Someone in a NeoGAF thread about changes in character designs posted this image of Cloud Strife from Final Fantasy VII…
…followed by this drawing of Cloud from Dissidia Final Fantasy.
Both are by the same illustrator, Tetsuya Nomura, and together they make a fascinating case study. Aside from some minor stylistic details in the rendering and finishing, the character looks almost completely unchanged over time; his costume remains almost completely consistent, same hair, same weapon. And yet the drawings almost appears to be two different characters due entirely to the change in posture. From bold confidence to a slump of defeat; from heroic to pitiful.
It’s really interesting to see how Cloud has been presented through the years. In the FFVII days, he was the bold hero of the game. Sometimes, he even smiled! Of course, Cloud had his ups and downs in FFVII, going from false swagger to near-comatose self-loathing before rebounding to genuine self-assurance… but over time, the Final Fantasy franchise has slowly wound him back to a waking version of his catatonic state. I can’t think of any other major character whose creators have said, “No, all that personal growth and epiphany was stupid. He’d be much cooler if he were mopey and miserable.”
I hope this doesn’t become a trend. I’d hate for Mark Hamill to play a 65-year-old whining farmboy in the new Star Wars movies, for instance.