- “Once a scientist, always a scientist, I must say.”
Professor Hojo (宝条, Hōjō?) is a major character in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. He is a secondary antagonist in Final Fantasy VII, and the main antagonist of Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-.
Hojo is the main mastermind behind SOLDIER and the Jenova Project, and initially heads the Shinra Electric Power Company's Science Research Division. However, Hojo's goals stand apart from Shinra's, with a focus on scientific pursuits and monitoring the actions of his greatest creation, Sephiroth. Hojo's actions with SOLDIER and Jenova connect him to most of the major antagonists of the Compilation.
Appearance and PersonalityEdit
Hojo is a slender middle-aged man with long black ponytail. He wears small round glasses and a white lab coat, white oxford-style shirt, blue tie, gray trousers with a brown belt, and gray shoes. He has a distinctive hunched, shuffling walk.
Hojo is the archetypical mad scientist. To him, everything in life is nothing but experiments, not caring about the well-being of others when he puts his hypotheses and theories to the test. He is arrogant and condescending, referring to people as "test subjects" and not bothering to learn their names unless, like Sephiroth, they prove exceptional. Hojo's only desire is the pursuit of science and understanding of the Planet, willing to go to any lengths to further his knowledge. He performs many horrific experiments on unwilling human subjects with no regard for their welfare, and eventually even experiments on himself. When his actions put the city of Midgar at risk, Hojo considers it another price to pay for his experiments. Even when the entire Planet is in peril, he does not seem to fully comprehend this, narrowly focusing on the scientific implications.
Hojo admits he hates himself for his ignorance, having foreseen Sephiroth's power surpasses the science he believes in. In Hoshi wo Meguru Otome, Hojo has no regrets over his actions and cares about nothing other than seeing his greatest experiment be completed.
Hojo's appearances in Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- focus on his megalomania and enjoyment in seeing others suffer, laughing maniacally at sights of death and carnage, and gloating about how both Vincent and the Tsviets were mere pawns in his plan. Several flashbacks focus on Vincent confronting Hojo about the ethics of the Jenova Project; the first time Hojo dismisses him, saying he and Lucrecia are scientists and know what they are doing. Hojo displays a conflicting attitude towards his assistant, as after he finds her trying to infuse Vincent with Chaos, he praises her on using a "fine specimen", saying, "Once a scientist, always a scientist". However, he also dismisses her theory as "utter nonsense". Whether or not Hojo was in love with Lucrecia is unknown, but it is implied he admired her solely for her appearance and intelligence. Given his penchant for experimentation, it is likely he married her to create a being with superior intelligence and abilities.
Jenova Project SEdit
Approximately thirty years prior to Final Fantasy VII, Shinra's top researcher, Gast Faremis, discovered Jenova, a destructive extraterrestrial being, buried in the North Crater. He mistakenly believed Jenova to be a Cetra, a member of a mystical ancient race that inhabited the Planet before present day humanity. Dr. Hollander, Hojo, and another Shinra scientist named Lucrecia Crescent, were assigned to work on the Jenova Project under Professor Gast.
The project's ultimate goal was to create a human with the powers of the Cetra who could lead Shinra to the Cetra's Promised Land. It was believed this could have been realized by testing the effects of Jenova cells on an unborn child. Hojo worked on what would come to be called "Jenova Project S" while Hollander worked on "Jenova Project G".
Lucrecia became the romantic interest of Vincent Valentine, a member of the Turks assigned as the scientists' bodyguard. Due to her guilt over causing Vincent's father's death, Lucrecia rejected him and entered into a relationship with Hojo. Lucrecia became pregnant, and she and Hojo offered up their unborn child to the Jenova Project. Vincent objected and during a heated argument Hojo shot Vincent and performed experiments on his body before leaving him sealed in a coffin in the Shinra Manor basement in Nibelheim.
After an incident where Lucrecia attempted to save Vincent's life by infusing him with Chaos, and his brief transformation into Chaos, Hojo conducted an experiment to summon Omega and see the results of Omega's awakening. Eager to produce a superior specimen to Hollander's methods, where Hollander had injected a woman named Gillian Hewley with Jenova cells and then transferred her cells to a fetus, Hojo injected Jenova cells into Lucrecia's unborn child. The child Lucrecia had was Sephiroth. Eventually the superiority of Sephiroth over Hollander's specimen, Genesis Rhapsodos, led to Hojo taking control of Shinra's Science Research Division and all experiments involving Jenova.
Although Sephiroth did not gain the powers of the Cetra as originally envisioned, his physical strength was exceptional, and so Shinra raised Sephiroth to be the ultimate soldier, becoming a hero in the Wutai War. Sephiroth was unaware of his parentage, being told his mother was named Jenova, and never knowing Hojo was his father.
Sephiroth came to detest Hojo, referring to him as "a walking mass of complexes" and seeing him as an inferior scientist to Gast. Gast left the Jenova Project prior to Sephiroth's birth, Shinra finding a true Cetra named Ifalna. Although Shinra intended to use her for research and experimentation, Gast fell in love with her and abandoned Shinra. The two fled to Icicle Inn where Gast recorded logs of her knowledge of Jenova and the Planet. The two had a daughter named Aeris.
Twenty days after Aeris's birth Hojo led a team of Shinra operatives to their home. Hojo killed Gast and captured Ifalna and Aeris. The last two Cetra would spend seven years in captivity in the Shinra Building in Midgar before escaping to the Midgar Slums where Ifalna died from wounds sustained in their escape, entrusting Aeris's care to Elmyra Gainsborough before her death.
Hojo indirectly fuels Fuhito's ambition to create the Ravens, Fuhito's twisted counterpart SOLDIERs. Hojo had implanted the Zirconiade Materia within Elfé, the leader of the first AVALANCHE. Hojo is mentioned by the Turks when they are dispatched to Cosmo Canyon to capture Red XIII to be used as a test subject.
- “Do you think that a scientist who does not even know about the Jenova Project can stop deterioration?”
- —Hojo to Zack and Sephiroth about Hollander
Hojo works in the Shinra Building Training Room prior to the first attack by the Genesis Army. He tests programs he created aiming to prove his genius by having a SOLDIER member Zack defeated. When Zack survives, Hojo tells him they will have a special relationship. During his visit, the scientists normally stationed there show their fear and disgust of Hojo. Hojo continues to challenge Zack in the Hojo's Lab series of missions, pitting him against genetically enhanced monsters and virtual reality simulations.
When Genesis rebels against Shinra he attempts to kill Hojo on behalf of Dr. Hollander, but Zack and Angeal Hewley intervene. Hojo mocks Genesis, and tells him Hollander won't be able to halt his degradation, referring to him as a "second-rate hack who couldn't even cure a cold," and implies Hollander doesn't even know about the Jenova Project. During the encounter Hojo demonstrates knowledge and dislike of the epic LOVELESS — he claims to have read it in the belief it might further his research, but denounces it as "pure drivel".
Five years prior to the start of Final Fantasy VII Sephiroth leads a Shinra team on a mission to investigate a malfunction of the Nibelheim Mako Reactor. The mission ends in a disaster when Sephiroth learns of the experiments tied to his birth and destroys the village in a rage and attempts to reclaim Jenova stored in the reactor. It is implied in Final Fantasy VII that Hojo deliberately left enough clues for Sephiroth to figure out his origins to manipulate him for his final experiment. SOLDIER First Class Zack Fair and a Shinra guardsman Cloud Strife combat Sephiroth, and though Cloud throws Sephiroth into the pool of Mako within the reactor, both Zack and Cloud are badly wounded.
Arriving at Nibelheim during Shinra's clean-up, Hojo decides to further his research of Jenova and test his "Jenova Reunion Theory" of divided Jenova cells seeking to reunite. Hojo injects the survivors including Zack and Cloud with samples of Sephiroth's genetic material and infuses them with Mako, turning them into Sephiroth Clones.
Hojo believed the subjects' minds would break down and they would be driven by the desire to reunite with Jenova. Hojo had numbers tattooed on the hands of each of his successful Sephiroth Clones but Zack and Cloud were deemed failures: Zack because his SOLDIER training and strong will made him resistant to Jenova cells and prevented his mind from collapsing, and Cloud because his mind was too weak and was rendered catatonic. The two would be kept captive beneath the Shinra Manor in Nibelheim until they break out several years later and escape.
When Cloud's group infiltrates the Shinra Headquarters in Midgar to rescue Aeris, who had been kidnapped by the Turks, they witness a Shinra executives' meeting where Hojo also takes part. He explains to President Shinra he plans to breed her with another test subject to create a specimen with a long enough lifespan to withstand the lengthy study. Cloud and his friends follow Hojo to his lab where they find Aeris in an enclosure with Red XIII. They release them and Hojo flees the scene.
The party encounters Hojo again at Costa del Sol during his brief period of retirement from Shinra. Hojo spends his time relaxing on the beach, surrounded by beautiful women. He taunts the heroes and hints at Cloud's status as a Sephiroth Clone and the Jenova Reunion Theory. Much later, at the North Crater, Hojo has returned to Shinra and accompanies them into the crater where Cloud's group and the Shinra executives congregate.
With Cloud's mind reeling from Sephiroth's manipulations and revelations about his false memories, Hojo reveals his Jenova Reunion Theory. When he finds Cloud never received a number, he brushes him aside as a "failed experiment". This insult is the last in a series of traumas that causes Cloud to have a severe mental breakdown, and he willingly hands over the Black Materia to Sephiroth whose body lays dormant in the crater. As the Weapons are awakened Hojo and the others escape on the Shinra airship Highwind.
Having summoned the Meteor, Sephiroth remains in the North Crater and erects a barrier over it preventing his enemies from disturbing him. Shinra's Mako cannon, the Sister Ray, is fired at the barrier, killing Diamond Weapon along the way, destroying it. The Weapon's final salvo of attacks destroys Shinra Headquarters, and the new president Rufus Shinra is presumed dead. With Midgar in chaos and Shinra's leadership fractured, Hojo commandeers the Sister Ray intending to fire the cannon at the North Crater to grant Sephiroth further Mako energy, which Hojo states he does to see the results of his research blossom.
Hojo's actions risk the city's destruction by overloading the Mako Reactors, so Cloud's group parachutes into Midgar to confront him. Hojo reveals he is Sephiroth's father, and that he has injected himself with Jenova's cells (which is implied to have cost him what little sanity he had). The party attacks Hojo as he mutates into grotesque forms, and is killed.
In Hoshi wo Meguru Otome, written by Studio BentStuff's Benny Matsuyama, it is revealed Hojo's soul was unable to diffuse through the Lifestream as in accordance with the natural order due to his experimentations and his utter lack of regret for his sins in life. As Sephiroth absorbs the Lifestream, Hojo allows himself to be assimilated into Sephiroth's body to grant his son more power and witness the ultimate results of his experimentation by being a part of it.
In the prologue when Vincent and Yuffie are evacuating Midgar, Vincent detects a faint sign of life emanating from the tower console where the party previously defeated Hojo. Rushing over to the area, he discovers Hojo's corpse sitting at the still operational console showing "Start Fragment Program".
Three years later, power is restored and the Worldwide Network with it. A computer-simulated copy of Hojo's personality and memory that he had implanted in the network before his death reassembles and possesses Deepground commander Weiss the Immaculate. Through Weiss, Hojo commands Deepground to massacre the people, triggering the summoning of Omega, the ultimate Weapon that gathers the Lifestream and deliver it to another planet when it senses the Planet is in dire danger.
Hojo within Weiss reveals himself to Vincent and explains his plan three years ago was to inject himself with Jenova cells to perfect his body to merge with Omega. As a back-up, Hojo implanted a copy of his personality and memories on the Worldwide Network, allowing a "neo-Reunion" when it came back on-line and the fragments of the program reunited. Vincent defeats Weiss/Hojo in battle, and Weiss's brother, Nero the Sable, merges with Weiss. Hojo, protesting that Nero will "corrupt" his vessel for Omega, fades away as the brothers become one.
Hojo is fought as a boss at the end of the second disc in Final Fantasy VII as Hojo, Helletic Hojo and Lifeform-Hojo N. Though he has many forms only one resembles him as a human, as the others are mutated monsters. In Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII-, Hojo is fought as Weiss Empowered.
Creation and DevelopmentEdit
According to the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega, in the early story drafts of Final Fantasy VII Hojo's death happened earlier and under different circumstances. In the game's original story ideas Sephiroth was not the one who was "cloned", but rather, Red XIII. Red XIII would have been a beast-type SOLDIER and Hojo would have produced clones of him, all following the same naming pattern of color and number. Originally, the party was planned on having to face the Red XIII clones, and after having defeated them, the party would have been forced to fight Hojo and kill him.
Hojo's Japanese voice actor, Nachi Nozawa, also voiced Vexen in the Kingdom Hearts series. Hojo and Vexen are both characters of the mad scientist archetype.
His English voice actor is Paul Eiding, who gives Hojo a high-pitched, nasal voice.
The individual kanji of hojo mean "treasure" and "logic", respectively. Hojo's full name is unknown or if "Hojo" is his first or last name. Hojo is a common Japanese family name, but Professor Gast is referred to by his first name with his title, so the same may be possible for Professor Hojo.
- The grotesque and distorted appearance of his Helletic Hojo form, as well as its nature (his fusion with cells of an infectious, alien doppelganger) are similar to the creature in John Carpenter's film The Thing.