… and also double check your Final Fantasy VII knowledge.
Warning: image-heavy post ahoy! Minor Final Fantasy VII-related spoilers ahead!
Final Fantasy VII Series Special Book (with tote bag)
FINAL FANTASY VII シリーズ スペシャルブック<トートバッグ付き> (Final Fantasy VII Series Special Book <tote bag tsuki>)
Release Date: January 31, 2020
To hype up Final Fantasy VII Remake, Square Enix Japan is releasing several books, journals, and the like. As the name of this set suggests, this package includes a book and tote bag to reflect on the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.
When the various Remake book/stationary media was announced, it was one of those, “Yeah, more Japan-only stuff…” moments. The only thing that fans may really want to see is Nojima’s short story prequel that’s in an upcoming magazine. But I was immediately drawn to this tote/book set. I mean, even from the promo images, it looked gorgeous! But when I first heard about it, I was worried it was maybe cell phone size because of the price. Somewhere I found the dimensions and then confirmed it was around normal size (345 by 380 mm, which is about 13 x 15 in). So even though it’s one of those things I’ll never use because it’s so pretty, I had to splurge on this set. Plus, a book!
… Well, more on that in a minute.
The box is about the size of many video game special editions, just very light. But I do like the image of Sephiroth, Zack, and Cloud. It’s an old piece from the Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania. Nomura really captured their personalities in a comedic/ironic sort of way: Sephiroth thinks he’s too good for this, Zack has that “heh heh” shounen anime action hero level of excitement, and Cloud is dazed and confused. If the rumors are true and Square Enix is planning on rereleasing Compilation games, I could see this sort of becoming the main art associated with it.
I didn’t realize until I opened it that the “special book” was not inside the box but was sitting on top of it. As you can see, it’s not a book; it’s a booklet. In the description, 冊子 can mean booklet, but considering the words “special book” are part of the title, I expected it to be more book-like. Even if you count the front cover as page 1 and the back cover as the last page, it’s only 16 pages long. Plus, the pages go by fast when, for instance, one whole page is just showing off the tote. I don’t need the frickin’ dimensions after I bought it, Square Enix!!
The booklet highlights the media from the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, including things like Last Order, G-Bike, and even the Final Fantasy VII PS3 tech demo. It’s is a little like the Ultimania artbooks with some screenshots, character portraits, key quotes, and game information (platform, battle system, etc.). The last page does include a few screenshots from Remake, but the timeline still lists Remake for March. All in all, it’s nice to look out, but it looks like a special spread from Famitsu magazine or the old Official PlayStation Magazine. Or I wouldn’t be surprised if everything is copied into a new Final Fantasy VII Ultimania — whether it’s Final Fantasy VII Remake Ultimania or perhaps an eventual Final Fantasy VII 25th Anniversary Ultimania. From looking at it, it seems to be like a movie trailer — even if some scenes and lines come from the end, you probably won’t grasp that until you actually view it yourself. But if you are going to jump into Final Fantasy VII for the first time in Remake, you probably weren’t interested in the tote anyway.
I just figured the tote was stuffed in the box. No, it’s folded neatly in plastic and in a custom cardboard tray. Downside is once I unfold something, it never goes back to being as nice as it was before… Also, stupidly, you cannot put the booklet inside this box. It’s the size of the box when it would have made more sense to put both tote and the book inside the box! Plus, I don’t know if the tote needed to be folded that much. Simple folds are best with a print like this because it looks wrinkled after being stored like this.
Anyway, again, it’s a good size tote. You can see my 17″ laptop underneath, so it definitely can be used to carry a good amount of stuff. The design is beautiful. From the West direction, it’s Buster Sword, Cerberus’ keychain, Turks’ guns, the SOLDIER mark in the bottom middle and Cloudy Wolf at the bottom. Self-explanatory except for maybe the guns. Maybe it would have been neater to have several Turks weapons instead of four guns. A Shuriken would have tied into Crisis Core. The SOLDIER mark also seems to kind of be floating in the middle of nowhere. What I couldn’t really capture with my camera is that it isn’t just a silver print; it’s a silver glittery print. It looks even sharper in person, but again, the tote needs to be flattened to truly show its beauty.
It’s a bit silly, but the tag made me laugh. Just a big VII on the front. On the back, just “Square Enix” and “Made in China”. Feels like a whole new fashion line. “And now, coming down the Paris runway, the latest from the hip VII collection. Look at that lovely sword motif. Perfect when you are trying to overthrow companies-turned-governments.”
As of this writing, Final Fantasy VII Series Special Book (with tote bag) has five reviews averaging two stars on Amazon Japan. That’s about how I would rate it because the title is misleading. The tote is very nice, but the “Special Book” is cheap. Most of the info is probably well-known to VII fans, at least those would like to carry a bag like this. The bag should have just been sold for like ¥1,500 and the booklet included in some other Compilation of Final Fantasy VII tribute. Or, you know, called this Final Fantasy VII Series Special Booklet, which would make it clear that it’s short. I wasn’t expecting you know a 100-page book or anything, but I did expect to at least see art of all the original game’s party members! Tote bag is very nice though, gotta admit, but if you’re only really interested in that, the price is a little too steep.