Sephiroth... What is there to say? While he's not my favourite FF villain*, he is nonetheless iconic for his rivalry with Cloud and his quiet, enigmatic air.
Sephiroth is very, very easy to get tripped up by, and yet despite many of the Compilation's stumblings in characterization, he was handled in English absolutely perfectly. George Newbern's performance as Sephiroth is bonechilling. While there are many other experienced voice actors just as skilled in playing roles like Sephiroth, George is an out-of-the-box choice who really gets to make the role his own because of it. Everything who makes Sephiroth who he is, is here. He's cold, he's ruthless, he's mysterious. He's smug, even seductive, in a way that's aloof and disconcerting. His portrayal is subtle, but never monotone. A great example is in Crisis Core. The game takes place before Sephiroth has truly become evil, and he alters his
performance just slightly enough to speak with authority rather than cruelty, while maintaining the same voice. The juxtaposition between the calm tone of his voice and the sadistic words Sephiroth speaks singlehandedly bring him above and beyond. His Sephiroth is proof that less is more.
So of course, it goes without saying that Tyler Hoechlin had a lot to live up to. And... my thoughts on him are mixed. I get the idea of what he's going for. He's certainly trying to capture the same aura as George did. I think I know what the missing ingredient of his performance is - his voice lacks the same control as George's. Because of that, it makes many of his deliveries feel "bigger" than they really should. Sephiroth is not the kind of character who pushes out - he pulls in. As backhanded as this sounds, probably what saves him is that Sephiroth's appearances in Remake are fleeting, so optimistically there'll be more chances in the future for them to refine his portrayal. If Tyler and the directors can work on that, we'll probably be onto something. As it is though, Sephiroth is a performance that gives me the most pause, and George is already a ridiculously high bar it's disappointing to not live up to.
...Oh. Right. Uhh... Lance Bass voiced Sephiroth once. Yeah, that happened. In what is quite possibly the most 2002 choice to have ever been made, KH1 hired Lance Bass. From NSYNC. Remember NSYNC? Remember Avril Lavigne? Remember lightup Skechers? Well, this was an idea that will definitely make you spit out your Gogurt, because it's just... yeah. Sephiroth was only a bonus boss, so there's not a lot to latch onto, but that only makes the whole thing weirder. You got Lance Bass for this? Anyway, the tone of his voice is certainly "angelic", but that's only one part of Sephiroth's character. Honestly, jokes aside the real thing is, for me, the idea behind this is something that would work more for Genesis than Sephiroth. This performance is fun to look back on as a, "Remember how that happened?", but there was no way it could have stuck.
It was a lot of fun, but this marks the end of my weeklong spotlight in honour of Final Fantasy VII Remake. Square Enix did a great job with the game and I loved getting to really dig into and talk about the series's VO. I hope everyone else liked it too. Until next time!
*My favourites are Kuja and Ardyn.