- “Jenova was a Calamity that fell from the sky a long, long time ago, and tried to destroy the planet...”
- —Marlene Wallace
Jenova (ジェノバ, Jenoba?) is an extraterrestrial life-form in Final Fantasy VII that also appears in a retelling of a section of the game in the animated film Last Order -Final Fantasy VII-, and in flashbacks in the movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Jenova serves as a major antagonist in the world of Final Fantasy VII, and experiments on its cells have produced many of the other antagonists as well, including Sephiroth.
Throughout Final Fantasy VII, Jenova is often referred to as "she", though Ifalna calls Jenova "he" (or "it" in the PC version). Jenova has a female form and is said to be the "mother" of Sephiroth. It is called the "calamity from the skies" or the "crisis from the sky" (空から来た厄災, Sora kara kita yakusai?, lit. "Disaster which came from the sky"), or "Heaven's Dark Harbinger" by the Cetra.
Whenever Jenova is seen in a dormant state it appears as a gray-skinned woman (shown as blue-skinned in Final Fantasy VII, or only appearing blue through its container in the Mako Reactor on Mt. Nibel in other games). Although Jenova appears feminine its gender is ambiguous at best as it is an extra-terrestrial lifeform whom the Cetra never appear to refer to with a feminine pronoun; Jenova is known as "Calamity from the Skies" in the legends, and in Final Fantasy VII Ifalna refers to Jenova with either 'it' or 'he', depending on the version of the game.
Jenova is bare (other than what appears to be an external biological system), with something resembling a heart at its feet. Connected to the heart-like organ are a number of ventricle tubes that reach to different parts of the body, the largest of which, pinker in color, inserts into its abdomen (or in Final Fantasy VII, an apparently empty space in its abdomen). On its back are similarly colored appendages along with what resembles a wing protruding from its left, and a stub of a wing from its right.
Jenova has long silver hair parted through the center. Its left eye glows red and it has no right eye that is often unseen and covered by hair in all Compilation of Final Fantasy VII releases where the eyes are recognizable. Placed on Jenova's head is headgear that links to her container and has an inscription which has had a different message between different depictions of the scene. Above the headgear, a brain is seen, lying within Jenova's cranium.
As Jenova bears female anatomy the body has two breasts, the right of which has what appears to be a nipple resembling an eyeball. The pubic area is obscured by the tube from the abdomen.
At Mt. Nibel Jenova's container is covered by what has been referred to as the "Jenova Cover" or "Jenova Doll". The Jenova cover is a presumably man-made metal construct that resembles the torso of an angel. The doll obscures Jenova itself while the wings cover the side of the container. Presumably connected to the roof are cables bearing the appearance of golden hair, offering to cover the higher areas of the container.
A tube links from the chamber's entrance to the cover's mid-point, possibly meant to resemble Jenova who has a similar tube; whereas Jenova's tube leads to a heart-like organ, the area the cover's pipe leads to has tubes that resemble ventricles. The tube linking to the cover can also used as a path to reach the container. At the entrance to the chamber lies a sign reading 'JENOVA'.
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 new planet it will begin to 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 eventually reunite into one again. If they are inside a host body they can influence its mind and body to join the Reunion — sometimes so extremely the host organism is killed. For an unknown reason organisms affected by Jenova often grow a single wing capable of flight. The pupils of the affected can also change into a cat-like slit, though the rest of the eye remains unchanged.
Once Jenova has completely destroyed a planet it uses it as a vessel to travel the cosmos to the next unfortunate planet. This cycle may have been going for millions of years before the beginning of Final Fantasy VII. Jenova's age is unknown but since it can lay dormant for millennia if necessary it might be older than the planet of Gaia itself.
Approximately two thousand years before the main events of Final Fantasy VII an alien creature landed on Gaia, having traveled through space on a meteor. The impact created a giant wound on the Planet's surface that would come to be known as the "North Crater". The creature emerged from the crater and approached the Cetra using its mimic abilities to destroy them. Those who were taken victim were infected with a virus that mutated into monsters. The creature would take the form of the fallen Cetra, and so get close enough to destroy their loved ones. Ifalna calls this process as Jenova giving the Cetra "the virus".
The creature destroyed most of the Cetra civilization. Their daughter race, the humans, hid from the creature while the Cetra were nearly wiped out. The few Cetra who survived banded together to defeat the creature and quarantined it inside the North Crater where it would lie dormant for thousands of years. Despite their victory over the "Calamity from the Skies" the Cetra civilization was lost, and their numbers dwindled down to almost nothing while humans spread over the Planet. As time wore on humanity forgot about the creature and the Cetra fell into legend.
- Main article: Jenova Project
Two thousand years after the alien creature's fall onto the Planet all memory of the creature had faded. The Shinra Electric Power Company ruled the Planet with Mako energy, but was ever looking for a more efficient way to harvest it. The Cetra legend of the Promised Land piqued their interest, and the company delved into research into the race that was thought long extinct.
Approximately 30 years before the main events of Final Fantasy VII Professor Gast Faremis excavated the alien creature's remains and mistakenly identified it as a Cetra, and gave it a name: Jenova. Thus began the Jenova Project — an effort by a number of Shinra scientists to take Jenova's cells and create a human hybrid to produce a Cetra who would lead them to the legendary Promised Land.
Shinra was, of course, unsuccessful at creating a Cetra with Jenova's cells, but the humans treated with Jenova's cells proved to be super-soldiers, which led to the members of SOLDIER, Shinra's elite military force, to be injected with Jenova's cells as well. Sephiroth, Genesis Rhapsodos, and Angeal Hewley were born from the project during its first stages when Shinra was still trying to create a Cetra. Most of the early research took place in Nibelheim's Shinra Mansion, and Jenova was kept within the Mako Reactor at Mt. Nibel.
Sephiroth, the ultimate SOLDIER who was directly infused with Jenova's cells in fetal stage, was not told of his role in the Jenova Project. His biological father, Professor Hojo, told the young Sephiroth his mother's name was "Jenova" and that she died from giving birth to him. His real mother was Lucrecia Crescent.
Many years later Sephiroth came to the Nibelheim reactor along with Zack Fair and Cloud Strife and found the reactor filled with Mako-infused mutants, ordinary humans infused with such high levels of Mako they had turned into monsters. Sephiroth began to suspect his origins may be similar, and ventured into the Shinra Mansion's basement and read all he could about the Jenova Project; not once did the light in the basement go out. The strain of these discoveries drove him insane.
Believing himself to be the descendant of the Cetra, whom the humans had "betrayed," Sephiroth went on an angry killing spree. All of Nibelheim was burned to the ground, and Sephiroth went up to the reactor to get his "mother". Thanks to Cloud mortally wounding him Sephiroth could only take Jenova's head and fell into the Lifestream below the reactor.
Shinra forces took over the reactor and used Cloud and Zack as a part of Professor Hojo's newest experiment to test the Jenova Reunion Theory. Sephiroth was deemed dead and the Nibelheim survivors became test subjects and were infected with Jenova to create the Sephiroth Clones. What remained of Jenova was taken to Midgar and placed in Hojo's lab in Shinra Headquarters.
Due to Jenova's cells present in his body, the Lifestream was unable to absorb Sephiroth completely. Sephiroth's will traveled the Lifestream learning everything about Jenova, Cetra, the circle of life and formulated a plan to be reborn as a god and built a new body for himself in the Northern Cave within the North Crater. At this point Sephiroth's will was stronger than Jenova's, and he could exert his influence on those injected with the Jenova cells, his plan to have them bring the Black Materia to him.
In Sephiroth's FormEdit
Five years after the Nibelheim Incident Sephiroth puts his plan into action and takes control of Jenova's main body housed in Shinra Headquarters and morphs it into a vessel in his likeness before having it massacre many people in the Shinra Building, including President Shinra. From there Jenova escapes into the outside world.
Cloud and his party chase "Sephiroth" across the Planet, unaware it is Jenova under Sephiroth's control. Cloud follows Sephiroth to get revenge for Nibelheim's torching, but on subconscious level Cloud is being controlled by the Jenova cells inside him. Several times the cells take complete control of him and make him mentally unstable and Sephiroth uses his control of Cloud to make him give up the Black Materia.
As the party follows "Sephiroth's" trail they run into parts of Jenova he uses to hinder their pursuit and to keep them from discovering the truth. The first one, described as Jenova's arm, transforms into Jenova∙BIRTH and is fought on the Cargo Ship. Jenova∙LIFE manifested as Sephiroth when he murdered the last Cetra, Aeris Gainsborough, at the altar in the Forgotten Capital. A third battle with Jenova occurs in the Whirlwind Maze with Jenova∙DEATH.
As Cloud and his friends defeat the final part of Jenova's original body, Cloud realizes what they had been pursuing wasn't the real Sephiroth. The party finds the real Sephiroth crystallized in hibernation. Being controlled, Cloud gives Sephiroth the Black Materia letting him summon Meteor. Sephiroth's plan is to create a wound so great into the Planet's surface the Lifestream would be summoned to heal it and Sephiroth would take control of the entire Planet.
Cloud recovers and throws off Sephiroth's influence. Together with his party, he travels down into the Northern Cave to defeat Sephiroth. Just before the final battle they fight Jenova∙SYNTHESIS, a form of Jenova composed of all the remaining Jenova cells and considered as the entity's true form. Once defeated, the party reaches an evolved Sephiroth and defeats him.
Even after its main body had been destroyed, Jenova's cells remained within the Lifestream and infected thousands who came into contact with them during the time Lifestream washed over the Planet to help destroy the Meteor Sephiroth summoned. This infection with Jenova cells manifested as the plague Geostigma, caused by the human body overcompensating to try to eliminate the cells, leading to the development of sores and scars. Not fully diluted in the Lifestream, Sephiroth manifest his Remnants into being with Kadaj being the first to be created.
Joined by his brothers Loz and Yazoo, Kadaj is compelled to find physical remains of Jenova to evoke a second Reunion to restore Sephiroth. But unbeknown to them, abducting Geostigma infected children and turning them into "blood hounds" to find it, Rufus Shinra is in possession of Jenova's remains the whole time.
Kadaj reaches Jenova's remains assimilating it as Sephiroth is reborn in his body. During his fight with Cloud, Sephiroth unveils his intentions to assimilate the Planet and journey to another world to repeat the cycle as Jenova had done before landing on the Planet. Sephiroth is defeated and Kadaj is left on the verge of death. Aerith's Great Gospel brings a healing rain down upon Midgar and Edge, healing those suffering from Geostigma while Sephiroth's Remnants cease to be. Due to Jenova's high adaptability and previous ability to survive, whether or not this is the end of Jenova remains to be seen.
According to the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega, in an early version of Final Fantasy VII's game script, the fact the party is chasing Jenova rather than Sephiroth was made much more clear. During the party's confrontation with Jenova in Sephiroth's form on the Cargo Ship "Sephiroth" would open his cape to shoot out a piece of Jenova, its hand. The Sephiroth Clones were not individual people infected with Jenova's Cells but rather pieces of Jenova floating in the air hiding under cloaks in the shape of people. Each piece was explicitly named to be either its hand, thumb, or heart. This is why Cloud refers to Jenova∙BIRTH as the "arm" of Jenova upon its defeat. There were also two more boss fights: one between Cosmo Canyon and Nibelheim, and one in the Temple of the Ancients.
It has been suggested from the material present in the Ultimania Omega that rather than there being several Black Capes, there was just one, Jenova, who was cutting off bits of its body as it journeyed towards Sephiroth until all that remains is a heart. In the original version of the events the party would catch up with the Black Cape in the Whirlwind Maze, and the figure would remove the hood to show it has no face, and then take off the cloak to show it is nothing but Jenova's heart floating in midair, the final piece, which would then transform into a monster.
Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega goes further to reveal that, in fact, in the game's early plans Jenova wasn't an extraterrestrial being, but rather, a certain region of the human brain, or genes. The name "Jenova" was originally supposed to have originated from a book written by the Cetra. The element "Jenova" wasn't meant to surface under normal conditions, but rarely people were born in whom "Jenova" awakened naturally. The Jenova element could have been awakened through artificial means by exposing the person to Mako energy. The book of Jenova was said to have been written by the Cetra and known in the legends as both the "Book of God" and the "Book of the Devil" detailing everything unknown of the human brain (or genes).
"Thaumaturge" was a name given to those whose Jenova had awakened. The name was used to denote those with special senses ordinary humans lack, regardless whether the abilities were innate (Aerith) or acquired (Sephiroth). Thaumaturge's abilities varied but they shared a common ability to be drawn to and sense one another. Those especially skilled were even sensitive to the thoughts of others. For example, the Turks were planned to be experts at searching out the Thaumaturge.
In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, though Jenova's remains are explicitly referred to as "Jenova's head", the film's staff have stated the remains are merely a few random clusters of its cells. The term "head" was used for them simply due to a lack of an official term, and it stuck. The staff made sure that the cloaked Rufus was never shown to move his left hand under his cloak, leaving viewers to presume he was injured, but the intention was that Rufus was holding onto Jenova throughout the film and his hand was gripping it. During development, an early idea tossed around was that Kadaj would actually eat the Jenova cells in order to complete Sephiroth's reunion.
Jenova has two signature themes in Final Fantasy VII. One is "J-E-N-O-V-A", played in fights with Jenova∙BIRTH and Jenova∙DEATH, in the fight against Hojo, and also in the stairway at the end of the game. The second track is "Jenova Absolute", heard during the fight with Jenova∙SYNTHESIS.
In the fight against Jenova∙LIFE, "Aeris's Theme" is played instead.
Etymology and SymbolismEdit
Jenova's name is a portmanteau of "Jehovah" and "Nova". "Jehovah" is a widely-accepted romanization of the ineffable Hebrew name 'יהוה', one of the many names of the Abrahamic God. "Nova" is from the Latin feminine adjective for "new"; thus, Jenova's name means "New God", a point of symbolic significance, although this connection is not seen in the game.
Additionally, a nova is a cataclysmic nuclear explosion caused by the accretion of hydrogen onto the surface of a white dwarf star. Given Jenova's association with planetary and universal themes, this may or may not be a coincidence.
The 'jen' segment may hint at 'genetics', a theme within the game. In this way, the name can be interpreted as 'gene-nova'.
All of these combine to form a name which alludes to planetary catastrophe (Meteor), genetic traits and experiments (Hojo's creations, Aeris's Cetra genes, Jenova's genetic 'children') and the birth of a new god (Sephiroth), making it appropriate.
Sephiroth being Jenova's "son", as well as the implication throughout Final Fantasy VII that he had become one and the same as her, may refer to the Christian belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, yet also via the blessed trinity one and the same with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
Final Fantasy VII draws heavily from the Lurian Kabalā (Jewish Mysticism), a medieval Jewish variant of Gnosticism. Both Gnosticism and its Kabbalist branch proclaim that all humans have inside their bodies a spark of divine light from the Absolute, which returns there upon death. This Absolute is an infinite wellspring of spiritual energy, knowledge, and goodness, mirroring the function of the Lifestream. The Kabbalah states the Absolute is the Judeo-Christian God, whereas early Gnostics believed him to be an incompetent or malicious false god known as the demiurge ("artisan" in Ancient Greek) who merely believed himself the uncreated deity because he was shielded from the Absolute by his "mother", an emanation from the Absolute (known as an Aeon) who fell from the skies. This demiurge, trapped in the material world, cannot create anything good, and instead corrupts the sparks of light, just like Jenova's corruption of the Lifestream and of human beings.
- Jenova only has a single line of dialogue throughout the entire Compilation credited to it. The line comes directly after the party defeats Jenova∙LIFE, and says, "Because‚ you are... a puppet." to Cloud. In the PlayStation version of the game, the line was: "Beacause, [sic] you are......a puppet".
- The inscription on Jenova's head can be read in a number of its appearances:
- In Final Fantasy VII, it reads:
MADE IN HONG KONG
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED 1996
SQUER COMPANY LIMITED
- In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children it reads:
|µ|-Era 19591010 Hakken
|µ|-Era 19670702 Fuuin
- In Last Order -Final Fantasy VII-, it reads:
SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY SECTION
SHIN-RA COMPANY LIMITED
- In Final Fantasy VII, it reads:
- Jenova shares its trait as a cosmic world-consuming threat with the character Lavos, from the Square Co., Ltd. developed game Chrono Trigger.
- Jenova's ability to copy other organisms and its cells being semi-independent organisms to themselves, as well as its being an alien found sealed in the arctic are all reminiscent of The Thing. Even Sephiroth's ability to assimilate Jenova's cells while maintaining his identity may have been based on it.
- Jenova Chen, designer of award-winning games such as Flower and Journey, took his name from the character Jenova and says that Final Fantasy VII is an influence to his work.
- The original idea of Jenova being a state of mind was later used in Parasite Eve, also produced by Square.