- “The weak lose their freedom to the strong. Such is the way of the strong. And it is the providence of nature that only the strong survive. That is why I needed strength.”
Kuja (クジャ, Kuja?) is the main antagonist of Final Fantasy IX. A Genome manufactured to provoke war between humans, he operates behind the scenes, at first working in Queen Brahne's shadow. He wishes to acquire the power of the eidolons to overthrow his creator, Garland, and rule Terra.
Appearance and PersonalityEdit
- “Peace is but a shadow of death, desperate to forget its painful past... Though we hope for promising years. After shedding a thousand tears, yesterday's sorrow constantly nears. And while the moon still shines blue, by dawn, it will turn to scarlet hue!”
Kuja has long silver hair that falls halfway down his back. In his hair he wears a large feather of the same color, and strands of hair stick up along with it. He has light-blue eyes and is of medium height, light build, with a pale complexion. He wears white sleeves with a violet mantle around his shoulders. Kuja wears a white robe on the back of his legs that extends to his ankles. The robe is held up by four straps that act as a codpiece. His pants are a deeper purple than his shoulder-guards and his shoes are black with golden buckles. As a Genome, Kuja has a tail, but in denial of his origins he conceals it.
Kuja's speech patterns are metaphorical and jovial; for example he refers to Garnet as a "canary", and Brahne as "the elephant-lady". His refined nature juxtaposes his role as a sadistic war-bringer. Kuja has a love of luxury, as evidenced by his home at Desert Palace.
Kuja is narcissistic in contrast to Zidane's humility. Kuja has an ego to match his power and he lets his pride rule his head. While he had his chance to kill Zidane when he was still a baby, Kuja chose to let him live to prove himself superior to him. After discovering his destiny as a mortal, Kuja's cultured personality turns into insanity, and he reiterates several times he believes life should not be allowed to continue without him.
Kuja uses his elegance to hide his insecurities and deep down he is conflicted by his existence, having been created as a tool for Garland. Kuja scorns the black mages, but also finds himself identifying with them. As explained in Final Fantasy IX Ultimania Kuja never experienced childhood and thus his emotional growth is stunted, being unable to empathize with others or feel remorse for his actions. It appears that learning of his fate as a mortal and rebelling against this destiny allows Kuja to grow, and comes to see at least some of the repercussions of his actions.
In the Japanese versions of Final Fantasy IX and Dissidia, Kuja refers to himself with the boyish pronoun boku and addresses others with the familiar/informal kimi.
Kuja is a Genome created by Garland in 1776, 24 years prior to the game's beginning. Garland's ultimate plan is to assimilate the planet of Gaia with the planet of Terra by replacing the Gaian souls with Terran ones. To accelerate the process Garland created Kuja and sent him to Gaia to encourage war and destruction so people would die quicker and the souls of Gaia could be replaced faster. Thus, it is Kuja's nature to cause death.
Garland initially deemed Kuja a failure. According to the Final Fantasy IX Ultimania, Kuja was created as he is and never got to experience childhood. As such, he never developed human emotions and so would never be able to attain Trance, the world's ultimate power.
A strong mind of his own with no feelings of remorse or conscience was a dangerous mix, perfect for inciting war, but difficult for Garland to harness to his own ends. Garland created another Genome who would be different from Kuja from the outset, and thus Zidane was born. Zidane was created as a child able to learn and grow and thus develop the ability for complex emotions needed to enter Trance, making him superior to Kuja.
While Garland never told him, Kuja was only a temporary Angel of Death, meant to kill people on Gaia until Garland could perfect the true Angel of Death, the perfect Genome: Zidane. Kuja felt threatened by the new Genome and kidnapped him and abandoned him on Gaia. Garland continued using Kuja, while a third Angel of Death, Mikoto, was created, but outraged at Kuja's behavior Garland banished Kuja from returning to Terra, likely so Kuja wouldn't get his hands on Mikoto. Kuja, defiant of his master, made his home in the Desert Palace instead.
Scheming Against GarlandEdit
According to the Final Fantasy IX Ultimania Kuja destroyed Madain Sari on Garland's instructions. Garland, fearful that the summoners' power to call forth the magical eidolons would come between him and his plans, wanted to eradicate the practice from Gaia. Kuja grew curious about these mythical beasts his master so feared, and came to pursue them himself.
The strongest eidolon in human memory, Alexander, was summoned only once 500 years previously. After being deemed dangerous its crystal was divided up in four fragments so it may never be summoned again. It sounded perfect to Kuja. At this time Kuja was already scheming towards his own goals and only appeared loyal to Garland on the surface. Kuja knew if Garland's plan to fuse the planets was to succeed his role as the Angel of Death would end and his soul would no longer be his own, as Garland would turn him into a regular Genome, a mere soul vessel. The idea was unbearable to Kuja, who did not think the world deserved to exist without him. As Garland feared Gaia's eidolons, Kuja decided he had found the perfect weapon to overthrow Garland and become the master of both Terra and Gaia. With this idea in mind, Kuja began to pursue Alexander's crystal shards.
- “Mwahaha... So the curtain rises! Perfect, my canary. Let me show you the truth about your mother! First Act: The End of Ugly Desire. It's showtime!”
- —Kuja, to Garnet
Kuja serves as a weapons supplier to Queen Brahne so she can conquer the neighboring nations of Burmecia and Lindblum and capture their crystal shards. The weapons Kuja supplies are the black mages, soulless golems with the ability to use powerful magic. It is hinted Kuja knows how Genomes are manufactured and used his knowledge in making of the black mages.
After Burmecia is conquered, Zidane, Vivi Orunitia, Freya Crescent, and possibly Quina Quen arrive too late to defend the kingdom. They are defeated by General Beatrix and before departing, Kuja observes Zidane. It is unknown if he recognizes him or not, but it is unlikely, as he boards his dragon and flies off, leaving Zidane alive. Meanwhile, Brahne, under Kuja's advice, extracts her daughter's eidolons and uses one, Odin, to destroy the survivors of Burmecia at Cleyra and to capture Cleyra's crystal shard. Zidane and his allies sneak aboard Brahne's airship during the attack and teleport back to Alexandria.
Shortly after he rescues Garnet, Zidane and his allies undergo a series of events in which Garnet learns her roots as a summoner, and the group is split in two. Zidane, Garnet, and Vivi return to Lindblum, only to witness Brahne use another eidolon, Atomos, to conquer it. Regent Cid tells them about Kuja's role as Brahne's weapons supplier and the three decide to turn their attention to defeating Kuja and cutting off Brahne's supply of black mages. Armed with the knowledge that Kuja came from the north, they set out to the Outer Continent.
On the Outer Continent, Zidane, Vivi, and Garnet track Kuja, following leads to the Black Mage Village and Madain Sari, recruiting Quina, Eiko Carol, and Amarant Coral along the journey. The group continue on to the Iifa Tree, a gigantic tree that assists in filtering the Gaian and Terran souls - the Mist that Kuja uses to create the black mages is a by-product of this process. The party kills Soulcage, stopping the flow of Mist, but Kuja arrives on his dragon and tells them he no longer cares.
Brahne's fleet arrives, and Brahne, deeming she no longer needs him, attacks Kuja. Kuja survives Brahne's attacks and forces her to summon Bahamut. Kuja enslaves Bahamut by using the Invincible and kills the Queen by destroying her fleet.
- “Your former master is here, Bahamut. Play a requiem for her and all of Alexandria!”
Garnet is crowned the new queen, and Kuja returns to Alexandria intent on killing her. Kuja summons Bahamut and commands it to destroy the kingdom. Garnet and Eiko rush to Alexandria Castle's turrets, and call the eidolon guardian of Alexandria, Alexander, by bringing the four crystal fragments together.
Alexander destroys Bahamut and Kuja attempts to enslave Alexander and calls the Invincible, but Garland has become aware of Kuja's rebellion and commands the Invincible to destroy Alexander and Alexandria, frustrating Kuja and leaving him without an eidolon to manipulate. Kuja vows he will find an eidolon even stronger than Alexander and departs.
Zidane and his allies return to Lindblum, where Cid tells them Kuja has seized control of his Hilda Garde airship, and may have recruited the sentient black mages from the Black Mage Village. They use Cid's sailing ship, the Blue Narciss, to return to the Outer Continent and find Kuja's Desert Palace. Kuja captures the group, and tells Zidane he will release his friends if he retrieves an artefact for him. He sends Zidane to Oeilvert with three friends of his choosing.
While Zidane is at Oeilvert, Kuja attempts to kill his companions who were left behind. They narrowly escape Kuja's trap, but Zidane returns before Kuja finds the escapees and hands over the Gulug Stone from Oeilvert. Kuja escapes with Eiko, and Zidane follows him to Mount Gulug where Kuja commands Zorn and Thorn to extract Eiko's eidolons, but the attempt fails because she is too young.
Eiko's pet moogle Mog enters Trance, unleashing its true power as the eidolon Madeen. Kuja realizes that to enter Trance one merely needs to experience a surge of powerful emotions and formulates a new plan. He decides he doesn't need an eidolon to fight Garland after all, all he needs is to enter a Trance.
Return to TerraEdit
- “So, Master Garland. You are no longer needed. And after you've worked so hard...I shall rule Terra and Gaia with my unconditional love from now on...”
With help from Cid's wife, Hilda, Zidane and his companions find a path to Terra where Zidane meets Garland, who reveals his and Kuja's past claiming Kuja is in denial of his existence as a Genome, and hides his distinctive tail to conceal his identity. Although Garland attempts to take Zidane's soul and turn him into an ordinary Genome, he survives, and he and his allies attack Garland. Weakened but alive Garland is usurped by Kuja, who has returned to Terra on his Silver Dragon and taken control of the Invincible.
Engaging Zidane and his friends, Kuja enters a Trance and crushes them with Ultima. Because Kuja is a Genome and originally constructed to be a vessel for souls, he is able to absorb souls into his being and has absorbed the captive souls on the Invincible, including the soul of Queen Brahne; her feelings of greed, hatred, and jealousy are the emotional surges Kuja needs to enter such a powerful Trance. Kuja kicks Garland off the precipice of Castle Pandemonium and declares he will rule both Gaia and Terra.
As he taunts the defeated Zidane, Garland's spirit speaks to Kuja, telling him he was created to last only until the real Angel of Death, Zidane, reached maturity. Kuja realizes he is but a temporary pawn, much like the black mages he so despised. This revelation drives Kuja mad, and he declares he won't let the world exist without him.
- “Why should the world exist without me? That wouldn't be fair. If I die, we all die! Zidane, you will be my first sacrifice!”
Kuja destroys Terra and returns to Gaia. Zidane and his friends escape on Garland's airship along with the other Genomes they saved. They find Gaia covered in Mist, and surmise Kuja is at the Iifa Tree. With the help of Beatrix commanding an alliance of the survivors of the Mist Continent's kingdoms, Zidane and his friends penetrate the barrier into Memoria, a world of planet's memories. Guided by Garland's spirit, they find the innermost realm of Memoria, the Crystal World.
In the Crystal World, they find Kuja at the Crystal, the source of all life. Still unwilling to allow life continue without him, Kuja summons Deathguise, who is summarily destroyed. Kuja engages Zidane's party himself, and upon his defeat casts Ultima, defeating them. Zidane and his friends appear in the Hill of Despair and encounter Necron, a being who has appeared to destroy all life. Necron is defeated, and life is allowed to continue.
After Necron's defeat, Kuja uses the last of his powers to teleport Zidane and his friends outside the Iifa Tree. Zidane stays behind to rescue Kuja, and barely makes into the Iifa Tree's core as its trunk and roots collapse. Kuja apologizes Zidane for all he did, but Zidane understands why he did it. Mikoto, the third Angel of Death Garland created, tells Kuja in spirit how he taught the Genomes they can be more than mindless vessels and has given them hope for the future. The tree's interior collapses and Zidane protects Kuja as flailing roots converge on them. It is unknown whether or not Kuja survives, as no mention of him is made in the ending.
Kuja is an exceptional mage. He can create black mages from Mist using machinery and magic, and even with no outside help can summon Mistodons. He is capable of controlling monsters and controls an army of Silver Dragons led by the Nova Dragon, as well as the monster Deathguise that attacks Zidane's party in the Crystal World.
Kuja is largely immune to injury - even Bahamut's attack barely draws blood from him. Even when not in Trance Kuja can cast the powerful Flare Star making him one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, magic practitioners in Final Fantasy IX, even before he gains the power of Trance, although he only uses Thundaga and Demi in his first fight, Flare Star being used only if the party uses Magic Hammer on him.
After entering Trance, Kuja's power increases exponentially. He knows the strongest spells of the game including Curaga, Meteor, Holy and Flare and Flare Star. He destroys Terra with Ultima, and uses it to defeat Zidane's party. When Kuja casts Ultima against the party, no damage is displayed, but the battle instantly ends, so it is impossible to survive the spell.
Kuja is fought as a boss in Pandemonium and in Trance form in Memoria. Both times he casts Ultima upon his defeat, so although the party wins the battle, for storyline purposes Kuja prevails.
- Main article: Kuja's Theme
|"Kuja's Theme" from Final Fantasy IX|
|Trouble with the audio sample?|
"Kuja's Theme" is a sinister piano theme accompanied by a heavy beat which plays during many of his appearances, most prominently during his first appearance in Burmecia.
- Main article: Kuja/Dissidia
As the youngest of the villains serving Chaos, Kuja is looked down on by his peers for his inexperience. Determined to prove himself Kuja concocts several plans to trap the Warriors of Cosmos, particularly focusing on Zidane with the intent to break his spirit with isolation and feelings of powerlessness. Zidane works alongside Exdeath and Kefka and initially plans to abduct Squall as bait, but when Squall defeats him he turns his attention to using a fake Crystal to kidnap Zidane directly. Bartz takes the Crystal instead, and Kuja uses him to unwittingly deliver another fake Crystal to Zidane, isolating him from his friends and leaving him to fight Kuja alone.
His alternate outfit is a light blue palette swap based on his artwork from Yoshitaka Amano.
Kuja reappears as a Warrior of Chaos in the prequel to Dissidia Final Fantasy alongside the other characters, but his story is heavily retconned. Zidane and Kuja have recovered all their memories and are on friendly terms. Kuja plots to betray Chaos by leading Zidane, Squall and Bartz to the his throne so the four can defeat him and end the war. He also weakens Kefka's control of Terra.
Kefka finds out and appears along with the Emperor and Ultimecia when Kuja meets with Zidane, acting as though Kuja has lured them into a trap. Caught in his lie Kuja plays along to save face and attacks Zidane, Squall and Bartz, allowing them to escape. Kuja is later defeated by Lightning after being goaded to challenge her by Kefka.
Between cycles, Kefka interferes with Kuja's memories, twisting them so Kuja will be loyal to Chaos and act as Zidane's enemy. Infuriated when he learns of his fake memories, Kuja vows to defeat Zidane to demonstrate that memories, true or false, are not needed to prove his worth.
Kuja's second alternate outfit is a monochrome palette swap, meant to reflect his position as an Angel of Death. As a bonus fourth outfit available for download, Kuja wears a gold and purple outfit meant to reflect his time as a noble of Treno.
Kuja makes appearance in the Japanese Final Fantasy trading card game published by Square Enix.
Non-Final Fantasy AppearancesEdit
Lord of Vermillion Re:2Edit
Kuja will appear as a card in Lord of Vermillion Re:2 as a new addition to the set of cards from the original Lord of Vermillion 2. His artwork for the game was drawn by Shukou Murase, character designer for Final Fantasy IX. His in-game appearance is identical to his appearance in Dissidia Final Fantasy, and his special ability is his trademark ability, Flare Star.
In Hindi, kuj or kuja means "born of the earth", symbolizing Kuja's birth on Terra (terra is Latin for earth). In Hindu cosmogony Kuja is the name of the planet Mars, which is also the name of the Roman God of War. This reflects Kuja's role to cause war and destruction on Gaia. Mars is known as the red planet, fitting with Terra being shown as a red planet to contrast Gaia's blue.
Kuja's name may also be derived from the Japanese word kujaku, which means "peacock", an animal befitting of Kuja's flamboyant and vain nature.