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Final Fantasy VII All events from the 1997 classic RPG, with which it all began.

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Old 03/22/2018   #1
ChipNoir
Default JENOVA's identity as a female organism...

Y'know, I kinda wonder now why the writers decided to code JENOVA as a female. I mean, yes, there's the 2 minute deception of her being Sephiroth's mother, but physically the creature that can be anything it wants to still seems to want to create overtly biologically female elements. The damn thing has breasts and motherly hips. The new Mobious art cards make this very apparent.

Why do you reckon the developers went in this direction? Why would a destroyer of worlds that has virtual immortality choose a female guise, even in it's most monstrous sub-forms?
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Old 03/22/2018   #2
CrashOuch
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I feel like from a purely design and story view, women have for a long time been easily made into villains. There's countless fairytales etc. with evil gnarled witches and old croons and stuff like that and they always have the same like ... pure evil + kinda gross/horrifying appearance as Jenova? So having her be female coded kinda works from that point of view, like she slips into a sort of age-old trope a bit and you immediately recognise her as the Maleficent of this story idk
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Old 03/22/2018   #3
Minato
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I think it simply still had the features of some Cetra woman it was impersonating when it got stuck under the rocklayer and Jenova Birth/Death/Life aren't supposed to have gender exclusive features, not originally anyway.
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Old 03/22/2018   #4
CrashOuch
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Oh yeah that makes way more sense actually
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Old 03/22/2018   #5
ChipNoir
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Minato wrote: I think it simply still had the features of some Cetra woman it was impersonating when it got stuck under the rocklayer and Jenova Birth/Death/Life aren't supposed to have gender exclusive features, not originally anyway.
The battle model definetly has a set of breasts, and a hyper-stylized hour glass figure where it's lower body emulates a puffed out gown/dress motife. The only thing the new art adds is defined leg-like parts before the 'skirt' element begins, particularly for the JENOVA Life art in Mobius.

So it's still coded pretty hard as female in it's boss form.

Now more than ever I'm curious to see if JENOVA might make an appearance in Cloud's mindscape as a false mother figuring, holding Cloud captive in her 'loving' embrace ala The Madonna in art, and Tifa would have to lay a smackdown on her.
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Old 03/22/2018   #6
Obsidian Fire
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When Ilfana is talking about Jenova in the interview, she's actually calling her "it". For better or worse, English has no gender neutral pronouns while Japanese does and Jenova clearly "reproduces" itself somehow (asexual division most likely). So that's more in-line with calling it a female then a male in English anyway.

However, her role as a "mother" is more tied to her relationship with Sephiroth then anything else. All the JENOVA bosses we fight are really manifestations of Sephiroth's will that is controlling parts of JENOVA's body.

So I think the question really should be, "Why does Sephiroth keep casting JENOVA as a female when he certainly knows she isn't one?
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Old 03/22/2018   #7
ChipNoir
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Obsidian Fire wrote: When Ilfana is talking about Jenova in the interview, she's actually calling her "it". For better or worse, English has no gender neutral pronouns while Japanese does and Jenova clearly "reproduces" itself somehow (asexual division most likely). So that's more in-line with calling it a female then a male in English anyway.

However, her role as a "mother" is more tied to her relationship with Sephiroth then anything else. All the JENOVA bosses we fight are really manifestations of Sephiroth's will that is controlling parts of JENOVA's body.

So I think the question really should be, "Why does Sephiroth keep casting JENOVA as a female when he certainly knows she isn't one?

Sephiroth has oddball issues. I mean, in his bizzaro form he wears a JENOVA figure as a hat...
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Old 03/23/2018   #8
Mr. Ite
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Minato wrote: I think it simply still had the features of some Cetra woman it was impersonating when it got stuck under the rocklayer and Jenova Birth/Death/Life aren't supposed to have gender exclusive features, not originally anyway.
Awesome. Now my fanon.

Although... it might just be misremembering, but I thought my old black-label NA release had Ifalna saying "that's.... when he appeared!"
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Old 03/23/2018   #9
Obsidian Fire
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Mr. Ite wrote: Although... it might just be misremembering, but I thought my old black-label NA release had Ifalna saying "that's.... when he appeared!"
From what I remember reading, that "he" is gender-neutral in Japanese. She's really saying, "that's... when it appeared!" only "it" isn't an object but a living thing.
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Old 03/23/2018   #10
Addy Carver
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FFWiki wrote: Jenova's genetic structure is a two-way conduit: it can both take in the traits of its prey, and insert its own genes to turn other organisms into violent monsters. Once Jenova lands upon a planet it will destroy every form of life it finds. Jenova can absorb its prey's memories and form, hiding as their loved ones to destroy them.

As stated in Professor Hojo's Jenova Reunion Theory, once Jenova's cells have been separated from the main body they will seek to reunite. If they are inside a host body they can influence its mind and body to join the Reunion—sometimes so severely the host organism is killed. For an unknown reason organisms affected by Jenova often grow a single wing capable of flight and the pupils of the affected can change into a feline slit, though the rest of the eye remains unchanged.
I think the most worrying thing here is that Geralt is clearly infected with Jenova cells.

Sauce: http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Jenova
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Old 03/23/2018   #11
leadmyskeptic
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Okay, so...first off, great question/thread. I have always loved Jenova's concept and design, and when I finally saw "The Thing", which was only a few years ago (I know people are probably tired of hearing this), my appreciation only deepened...it was like suddenly a bunch of luminescent neon signs blaring 'INSPIRATION/HOMAGE' appeared, with giant arrows pointing back to my FF7-saturated pubescent years.

In any case, I may be misremembering/missing something here, but while Jenova is obviously a shape-shifter extraordinaire, I was under the impression that what Sephiroth comes across in the Nibelheim reactor is something of a 'true' form, rather than just a 'preferred creepy shape'. After that lone sight of her/it whole, the head and body are almost immediately separated (which is something that still confuses me), with the former tricklin' on down to the Lifestream with Seph. So, besides being channeled via Sephiroth, the forms we encounter along the way are mutations spawned from pieces of the whole...if that makes sense? This may be off topic, but the Ultimania has a lot of asides about how, originally, the 'Pieces of Jenova' aspect was a much more detailed and explicitly clear subplot, with even the hooded 'minions' being revealed to actually be individual bodyparts 'floating' underneath, but most of it was scrapped. As a result, I've always kind of considered what we see left in the game of this the remaining 'leftovers' of an unfinished plot element, which as a result becomes kind of confusing/potentially contradictory.

As for gender, you guys have pretty much said it...Jenova is an "it": besides the fact that it's not human, nor an animal, its not even OF Earth, so any attempt to literally define it by either human gender categories OR animal ones is a futile endeavor. BUT, I still think the whole having it referred to as "Mother", and "she"/"her" as opposed to "he" (when not using "it") is significant, even if its just to add layers to the Oedipal/creepy factor of the narrative. The ultimate "Women as Symbols of Evil" fairytale is the Bible, and you could make quite a long list of the female figures of absolute villainy and evil contained in that one, not to mention literature in general. Jenova deserves a spot in that list. I've heard people make the case that the fact that it/she has recognizably female breasts on an otherwise monstrous body is a tiring example of (esp. Japanese) gaming/comics etc throwing in excess sexuality that, given the nature of this specific 'monster', is even more inappropriate. I disagree, and feel like that aspect as part of the whole fucked-up, blue (?) package is one of (Nomura's?) the series' best designs, CERTAINLY the villain designs. She's disturbing, impressive, grotesque, human-esque and utterly inhuman at the same time, and especially when you're about 12, almost attractive for a brief second.

I have a bunch more to say, but this has already been a long, unnecessary rant. Damn I love this series.

Last edited by leadmyskeptic; 03/23/2018 at 03:12 AM. Reason: messed up sentence
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Old 03/23/2018   #12
ChipNoir
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I think at this point the remake needs to do what the compilation has strangely avoided: Give JENOVA some agency and a voice. Advent Children reduces her down to a McGuffin, and the other games barely acknowledge her existence as anything except a device to explain why everything's going on.

So I'm REALLY crossing my fingers for JENOVA to have a presence in Cloud's mindscape. It baffles me that it's Sephiroth that invades that and acts as the agent to try to destroy his sanity, when it's actually JENOVA's cells running amuk in his system the whole time.

It just doesn't settle well with me that she's just a conduit for Sephiroth's psychic attacks. I want more from her as a villain.

I find it interesting btw that in Dissidia Duodecim, they pick one of the only two female villains as Tifa's defacto nemesis, that being Ultimecia. I think that may be where I even go this idea of a Tifa vs JENOVA stand off.
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Old 03/23/2018   #13
Obsidian Fire
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^That flies in the face of the fact that JENOVA is dead for the entire game. ACC didn't make JENOVA into a MCGuffin, the OG treated her as one the entire time. Except maybe for the little bit in the Reactor with Sephiroth (after which he kills her.)

As it is, the reason why Cloud is being messed with is not because he has a bunch of JENOVA cells in him. Everyone in SOLDIER has that going for them. Cloud is being messed with becasue Hojo put Sephiroth's cells in him after Cloud defeated Sephiroth in the Reacotor. Sephiroth is the one obsessed with Cloud.

I'll personally be very disappointed if JENOVA is a force in the Remake as opposed to Sephiroth. It cheapens the victory the Cetra/Planet had over her when she first arrived.

She's also a lot more boring then Sephiroth is. All she wants is to kill things so she can travel to the next Planet and do it all over again. Sephrioth wants to get back at everyone he thinks betrayed him with a dose of obsession mixed in with it. Which is still boring as far as villains go, but at least it beats The Thing...
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Old 03/23/2018   #14
Minato
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Crisis Core introduces the idea that Cloud has Sephiroth's cells rather then Jenova but nevertheless Obsidian Fire is right, Cloud having Jenova cells meaning it should be Jenova who appears in his mind doesn't hold up, Sephiroth is appearing through Jenova's cells the entire time, he kills the President, is encountered on the ship, at Nibelheim, in the Temple, when he kills Aerith, ect. Either Sephiroth ought to be a complete non-entity through the entire game or Jenova is. Obviously it is and shouild be the latter. Jenova doesn't know or care about Shinra or Cloud.
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Old 03/23/2018   #15
Shademp
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I think that in most of us, including heterosexual females, there is a deeply embedded reverence for the female form. Ergo, any corruption of it brings forth a greater shock compared to corruptions of the male form. This is useful for when designing aliens. By incorporating female shapes into something monstrous, you create an uncanny "other". An amalgamation that is not supposed to exist.

Add to that FFVII's theme of birth and rebirth and it makes sense to have a female villain, a "reproductive" villain, stand in contrast to the planet's natural reproductive cycles: The Lifestream.

Mr. Ite wrote: Although... it might just be misremembering, but I thought my old black-label NA release had Ifalna saying "that's.... when he appeared!"
You are remembering (sorta) correctly. The English script in the PS1 version at first refers to the calamity as an "it" but then switches to "he". In the English PC translation, all "he" references were changed to "it".

PS1 vs PC
  

As has already been stated, the Japanese script uses a genderless pronoun so the PC version is thus the most faithful to the original game script.


EDIT: Thanks to Ite bringing up this classical difference between the PS and PC versions, I realized that my FFVII Version Guide did not include this example when "he/him" was changed to "it". Added it now to the Script Comparison: PS English <-> PC English page.
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