Tetsuya Nomura

Profile photo of Tetsuya Nomura.

Tetsuya Nomura (野村 哲也, Nomura Tetsuya, born October 8, 1970 in Kōchi, Japan) is the director, concept designer, character designer, and base story writer of the Kingdom Hearts series. He also works as a game and character designer for the Final Fantasy series.

Work for Squaresoft/Square Enix

Nomura's first job with Square was as a debugger for Final Fantasy IV, back in 1990. He then went on to become a battle graphics designer for Final Fantasy V, the graphic director for Final Fantasy VI, and character designer for Final Fantasy VII, Parasite Eve, Final Fantasy VIII (in which he was also the battle visuals director), Final Fantasy X, Final Fantasy X-2, Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIII. He also directed the CGI sequel to Final Fantasy VII, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, was a character designer for The World Ends with You together with Gen Kobayashi, and is a director for the Kingdom Hearts series.

Currently, Nomura is working as the director, game concept designer, character designer, and base story writer for Final Fantasy XV (formerly known as Final Fantasy Versus XIII) and the next installment of the Kingdom Hearts series, Kingdom Hearts III.

Work on Kingdom Hearts

Game First released System name
Kingdom Hearts 2002 PlayStation 2
Kingdom Hearts Final Mix 2002 PlayStation 2
Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories 2004 Game Boy Advance
Kingdom Hearts II 2005 PlayStation 2
Kingdom Hearts II Final Mix 2007 PlayStation 2
Kingdom Hearts Re:Chain of Memories 2007 PlayStation 2
Kingdom Hearts coded 2008 Mobile Phones
Kingdom Hearts 358/2 Days 2009 Nintendo DS
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep 2010 PlayStation Portable
Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix 2011 PlayStation Portable
Kingdom Hearts Re:coded 2010 Nintendo DS
Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance 2012 Nintendo 3DS
Kingdom Hearts 1.5 HD Remix 2013 Playstation 3
Kingdom Hearts HD 2.5 ReMIX 2014 Playstation 3


Kairi, Riku and Sora- Concept (Art) KH

Early sketch of Riku, Sora, and Kairi.

Compared to other character designers, Tetsuya Nomura's Final Fantasy games tend to be more "modern" and "sci-fi" than the first installments in the Final Fantasy games set in medieval worlds. Nomura's games in particular also tend to have storylines that are darker in tone. In addition, his character names tend to draw inspiration from physical science and weather, in particular, the sky, land, and sea; the central character almost always has the sky-based name.

Tetsuya Nomura's style is similar to the traditional anime style of drawing, but he also draws upon western influences. Many of Nomura's character designs for games such as Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts have been criticized for the overuse of belts and zippers, as well as for many of the male characters having androgynous appearances, and that many of his female characters are shown to be wearing revealing outfits; it has become a joke amongst fans to lightly tease Nomura's designs for these characteristics. Nomura's designs became much more "normal" in comparison to before the work on Kingdom Hearts II was finished. More recent designs from him, such as Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII or Aqua from Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep, do not show any excessive use of belts or zippers, but focus on creative accessories like ribbons or individually designed jackets. Sora's Kingdom Hearts III outfit takes this more contemporary design choice to a higher level, with hardly any zippers in favor of a number of pockets and pairs of buttons.

Although Nomura's art style was slowly losing its anime influences, this all changed in Nomura's participation in Kingdom Hearts; due to the immense amount of western influences from the Disney characters in Kingdom Hearts, Nomura adopted a more anime/cartoon look for his characters, and this style has been later reused in subsequent Kingdom Hearts installments. For Nomura's recent artworks for Kingdom Hearts, the characters' anatomy is relatively unchanged, but the eyes of the younger characters look much more innocent than before, and for male characters, extremities such as hands and feet are exaggerated in size to create a style that blends more smoothly with that of the Disney worlds. Nomura has carried over his Final Fantasy coloring style to the Kingdom Hearts franchise.

Nomura's style has been defined by the vibrant colors as well as the unique amalgamation of eastern and western influences. His work has become well-known due to Final Fantasy, and his style of artwork has been loved and criticized by many, mostly by veteran Final Fantasy fans, due to the big departure from the traditional Japanese style of Yoshitaka Amano, who was responsible for the earlier Final Fantasy titles.


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