Professor Hojo (宝条, Hōjō) is a non-player character in Final Fantasy VII, and also makes several appearances in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII. He is the head of Shinra's Science Research Division at the time of Final Fantasy VII, and an archetypal mad scientist. Hojo's research is directly or indirectly responsible for every major disaster during the whole of Final Fantasy VII and its sequels. Perhaps the most direct example of this is his son, Sephiroth, the game's main antagonist, whom Hojo used as a test subject. Hojo, not surprisingly, regards the subjects of his experiments as mere specimens. This is often done in spite of the fact that they are almost always human or otherwise sentient. This utilitarian attitude extends to all of his research, as Hojo will often undertake radical experiments without any regard for ethics or the potential consequences.
Hojo is a slender middle-aged man with long black hair that he wears pulled back in a ponytail, and prominent bangs. He is always seen wearing small round glasses and a white lab coat, and he has a distinctive hunched, shuffling walk. His voice actor in English is Paul Eiding, who gives Hojo a character-fitting high-pitched, nasal voice. Hojo is played by Nachi Nozawa in Japanese.
Hojo's full name is never disclosed, although, since "Hojo" is an actual Japanese surname, it is likely that "Hojo" is his family name rather than given name. However, Gast Faremis is referred to as "Professor Gast", so Hojo may be his first name. Either way, the individual kanji used mean "a treasure" and "logic," respectively. This is indicative of the importance that he places upon his work. Ironically, a possible meaning of "Hojo" is "help" or "aid."
Approximately thirty years prior to the start of the game, the top Shinra researcher, Professor Gast, discovered Jenova, a destructive alien, buried in the Northern Crater. He mistakenly believed Jenova to be a Cetra, a member of a mystical ancient race that inhabited the Planet before present day humanity. Dr. Hollander, Hojo and another Shinra scientist named Lucrecia Crescent were assigned to work on the Jenova Project under Professor Gast. The ultimate goal of this project was to "create humans with the powers of the Ancients." It was believed that this goal could have been realized by testing the effects of Jenova cells on an unborn child.
Around this same time, Lucrecia became the romantic interest of Vincent Valentine, then a member of the Turks. However, due to her guilt over causing the death of his father, she rejected him and entered into a relationship with Hojo. Lucrecia became pregnant, and she and Hojo chose to offer up their unborn child to the Jenova Project. Thus, Hojo injected Lucrecia with Jenova cells during the pregnancy. Vincent objected to these experiments because he felt that humans should not be experimented on. Vincent and Hojo quarreled over the situation of experimenting on Lucrecia's child, which ended up with Hojo shooting Vincent. He then performed experiments on Vincent's body before leaving him sealed in a coffin in the basement of the Shinra Mansion in Nibelheim.
The child that would come as a result of the Jenova Project was Sephiroth. At some undisclosed point in time, Gast abandoned his research due to a guilty conscience, and Hojo was placed in charge of Shinra's Science Research Division and all experiments involving Jenova. His increasingly immoral experiments, first at Nibelheim, and, later, at the Shinra Building, involved the use of more unwilling test subjects than just Vincent, including Cloud Strife, Zack Fair, and Red XIII. Much of this later research involved the effects of Jenova's cells, leading to the development of Sephiroth "Copies" (not to be confused with genetic duplicates; the term merely indicates that experiments were conducted on them similar to those conducted on Sephiroth).
Shinra raised Sephiroth to be the ultimate soldier, Lucrecia never getting the chance to so much as hold him. He grew extremely powerful, both physically and magically, and became a hero in the war against Wutai. Sephiroth was told only that his mother was named "Jenova," and although he knew both Hojo and Gast, he was never told that Hojo was his father. Ironically, Sephiroth had a very low opinion of Hojo; he described Hojo as "inexperienced" and a "walking mass of complexes," whereas he referred to Gast as "a great scientist."
Around the same time as Lucrecia's pregnancy, Shinra managed to find an actual Cetra, a woman named Ifalna. Although Shinra intended to use her for research and experimentation, hoping to use her to find the fabled Promised Land, Professor Gast fell in love with Ifalna, and learned from her that Jenova was not truly a Cetra. This is believed to be related to Gast's departure from the Jenova Project, and together with Ifalna, he deserted Shinra and fled to Icicle Inn on the northern continent. Here, Gast would, indeed, research Ifalna, but in a manner that was to her comfort and took consideration of her feelings as a human being. The two eventually had a daughter named "Aeris." This was actually exactly what Hojo had been waiting for. 20 days after Aeris's birth, he led a small team of Shinra operatives to their home. Hojo's entourage shot and killed Gast when he resisted, and Ifalna and Aeris were captured. The mother and daughter, the last two Cetra, would spend seven years in captivity in the Shinra HQ in Midgar before escaping to the slums, where Ifalna died from wounds sustained in their escape, entrusting Aeris's care to Elmyra Gainsborough before her death.
Hojo also plays a role in the events of Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- by indirectly fuelling Fuhito's ambition. Hojo had implanted the mysterious Zirconiade Materia within Elfé, the leader of AVALANCHE. Her traitorous subordinate, Fuhito, planned to use Zirconiade to summon the Jade WEAPON.
Hojo first appears in the Training Room of the Shinra Biulding prior to first the attack by the Genesis Army. He tests some programmes he created himself, aiming to prove his genius by having Zack defeated (and perhaps killed). When Zack survives, Hojo tells him they will in future have a special relationship. During his visit, the scientists normally stationed there show their fear and disgust of Hojo.
When Genesis Rhapsodos rebelled against Shinra during the events of Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII-, he attempted to kill Hojo on behalf of Dr. Hollander. However, Zack Fair and Angeal Hewley intervened. Hojo mocked Genesis, and told him that Hollander wouldn't be able to halt his deterioration, referring to him as a "second-rate hack, who couldn't even cure a cold." During the encounter, Hojo demonstrated an understanding, if also a dislike, of LOVELESS - which he calls "pure drivel" - remarking that the end of the story had never been found.
Five years prior to the start of Final Fantasy VII, Sephiroth led a Shinra team on a mission to investigate a malfunction of the Nibelheim Mako Reactor. The mission was a disaster, resulting in Sephiroth learning of the inhumane experiments tied to his birth, but not the full details of said experiments. The misleading research notes he discovered in the Shinra Mansion led him to believe that he was produced from Jenova's cellular material and that Jenova was an Ancient, and left no details of the truth. Sephiroth went insane with rage, believing himself to be the last Cetra, and that the ancestors of the common people had abandoned his own to die in the defense of the Planet. He slaughtered the village of Nibelheim. Sephiroth then attempted to steal the body of Jenova from its enclosure in the Mt. Nibel Mako Reactor. Battles with SOLDIER 1st Class Zack and a regular Shinra private, Cloud Strife—both of whom had been dispatched to serve as Sephiroth's escort—ensued, and Sephiroth was presumed to have been killed by Cloud, a feat that was considered unimaginable for a regular human being. This highly caught the interest of Hojo.
In continuation of his research into Jenova, Hojo began a project to create what he called "Sephiroth Clones", so named because of the similarities between the experiments that he conducted on his new subjects and those that were conducted on Sephiroth. The "specimens" for this experiment were the survivors of Sephiroth's massacre in Nibelheim, and Cloud and Zack were among these new subjects. Despite the title he gave to his newest subjects, Hojo did not intend to create a new breed of super soldiers with these individuals. His intention was, rather, to test the validity of his Jenova Reunion Theory, which stated that if Jenova's cells were divided, they would instinctively seek to become whole again. To test this, he injected Jenova cells into his Sephiroth clones and infused them with mako. The mako was intended to lower the self-awareness of the subjects to the point that the instinctual drive of the Jenova cells to reunite would take over their minds and cause them all to gather in one place, an event that would be called "the Reunion."
Hojo placed numbered tattoos on the hands of each of his successful Sephiroth copies, though Zack--later revealed to be a failure of the experiment, due to his strong will preventing the mako within him from causing him to lose his own self-identity, which in turn prevented the Jenova cells from taking effect, would break himself and Cloud out of the Shinra Mansion some four years after their captivity began. Cloud, to the opposite extreme, was considered a failure because his self-awareness was lowered to the point where he could no longer function, so he could not confirm Hojo's Jenova Reunion theory. Thusly, neither Zack nor Cloud would have a mark on them branding them per se as Sephiroth Clones. This event would change the course of the future of Hojo's research, and that of the world at large.
Hojo first appears when the protagonists infiltrate the Shinra headquarters in Midgar in an attempt to rescue Aeris, who had been kidnapped by the Turks. They find her in Hojo's laboratory, where Hojo had placed her in an enclosure with Red XIII, intending to breed them. However, the party managed to free both Aeris and Red XIII from Hojo's lab.
This scene is considered puzzling by many. Although little is known about the biology of the Final Fantasy VII world, Aeris and Red XIII were of completely different species, and it would seem unlikely that they would be genetically compatible enough to produce offspring. However, despite Hojo's madness, he was also a dedicated, intelligent researcher, and he believed that such offspring could be produced. He even tells his fellow Shinra officials of his plans to breed Aeris, leaving little room for doubt that such a crossing of species would be unable to produce offspring.
Although, since Hojo's experiments seem to be primarily genetics-related, he may have intended on artificially breeding the two, through genetic manipulation.
The party encounters Hojo again at Costa del Sol during his brief period of retirement from Shinra. Here they find him relaxing on the beach, surrounded by beautiful women. He taunts and insults the heroes before their departure, and later appears at the Northern Crater, having returned to Shinra at an undisclosed point in time. There he incorrectly calls Cloud a "failed experiment," misled by Cloud's lack of a tattoo and by Cloud's own claim of being failure, he having been mislead himself by Sephiroth. This insult is the last in a series of traumas that finally prompts Cloud to have a severe mental breakdown, during which time he willingly hands over the Black Materia to Sephiroth, all according to Sephiroth's plan of emotional and psychological revenge upon Cloud for hurting his pride five years earlier when they fought.
Finally, near the end of the game, the party finds Hojo in Midgar once again. He reveals to them that he is Sephiroth's father, putting Vincent's uncertainty to rest, and that he is planning to use Shinra's Mako Cannon to give his son the energy of the Planet, as he desired. This was due to Hojo's own obsessive desire to see his research develop to its ultimate end. Hojo further reveals that he had injected himself with Jenova cells (Obviously far more than used to create a SOLDIER), and then attacks the party. As the Jenova cells take effect, he transforms into a deformed monstrosity during the battle. However, the protagonists manage to kill him.
The Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega Guide featured a novella called Maiden who Travels the Planet, written by Studio BentStuff's Benny Matsuyama. In Maiden, it is revealed that Hojo's soul was unable to properly diffuse through the Lifestream as in accordance with the natural order, and he allowed himself to be assimilated into Sephiroth's body to grant his son more power and allow himself the opportunity to witness the ultimate results of his experimentation as a part of it.
Hojo is fought as a boss at the end of the second disc in Final Fantasy VII. Though he has many forms in this fight, only one resembles him as a human as the others look like mutated monsters.
In the prologue to Dirge of Cerberus, when Vincent Valentine and Yuffie Kisaragi are evacuating Midgar, Vincent detects a faint life sign coming from the tower console where the party had previously defeated Hojo. Rushing over to the area, he discovers Hojo's corpse sitting at the console, which is still operational, showing "Start Fragment Program".
Three years later, he makes something of a return during the Deepground Crisis, though it is a computer-simulated copy of his personality that possesses Deepground Soldier commander Weiss the Immaculate, and not Hojo himself.
It is revealed that Hojo had imprinted a copy of himself into the Worldwide Network just prior to his death. Afterward, the network, and, consequently, Hojo, were fragmented during Meteorfall. Three years later, when the network went back online, Hojo had his own reunion when Weiss was performing an SND, implanting his consciousness into the Tsviets leader. Hojo attempted to use Weiss, Deepground, and the Protomateria to activate Omega, the final WEAPON that would transplant the Lifestream into space. This scheme was thwarted, not only by Vincent, but by the Tsviet Nero, Weiss's younger brother. Nero, never wanting to be separated from his brother, merged with Weiss, seemingly destroying all traces of Hojo.
|Rod (Male) - Revolver (Female) - Revolver (Male) - Shotgun (Female) - Martial Arts (Male) - Martial Arts (Female) - Katana (Male) - Shuriken (Female) - Nunchaku (Male) - Knife (Female) - Legend (Male)|
|President Shinra - Rufus Shinra - Heidegger - Scarlet - Professor Hojo - Reeve Tuesti - Veld - Tseng - Reno - Rude - Sephiroth - Zack Fair - Essai and Sebastian - Cloud Strife - Professor Rayleigh|
|Elfé - Shears - Fuhito - Chelsea - Shalua Rui|
|Aerith Gainsborough - Azul - Barret Wallace - Bugenhagen - Cait Sith - Cid Highwind - Deneh - Elena - King - Red XIII - Tifa Lockhart - Vincent Valentine - Yuffie Kisaragi|
|Midgar - Sector 8 - Sector 5 - Shinra Headquarters - Junon - Costa del Sol - Nibelheim - Rocket Town - Corel - Kalm - Wutai - Icicle Inn - Gongaga Village|
|AVALANCHE - Jade WEAPON - Lifestream - Materia - Rank Points - Ravens - Shinra Electric Power Company - Sister Ray - SOLDIER - Turks - Zirconiade|
|Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- & Last Order -Final Fantasy VII- OST|
|Armor - Characters - Enemies - Items - Locations - Translations - Wallpapers - Weapons|
|Sephiroth - Genesis Rhapsodos - Angeal Hewley - Lazard Deusericus - Luxiere - Kunsel - Nero the Sable - Weiss the Immaculate|
|Tseng - Cissnei - Reno - Rude|
|Aerith Gainsborough - Cloud Strife - Cloud's Mother - Professor Hojo - Dr. Hollander - Gillian Hewley - Minerva - Tifa Lockhart - Yuffie Kisaragi|
|Midgar - Shinra Headquarters - Wutai - Fort Tamblin - Banora Village - Sector 8 - Sector 1 - Sector 5 Reactor - Sector 5 - Modeoheim - Costa del Sol - Junon - Nibelheim - Mt. Nibel - Gongaga Village - Banora Underground - Chocobo Farm|
|Angeal Copy - Banora White - Cellphone - Crescent Unit - Digital Mind Wave - Genesis Copy - Gift of the Goddess - Jenova Project - LOVELESS - Makonoid - Materia Fusion - Nibelheim Incident - Shinra Electric Power Company - Sister Ray - SOLDIER - Soldier Points - Turks - Wutai War|
|Accessories - Characters - Enemies - Enemy Abilities - Items - Locations - Mail - Materia - Missions - Shops - Wallpapers - Walkthroughs|
|Cloud Strife - Barret Wallace - Tifa Lockhart - Aeris Gainsborough - Red XIII - Cait Sith - Cid Highwind - Vincent Valentine - Yuffie Kisaragi|
|Temporary Playable Characters|
|Rufus Shinra - President Shinra - Professor Hojo - Tseng - Reno - Rude - Elena - Heidegger - Scarlet - Palmer - Reeve Tuesti - Gast Faremis - Lucrecia Crescent - Mayor Domino - Zack Fair|
|Elder Bugah - Bugenhagen - Big Bro - Biggs - Chole - Choco Billy - Chocobo Sage - Cloud's Mother - Mr. Coates - Dio - Don Corneo - Dyne - Eleanor - Elmyra Gainsborough - Ester - Godo Kisaragi - Elder Hargo - Deputy Mayor Hart - Mr. Holzoff - Ifalna - Jenova - Jessie - Joe - Johnny - Kalm Traveler - Marlene Wallace - Mukki - Myrna - Priscilla - Seto - Shera - Teioh - Wedge - Zangan|
|Locations on the Planet|
|Midgar - Sector 1 Reactor - Sector 8 - Sector 7 - 7th Heaven - Sector 5 - Sector 5 Reactor - Sector 5 Church - Sector 6 - Wall Market - Train Graveyard - Shinra Headquarters - Kalm - Chocobo Farm - Mythril Mines - Fort Condor - Junon - Junon Underwater Reactor|
|Costa del Sol - Mt. Corel - North Corel - Gold Saucer - Wonder Square - Battle Square - Corel Prison - Gongaga - Cosmo Canyon - Cave of the Gi - Nibelheim - Mt. Nibel - Rocket Town - Ancient Forest - Crystal Cave|
|Bone Village - Sleeping Forest - Forgotten Capital - Icicle Inn - Great Glacier - Gaea's Cliff - Whirlwind Maze - Northern Crater - Chocobo Sage's House|
|Cargo Ship - Wutai - Temple of the Ancients - Mideel - Cloud's Subconscious - Materia Caves - Goblin Island - Cactus Island - Round Island - Sunken Gelnika|
|Humans - Red XIII's Species - Cetra|
|AVALANCHE - Black Materia - Buster Sword - Chaos - Condor - Date Mechanics - Gi Tribe - Hardy-Daytona - Holy - Huge Materia - Jenova Project - Keystone - Leviathan Scales - Lifestream - Lunar Harp - Mako - Mako Reactors - Makonoid - Materia - Meteor - Nibelheim Incident - PHS - Promised Land - Shinra Electric Power Company - Siege of Fort Condor - Sister Ray - SOLDIER - Sephiroth Clones - Turks - Weapon - Wutai War - White Materia|
|Highwind - Buggy - Cargo Ship - Chocobo - Motorcycle - Submarine - Tiny Bronco - Shinra No. 26|
|Original Soundtrack - Reunion Tracks - Piano Collections
|Accessories - Armor - Demo - Enemies - Enemy Abilities - Items - Materia - Timeline - Walkthroughs - Wallpapers - Weapons|
|Temporarily Playable Character|
|Multiplayer Mode Player Character|
|Argento - Azul the Cerulean - Nero the Sable - Rosso the Crimson - Shelke the Transparent - Weiss the Immaculate|
|Reeve Tuesti - Yuffie Kisaragi - Shalua Rui - Cid Highwind - Cloud Strife - Tifa Lockhart - Barret Wallace - Professor Hojo - Lucrecia Crescent - Grimoire Valentine - Restrictors - Sephiroth - Usher - Este-D - Officer-East - G|
|Kalm - Edge - WRO Headquarters - Nibelheim - Midgar - Shinra Headquarters - Sector 0 - Crystal Cave|
|Battle of Midgar - Chaos - Deepground - G Report - Lifestream - Materia - Protomateria - Shinra Electric Power Company - SOLDIER - The Shera - Tsviets - Omega - Omega Report - World Regenesis Organization - Worldwide Network - Synaptic Net Dive|
|Original Soundtrack - Redemption - Multiplayer Mode Original Sound Collections
|Characters - Enemies - Enemy Abilities - G Reports - Gun Customization - Items - Locations - Omega Reports - Wallpapers - Walkthroughs|