Sketches from Final Fantasy, Inspired by Amano’s “The Sky”

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A few weeks ago, Amazon had a really great deal going; sign up for an Audible (audio book) trial, and get a free hardcover book. After browsing a bit, I found this book called The Sky by Yoshitaka Amano. This is a re-release of a limited edition set, containing three hardcover art books with concept art, character designs, and other illustrations by Amano. For fans of classic video games, he’s pretty influential even if you don’t know him by name. Amano worked for Square (now known as Square Enix), and was the main character, image, and graphic designer for the Final Fantasy series from the first game until the sixth. His illustrations are fairly iconic in my opinion, and this book set is really incredible. I liked it so much, it got me in the mood to do some sketches based on his work from the books.

I’ve included my sketches below, but first I have to say a few things about Final Fantasy. The original game came out in North America in 1990 for the classic Nintendo (NES), I was nine years old and totally obsessed with this game. I subscribed to Nintendo Power magazine back then, and couldn’t get enough news about it. I received the game from my parents for Christmas that year, and I don’t think I’ve ever received a present that made me as excited as Final Fantasy did.

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Christmas 1990 (my glasses were stuck in the 80s)

Final Fantasy on the NES was a completely new experience for me. Prior to it, I’d really only played Super Mario Bros and a few arcade games; the RPG experience was totally foreign, and absolutely loved it. In 1991, the next Final Fantasy came to the U.S., this time on Nintendo’s new console the SNES. While it was Final Fantasy II here, it was actually the fourth game in Japan. This sequel was a revelation; the original game didn’t have much of a story other than “take your four heroes and defeat evil.” Final Fantasy II though had an epic plot involving betrayal, loss, friendship, redemption, and family; it even took you to the freaking moon at the end!

The next sequel I would see came out in 1994 (the sixth game in Japan by now), and took the concepts from the previous game and expanded them greatly. This game seemed more epic than movies to me at the time, and even took the player through the end of the world. Also, I still think the game’s main villain Kefka is one of the all-time great antagonists in games, especially compared to others from that era. To this day, Final Fantasy III (or VI if you go by the Japanese series) remains one of my favorite games of all time; I think this is true for many video game fans who grew up around the same time.

Inspired by Yoshitaka Amano, I drew sketches of some of my favorite characters and scenes in his book. I’m also going to include some animations from the original games, in case some readers aren’t really familiar with them.

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Kain the Dragoon from Final Fantasy II. For most of the game, he’s a tragic figure and a villain, as he betrays his best friend and participates in killing off an entire village. His character is redeemed in the end, and joins up with the heroes.

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Kain had a cool jumping attack – that’s him at the top.

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Rydia the Summoner from Final Fantasy II. Early in the game, her family is killed along with the rest of her village. This event is the start of the main hero and Kain’s split. Rydia quests with the hero, leaves, and returns later after becoming more powerful to help in the final battles.

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Rydia was all about magic; she could cast destructive spells and summon creatures.

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Sabin from Final Fantasy III. He’s a martial artist and a wanderer with a hilarious flattop and pony tail. In the game, he’s sort of a free spirit, and is known for having a ravenous appetite. His brother Edgar is King of Figaro. Sabin and Edgar are both key protagonists in the story, and are involved in most of the game.

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Sabin suplexing a train. Does it get better than that? Actually, it probably doesn’t,
because that is an undead train full of ghosts. I never understood how the heroes ran as fast as a train, or why they didn’t just run away from the tracks.

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Edgar from Final Fantasy III. As I indicated above, he’s the King of Figaro and the brother of Sabin. They decided who would be king based on a coin flip, and Sabin chose to wander the Earth after he lost. Edgar loves machines, using them in his attacks. Ultimately, Figaro is destroyed by the main villain, and Edgar joins the heroes on their journey.

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Edgar getting crazy with his chainsaw. He had a ton of “tool” attacks, including chemical warfare (poison gas attack). You’d think the other heroes might frown on that, but no one ever mentioned it in the game.

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One comment

  • After thinking a bit more about Edgar and Sabin from Final Fantasy III (VI), I realized I made a mistake…I may leave the post as-is, but I’ll correct myself with some details here. I initially said, “Figaro is destroyed by the main villain” because I was remembering Edgar leaving and the castle on fire. Actually though, the castle survived! It was technologically sophisticated, and the entire thing tunneled underground into the desert. So, Edgar did escape at that time, but he later went back. Because the castle was underground, I believe it even survived the cataclysm towards the end of the game.

    Also, something I forgot about Edgar and Sabin is that they were supposed to rule Figaro together, but Sabin didn’t like everyone’s fixation with who would be king. He wanted to leave, so Edgar proposed a coin flip to decide who would leave. Edgar rigged it with a double-headed coin to ensure Sabin would be able to leave freely.

    More details can be found here: http://finalfantasy.wikia.com/wiki/Figaro_Castle. It just goes to show the detailed and compelling story in these games, which was sort of unusual in the early 90s.

    Liked by 1 person

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