a risqué line is followed by a fade to black. In an interview Nojima stated that none of them thought it would be something so important at the time.
In 2005, she appeared in the CGI film Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, set after the events of Final Fantasy VII. In it, she tries to give emotional support to Cloud, and urging him to come to terms with the unwarranted guilt he places upon himself. In addition she takes care of Barret's adopted daughter Marlene and another child, Denzel. She fights against one of the film's antagonists, Loz, and later helps battle the summoned dragon Bahamut SIN. Script writer Kazushige Nojima described her role in the film as "very much like any woman who's been left behind by a man", stating that while they didn't want her to appear clingy, they also wanted to portray her hurt emotionally. In the film's initial draft, she was intended to have a more central role in the then-short film, which only featured herself, Cloud, and several children, with the story revolving around a note being delivered to him.
Tifa is also featured in the games Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, as well as the OVA Last Order: Final Fantasy VII, in each appearing in events related to Nibelheim's destruction. The novella On the Way to a Smile: Case of Tifa is a story set in her point of view, telling the events between the end of Final Fantasy VII and Advent Children. In it, she creates a new 7th Heaven bar and attempts to hold onto the concept of a normal family with herself and Cloud as he begins isolating himself from others. She also appears in the game Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, set after the events of Advent Children in which she helps protagonist Vincent Valentine, later appearing in the game's epilogue discussing his apparent disappearance.
Outside of the Final Fantasy series, Tifa appears in the fighting game Ehrgeiz as an unlockable character and an optional boss. She later appears in the electronic board games Itadaki Street Special and Itadaki Street Portable. In Kingdom Hearts II, she appears in her Advent Children attire, searching for Cloud and later fighting various Heartless, the series' monsters. She was originally planned to appear in the Final Mix version of the original Kingdom Hearts, but due to time constraints the staff members chose to incorporate Sephiroth instead. Her character also appears in the fighting game Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, which features characters from various Final Fantasy games. In LittleBigPlanet 2, Tifa is featured as a downloadable character model.
Since her introduction Tifa has received much positive reception, and has been cited as an example of a strong female character in video games in the wake of Lara Croft's introduction, and in 2010 was named in a poll by Famitsu the nineteenth most popular video game character by Japanese audiences. GameSpot readers named her one of the ten best female characters in video games, with the site's editors noting they agreed. IGN listed Tifa as the thirteenth best Final Fantasy character of all time, describing it as an attempt by Square to "give Final Fantasy characters real sex appeal", and one that "could take care of herself in a pinch"; in a follow-up Reader's Choice edition of the list, Tifa placed first, with the staff repeating their previous comments while attributing her placement on the list to her breasts. In a later article focusing solely on Final Fantasy VII characters she placed fourth, adding that while her sex appeal contributes to her popularity, "Tifa helped drive a tradition of tough, independent RPG heroines." They later named Tifa one of the ten best heroines in gaming, describing her as "without a doubt, a legendary heroine of the Final Fantasy universe". Mania Entertainment placed her tenth in their article of the "13 Video Game Women That Kick Ass", stating that while subsequent games in the Final Fantasy series introduced other memorable female characters, "Tifa is our first Final Fantasy girl and holds a special place in our hearts."
UGO.com ranked her twenty-fourth in their "Top 50 Videogame Hotties" article, stating "We can't get over how much better she looks in each subsequent game release." They later listed her as one of the "Top 11" girls of gaming at number five, stating a preference for her over Aerith in Final Fantasy VII and adding "Tifa's outfit is a marvel of understatement – but it's her natural assets and unforgettable personality that earn her a spot on this list." GameDaily ranked her thirty-first on their "Top 50 Hottest Game Babes" list, sharing UGO.com's preference for her and praising both her appearance and combat abilities. MSN astated similar sentiment, stating that while her presence in the series was "a little subtle, giving her more of an emotional undertone", the franchise would not be as special without her. Tom's Games listed her as one of the "Top 50 Greatest Female Characters in Video Game History," describing her as "one of the more richly drawn and intricate female characters around." Joystiq named her their top pick out of twenty characters from the Final Fantasy franchise they wished to see in Square Enix's crossover fighting game Dissidia: Final Fantasy, describing her as one of the series' "greatest heroines".
In 1998, Electronic Gaming Monthly named her the "Hottest Game Babe" of 1998, describing her as "well-proportioned as they come" and praising her as a viable alternative to Lara Croft. In 2004, Play featured Tifa in the first issue of their Girls of Gaming annual periodical, describing her as "the most adored female in recent [Final Fantasy] history". In 2007, she was named the eighth best character of all time in Dengeki PlayStation's retrospective awards feature about the original PlayStation, one of six characters from Final Fantasy VII to appear on the list and the third highest ranked character from the game. In 2007 Korean singer Ivy portrayed the character in a music video for the song "유혹의 소나타" ("Sonata of Temptation"). Recreating a fight scene from Advent Children, the video was banned from airing on Korean television after a copyright lawsuit by Square Enix citing plagiarism.
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- Square. Final Fantasy VII. (Sony). PlayStation. (1997-09-07) "Tifa: 'Now that you mention it, why did you want to join SOLDIER in the first place.' ... / Cloud: '......I was devastated. ......I wanted to be noticed. I thought if I got stronger, I could get someone to notice.........' / Tifa: 'Someone has to notice you...? ......who?' / Cloud: 'Who.........? ......You know who! ......You, that's who.' ... / Cloud: 'Tifa missed her step. I ran to her... but didn't make it in time. Both of us fell off the cliff. Back then, I only scarred my knees, but......' ... / Cloud: 'Tifa was in a coma for seven days. We all thought she wouldn't make it. If only I could've saved her... I was so angry... Angry at myself for my weakness. Ever since then, I felt Tifa blamed me... I got out of control... I'd get into fights not even caring who it was. That was the first time I heard about Sephiroth. If I got strong like Sephiroth, then everyone might... If I could just get stronger...... Then even Tifa would have to notice me......'"
- Square. Final Fantasy VII. (Sony). PlayStation. (1997-09-07) "Tifa: 'Hey, why don't we make a promise? Umm, if you get really famous and I'm ever in a bind..... You come save me, all right?' / Cloud: 'What?' / Tifa: 'Whenever I"m in trouble, my hero will come and rescue me. I want to at least experience that once.' / Cloud: 'What?' / Tifa: 'Come on--! Promise me----!' / Cloud: 'All right.... I promise.'"
- Square. Final Fantasy VII. (Sony). PlayStation. (1997-09-07) "Tifa: '...it's really been a long time. Actually, it's been seven years. You got your wish and joined SOLDIER, quit after the Sephiroth incident, and now you're a mercenary... You told me a lot about what happened after you left Nibelheim... But... Something's wrong. I felt there was something strange about the things you talked about. All the things you didn't know that you should. And other things you shouldn't know that you did... I wanted to make sure... But then I heard... you were going far away... And I didn't want that... ...I didn't know what to do. So, I thought I needed more time. And that's why I told you about the AVALANCHE job. I wanted to be with you, watch you.'"
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