December 18 – yes today – is the 35th anniversary of the Final Fantasy series and Square Enix has been marking the occasion with various fun things.
One of these was showing off and confirming the appearance of moogles in the upcoming Final Fantasy 16 (kupo!) while another is releasing the results of a poll. This was a Japanese poll that asked people to vote for their favourite Final Fantasy characters from the series' 35-year history. And these results turned out some unexpected rankings (at least to Western eyes).
The Japan-based Audrey, who regularly translates and shares Japanese game news and trivia, tweeted out the results of the poll via her Twitter page and there are some big shocks. First of all, how is Wakka so high up the rankings? The Final Fantasy 10 character beat out the likes of Zidane, Tifa, and game mate Yuna, while other popular characters didn't even make it into the top ten. Here below are the results of the Top 20 Favourite Final Fantasy Characters from the Japanese 35th Anniversary Poll:
There are several surprises in this list. First of all, Final Fantasy 10 remains one of the most beloved of the more modern entries in the series (of course "modern" is relative here, the tenth entry now being 21 years old, but it was the first FF title to feature full voice acting). But a few of its characters, which are still some of the fans' favourites such as Yuna and Tidus could not beat out Wakka.
Wakka polled as the second-most favourite Final Fantasy character, while Yuna didn't make it into the top 10 as she ranked number 13 while Tidus came 9th. Wakka even beat out the iconic Cloud, with his famous Buster Sword, who took third place.
The absolute favourite character wasn't so much of a suprise with Final Fantasy 14's Emet-Selch taking the top spot. Known by his true name of Hades, the major character is extremely well liked among the MMO's players. Final Fantasy 7's Tifa slots in at number 4, with the character inspiring many mods since the game was remade and ported over to PC, while Zidane from FF9 rounds out the top five. Other seeming fan favourites, such as FF13's Lightning, ranked a relatively lowly fourteenth.
So how did Wakka get this high on the poll? One would've thought that even the likes of Auron or Lulu would've been more popular, among his game mates, but one commentor underneath Audrey's Tweet might've provided some context.
Apparently, there is a well-known video in Japan which shows Wakka singing about a certain appendage belonging to Tidus, and set to the game Madoka Magica's music. The fan-made video went viral and has spawned many memes, variously using Wakka to say all sorts of things. On Japanese social media, such as Twitter, there are regular memes featuring Wakka thanks to the character's subsequent ubiquity thanks to the viral video. This could be why the amiable blitzball player has come so high on this Japan-based poll.
It still seems a little mysterious, but perhaps a Japanese pop culture expert might one day explain it to all of us. In the meantime, fans everywhere can check where their preferred Final Fantasy character has appeared on these rankings but fans of the 12th mainline game might be very disappointed.
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