Tetsuya Nomura (born October 8, 1970) is a game director and graphic designer from Kochi Prefecture in Japan. He currently works for Square Enix, where most gamers know him for directing various Final Fantasy games, the entirety of Kingdom Hearts and doing dozens of character designs for both.
Squaresoft originally hired him as a debugger to work on Final Fantasy IV. He moved on to graphic designing for the subsequent two games, as well as several other RPG games for the Super Nintendo. His employer approached him to do character designs for Final Fantasy VII. The game succeeded in becoming the definitive game of the PlayStation, and he would go on to design characters in subsequent games, succeeding the previous designer Yoshitaka Amano, as well as a number of other properties.
Nomura advanced to a directing role when Disney and Square Enix (then Square Soft) joined forces to develop the Kingdom Hearts series. He has directed all the games in the series, as well as designing the characters, concepts, and base stories to go with them. He has also worked in the animation field, directing Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and supervising Last Order. Nomura was director of the much-anticipated Final Fantasy XV until December 2013, when he stepped down in favour of Hajime Tabata in order to concentrate on Kingdom Hearts III. This didn't stop him from focusing on other games such as Final Fantasy VII Remake and Xenoblade Chronicles 2, however.
The designer is best known for his use of belts and zippers. While he can produce simple and practical belts, as can be seen on his first iteration of Cid, he has a tendency to go for elaborate designs. According to an interview, the more people mock him for his designs, the more he's encouraged to use zippers and belts. These can range from the mildly practical, such as in Sora's case, to the downright improbable mesh of Lulu's skirt (which is seemingly made of belts).
This Creator's portfolio includes:
- Final Fantasy series
- Final Fantasy IV
- Final Fantasy V
- Final Fantasy VI
- Final Fantasy VII
- Final Fantasy VIII
- Final Fantasy X
- Dissidia Final Fantasy
- Final Fantasy XIII
- Final Fantasy XV
- Kingdom Hearts series
- Kingdom Hearts
- Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories
- Kingdom Hearts II
- Kingdom Hearts: 358/2 Days
- Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep
- Kingdom Hearts coded
- Kingdom Hearts 3D [Dream Drop Distance]
- Kingdom Hearts χ
- Kingdom Hearts 0.2: Birth by Sleep -A fragmentary passage-
- Kingdom Hearts III
- Kingdom Hearts: Melody of Memory
- Kingdom Hearts: Missing-Link
- Kingdom Hearts IV
- Parasite Eve series
- Parasite Eve
- Parasite Eve II
- The 3rd Birthday
- Musashiden series
- The World Ends with You series
- Other Series
This Creator provides examples of:
- Art Evolution: His art style changed starkly from Final Fantasy VII to Final Fantasy VIII and then changed again for the first Kingdom Hearts. He's undergone another change since then and seems to have settled down for now.
- Attention Deficit Creator Disorder: He's the director and father of the Kingdom Hearts series while continuing to direct assorted Final Fantasy projects, doing concept art for numerous Square Enix titles in general, and is credited as a Creative Producer on most newer Final Fantasy titles. Odds are if you played a Square Enix game released after 2010, Nomura had at least some sort of input on things. Rumors abound that the reason Final Fantasy XV and Kingdom Hearts III languished in Development Hell for so long * is because Square Enix keeps Nomura too busy on too many projects and he can't give any of them the time they need.
- Author Appeal:
- Worked sea-salt ice cream into Kingdom Hearts II as the Trademark Favorite Food of Ansem when he tried it on a trip to Disney World and discovered he liked it. Subverted with Luxord, his favorite Organization XIII member who easily has the smallest role of them all (so far).
- He's a fanboy of Kain Highwind, and Riku of Kingdom Hearts mirrors Kain's character growth and relationships with the other heroes in many ways. Nomura really wanted Kain in Dissidia, even suggesting at one point he be in over Golbez as IV's representative villain when plans for Kain as a bonus character were axed. He promised in the Ultimania for the game that if Dissidia got a sequel, Kain would definitely be included, and come Dissidia 012 he kept his word.
- Nomura is admittedly big into sky and weather-themed names, so a lot of the protagonists he's designed, Cloud, Squall, Tidus and Yuna, Sora and Noctis note all followed suit. Ironically, he tried to break this trend with Lightning, but she ended up being named without his input.
- Bishōnen: He has designed many of these types of characters. It got to the point of a certain webcomic spoofing it as "Nomura Syndrome."
- Gratuitous Latin: Nomura has a tendency to name characters and places after Latin words. This was most prominent in Final Fantasy XV, to the point where he got a Latin translator to help him write the lyrics to its main theme "Somnus". This tendency is also present in Kingdom Hearts, where there are characters named Terra, Aqua, Ventus, and Vanitas ("Earth", "Water", "Wind", "Emptiness") and places named Scala ad Caelum and Quadratum ("Stairway to Heaven" and "Square").
- Impossibly Cool Clothes: In a couple of instances—Squall's fur collar and Lulu's belt skirt—he has done this to challenge the graphics team.
- Kudzu Plot: Most infamously so in the Kingdom Hearts series, where he both writes and conceives each game's storyline. It should be noted that most of this is due to Writing by the Seat of Your Pants, as he comes up with an overarching story as it goes.
- Older Than He Looks: He was actually in his mid-forties when the page picture was taken.
- Only Six Faces: Increasingly being accused of falling into this as his designs are starting to look like Expies of characters from earlier projects. There's often in-story explanations for the more blatant lookalikes in the Kingdom Hearts and Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, such as being a sort of clone or duplicate.
- Rummage Sale Reject: Some of his more "overdesigned" characters are criticized for at least partially adhering to the trope, such as the aforementioned Lulu. Nooj is perhaps the biggest offender of them all, but Nomura's more recent fondness for a gear motif in the place of his usual belts and zippers has resulted in other headscratching (re)designs like Materia and Rufus Shinra.
- Signature Style: Beyond "beltanzipper", he was primarily brought on to be lead designer for Final Fantasy VII because his blocky, comic-bookish designs would survive the transition to 3D models easier than the Design Student's Orgasm that was Yoshitaka Amano's work. This was pre-Art Evolution, though.
- Too Many Belts: One of his favorite tropes, many of his characters have a lot of belts and straps all over their outfits. The zenith of this is Lulu, who provides the page image with a lower dress made out of belts. Nomura claims he did this to challenge the graphics team to see if they could keep the number and positions of them straight in FMV scenes, but they avoided that by just avoiding showing Lulu from the waist-down when they could.
- Zipperiffic: His other favorite trope, most infamous in the Kingdom Hearts series; his Donald Duck design provides the page image again. While the belts/straps have stuck around as his art has evolved, this one has mostly faded away.