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The surprising origins of JRPGs’ weird fashion

From woodblock printing to punks, Final Fantasy’s fashion has a long lineage

Many JRPGs are known for their elaborate and outlandish fashion, but that wasn’t always the case. Early JRPGs drew heavily from western-style fantasy, like Dungeons & Dragons, which meant lots of knights in armor. The Final Fantasy franchise changed this standard thanks largely to character designer Yoshitaka Amano.

Amano’s artwork has a long lineage of inspirations, from Art Nouveau to ukiyo-e, the Edo period style of Japanese woodblock printing. The subjects of ukiyo-e were often highly fashionable idols like geishas and kabuki actors. Depictions of elaborate hair and fashion trends were an important part of the style — something that Amano took with him in his own art.

“Kanpei’s Wife Okaru” by Kitagawa Utamaro (left) and a print by Yoshitaka Amano (right)
Minneapolis Institute of Art / Harper Design

Tetsuya Nomura, Amano’s successor, also drew on fashion as an inspiration — specifically, streetwear fashion. Streetwear became a prominent style in Japan in the 1980s, with each year seeing more fashion subgroups like lolita, body-con, or crow tribe. The influence of specific designers, like Rei Kawakubo and Vivienne Westwood, can be seen in many of Nomura’s designs for Final Fantasy characters.

Check out the video above to see specifically how streetwear style influenced the designs of Final Fantasy characters like Tidus, Rikku, and more.

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