Tetsuya Nomura

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Tetsuya Nomura
野村 哲也
Born (1970-10-08) October 8, 1970 (age 49)
Nationality Japanese
Occupation Video game artist, director, game designer
Employer Square Enix

Tetsuya Nomura (野村 哲也, Nomura Tetsuya, born October 8, 1970) is a Japanese video game artist, designer and director working for Square Enix (formerly Square). He designed characters for the Final Fantasy series, debuting with Final Fantasy VI and continuing with various later installments. Additionally, Nomura has led the development of the Kingdom Hearts series since its debut in 2002 and was the director for the CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children.[1]

Early life

Nomura's father influenced his interest in art and games early on, creating little drawings and unique Sugoroku board games for him. Nomura started drawing at the age of three years and developed his own Sugoroku games during his elementary school years. As a child, he spent much of his free time playing baseball, swimming, fishing and building fortresses. When he was in middle school, his father told him that an era of computers would come and bought him his own computer. Nomura played Legends of Star Arthur: Planet Mephius on it and started creating his own video games by learning programming. He first tried a Nintendo product with the tennis and ping-pong variant of the Color TV Game console and later borrowed a Family Computer in high school. Around that time, Dragon Quest became Nomura's favorite because it surprised him and introduced him to video games with story elements. His art teacher in high school pointed him towards the works of Final Fantasy illustrator Yoshitaka Amano. Nomura also created his own manga during class and intended to do this as a profession although he ultimately abandoned the idea.[2] Nomura went to vocational school to learn magazine and advertising artwork.[2] Nomura then looked for an advertising job at a publishing company. However, he eventually applied at Square after he had seen a job advertisement with a drawing by Yoshitaka Amano.[2]



In the early 1990s, Nomura was hired by Square and at first worked as a debugger for Final Fantasy IV.[3][4] Some time later, the company's staff was divided and he was placed in the team in charge of Final Fantasy.[4] After he had received some training by artist Tetsuya Takahashi, Nomura designed the monsters for Final Fantasy V.[5][4][6] At that time, each Final Fantasy developer had their own plan book as a compilation of ideas to present to the director of a game. While the others typed their plan books at the computer and then printed them out, Nomura wrote his by hand and attached many drawings which impressed director Hironobu Sakaguchi and event planner Yoshinori Kitase.[4] Nomura then became the graphic director of Final Fantasy VI.[5] For this game, he conceived the characters Shadow and Setzer as well as their background stories.[7] Their designs were reused from some of Nomura's abandoned concepts for Final Fantasy V.[4] Following several smaller projects, Nomura was asked to be the principal character designer of Final Fantasy VII in replacement for Amano.[8] Nomura drew the game's characters in a stylized and super deformed way and came up with the idea for the "Limit Break" attacks.[9][10] He also took part in the making of the story and had a hand in plot elements such as Aerith's death.[5][6] In 1998, Nomura worked on both Parasite Eve and Brave Fencer Musashi. He then designed characters and monsters for Final Fantasy VIII in what he described as his "actual style of drawing", working alongside art director Yusuke Naora to realize the more realistic approach to the game's graphics.[10] Additionally, he wrote the character's background stories and was the battle visual director in charge of designing fight sequences.[5][10] Afterwards, Nomura worked on several different projects for Square, for example as a character designer of the 1998 fighting game Ehrgeiz which also used characters from Final Fantasy VII.


Nomura was the character designer for 2000's beat 'em up The Bouncer before he returned to the Final Fantasy series in the same capacity with 2001's Final Fantasy X. He worked with the staff so that the characters' clothes would be identical in full motion videos and in-game scenes, unlike in Final Fantasy VIII,[8] In February 2000, he started working as the director of Kingdom Hearts with the production team consisting of over one hundred members from both Square and Disney Interactive.[11] Nomura first heard of the game during a discussion between Shinji Hashimoto and Hironobu Sakaguchi regarding the use of the character of Mickey Mouse in a video game. He was inspired to work on Kingdom Hearts by Nintendo's platforming game Super Mario 64. After discussing with the Disney staff, Nomura convinced them to use original characters with him as the character designer.[12] The game's protagonist, Sora, became his favorite character he had designed so far.[13] Following Kingdom Hearts, Nomura worked once again on the Final Fantasy series with Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy X-2.

For the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII metaseries which featured new titles based on Final Fantasy VII, Nomura was once again the character designer. A sequel to Kingdom Hearts started development around the completion of Kingdom Hearts Final Mix, an international version which added more foreshadowing elements regarding the series' plot.[14] Nomura continued his work on the series with Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories for the Game Boy Advance in 2004. He had originally planned to work directly on the PlayStation 2 sequel Kingdom Hearts II. However, desire from fans to play the original game on a portable console resulted in the creation of Chain of Memories which would bridge the gap between Kingdom Hearts and Kingdom Hearts II.[15] Afterwards, Nomura was the director and lyricist for the CGI animated film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children which was released in 2005 in Japan. This marked his film debut, and he redesigned the characters as well. Nomura joined the film's crew after producer Yoshinori Kitase called him and eventually became the director because of his attachment to the character of Cloud Strife.[16][17] He split the role of directing with Takeshi Nozue.[18]

Kingdom Hearts II was released in 2005, resolving the elements foreshadowed in the first game's secret ending. As a result of being set a year after previous titles, Nomura was careful to make the plot accessible to newcomers.[19] After Square Enix had finished development of the updated version Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix+, Nomura was approached by Disney which expressed interest in a sequel. He said "We have various ideas, but we're not at the point where we can say that."[20] Wishing to stop using the character of Sora temporarily, Nomura instead wanted to continue the series with games that explained different subplots. This resulted in the creation of Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days for the Nintendo DS in 2008 which explored events that set up the story of Kingdom Hearts II.[21] In mid-2007, Nomura mentioned a desire to create a spin-off Kingdom Hearts game on a mobile platform and wanted it to play slightly differently from other titles in the series. The resulted was Kingdom Hearts coded, a game set after the events of Kingdom Hearts II, which was later remade for the Nintendo DS in 2010.[22]

In the meantime, Nomura was also responsible for the main character designs and orchestration of The World Ends with You for the Nintendo DS. In 2009, he was also the main character designer of Final Fantasy XIII. The graphics capabilities of the PlayStation 3 and Xbox 360 compared to previous consoles allowed Nomura to use more complex elements in the character designs than before, such as Lightning's cape and detailed facial features. This in turn meant that the art team had to do much more work for each character or area than in previous games. Nomura did not take an involved role in the creation of the non-playable characters.[23] In 2008, he was the character designer of Dissidia Final Fantasy. The game was originally envisioned by Nomura as a Kingdom Hearts spin-off featuring a cast of Disney characters. He later felt uncomfortable with the Disney characters fighting each other and instead opted to use Final Fantasy characters.[24] Nomura was responsible for the character designs, which changed much of the look and style of Amano's illustrations.[25][26]


In 2010, Square released Kingdom Hearts Birth By Sleep, a prequel of the first Kingdom Hearts that explained scenes shown in Kingdom Hearts II and its updated version.[21] In early 2011, Square released a follow up to Dissidia titled Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy. The game carried several ideas Nomura had ever since early development, such as the inclusion of new characters and new gameplay mechanics.[27] For 2011's Final Fantasy XIII-2, Nomura only created the new characters' faces as other staff members designed their clothes.[28] Once the Kingdom Hearts coded remake was released, Nomura and his companions had already thought about creating Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, a game that would set up the events of Kingdom Hearts III. The game was released for the Nintendo 3DS owing to the team's positive reaction to the console's quality.[29][30] Nomura confirmed that he would be considering what he called an "HD Technical Test" in order to commemorate the series' tenth anniversary and to entice players new to the series.[31] This occurred on March 3, 2012 in the form of a premiere event where footage from the game, including its full CGI introduction sequence, was showcased to celebrate the game's release.[32] In May 2012, Nomura revealed he was working as the director of a new Kingdom Hearts game that had yet to be announced by Square Enix.[33] He was directing Final Fantasy XV which originally entered production as Final Fantasy Versus XIII shortly before its announcement in May 2006.[34][35] Nomura left his position of director on Final Fantasy XV following "changes in development structure" by Square Enix in December 2013.[36] After his departure from Final Fantasy XV, development of Final Fantasy VII Remake began, with Nomura directing the project and other key members of the original Final Fantasy VII development team, Kitase and Kazushige Nojima returning as producer and scenario writer. At E3 2015, Final Fantasy VII Remake was announced with Nomura confirmed to be the director of the game. Nomura designed the "Torna" organization for Xenoblade Chronicles 2, finally working with Tetsuya Takahashi again who had wanted to work with Nomura for over 20 years since it was decided Nomura would work on Final Fantasy VII instead of Xenogears.[37]

Style and influences

Nomura considers Yoshitaka Amano one of his biggest inspirations when doing artwork.[8] His four "seniors" Hironobu Sakaguchi, Yoshinori Kitase, Hiroyuki Ito and Tetsuya Takahashi were also described as major influences.[38] He even compared Sakaguchi to something "like a godly figure" during his early days at Square. At that time, Nomura was also taught the basics of game design by Ito. He told Nomura never to stick to existing concepts but rather to reuse just specific ideas and explained concepts such as ease of control and effortless accessibility of magic spells.[4] Ito's work as a battle system designer inspires Nomura when thinking of the gameplay system for the Kingdom Hearts games.[38] When designing characters, Nomura wants their names and outfits to be related with their personalities. An example occurs in Final Fantasy X where the protagonist Tidus was given a colorful uniform in order to reflect his cheerful personality and to contrast with the previous moody Final Fantasy characters. His name as well as Yuna's, another character appearing in the game, also have a common theme, the former being Okinawan for "Sun" and the latter Okinawan for "night".[8] Various characters such as Squall Leonheart and Lulu are given multiple accessories, making the games more challenging for the programmers.[8] When directing Advent Children, Nomura explained how the film was different from Western films due to the lack of direct answers from the plot. He added that he wants viewers to interpret certain scenes themselves and then discuss them with friends as another way to enjoy the film.[18] The same occurs within the Kingdom Hearts series where the scenes that show unknown characters are left to the player's imagination until the following scene reveals it.[39]


Release Title Role(s)
1991 Final Fantasy IV Debugger[3]
1992 Final Fantasy V Battle graphics, monster designs[6]
1994 Final Fantasy VI Graphic director, character design[7]
Live A Live Tosa-ben translation
1995 Front Mission Graphic designer
Chrono Trigger Field graphic
1996 DynamiTracer Concept design
Super Mario RPG Special thanks
1997 Final Fantasy VII Character design, battle visual director
1998 Ehrgeiz Character supervisor
Parasite Eve Main character design
Brave Fencer Musashi Character illustration
1999 Final Fantasy VIII Character design, battle visual director, monster design, story[10]
Parasite Eve II Character illustration
2000 The Bouncer Character designer
2001 Final Fantasy X Character designer
2002 Kingdom Hearts Director, concept design, main character designer, storyboard designer, base story[40]
Final Fantasy XI Hume and Elvaan design, story NPC design
2003 Final Fantasy X-2 Main character designer
2004 Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII Concept, character design
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Director, concept design, scenario supervisor, character designer, base story[41]
2005 Musashi: Samurai Legend Main character designer
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Director, character designer
Last Order: Final Fantasy VII Supervising director
Kingdom Hearts II Director, concept design, base story, 2D character art: main artist
2006 Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII Character designer
Mario Hoops 3-on-3 Graphic supervisor
Dirge of Cerberus Lost Episode: Final Fantasy VII Character designer
Monotone Concept design, character design
Final Fantasy V Advance Monster design
Final Fantasy VI Advance Graphics supervisor
2007 The World Ends with You Creative producer, character designer
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII Creative producer, character designer
2008 Kingdom Hearts coded Director, concept design, story
Dissidia Final Fantasy Creative producer, character designer
Ellark Character design, creator's design: demon equipment
2009 Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
Final Fantasy XIII Main character designer
2010 Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
Mario Sports Mix Special thanks
The 3rd Birthday Creative producer, character designer, concept design[42]
2011 Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy Creative producer, character designer
Final Fantasy Type-0 Creative producer, character designer
Final Fantasy XIII-2 Main character designer
2012 Theatrhythm Final Fantasy Creative producer
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
2013 Final Fantasy All the Bravest Creative producer, original concept
Kingdom Hearts HD 1.5 Remix Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
Kingdom Hearts χ Director
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Main character designer
2014 Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call Creative producer
Final Fantasy Record Keeper Creative producer, character design, concept designer
Gunslinger Stratos 2 "Riccardo Martini" and "Sakura Ayanokoji" character design
Puzzle & Dragons Battle Tournament Main character designer
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 Remix Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U Character designer (2015 Cloud Strife DLC)
2015 Mobius Final Fantasy Collaborative event support
Rampage Land Rankers Character designer
Kingdom Hearts Unchained χ Director
Dissidia Final Fantasy Creative producer, character designer
2016 Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: All-Star Carnival Creative producer, character designer
World of Final Fantasy Creative producer,[43] character designer
Final Fantasy XV Lyrics, original concept, original director,[a] lead character design[44]
2017 Kingdom Hearts HD 2.8 Final Chapter Prologue Director, concept design, story, 2D art: main artist
Dissidia Final Fantasy: Opera Omnia Creative producer, character designer
Tekken 7 Main character design (2018 Noctis Lucis Caelum DLC)
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Special thanks
Terra Battle 2 Guardian character design
Itadaki Street: Dragon Quest and Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Final Fantasy character supervisor
Final Fantasy Dimensions II Special thanks
Xenoblade Chronicles 2 "Torna" character design
World of Final Fantasy: Meli-Melo Creative producer, character design
2018 Dissidia Final Fantasy NT Creative producer, character designer
Final Fantasy XV: Pocket Edition Lyrics, original concept, main character design
Idol Fantasy Character design[45]
Super Smash Bros. Ultimate Cloud Strife character design
2019 Kingdom Hearts III Director, concept design, story, main 2D character designer[46]
2020 Final Fantasy VII Remake Director, concept character designer[47]


Nomura received the "Excellence in Visual Arts" award by the International Game Developers Association for his work on the first Kingdom Hearts game, alongside Shinji Hashimoto.[48] In IGN's "The Top 100 Video Game Creators of all Time" Nomura was listed at number 84.[5]


  1. ^ Nomura was the director of the project until December 2013
  1. ^ Next Generation staff (March 3, 2007). "The Hot 100 Game Developers of 2007". Next Generation. Future Publishing USA. Archived from the original on August 5, 2011. Retrieved April 2, 2007.
  2. ^ a b c Sato (March 13, 2014). "Tetsuya Nomura Talks About His Childhood And How He Joined Square". Siliconera. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  3. ^ a b Ashcraft, Brian (October 28, 2013). "Unseen Tetsuya Nomura Sketches From the 1990s". Kotaku. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  4. ^ a b c d e f Sato (March 13, 2014). "How Final Fantasy V Was A Turning Point In Tetsuya Nomura's Career". Siliconera. Retrieved March 13, 2014.
  5. ^ a b c d e Perry, Douglass C. "84. Tetsuya Nomura". IGN. Archived from the original on October 31, 2013. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  6. ^ a b c "Afterthoughts: Final Fantasy VII". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Ziff Davis (196): 104. October 2005.
  7. ^ a b "The Making Of... Final Fantasy VI". Edge. Future Publishing (251): 124–127. March 2013.
  8. ^ a b c d e Knight, Sheila (2003). "Tetsuya Nomura 20s". FLAREgamer. Retrieved April 13, 2006.
  9. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (May 16, 2012). "Nomura, Kitase and Nojima Discuss Final Fantasy VII's Development". Andriasang. Retrieved January 3, 2014.
  10. ^ a b c d "Interview with Nomura, Kitase and Naora". Shūkan Famitsu. ASCII Corporation. June 5, 1998. Archived from the original on February 23, 2011. Retrieved February 23, 2011.
  11. ^ "Kingdom Hearts キングダム ハーツ" (in Japanese). Final Fantasy 2000. Retrieved May 30, 2007.
  12. ^ "Iwata Asks Tetsuya Nomura About Kingdom Hearts 3D". Andriasang. April 3, 2012. Archived from the original on August 3, 2012. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
  13. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (March 18, 2010). "Tetsuya Nomura Interviewed at Twitter". Andriasang. Archived from the original on March 22, 2010. Retrieved March 18, 2010.
  14. ^ GameSpot Staff (October 10, 2003). "Kingdom Hearts II's Tetsuya Nomura Q & A". GameSpot. Retrieved June 15, 2007.
  15. ^ Kingdom Hearts Ultimania: Revised Edition (in Japanese). Studio BentStuff. 2002. ISBN 4-7575-1349-6.
  16. ^ "Kingdom Hearts II's Tetsuya Nomura Q & A". GameSpot. October 10, 2003. Retrieved August 1, 2010.
  17. ^ "Interivew with Kazushige Nojima and Tetsuya Nomura from FLAREgamer". FLAREgamer. October 10, 2005. Retrieved July 5, 2008.
  18. ^ a b Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Prologue (in Japanese). Square-Enix. 2005. ISBN 4-08-779339-7.
  19. ^ キングダムハーツII アルティマニア [Kingdom Hearts II Ultimania] (in Japanese). Square Enix. 2005. ISBN 978-4-7575-1621-2.
  20. ^ Anoop Gantayat (October 30, 2006). "Nomura on Kingdom Hearts III - PS2 News at IGN". IGN. Retrieved January 15, 2011.
  21. ^ a b キングダムハーツII FINAL MIX+ アルティマニア (in Japanese). Square-Enix. 2007. ISBN 978-4-7575-2013-4.
  22. ^ Ransom-Wiley, James (May 4, 2007). "Next Kingdom Hearts to be portable spin-off, not KHIII". Joystiq. Retrieved September 22, 2007.
  23. ^ Final Fantasy XIII Scenario Ultimania (in Japanese). Tokyo: Studio Bentstuff. February 1, 2010. pp. 50–52. ISBN 978-4-7575-2775-1.
  24. ^ "Dissidia: Final Fantasy Originated From Kingdom Hearts". Siliconera.
  25. ^ KujaFFman (May 9, 2007). "Dissidia : Images et informations !". Final Fantasy World (in French). Retrieved May 9, 2007.
  26. ^ GameSpot Staff (May 12, 2007). "Final Fantasy XIII, Dissidia rock Square Enix Party". GameSpot. CNET Networks. Archived from the original on May 14, 2007. Retrieved May 12, 2007.
  27. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (September 27, 2010). "Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy Developer Interview". Andriasang. Retrieved July 3, 2012.
  28. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (July 13, 2011). "Final Fantasy XIII-2 Play Chance Coming Soon". Andriasang. Archived from the original on July 14, 2011.
  29. ^ "Kingdom Builder". Nintendo Power. Nintendo of America (276): 40–41. March 2012. ISSN 1041-9551.
  30. ^ Anoop Gantayat (November 17, 2010). "Tetsuya Nomura Talks Kingdom Hearts 3DS". IGN. Retrieved November 20, 2010.
  31. ^ "Kingdom Hearts: Dream Drop Distance - release date revealed". GoNintendo. December 11, 2011. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  32. ^ "Kingdom Hearts 3D Game's Premiere Light Show Streamed". Anime News Network. March 23, 2012. Retrieved April 6, 2012.
  33. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (April 30, 2012). "Tetsuya Nomura Expects New Kingdom Hearts Announcement Soon". Andriasang. Retrieved May 1, 2012.
  34. ^ Gantayat, Anoop (May 31, 2006). "Gaimaga Blows Out Final Fantasy XIII". IGN.com. Retrieved February 10, 2010.
  35. ^ "Final Fantasy Versus XIII Is Now Final Fantasy XV". WIRED. June 10, 2013.
  36. ^ Sato. "Final Fantasy XV's Release Date Was Already Decided Back In 2013". Siliconera.
  37. ^ Peckham, Matt (July 7, 2017). "Why 'Xenoblade Chronicles 2' Has a Character Designed by Tetsuya Nomura". TIME. Retrieved July 12, 2017.
  38. ^ a b "Iwata Asks Vol. 11: Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance] – 3. Square's Intentions". Nintendo. Retrieved January 6, 2014.
  39. ^ Kingdom Hearts Another Report (Included with the video game Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix) (in Japanese). Square Enix. March 2007.
  40. ^ Studio BentStuff (June 13, 2002). "野村哲也インタビュー". Kingdom Hearts Ultimania. Square Enix. pp. 528–535. ISBN 4-7575-1344-5.
  41. ^ Studio BentStuff (December 17, 2004). "野村哲也インタビュー". Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories Ultimania. Square Enix. ISBN 4-7575-1344-5.
  42. ^ "The 3rd Birthday Video - DKS3713 Trailer". Square Enix. December 15, 2008. Archived from the original on January 3, 2014. Retrieved June 8, 2013.
  43. ^ World of Final Fantasy Interview with Director Hiroki Chiba | RPG Site
  44. ^ "Full Recap of Final Fantasy XV Active Time Report 6.0". FinalFantasy.net. June 4, 2015. Retrieved June 5, 2015.
  45. ^ Sato. "Square Enix Announces Idol Fantasy Featuring Idols Designed By Tetsuya Nomura And Many Others". Siliconera. Retrieved October 17, 2018.
  46. ^ Nakamura, Toshi (September 25, 2014). "Tetsuya Nomura Talks Kingdom Hearts III, But Is Quiet on FFXV". Kotaku. Retrieved January 9, 2016.
  47. ^ Square Enix (June 11, 2019). "Final Fantasy VII Remake Official Website". Square Enix. Retrieved June 11, 2019.
  48. ^ "IGDA Names Metroid Game of the Year". IGN. March 7, 2003. Retrieved April 28, 2012.

External links

  • Tetsuya Nomura on IMDb
  • Tetsuya Nomura's Biography and Artwork
  • Tetsuya Nomura Rap sheet at MobyGames
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