Kuja (クジャ, Kuja) is the primary antagonist of Final Fantasy IX. A Genome manufactured to provoke war between humans, he operates behind the scenes for much of the game, working under Queen Brahne's ample shadow. However, he ultimately wishes to acquire the power of the Eidolons so that he may overthrow his creator Garland and rule Terra. After he learns of his mortality, Kuja's goal becomes the eradication of life, believing it to be "unfair" that the world should one day exist without him.
Appearance and Personality
Kuja has distinct silver-lavender hair that falls just beyond his shoulders, about halfway down his back. In his hair he wears a large feather of the same color, and certain strands stick up along with it. He has narrow light-blue eyes and is of medium height, light build, with a pale complexion. He has white sleeves, with a violet guard around his shoulders. Kuja has a white robe he wears on the back of his legs that extends to his ankles. The robe is held up by four straps that act as a codpiece. His pants are a deeper purple than his shoulder-guards and his shoes are black with golden buckles.
Personality-wise, Kuja is somewhat different from many previous Final Fantasy villains: Kuja introduces poetic elegance to the antagonist role and his speech patterns are highly metaphorical and somewhat jovial; he refers to Garnet as a "canary," and Brahne as "the elephant-lady," for example. His refined nature stands in stark contrast to his role as a sadistic war-bringer. This juxtaposition is characteristic of villains in fiction, particularly the evil genius archetype. Like other Final Fantasy antagonists such as Sephiroth and Ultimecia, he has a narcissistic and sophisticated personality, in contrast to Zidane's humility, friendliness and more relaxed nature. One of the few things he does share with a few other Final Fantasy villains is his seeming love of luxury, as evidenced by the Desert Palace.
Like any of the other villains in the series, Kuja has an ego to match his power. He lets his pride rule his head. While he could have killed Zidane prior to the game, he chose to let him live so he could prove himself superior to him. After discovering his destiny as a mortal, Kuja goes utterly insane. His former cultured personality is altered into insanity, and Kuja reiterates several times that he believes life should not be allowed to continue without him. After Zidane finds him in the bowels of the Iifa Tree at the end of the game, Kuja is seemingly repentant. He tells Zidane to leave him behind and escape, and mentions he is happy Zidane's friends managed to escape safely.
As a Genome, Kuja has a tail like Zidane's. However, in denial of his origins, he conceals it. It is revealed when he enters Trance.
As one would expect of the game's primary villain, Kuja is shown to be an exceptional mage. He can create Black Mages from mist using machinery and magic, and even with no outside help can summon Mistodons. He is capable of controlling monsters as well, and is shown to control an army of Silver Dragons led by the Nova Dragon, as well as the monster Deathguise that attacks Zidane's party in the Crystal World. Kuja is also largely immune to injury - even the Dragon King Bahamut's attack only barely succeeds in drawing blood from him. It is also shown that even when not in Trance, Kuja is capable of casting the extremely powerful Flare Star. This makes him one of the most powerful, if not the most powerful, Black Magic practitioners in FFIX, even before he gained the ultimate power of Trance.
After entering Trance, Kuja's power increases exponentially. He knows the strongest spells of the game including Curaga, Meteor, Holy and Flare, and his strongest spell Flare Star is potentially lethal to the entire party. He is able to completely destroy Terra with Ultima, and even defeats the party with it. When Kuja casts Ultima against the party, no damage is displayed as being taken but the battle instantly ends, so it is physically impossible to survive the spell.
In Hindi, "kuj" or "kuja" means "born of the earth", symbolizing Kuja's birth on Terra ("terra" is Latin for earth). In Hindu cosmogony Kuja is the name of the planet Mars, which is also the name of the Roman God of War. This reflects Kuja's role to cause war and destruction on Gaia. Mars is known as the red planet, fitting with Terra being shown as a red planet to contrast Gaia's blue.
Kuja's name may also be derived from the Japanese word kujaku, which means "peacock", an animal befitting of Kuja's flamboyant and vain nature.
- The poem Kuja recites at the beginning of his Shade Impulse scene with Zidane is the exact same poem he states just before Bahamut attacks Alexandria in Final Fantasy IX. Zidane's offer to assist Kuja mirrors Kuja's final moments in Final Fantasy IX.
- If a character other than Zidane faces Kuja in Shade Impulse, Kuja says, "I have nothing left to fear! But I refuse to die alone... You will all join me!" This paraphrases Kuja's dialogue when defeated as Trance Kuja inFinal Fantasy IX, "I won't have to be afraid anymore... but I'm not gonna die alone. You're all coming with me!"
- As with Zidane, two planets can be seen fusing during Kuja's EX Burst, alluding to Terra assimilating Gaia. However, opposite to Zidane, it is the red planet Terra that emerges as the dominant planet in the fusion.
- Kuja's Bravery attacks are themed after the spells Holy and Flare, spells he is able to cast as Trance Kuja. His HP attacks are attacks he uses in Final Fantasy IX - Seraphic Star's appearance of a burst of white energy is based on the appearance of the Holy spell in Final Fantasy IX (in fact, Seraphic Star is even named "Holy Star" in the Japanese version), Flare Star is one of Kuja's signature attacks, and Ultima is the spell Trance Kuja uses when defeated.
- Kuja's ultimate weapon, Terra's Legacy, refers to his home planet in Final Fantasy IX. His second strongest weapon, Whale Whisker, is the name of the strongest rod that can be used by Princess Garnet. Kuja's third weapon, the Punisher, curiously is taken from Final Fantasy VI, and is a rod used by Banon.
- Kuja's pose when ending his EX Burst is similar to the pose he takes in Final Fantasy IX when he destroys Terra.
- In his Victory Pose, Kuja floats to the ground in a pose identical to his original artwork by Yoshitaka Amano, then assumes a pose identical to his Dissidia artwork.
- At the beginning of Dissidia's Destiny Odyssey IX, Ultimecia goads Kuja by saying he is "no more than a vessel, a flawed one at that", and Kuja's response is to accuse her of lying. This roughly parallels Kuja's conversation with Garland in Final Fantasy IX, where Garland tells Kuja he is a mortal and Kuja refuses to believe him at first.
- In Dissidia 012's Light to All, when Garland tells Kuja about his fake memories, Kuja recites "The weak are robbed of their freedom from the strong. And it's only natural that the victor always prevails", paraphrasing his line in Final Fantasy IX, "The weak lose their freedom to the strong. Such is the way of the strong. And it is the providence of nature that only the strong survive".
- If fighting as Kuja against Garland, the latter will remark, "I sense you are haunted by your fate". This is a reference to the end of Disc Three of Final Fantasy IX, in which Kuja learns of his mortality and is driven into an insane rage.
- In Dissidia 012, if fighting as Kuja against Shantotto, the latter will remark "You hide your tail, but I still see you quail". This may allude to the conversation between Zidane and Garland in Final Fantasy IX, where Garland explains that Kuja, like Zidane, has a tail but only hides it.
- In Destiny Odyssey 5 Kuja beginning to fight with Garland could be a reference to Kuja's plans to fight Garland but was unable.
- When Kuja faces Yuna, he says "I'll rip you away from your dear friends". This alludes to when he had Zorn and Thorn extract the Eidolons from Garnet.
- Kuja is the only character that can Glide without being in EX Mode.
- In Dissidia, Kuja is the only villain to use White Magic spells, namely the prominent use of Holy. In Duodecimhowever, Terra who is a warrior of Chaos, can use Holy.
- Kuja is one of three characters, the others being Zidane and the Warrior of Light, to have more than one intro quote when fighting his rival in Dissidia.
- Kuja is one of only three Warriors of Chaos whose "deaths" in Shade Impulse have them fading away in something other than darkness, a blue light, the other being Sephiroth (who fades in a gold light) and technically Jecht (as he fades into Pyreflies).
- Kuja is the only character in Dissidia 012 who has a recolor for his second alternate outfit.
- Curiously, Kuja's icon in the character selection screen in Dissidia 012 features him with his alternate outfit.