Does anyone else remember the GACKT era of video games?


Edited 4/15/2021, 7:49AM ET for clarity – I originally stated “Unfortunately, there’s a debate going on in the gaming community about why the popular character may not return for the FFVII Remake due to legal rights to his likeness.” This made it sound like the rumors that Square Enix may not be able to use Gackt again were true. They are just that – rumors.

It’s no secret that Final Fantasy is on my mind a lot, especially Final Fantasy VII. I experience a healthy amount of hype when the developers release anything about the game. Intergrade is around the corner, and I continue to speculate about what elements of past games will make it into the Remake’s following chapters. Recently, a stray thought about Crisis Core’s Genesis Rhapsodos sent me down a somewhat unrelated rabbit hole—the ‘Gackt Era.’

Genesis Rhapsodos first appeared in Final Fantasy VII: Dirge of Cerberus. Square Enix modeled the character after Gakuto Oshiro, better known by Gackt Camui (stylized GACKT). He is a musician, singer, actor, producer, among other things. Some JRPG and anime fans may remember the Visual Kei movement that went so well with Japanese Rock and Pop (J-Rock and J-Pop). Gackt was part of the visual kei subculture.

Gackt in Malice Mizer
Gackt (center) in Malice Mizer (band) – Credit: Nippon Columbia, Midi:Nette

Once he appeared in one video game, my awareness of his presence exploded. I heard the man’s music, saw fandoms in awe of him, and I assumed he was a household staple. 

The first game that Gackt appeared in

Bujingai - A Gackt Game
Bujingai – Credit: Red Entertainment, Taito

Gackt’s first appearance in a video game is 2003’s Bujingai: The Forsaken City for PS2 – released in the US in 2004. Bujingai is a hack n slash game that follows Lau Wong, a mythical swordsman. Though I played and loved the game, I had to look up the story to remember it. So, for total transparency, here is what a Wikipedia contributor had to say about the plot: 

“Set in the 23rd century, Bujingai begins 100 years after an accident involving an environmentally-friendly energy source annihilated 70 percent of the world’s population and all of its government. Those who survived found themselves with special abilities harnessed through the energies of the Earth itself, which they honed into a discipline of magic and swordplay. A mysterious and powerful human exile, Lau Wong, returns to the planet to battle his former friend and training partner Rei Jenron, who has been possessed by an evil spirit.”

Bejingai - A Gackt Game
Bujinga – Credit: Red Entertainment, Taito

What I do remember are the colorful visuals in the game. The game also took heavy inspiration from Wuxia films in Hong Kong. If you’re unfamiliar with the genre, think “Hero,” “Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon,” and “House of Flying Daggers.” As with any other action game in the early 2000s, I thought “it looks like Devil May Cry.” 

In any case, the main character of Lau is Gackt, down to the appearance and the voice. 

Gackt takes over Final Fantasy VII

After his appearance in Bujingai, Gackt released two songs called “Longing” and “Redemption.” It wasn’t enough that Dirge of Cerberus (2006) was a Final Fantasy VII game; They added Gackt’s music, too? SOLD! By the time I had the game, I only knew they would be featured in Dirge of Cerberus, not that he wrote them for the game. The artist’s influence over the title did not end with music, alone.

Genesis - Based on Gackt
Genesis Rhapsodos – Credit: Square Enix

Throughout Vincent Valentine’s outing in DoC, players may collect secret “G Reports.” Upon collecting all of them and beating the game, Genesis appears for the first time. As we all know now, Genesis is yet another character designed after and voiced by Gackt in Japan. However, in DoC, his live-action performance is transferred into the secret CGI ending. Square Enix designed Genesis’s costume for him to perform the ending. He went on to wear it for the “Redemption,” music video.

Gackt as Genesis
Gackt as Genesis

Producer Hideki Imaizumi and Gackt both worked on defining aspects of the character’s appearance for Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (2007). This is due to the fact that Square did not render Genesis for DoC’s secret ending. Oliver Quinn voiced the US version of Genesis while Gackt voiced the Japanese version. There’s a debate among fans about why Genesis may not return for the FFVII remake. There’s a rumor that Square Enix may not be able to use his likeness for the character again. It’s pure speculation with no official source, however.

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“That’s three games over four years. That’s not a lot.”

Those were the three games that I played. Considering how long my taste for Visual Kei lasted, I feel that the man invaded all facets of media longer than that. In truth, he did. Gackt has an extensive discography, many movies and tv roles (of which I’ve seen none), and voice acting roles for anime, mobile games, and console video games well into 2010.

It’s funny. All it took was slapping Gackt’s face on a video game to hype us up. I’m hoping I’m not the only gamer haunted by his presence. Whether or not I am, I must admit I do miss those days. 

Come back soon, Gackt! Preferably to the Final Fantasy VII Remake so my theory about the remake being a sequel can come true!