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Tetsuya Nomura

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Profile photo of Tetsuya Nomura.

(Tetsuya Nomura, 野村 哲也?, lit. Nomura Tetsuya) is a game and character designer at Square Enix. He joined the company, then known as Square Co. Ltd., in the early 1990s, and gained prominence when he was selected to become the main character designer for Final Fantasy VII.


Nomura's first job with Square was as a debugger for Final Fantasy IV, back in 1990. He then went on to be the monster designer for Final Fantasy V. In the next game in the series, Final Fantasy VI, Nomura was the graphic director in charge of the monster designs; he also designed the characters Shadow and Setzer Gabbiani. Nomura's biggest success was his character design work on Final Fantasy VII, which rose to become one of the most well-known RPGs of all time. With his talent acknowledged, Nomura worked on other projects, such as Parasite Eve. Another huge success for Nomura was the release of Final Fantasy VIII, as the lead character designer and battle visuals director. Other games with characters designed by Nomura include Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIII.

Other than Final Fantasy, Nomura also directed the Square Enix/Disney series Kingdom Hearts, as well as the CGI sequel to Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. He was also character designer for The World Ends with You together with Gen Kobayashi.

Currently, Nomura is working on several Square Enix projects, including the five installments of Fabula Nova Crystallis: Final Fantasy.


Compared to other character designers, Tetsuya Nomura's Final Fantasy games tend to be more "modern" and "sci-fi" than the first installments in the Final Fantasy games set in a medieval worlds. Nomura's games in particular also tend to have storylines that are darker in tone. In addition, his character names tend to draw inspiration from physical science and weather, in particular, the sky, land, and sea; the central character almost always has the sky-based name.

Tetsuya Nomura's style is similar to the traditional anime style of drawing, but he also draws upon western influences. Many of Nomura's character designs for games such as Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts have been criticized for the overuse of belts and zippers, as well as for many of the male characters having androgynous appearances, and that many of his female characters are shown wearing revealing outfits; it has become a joke amongst fans to lightly tease Nomura's designs for these characteristics. Nomura's designs became much more "normal" in comparison to before the work on Kingdom Hearts II was finished. More recent designs from him, such as Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII or Aqua from Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, do not show any excessive use of belts or zippers, but focus on creative accessories like ribbons or individually designed jackets.

Tifa Early Sketch

An early sketch of Tifa Lockhart from Final Fantasy VII, by Tetsuya Nomura.

During his work with Final Fantasy, Nomura's style has changed. In Final Fantasy VII, Nomura adopted a traditional anime-like style seen by the large anime-esque eyes and Cloud Strife's gravity-defying hair. In Final Fantasy VIII, however, Nomura made changes his style to a hybrid of anime and realistic art in order to fit the more realistic tone of Final Fantasy VIII, which was the first 3D Final Fantasy to use anatomically proportioned characters within the game. In Final Fantasy X Nomura's designs became more and more realistic, although the coloring of the characters allowed his style to retain anime-like qualities.

Nomura's art style was slowly losing its anime influences, but this all changed in Nomura's participation in Kingdom Hearts; due to the immense amount of western influences from the Disney characters in Kingdom Hearts, Nomura adopted a more anime/cartoon look for his characters, and this style has been later reused in Kingdom Hearts II. Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- and Dissidia Final Fantasy feature more mature looking designs and are defined by a detailed shading.

In the Nintendo DS game, The World Ends With You, Nomura departed from the style he used in Kingdom Hearts and instead, relied on a more traditional anime look even though there are still similarities to his Kingdom Hearts style. For Nomura's recent artworks for Kingdom Hearts, the characters' anatomy is relatively unchanged, but the eyes of the younger characters look much more innocent then before. Nomura has carried over his Final Fantasy coloring style to the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

Nomura's style has been defined by the vibrant colors as well as the unique amalgamation of eastern and western influences. His work has become well-known due to Final Fantasy, and his style of artwork has been loved and criticized by many, mostly by veteran Final Fantasy fans, due to the big departure from the traditional Japanese style of Yoshitaka Amano, who was responsible for the earlier Final Fantasy titles.

Works within the series

Game Nomura's Credit(s)
Final Fantasy IV Debugger
Final Fantasy V Monster Designer, Battle Graphics Designer
Final Fantasy VI Graphic Director
Final Fantasy VII Character Designer, Original Scenario Concept, Battle Visual Director
Final Fantasy VIII Character Designer, Battle Visual Director
Final Fantasy X Character Designer
Final Fantasy XI Hume, Elvaan and NPC Character Designer
Final Fantasy X-2 Main Character Designer
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Director, Character Designer
Dirge of Cerberus -Final Fantasy VII- Character Designer
Dirge of Cerberus Lost Episode -Final Fantasy VII- Character Designer
Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- Creative Producer, Character Designer
Dissidia Final Fantasy Creative Producer, Character Designer
Final Fantasy XIII Main Character Designer
Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy Creative Producer, Character Designer
Final Fantasy Type-0 Creative Producer, Character Designer
Final Fantasy Versus XIII Director, Game Design Concept, Character Designer, Base Story
Final Fantasy XIII-2 Main Character Designer
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Character Designer



  • In a demo of Final Fantasy Type-0 a support character named "Nomura CP" was found dual wielding guns and saying, "Sorry to have kept you waiting".[1]

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