Why don't you try to show a little more passion...? You know, like me!
Zell Dincht is a playable character in Final Fantasy VIII. His loud and energetic personality is a foil to Squall's cold silence. Zell is a master of hand-to-hand combat and prefers to let his fists guide him out of situations his mouth cannot.
Zell is short and has uniquely styled spiky blond hair and blue eyes. He wears a black vest with a red decor along the zipper, a black beater, baggy denim shorts, and black and red tennis shoes. While in Garden he at times wears the SeeD uniform or the SeeD cadet uniform, though he wears it with the sleeves rolled up and the jacket halfway unzipped, revealing a white t-shirt underneath. He has a black tribal tattoo on the left side of his face.
Loves the hot dogs sold in the Garden cafeteria. Uses close combat fighting skills to defeat enemies with punches and kicks.
Zell is a consummate martial artist and his skills are unsurpassed in Garden. Zell never backs down from a challenge and stands up for what he believes is right. He is energetic, loud, overconfident in his abilities, but tends to not think things through and overreact to being teased. He attempts to befriend everyone he meets. He is often in trouble with either the Disciplinary Committee or the Garden Faculty for running through the halls, or riding T-Boards on Balamb Garden premises, but despite this, Zell is a model pupil with an interest in world events; when the party arrives at a new location, he will often offer a summary of the place's history.
Zell has a close relationship with his mother and is a prominent figure among Balamb Town, as pretty much everyone there knows him. Zell admires his grandfather, who used to be a soldier, and aspires to follow in his footsteps. Zell loves hot dogs (bread in the Japanese version), but due to high demand there are never any left for him by the time he shows up.
Zell grew up Edea's Orphanage where he was constantly picked on by a fellow orphan, Seifer, until he was adopted by the Dincht family from Balamb. Inspired by his (adoptive) grandfather, Zell joined Balamb Garden at the age of 13 to train as a SeeD, a Balamb Garden special force that specializes in the use of Guardian Forces. Unbeknown to him, equipping a Guardian Force induces amnesia, and Zell lost his childhood memories. A girl in the Garden's library committee, the Library Girl with a Pigtail, has a crush on him, but Zell is oblivious and she is too shy to ask him out.
For the SeeD field exam in Dollet Zell is assigned to Squad B with Squall and Seifer, with Seifer as the squad leader, much to Zell's chagrin. Although Zell no longer remembers their childhood together the two have never gotten along. Seifer picks on Zell throughout the operation at the Siege of Dollet, and Zell is forced to follow Seifer's orders when he has them leave their post to investigate the local radio tower where the Galbadian forces are headed. Seifer abandons his squad and Squall and Zell are joined by Selphie Tilmitt from Squad A delivering a withdrawal order. The cadets barely make it back in time, but Zell passes the exam along with Squall, Selphie, and another student named Nida. In the SeeD graduation ceremony Zell attempts to congratulate Squall who rebuffs him, and dodges Selphie's advances about joining her Garden Festival Committee.
Zell, Squall and Selphie are assigned a mission in Timber to assist a resistance faction known as the Forest Owls. If they visit the library before heading off, Zell talks with the library girl about a book he wants to read. Zell is elated to discover the train they catch from Balamb has a private cabin for SeeD use, but soon passes out. He dreams of the exploits of a G-soldier named Laguna Loire taking place many years in the past, and upon awakening is surprised to find Squall and Selphie shared the same dream. In Timber the Forest Owls task the SeeD with capturing the president of Galbadia, Vinzer Deling, by hijacking his private train, but the mission fails due to false intelligence.
Their next mission is to intercept the president's TV broadcast. A rogue Seifer takes the president hostage over the air, and Squall's former teacher, Quistis Trepe, who had been pursuing Seifer, calls them to the studio where Zell accidentally lets slip them being from Garden. The president threatens to attack the Gardens unless he is released. The Sorceress Edea arrives and spirits Seifer away with her, saving the president. G-forces storm the town and the SeeD are forced into hiding, a Forest Owls member, Rinoa Heartilly, securing them a safe house. After deciding to convene on the nearest Garden, the Galbadia Garden, Zell worries for Balamb Garden's safety and whether the SeeD would prevail against the G-army. Squall coldly replies it depends on the strength of the Galbadian army, leaving Zell discouraged. On their way to Galbadia Garden Squall, Quistis and Selphie pass out, Zell recognizing them having entered a dream world.
In Galbadia Garden the group discovers Seifer's act is being considered independent, and Garden will not be held accountable. Seifer is said to have been executed and though Zell never liked him, he is nonetheless thrown into sadness at the news. The group is assigned a new mission from both Headmaster Cid and Galbadia Garden's Master Martine to assassinate the sorceress who has been declared ambassador of Galbadia. Upon arriving in Deling City, Zell is assigned to the "gateway team" along with Selphie and Quistis, while Squall and Irvine Kinneas, a Galbadia Garden student, are part of the "sniper team" with Rinoa unexpectedly joining them later. Though the gateway team succeeds in trapping the sorceress inside an archway, the assassination fails and they are captured.
Zell and the others are sent to the D-District Prison where Zell recognizes the place as the location Ward Zabac worked in when he was retired from the Galbadian army, after having entered another mysterious dream world. Since Zell is the only one of the group apt to fight without weapons, he volunteers to retrieve the group's arsenal from the guards. Using his knowledge of the prison layout, he leads the group through it, saving Squall from the torture chamber and escaping with Irvine and Rinoa's help.
They discover that under Sorceress Edea's command, a nearby Galbadian Missile Base has attacked Trabia Garden and is planning to launch missiles at Balamb Garden next. The party splits into two groups with one team heading to the Missile Base to stop the launch, and the other warning Balamb Garden of the impending attack. It is up to Squall to assign Zell in either team. Despite the Missile Base team's efforts the missiles are launched, and the team barely survives the base's destruction by hiding inside a Galbadian tank. Squall's team saves Balamb Garden by enabling its mobile functions and moving it away from the spot the missiles were programmed to target. Left drifting on the ocean currents with its steering mechanisms having failed due to lack of maintenance, the Garden eventually crashes into Fishermans Horizon. The town comes under attack by G-forces looking for a girl called Ellone under Edea's orders. A young Ellone has appeared in the group's shared Laguna dreams, and is the one sending the SeeD back in time into a dream world. The Galbadian tank the Missile Base team hid inside is brought to FH where the two teams reunite, and the G-army is driven out of FH.
The group throws a party for Squall in honor of his promotion to commander of the Garden, where Zell participates in playing an instrument in a concert. They return to Balamb and find the town under Galbadian occupation as G-forces are looking for Ellone. Zell and Squall infiltrate the town and ensure Ma Dincht is unharmed. During their stay at his house, Zell lets the party visit his room. They drive the G-forces out of town by defeating Fujin and Raijin, Seifer's friends. Seifer, who is still alive, now works for the sorceress as her knight, and has taken command of the Galbadian army. If they stay at the Balamb Hotel afterward, Zell meets the library girl who gives him a combat magazine, finally able to muster the courage to tell him of her feelings, leaving Zell stunned.
They visit Trabia Garden's ruins and thanks to Irvine's memory preservation as a result of him never junctioning a Guardian Force until recently, Zell and the others become able to recall their past at Edea's Orphanage. Zell realizes he is adopted, but it doesn't change his feelings toward his mother. Surprised to find Sorceress Edea used to be their beloved Matron, Zell and the others must accept she is now their enemy. They decide to head for the old orphanage to seek clues on why she has turned evil, but along the way Balamb Garden is intercepted by similarly mobile Galbadia Garden and the Battle of the Gardens ensues.
Zell organizes a group of SeeD and students to protect the quad. When Squall meets up with him, Zell borrows his Griever ring for Rinoa and gives it to her upon their next meeting for safekeeping. Zell tells her he will make a replica for her so that she can "become a lion" like Squall. Zell and the others fight off Galbadian forces until they face their former Matron, Sorceress Edea.
Upon Edea's defeat Rinoa falls into a coma and Edea is released from the control of an evil sorceress from the future named Ultimecia, resuming the personality they all remember from their childhoods. Ultimecia's goal is time compression, a spell compressing all of time allowing her to recreate the world how she sees fit, but she needs to find Ellone to be able to cast the spell. Everyone worries over Rinoa's condition, and Squall decides to find Ellone himself, hoping her mysterious abilities over time could help him find out what happened to Rinoa.
When the White SeeD tell them Ellone is in Esthar, Squall docks the Garden against the Horizon Bridge and ventures alone with Rinoa on his back. Zell and the others catch up with him and berate him for not trusting in his friends, Edea coming along as she worries about being possessed again by Ultimecia and thus wants to meet Dr. Odine of Esthar whom she hopes could help her. They arrive in Esthar City and discover Ellone to be in the Estharian space station, Lunar Base, which orbits the planet in the same scope as the moon to watch over Sorceress Adel—Esthar's former dictator—in her spacebound tomb.
Squall travels into space with Rinoa, while Zell volunteers to protect Edea, who learns from Dr. Odine she has lost her sorceress power and thus is no longer in danger of being possessed. The Lunatic Pandora, a monstrous hovering tower that was once planned to be Esthar's weapon of mass destruction during Adel's reign, has been revived by the Galbadian army and is being controlled by Seifer and the remaining G-forces. As the Lunatic Pandora crosses the city Zell and Dr. Odine argue over time constraints, before an overzealous Zell leads his team to board the structure before Dr. Odine can finish explaining its capabilities. If the party boards the tower they are repelled by a Mobile Type 8. Lunatic Pandora docks at Tears' Point triggering the Lunar Cry, which brings Sorceress Adel's tomb back to the planet from its orbit.
It is discovered Rinoa has inherited Edea's sorceress power and become a sorceress. Squall and a recovered Rinoa return from space, bringing an Estharian spaceship, Ragnarok, with them, and the team returns to the old orphanage for a safe haven. Zell tells Squall how much he's changed since meeting Rinoa and informs the couple of them being summoned back to Esthar, where they discover Laguna Loire, the man from their shared dream world, is the president of Esthar. With Laguna and Dr. Odine's help, the team concocts a plan for defeating Ultimecia once and for all. They invade the Lunatic Pandora where Zell aids in fighting through Raijin, Fujin, Seifer and eventually a possessed Sorceress Adel.
Rinoa inherits Adel's sorceress power and as Ultimecia possesses her, Ellone, who ended up in Lunatic Pandora after escaping the space station during Lunar Cry, sends Ultimecia's mind back in time allowing her to cast time compression. Zell and the others survive its effects by believing in each others' existence, and travel to the future where they destroy Ultimecia before the time compression is completed. By having faith in his friends, Zell is able to return to his own era as the timeline begins to unravel to its original form.
Balamb Garden celebrates Ultimecia's demise and during the party Zell talks with the library girl while stuffing his face with hot dogs, almost choking. Zell is peeved to discover his mishap was caught on video and throws a piece of bread at the camera.
Zell wields gloves as weapons, and his Limit Break is Duel. Duel features various attacks which can be pulled off by successfully inputting button sequences for the attacks within an allotted time. The attacks are martial arts moves, and new attacks are learnt by reading Combat King magazines. His ultimate weapon is Ehrgeiz.
Creation and developmentEdit
Zell was designed to look and act like a main character of a shōnen manga (Japanese comic-books intended primarily for teenage boys). The spiky hair, his boyish outfit, and his comedic though confident personality, are all reminiscent of the qualities a protagonist of these comics usually exhibits. According to the Final Fantasy VIII Official Strategy Guide, this concept is reflected by Zell's neighbors in Balamb Town, who think of him as a "comic-book type superhero".
The inspiration for Zell's tattoo came from a music video that featured a man with a full body tattoo resembling tribal origin and design. Mike Tyson also has a similar facial tattoo.
Zell has made appearances in the following Final Fantasy media:
- PocketStation memorycard icons as an icon.
- Final Fantasy XIV as a character appearance option.
- Pictlogica Final Fantasy as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade as a summonable Legend.
- Final Fantasy Artniks as a series of cards.
- Final Fantasy Record Keeper as a playable character.
- Final Fantasy Trading Card Game as a series of cards.
- Triple Triad as a card.
Zell has a Triple Triad card in the physical version of the game, released by Bandai in 1999. Zell and Irvine appear on the Guardian Force Diablos in a collectible resin statue made by KOTOBUKIYA. He has also appeared in Coca-Cola bottle cap figure and action figures.
Zell is a German family name and many locations called Zell exist in Germany. Perhaps for this reason Zell is called Xell in the German version of Final Fantasy VIII.
- When not assigned to the player party Zell can be found outside the Balamb Garden library. He sometimes wears his cadet uniform.
- Zell's birthday, March 17, is St. Patrick's Day, a widely known Irish celebration. March 17th is also Muay Boran Day in Thailand; Muay Boran is the ancient world equivalent to Muay Thai or Thai Boxing from where many of Zell's kicks and fighting stance seem to have been inspired.
- In the game's English localization, Zell loves hot dogs, but in the original Japanese version Zell's favorite food is flavored bread. In the French version, his favorite food is "Bretzel".
- During Zell's intro FMV the SeeD symbol behind him has been flipped.
- Zell owns a T-Board, a device similar to a skateboard, but with no wheels, instead hovering at low altitudes.
- The Ragnarok is always piloted by Selphie whenever she isn't in the player party. If Selphie is unavailable, the Ragnarok is piloted by Zell, and if both are in the player party, Quistis takes the reins.
- The only time Zell doesn't wear his gloves is during the SeeD inauguration ball.
- When the party heads to Galbadia Garden for the first time, after Squall rushes out of the reception room, Zell can be found doing push-ups in the hall downstairs.
- When the friends of the Library Girl quiz Zell to see if he's compatible with the her (see see Library Girl quest) they deliver the results in a form of a "love meter" that has a maximum value of 5. The results don't depend on the answers the player chose, but on the number of times the player visited the library, and whether they witnessed the previous events for the quest. To get the best "score" the player must have visited the library at least 50 times.