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Final Fantasy character
Vaan as he appears in Final Fantasy XII. Designed by Akihiko Yoshida.
First appearance Itadaki Street Special (2004)
Last appearance Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call (2014)
Created by Yasumi Matsuno
Designed by Akihiko Yoshida
Voiced by Bobby Edner
Kouhei Takeda (Japanese, Final Fantasy XII)
Kenshō Ono (Japanese, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy)
QuickeningRed Spiral, White Whorl, Pyroclasm

Vaan(ヴァン,Van) is a fictional character in the Final Fantasy series from Square Enix. Created by Yasumi Matsuno and designed by Akihiko Yoshida, he first appeared in Itadaki Street Special and then appeared in Final Fantasy XII as the protagonist. Final Fantasy XII establishes Vaan as an orphaned teenager from Rabanastre who dreams of becoming a sky pirate. He and his best friend Penelo join Dalmasca Princess Ashe in her fight against the tyranny of the Archadian Empire. Vaan also takes a more active role in the sequel Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings and has also been featured in few Final Fantasy crossover games.

A character is a person or other being in a narrative. The character may be entirely fictional or based on a real-life person, in which case the distinction of a "fictional" versus "real" character may be made. Derived from the ancient Greek word χαρακτήρ, the English word dates from the Restoration, although it became widely used after its appearance in Tom Jones in 1749. From this, the sense of "a part played by an actor" developed. Character, particularly when enacted by an actor in the theatre or cinema, involves "the illusion of being a human person". In literature, characters guide readers through their stories, helping them to understand plots and ponder themes. Since the end of the 18th century, the phrase "in character" has been used to describe an effective impersonation by an actor. Since the 19th century, the art of creating characters, as practiced by actors or writers, has been called characterisation.

Final Fantasy is a Japanese science fantasy media franchise created by Hironobu Sakaguchi, and developed and owned by Square Enix. The franchise centers on a series of fantasy and science fantasy role-playing video games (RPGs/JRPGs). The first game in the series was released in 1987, with 14 other main-numbered entries being released since then. The franchise has since branched into other video game genres such as tactical role-playing, action role-playing, massively multiplayer online role-playing, racing, third-person shooter, fighting, and rhythm, as well as branching into other media, including CGI films, anime, manga, and novels.

Square Enix Japanese video game company

Square Enix Holdings Co., Ltd. is a Japanese video game developer, publisher, and distribution company known for its Final Fantasy, Dragon Quest, and Kingdom Hearts role-playing video game franchises, among numerous others. Several of them have sold over 10 million copies worldwide, with the Final Fantasy franchise alone selling 144 million, the Dragon Quest franchise selling 78 million and the Kingdom Hearts franchise selling 30 million. The Square Enix headquarters are in the Shinjuku Eastside Square Building in Shinjuku, Tokyo. The company employs over 4300 employees worldwide.


Vaan was conceptualized as the main character for Final Fantasy XII in order to contrast the older hero from Square's previous title Vagrant Story as a result of negative feedback received by fans. Critical reception to Vaan's character has been mixed as a result of his lack of involvement with the Final Fantasy XII's plot although various video game publications still found him likable.

<i>Vagrant Story</i> video game

Vagrant Story is an action role-playing game developed and published by Square for the PlayStation video game console. The game was released in 2000, and has been re-released through the PlayStation Network for the PlayStation 3, PlayStation Portable and PlayStation Vita consoles. Vagrant Story was primarily developed by the team responsible for Final Fantasy Tactics, with Yasumi Matsuno serving as producer, writer and director.


Vaan was first introduced in the 2004 crossover board game Itadaki Street Special for the PlayStation 2. [1] He also appears in Itadaki Street Portable for the PlayStation Portable. [2]

PlayStation 2 sixth-generation and second home video game console developed by Sony Interactive Entertainment

The PlayStation 2 is a home video game console developed and marketed by Sony Computer Entertainment. It was first released in Japan on March 4, 2000, in North America on October 26, 2000, and in Europe and Australia in November 2000, and is the successor to the PlayStation, as well as the second video game console in the PlayStation brand. As a sixth-generation console, the PS2 competed with Sega's Dreamcast, Nintendo's GameCube, and Microsoft's Xbox.

PlayStation Portable handheld game console made by Sony

The PlayStation Portable (PSP) is a handheld game console that was developed by Sony Computer Entertainment as part of the seventh generation of video-game consoles. Development of the handheld console was announced during E3 2003 and it was unveiled on May 11, 2004, at a Sony press conference before the next E3. The system was released in Japan on December 12, 2004; in North America on March 24, 2005; and in the PAL region on September 1, 2005. It competed with the Nintendo DS.

The protagonist of Final Fantasy XII, Vaan is a 17-year-old orphaned street urchin who lost his parents in a plague when he was 12 years old. [3] His only brother, Reks, died two years prior to the start of the game, during the Archadian invasion of Dalmasca. He makes a living as Migelo's assistant, running various errands for him, while at the same time pickpocketing from Archadian soldiers while claiming to take back what is Dalmasca's. [4] He is a cheerful and energetic boy. Vaan dreams of someday becoming a sky pirate in command of his own airship. [5] He trains to meet this goal by killing dire rats in the sewers of Rabanastre on a daily basis, for which Dalan gave him the nickname "Vaan Ratsbane." [6] Despite nominally being the protagonist, the majority of the game focuses on the events and conflicts of the world as a whole and of Ashe, rather than Vaan's individual problems, with his character instead used as a narrative device to allow the player to follow the events as an outside observer. [7] During the course of the game, Vaan comes to understand that he has spent his time running from his problems and blaming the Archadian empire for them, rather than moving on with his life after his brother and parents' deaths. [8] Vaan ends the game as a sky pirate, traveling the world along with Penelo. He also reprises his role from Final Fantasy XII in the manga adaptation by Gin Amou. [9]

During the events of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings , Vaan becomes captain of the Airship Galbana and uses it to travel to Lemurés, meeting old friends while making new ones. By Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift Vaan's and Penelo's adventures take them to the Jylland region of Ivalice, where they get caught up in events surrounding Clan Gully and a boy from another world named Luso Clemens, eventually joining up with the clan for a time. [10]

<i>Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings</i> video game

Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings is a real-time tactical role-playing game developed by Think & Feel and Square Enix who also published the game for the Nintendo DS. It is a sequel to the 2006 PlayStation 2 role-playing video game Final Fantasy XII.

<i>Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift</i> video game

Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift is a tactical role-playing game developed and published by Square Enix for the Nintendo DS handheld game console. Releasing in 2007 in Japan and 2008 in the West, the game is a sequel to Final Fantasy Tactics Advance and forms part of the Ivalice Alliance, a group of games set in the titular fictional universe. The game features cameo appearances from central and supporting characters from Final Fantasy XII, a title set in Ivalice.

Vaan also appears in the PlayStation Portable fighting game, Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy , as one of Cosmos' warriors who seek to eliminate creatures known as Maninkins. He returns in the game's sequel, Dissidia Final Fantasy NT , as one of Materia's champions. He is also featured in the rhythm game Theatrhythm Final Fantasy and its sequel, Curtain Call , as the main character representing Final Fantasy XII. [11]

<i>Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy</i> video game

Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy is a 2011 fighting game published by Square Enix for the PlayStation Portable as part of the Final Fantasy series. It was developed by the company's 1st Production Department and released in Japan on March 3, 2011. The game is both a prequel and remake of Dissidia Final Fantasy, revealing what occurred before the events of its predecessor, and was released on March 22, 2011 in North America.

<i>Dissidia Final Fantasy NT</i> fighting game with action role-playing elements

Dissidia Final Fantasy NT is a fighting game with action role-playing elements developed by Koei Tecmo's Team Ninja and published by Square Enix for the PlayStation 4. The game is a follow-up to Dissidia Final Fantasy and Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, released for PlayStation Portable, and similarly allows players to battle one another using many characters from the Final Fantasy series. The game is a console port of the 2015 Japanese arcade game Dissidia Final Fantasy, and it was released worldwide on January 2018. From March 12, 2019, the game is also available in a free-to-play version for PlayStation 4 and Microsoft Windows players.

<i>Theatrhythm Final Fantasy</i> 2012 video game

Theatrhythm Final Fantasy is a rhythm video game, developed by indieszero and published by Square Enix for Nintendo 3DS and iOS. Based on the Final Fantasy video game franchise, the game involves using the touch screen in time to various pieces of music from the series. The game was released in Japan in February 2012, and in North America, Australia and Europe in July 2012. An iOS version was released in December 2012. A sequel, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call, was released in 2014. A third game based on the Dragon Quest series, Theatrhythm Dragon Quest, was released in 2015. An arcade game, Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: All-Star Carnival, was released in 2016.

Concept and creation

Kouhei Takeda's work as Vaan's voice actor and motion capture affected his characterization Takeda Kouhei from "The Brand New Legend Of The Stardust Brothers" at Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo International Film Festival 2016 (33513717511).jpg
Kouhei Takeda's work as Vaan's voice actor and motion capture affected his characterization

Yasumi Matsuno added Vaan and Penelo to be male and female avatar characters for the player in Final Fantasy XII. They would see and learn about Ivalice in sync with the player over the course of the game but would not be deeply connected to the story. [12] The development team explained that their previous game, Vagrant Story , which featured a "strong man in his prime" as the protagonist had been unsuccessful and unpopular; the change regarding Final Fantasy XII from a "big and tough" protagonist to a more effeminate one was thus decided after targeting demographics were considered. [13] Although originally conceived as more "rugged", Vaan was changed during development of the game to be more effeminate after "taking into consideration the target demographic". He was designed by character designer Akihiko Yoshida to look Asian. [14] In response to criticism from Western fans regarding Vaan's design executive producer Akitoshi Kawazu noted that while several members from the development team were not feeling Vaan was the right main character owing to his young age, it was common for Japanese RPG to start with an inexperienced characters who grow across the game. [15]

Vaan's design in Tactics A2 was influenced by Final Fantasy XII character Balthier. Vaantacticsa2.png
Vaan's design in Tactics A2 was influenced by Final Fantasy XII character Balthier.

Motomu Toriyama, the writer and director of Final Fantasy XII: Revenant Wings , picked Vaan as his favourite character in the game. [16] In the making of the high-definition of Final Fantasy XII, the staff reflected on how "weak" and unreliable he was in the original game. However, they jokingly discussed together that ten years later, he could become more appealing than Balthier, a character Square found appealing. [17] Wanting characters who could appeal to long-term fans and new fans, the team incorporated Vaan and Penelo in Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift . [18] Vaan's appearance, which was supposed to mirror that of Balthier, was suggested by Hiroaki Kato. [19] In Dissidia, he is featured in his Final Fantasy XII design, while alternative ones depict him as in Final Fantasy Tactics A2: Grimoire of the Rift, a new one by Yoshitaka Amano and another one featuring him as sea pirate by Akihiko Yoshida. [20] [21] [22] Another Final Fantasy XII centered-title, only known as Fortress, was in plans by Square Enix but was cancelled; in this video game, Vaan would remain with Penelo and live quiet lives due to the plot being more focused on other characters from the previous games, most notably Asche, Larsa and Basch. [23]

Vaan was voiced in Final Fantasy XII by Bobby Edner in English and by Kouhei Takeda in Japanese. With the casting of Takeda for the voice acting and motion capture, Vaan became a little less feminine and more "active, upbeat bright and positive" than planned. [13] [24] In the making of the English version, some lines involving Vaan had to changed for its release but without the loss of the real information. [25] When asked how he compares to other Final Fantasy protagonists, Hideo Minaba stated that due in part to being designed by a different character designer than before, he did not feel he could be compared to any other Final Fantasy character. [24] Vaan's inclusion in Dissidia 012 met difficulties due to the fact Takeda was busy with other works to voice him. However, following a Japanese popularity survey, the staff in charge hired Kenshō Ono to replace Takeda as fans wanted him to appear in Dissidia 012. [26]


The similarities between the design of Vaan and Tetsuya Nomura's have been criticized, which artist Akihiko Yoshida noted was likely due to the similar colours used. [27] In the book Final Fantasy and Philosophy: The Ultimate Walkthrough, he is described by Greg Littmann as a pick pocket and, unlike many of Final Fantasy's protagonists, lacking in a "sense of honesty and justice". [28] GameSpot editor Greg Kasavin described Vaan as the "token androgynous male lead", also describing him as an "Aladdin-type". [29] G4 TV editor Greg Orlando described him as "eminently likable" due to the game's focus on "political intrigue" and Vaan trying to understand it all. [30] Cyril Lachel of stated that while he was not a fan of Vaan, he was surprised by how his story turned out. [31] editor Andrew Pfister stated that while everyone was expecting to hate what he describes as an "angsty teen", this is "tempered by the presence of Balthier and Basch", two fellow characters. [32] Kotaku's Jason Schreir considered Vaan and Penelo the game's weak points as they compared them with other characters such as Balthier and Asche whose actions were "interesting". [33] Christian Nutt of GamesRadar made fun of the character in an article about the best Final Fantasy heroes stating that Vaan would definitely not be included. [34] Meanwhile, US Gamer simply described him as a stereotypical character often seen in anime series aimed at young people. [35] Jason Schreier, another Kotaku writer, went harsher, to the point of making a podcast titled "Vaan Really Sucks" as he and his partner interacted about video games. [36]

Edner's English voice acting of Vaan was met with positive response. Bobby Edner Paparazzo cropped.jpg
Edner's English voice acting of Vaan was met with positive response.

His lessened involvement with the plot compared to protagonists from preceding Final Fantasy titles was met with mixed reception. Destructoid editor Aaron Linde described him as "arguably the most uninspiring character in the game". [37] editor Andrew Macarthy described Vaan as an "undescribing figure". [38] Eurogamer editor Rob Fahey stated that while "players may initially be somewhat dismayed to find themselves largely following around the cheerful prettyboy Vaan", the game introduces new characters who "fill out the cast superbly". [39] PSX Extreme editor Cavin Smith commented that due to the game not focusing on just one character, Vaan "spends the entire game as an observer of the events unfolding in front of him", adding that it is a "far different take on the protagonist compared to Nomura's egocentric tendencies". [40] Daily Collegian was harsher to the point of listing him as one of the most useless characters in the franchise due to his lack of appeal most notably in comparison to the party members from his game. [41] PALGN editor Phil Larsen called him a "rogue-ish bad boy with a heart of gold", adding that "while this may seem clichéd at first, Vaan is always presented as extremely young and never tries to control every situation", citing Tidus as an example of someone who does. [42] Worthplaying editor Agustin described the set-up as being "Dragon Quest-like", and that while he acts as a vehicle for players to view the plot through, he compared him to critically acclaimed characters Crono and Link from the Chrono Trigger and The Legend of Zelda series respectively. [7]

Bobby Edner's portrayal of Vaan has been met with mostly positive reception. Cavin Smith praised his acting, stating that he sounds like an actual teenager without sounding whiny. [40] Agustin praised the developers for giving Vaan a voice actor, commenting that it prevents any awkward silences from a silent protagonist. He added however that Vaan is "decidedly quiet", owing to many of the conversations not requiring his input, which Agustin called a "brilliant interactive storytelling device". [7] His design change from Final Fantasy XII to Revenant Wings was criticized by RPGFan editor Patrick Gann, for going from a teenage design to what appears to be the design of a 10-year-old Vaan. [43]

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