Squall Leonhart

Squall Leonhart

General VG character
name=Squall Leonhart

caption=Squall Leonhart
series="Final Fantasy", "Kingdom Hearts"
firstgame="Final Fantasy VIII"
artist=Tetsuya Nomura
voiceactor= David Boreanaz, Doug Erholtz
japanactor= Hideo Ishikawa
inuniverse=Final Fantasy character
weapon= Revolver (Gunblade)cite web|url=http://na.square-enix.com/games/ff8/squall.html|title= Final Fantasy VIII Characters - Squall|publisher=SquareEnix.com|accessdate=2007-05-10]
specialattack=nihongo|Renzokuken|連続剣cite book | year=1999 | editor=Square Electronic Arts | title=Final Fantasy VIII North American instruction manual | pages=21 | publisher=Square Electronic Arts | language=English | id=SLUS-00892GH]
specialattacktype=Limit Break
age = 17
nihongo|Squall Leonhart|スコール・レオンハート|Sukōru Reonhāto is the main protagonist of Squaresoft's (now Square Enix) role-playing game "Final Fantasy VIII". He was designed by Tetsuya Nomura with heavy influences coming from game director Yoshinori Kitase. Squall has appeared in several other games, such as the "Kingdom Hearts" series, where he appears under the name "Leon", "Chocobo Racing" and "Itadaki Street Special". His weapon, the gunblade, also appears in other works.

In "Final Fantasy VIII", Squall is a 17-year old student at Balamb Garden, a prestigious military academy for elite mercenaries known as "SeeDs."cite book | year=1999 | editor=Square Electronic Arts | title=Final Fantasy VIII North American instruction manual | pages=28, 33-35 | publisher=Square Electronic Arts | language=English | id=SLUS-00892GH] As the game's story progresses, Squall becomes friends with Quistis Trepe, Zell Dincht, Selphie Tilmitt and Irvine Kinneas, and falls in love with Rinoa Heartilly. These relationships – combined with developments in the game's plot – gradually turn him from a loner to an open and caring person. Squall's Limit Break (special move) is Renzokuken, which is a series of four to eight slashes preceding one of four finishing moves.

Development and appearance

The first character Nomura designed specifically for use in "Final Fantasy VIII" was Squall, initially giving him longer hair and a more feminine appearance. However, Yoshinori Kitase felt that this design did not work, and asked Nomura to shorten his hair and make him look more masculine, which led to the final design of Squall seen in-game. When designing Cloud Strife, "Final Fantasy VII"'s protagonist, Nomura gave him distinctly spiky, bright blonde hair, so as to emphasize his role as that game's main character. With Squall, Nomura wanted to try another unique angle to establish Squall's role, giving him the now trademark gunblade scar across his brow and the bridge of his nose. There was not yet a complete history conceived for the character, so Nomura left the explanation for Squall's scar to Nojima. Squall's design was completed by a fur ruff along the collar of his jacket, included by Nomura for the purpose of challenging the game's Full motion video designers, being but one example of the demands he has consistently extended to the programmers of the "Final Fantasy" titles as technology has advanced.cite web | last=Khosla | first=Sheila | date=2003 | title=Tetsuya Nomura 20s | url=http://flaregamer.com/b2article.php?p=81&more=1 | publisher=FLAREgamer | accessdate=2006-04-13]

Also as part of Squall's design, Nomura wanted to include silver accessories, which took the form of his ring, necklace and weapon. Squall calls the lion "Griever" and it seems to be symbolic of his courage and takes on significance as the plot of the game progresses. Squall's weapon is a gunblade, a sword using components of a revolver to send vibrations through the blade when triggered.cite book | year = 1999 | editor=Studio BentStuff | title=Final Fantasy VIII Ultimania | pages=43 | publisher = DigiCube/Square-Enix | language=Japanese | id = ISBN 4-925075-49-7] This weapon was intended to offer a new way for players to control weapons in battle, and Nomura feels that the weapon bears an odd appearance. Squall's model is simply called the 'Revolver,' though he can upgrade the weapon at junk stores. Squall and his rival, Seifer Almasy, are the only gunblade specialists who appear in the game, although Laguna Loire uses one very briefly.

Squall's physical appearance consists of medium-length brown hair and blue eyes. A small scar runs diagonally across the bridge of Squall's nose, which he receives at the beginning of the game in a training duel against his rival Seifer. Seifer received a similar scar, but his is angled in the opposite direction.


"Final Fantasy VIII"

In "Final Fantasy VIII", Squall is known as a "lone wolf" by his peers because he never explains his feelings. [ Rinoa: That's it! Just let out anything! Anything... We want you to talk to us a little more. That's all. Y'know, if there's anything you want to tell us, or anything we can do, don't hesitate to let us know. I know it's not easy, but I wish you would trust us and rely on us a little more. ("Final Fantasy VIII")] Even compared to the originally indifferent Cloud Strife of "Final Fantasy VII", he comes off as cold to his allies. [ Rinoa: Don't you ever worry about or even think about the well-being of your comrades!? / Squall: (I don't believe in relying on others.) / Rinoa: Don't you understand!? / Squall:(...Whatever.) ("Final Fantasy VIII")] His superiors, such as his teacher, Quistis Trepe, consider him difficult to deal with but greatly respect his natural talents. [ Quistis: I guess I was right. You and Seifer are in a class of your own. You both have amazing strength and potential. ("Final Fantasy VIII")] [Quistis: Aren't there times when you want to share feelings with someone? / Squall: Everyone has to take care of themselves? I don't want to carry anyone's burden. ("Final Fantasy VIII")] He is also known to be stoic in some situations. [ Quistis: You know, the boys often choke on this test when I come with them. I guess my charm makes them nervous. / Squall:(...Whatever.) ("Final Fantasy VIII")] His taciturn attitude is also used for comic relief. In the cutscene where he first meets Rinoa, she coerces him into dancing with her at the SeeD graduation ball. [ Rinoa: You're the best guy here. Dance with me? Let me guess... You'll only dance with someone you like. Ok then... Look into my eyes... You're-going-to-like-me... You're-going-to-like-me... Did it work? / Squall: ...I can't dance. / Rinoa: You'll be fine. ("Final Fantasy VIII")] He awkwardly bumps into other partygoers while staring constantly at his feet with a look of confusion. Rinoa, however, perseveres in partnering him, and Squall eventually reveals that he's quite capable of dancing, as it is a mandatory aspect of his training. [Squall: Approach your target inconspicuously at a dance party... There may be missions requiring this sort of subterfuge. It's expected of SeeD to learn various skills. ("Final Fantasy VIII")]

Squall is unwillingly dragged into the role of the hero when Cid, headmaster of Balamb Garden, appoints him as leader of the academy midway through the game. [ Headmaster Cid: Squall, we're under your command from now on. This is your fate. It is your destiny to lead the way in defeating the sorceress. / Squall: Don't talk about this like it's been decided since by birth! (I don't mind fighting the sorceress. It's unavoidable as long as I'm a SeeD member.) (What? AS long as I'm a SeeD member?) (What if I quit?) (Quit... Then what? What do I have left?) (Don't even want to think about it. Just stop thinking...) ("Final Fantasy VIII")] He is often thrown into a leadership role, as is evident in the Timber and Galbadia missions. During a late battle against Galbadia Garden, Squall demonstrates some leadership difficulties, which are tied to his lingering isolationism. [Squall: (I've had it up to here with this leader thing... Alright, alright... I'll choose.) ("Final Fantasy VIII")] [Headmaster Cid: Squall, I understand how you feel. But you are in a position of leadership. The other students at Garden have a right to know about the outcome of the battle and what's to come. Take whatever information you can get here, back to Garden. Remember, it wasn't just Rinoa. Everyone fought. ("Final Fantasy VIII")] Likewise, other characters have to make efforts to pull him out of his isolation, and Rinoa has to expend a lot of energy to pursue a romance with him. It takes considerable time for him to accept the others' offered friendship and fall in love with Rinoa and care for her. [ Squall: Pandora whatever and Sorceress Adel are out of my hands. I don't know where to look for Sis. The only thing I know is Rinoa. The only thing I want to do for sure right now is for Rinoa. We're going to get Rinoa back! ("Final Fantasy VIII")] As time progresses, he grows more comfortable with the leadership role, especially when it comes time to defeat Ultimecia, the antagonist. [ Squall: I don't know what's going on. But since we're still here, I think we still have some time to finish our job. / Quistis: What are we going to do, Squall? / Squall: We'll divide into two parties. ("Final Fantasy VIII")]

Throughout the game, he has a distinct rivalry with Seifer Almasy. The opening sequence depicts the duel in which Squall obtained his characteristic facial scar (and subsequently gave an almost identical one to Seifer; Squall's starts above his right eye and goes to his left cheek, while Seifer's goes from left to right) and scenes in which Squall and Seifer are supposed to be cooperating are characterized by squabbles between the two cadets. [Seifer: Yeah, yeah... (to Squall: Well then, Squall. Go see what's going on outside. / Squall: ......Ok. / Seifer: Good. Because it's MY order. ("Final Fantasy VIII")] Later, Seifer seemingly allies himself with the Sorceress, requiring Squall to battle him several times. Nevertheless, despite their conflict, Squall still feels an underlying camaraderie for Seifer, and mourns him in his own way when he believes Seifer to have been executed after an attempted kidnapping of Galbadian President Vinzer Deling. [Squall: (I liked him... wasn't really a bad guy... He was one of us...) (Seifer... You've just become just a memory.) (Will they... Will they talk about me this way if I die, too?) (Squall was this and that. Using past tense, saying whatever they want?) (So this is what death is all about...) (...Not for me.) (I won't have it!!!) ("Final Fantasy VIII")]

According to flashbacks in the game, Squall grew up in an orphanage, along with many of the other main characters such as Zell, Seifer, Selphie, Irvine and Quistis. They were looked after by Edea. Though he remembers little of this past, it causes him to develop into an emotionally detached, highly cynical and introverted boy; his original goal is to go through life without any emotional links or dependencies. [Squall: (I don't believe in relying on others.) ("Final Fantasy VIII")] However, Squall gradually warms as the game progresses, and it is later revealed that his deliberate detachment from his companions is a defensive mechanism to protect himself from emotional pain, like he experienced when his older sister figure at the orphanage, one of the sole emotional supports in his early life, was forcibly separated from him. [Young Squall: ...Sis... I'm...all alone. But I'm doing my best... I'll be ok without you, Sis. I'll be able to take care of myself. ("Final Fantasy VIII")] [Squall: (I wonder what everyone's doing...?) (They're probably laughing at me. Or maybe they're angry...?) What do you think? To tell you the truth... I worry too much about what others think of me. I hate that side of me... That's why I didn't want anyone to get to know me. I wanted to hide that side of myself. I hate it. Squall is an unfriendly, introverted guy. It made it easy for me when people perceived me that way. That's a secret between you and me. Got that? ("Final Fantasy VIII")]

Upon defeating Ultimecia, as his comrades are pulled back from time compression into their own respective places in the timeline, Squall takes a detour back to the orphanage, where he encounters a younger Edea. Since she does not want to involve any of the children, Edea ends up absorbing the dying Ultimecia's powers as part of the cycle of sorceresses (a sorceress must pass on her powers to a successor before she is allowed to die peacefully), and wonders aloud about endings and beginnings (dialogue mirroring words to Squall years later, on Disc 3). [Edea: It's ok. There's no need to fight. That sorceress is just looking for someone to pass her power on to. In order to die in peace, a sorceress must free of all her powers. I know... for I am one, too. I shall take over that sorceress' powers. I do not want one of the children to become one. ("Final Fantasy VIII")] Squall plants the ideas for Garden and SeeD in her mind, creating an in-game loop in which he must become the leader of Balamb Garden so that he can make it to this point again. [Edea: SeeD? Garden? / Squall: Both Garden and SeeD were your ideas. Garden trains SeeDs. SeeDs are trained to defeat the sorceress. / Edea: What are you saying? You're... that boy from the future? ("Final Fantasy VIII")]

There are strong indications in the game that Laguna Loire is Squall's father. During flashbacks induced by Ellone's power, in which the main characters experience past events through the eyes of Laguna, Kiros, and Ward, Squall is required (by the game) to assume the role of Laguna, despite the fact that any of the other characters in Squall's party may take on the role of Kiros or Ward. If Squall travels to Winhill after Garden is activated, he will encounter inexplicable visions of Raine, a woman to whom Laguna was very close (and to whom he eventually was married, as evidenced by the fact that 'Raine Loire' is written on her headstone in the ending fmv sequence), throughout the town. Ellone also mentions that Raine died—apparently in childbirth—and that she had a baby boy. When Squall is captured, all the Moomba keep referring to Squall as Laguna (it is later indicated that the Moomba recognize people by their blood, suggesting a tie between Squall and Laguna). Toward the end of the game, aboard the Ragnarok, Kiros and Ward make commentary as to Squall's resemblance to his mother and his dissimilarity to his father. [ Kiros: You look a lot like your mother. Ward: ..... Kiros: Ward says its a good thing you don't look like your father.] Laguna also intends to tell something to Squall, but he opts not to due to the circumstances.

Other appearances

Squall appears as a non-playable character in "Kingdom Hearts". He wears a short leather jacket with red wings on the back, resembling the decorations on Rinoa's duster, but he still wears his Griever necklace and he still has the scar on his forehead. He assumes the name Leon because "Squall" was shamed for being unable to protect those he cared about from the Heartless when his home world, the Radiant Garden, was consumed in darkness. "Leon" is voiced by David Boreanaz in the English language version of the game and Hideo Ishikawa in the Japanese version. Squall's role in "Kingdom Hearts" is to help guide Sora in his battle with the Heartless, alongside various other "Final Fantasy" characters. While his appearance and age change (in "Kingdom Hearts", he is 25,cite web | date=2002 | title="Kingdom Hearts (at Square-Enix.com) | url=http://na.square-enix.com/games/kingdomhearts/index1.html | publisher=Square Enix|accessdate=2006-08-03] whereas in "Final Fantasy VIII", he is 17), his personality remains the same. A memory-based version of Leon appears in "". He returns in "Kingdom Hearts II" and is voiced by Doug Erholtz for the English version. Leon still wears his "Kingdom Hearts" outfit, only receiving a fur ruff along the collar of his jacket. He, alongside Yuffie, is an opponent in Hades' Tournament; he is also paired with Cloud in both games, and both former fighters plus Tifa in "Kingdom Hearts II".

Squall is a secret character in "Chocobo Racing" and "Itadaki Street Special". In addition, a 2D sprite of Squall occasionally makes an appearance on the loading screen of the PlayStation version of "Final Fantasy VI". Squall is also set to appear in the upcoming "" game, alongside Final Fantasy VIII villain Ultimecia. In one trailer he is seen fighting against "FFVII"'s villain, Sephiroth. [cite web| author=Yoon, Andrew | date=2007| title=Squall joins Final Fantasy Dissidia line-up | url=http://www.joystiq.com/2007/09/20/tgs07-squall-joins-final-fantasy-dissidia-line-up/ | publisher=Joystiq | accessdate=2007-10-14] Likewise, Squall's gunblade, the Revolver, also appears in several forms throughout the "Final Fantasy" series.

Reception and criticism

Although Squall and Rinoa clearly develop a relationship, it is not made explicit until the final cutscene. A review published by IGN criticized this, stating that "considering that the love story is so integral to everything that happens – not to mention forming the central image of the box art – it's incomprehensible why no one says "I love you" to anyone, ever."cite web | author=Lundigran, Jeff | date=1999 | title=IGN: Final Fantasy VIII Review | url=http://psx.ign.com/articles/153/153847p1.html | publisher=IGN | accessdate=2007-03-15] A review by Game Revolution, however, states, "Frankly, you don't even have to play the game to know that love will win out in some way...very 'Hollywood.' But it is the way in which they tell the story that sets it apart from being just some teen-angst drama."cite web | author=Liu, Johnny | date=1999 | title=Game Revolution Review Page - "Final Fantasy VIII" | url=http://www.gamerevolution.com/oldsite/games/sony/rpg/final_fantasy_8.htm | publisher=Game Revolution | accessdate=2007-03-15]

As the main character, Squall has been the subject of both positive and negative reaction. Some players dislike his attitude; one review concluded that "the problem is that the character at the heart of everything, Squall, is basically a pouty jerk" and that "when your story is character centered, you'd better center it on a character the audience can care about. Squall, unfortunately, just doesn't fit the bill." On the other hand, others enjoy Squall's character, as exemplified by the following review from GameCritics.com: "Squall starts out as a bit of a jerk, but his character evolves enough to make him likeable." [cite web| author=Weir, Dale | date=1999 | title=Final Fantasy VIII Review | url=http://www.gamecritics.com/review/ff8/main.php | publisher=GameCritics.com | accessdate=2007-05-11]


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