Editorial: Top 5 Worst Final Fantasy Villains.
So, last week I looked at my top five Final Fantasy villains, some of which were, perhaps, unusual choices. It seemed fitting that I do the other side of the coin, and list the five I think were the worst - the least interesting, the most nonsensical, the worst conceived of them all.
So, without further ado, here's my list of the top five worst Final Fantasy villains.
5. Exdeath, Final Fantasy V.
Exdeath is without a doubt one of the blandest villains in the franchise. He's not outright grating like some of the people on this list are, but he is totally lacking in anything that would make him interesting, having neither the mystery of Yu Yevon or Ultimecia, the efficacy of Mateus, or the personality of Doctor Cid.
Exdeath's backstory has some potential - he is, in essence, a tree that gained sapience from having magical criminals sealed within him - but it's utterly squandered on a villain who's very much like something a child would write, with no depth, no real personality except for 'evil', and no motive except for 'destroy the world.' He is the watery porridge of villains.
Like Mateus, he was pushed somewhat in Dissidia Final Fantasy, but it didn't work. It's a testament to how forgettable not just Exdeath but his entire game is that I'm not sure anyone remembers he and Bartz were even in Dissidia.
4. Necron, Final Fantasy IX.
Necron is a slightly bizarre case. The storyline of the game has functionally ended, the main villain who has plagued you throughout the game has been defeated, by all rights the game should be over. And then Necron shows up.
Necron has never been mentioned or foreshadowed prior to this, and he gives little to no explanation of who he is, why he's there, or what his purposes are. You defeat him, and he fades away saying that he'll return one day, and that's it. No explanation, no anything, really.
For a final boss, that lacks any kind of weight or drama, which is why Necron has a spot here.
3. Barthandelus, Final Fantasy XIII.
How many people remember Barthandelus? He's not an especially memorable villain - like Exdeath, he's more or less personality-less - but what puts him on his list is that he's a tremendous example of lazy writing.
From the moment he's properly introduced, Barthandelus is treated as if he's a longtime nemesis for the party, despite the fact that prior to this point, he's barely been referenced, having only shown up in the occasional cutscene. Rather than actually take time to establish his villain cred, the game just goes 'Well, he's dressed in a distantly papal fashion, so you know he's evil' and then jumps right past any set-up that he could have.
For the entire game from that point on, the party grumbles and hmms and hars over Barthandelus, as if he's been a thorn in their side for ages, but the animosity seems entirely one-sided, as Barthandelus almost never does anything. He shows up a couple of times and rambles a little before transforming into his giant head form for a boss battle, but in terms of actually hindering the progress of the party or placing them under any strain whatsoever, he seems totally uninterested - a fact that the party seems never to realise.
Orphan, the final boss of the game, who shows up only at the end like an ever-so-slightly better foreshadowed version of Necron, manages to make a more compelling villain than Barthandelus, because in its short screentime it does at least demonstrate something akin to antagonism towards the protagonists. Barthandelus is just kind of there, aggressively doing nothing while people complain about him.
2. Genesis Rhapsodos, Final Fantasy VII - Crisis Core.
Genesis is something of a darling of the fans, possibly because when you put a character in a long coat and make him quote poetry, a lot of people forget about everything else.
But Genesis suffers from many of the problems that another on this list has, that being that he's all garnish and no meat, all floral dress and no practical work boots, all water and no shark. Essentially, I'm saying that he's a thirteen year old boy's idea of super cool and has no substance to him whatsoever. He is a mass of cliches cobbled together while someone whispers 'aesthetic' at him.
If you asked someone to describe Genesis, I'm not sure what they'd say other than 'he wears this really long red coat, and he looks like Gackt, and he has a big red sword, and he quotes poetry at people, and he's friends with Sephiroth.' I'm not certain they could tell you what his personality is, why he's interesting ('he has a red coat! It's red!'), why he's an effective foil for the protagonist.
Genesis is like a fanfiction OC that mistakenly made his way into a game, and that's really no good.
1. Sephiroth, Final Fantasy VII.
Ah, Sephiroth. When I was doing research for my last editorial on this topic, so many people were saying that he's the best Final Fantasy villain, and I really have no idea why, because he's ridiculous. Not ridiculous like the Joker or even Kefka, where an overtly comedic front hides something sinister beneath, just ridiculous.
Sephiroth is every cliche anime villain smushed together into a single character with a hammer, and that makes him impossible for me to take seriously. Everything about him is too much: The sword far too long for anyone to wield or even carry effectively, the outfit composed entirely of leather and straps, the strange quasi-poetic dialogue, the hair, it all screams 'trying too hard' at me.
He's like some corporate executive slammed his fist on the table and screamed 'What's popular with teenagers these days, people?' and everyone around the room just threw ideas at a whiteboard until they had about two dozen, and then they combined all of them. I said that Genesis is like a thirteen year old's fanfic character, and he is, but Sephiroth is like a dozen ageing, balding executives attempting to reproduce that fanfic.
When people mock Final Fantasy for its ridiculous over-the-topness, Sephiroth is who they're thinking of, every time.