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Final Fantasy’s origins rendered in an adorable manga

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Learn about how Final Fantasy’s graphics were made through this cute comic

Manga— a grey haired man gapes at a television screen showing Cloud Strife in Final Fantasy 7. He says “What are these graphics!!”
Waka no Itari
Keiichi Tanaka

Cartoonist and former gaming executive Keiichi Tanaka debuted a new manga web series called Wakage no Itari, which condenses conversations between himself and various game designers who cut their teeth in the industry during the ’80s and ’90s.

This first comic features stories from Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, who leads the reader through the development of the beloved JRPG saga.

Tanaka places specific emphasis on developer Square’s graphics rendering techniques, and how they evolved over time. The story begins in 1986 with the Japan-exclusive mecha game Cruise Chaser Blassty, which featured anime-like motion graphics thanks to a “genius high school programmer.”

A comic detailing the history of Nasir Gebelli, who was exiled from his home country of Iran, lost a lot of money in a subsequent divorce, and went on to program the graphics for the early Final Fantasy games.
Page 8 of Waka no Itari
Keiichi Tanaka

From there, the strip covers the development Final Fantasy 1, 2 and 3. Those games’ visuals were pioneered by a team that included Nasir Gebelli, an Iranian programmer exiled from his home country due to his relation to its former royal family.

It all culminates in Final Fantasy 7, an industry leader in early 3D console graphics. For more on the story behind that game, check out Polygon’s extensive oral history.

The next issue of Wakage no Itari will focus on Kazutoshi Iida, creator of ocean exploration game Aquanaut’s Holiday. It will also explore Iida’s friendship with the late Kenji Eno, writer and director of horror classic D.

Correction: This article originally referred to the manga as “Waka no Itari.” The romanization of the Japanese title is “Wakage no Itari,” and the text has been corrected accordingly.