FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE: Yuffie takes the stageWell guys, your girl finally made it to the Square Enix Blog! Yuffie voice actor Suzie Yeung talks to us about finding new depth in her character, and the response from the fans.
Fans are excited about the introduction of Yuffie Kisaragi in FF7R EPISODE INTERmission - the new episode for FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE. Fortunately, the materia-loving ninja doesn’t disappoint.
That’s partly thanks to talented actor Suzie Yeung, whose winning performance imbues the youthful ninja with never-before seen depths. We recently had the chance to speak to Suzie about how she got into Yuffie’s skin - and what it’s like to inhabit such a beloved character.
Hi Suzie, So, in your own words, who is Yuffie?
Yuffie is… a big ball of energy.
She acts confident, but sometimes she's a little unsure of herself, so she puts on a brave face. But she also has no limitations - whether we’re talking about her abilities or her personality.
She’s a great foil to a lot of the more serious characters in FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE, but she’s also sensitive in a way we’ve never been able to see before in the series. So, yeah - I think she’s extremely multi-dimensional.
Was this your first foray into the world of FINAL FANTASY VII or were you already a fan?
You know, the first FINAL FANTASY game I ever played was FINAL FANTASY X, and through that I got interested in KINGDOM HEARTS, and saw ADVENT CHILDREN… so, I knew of it.
But it wasn't really until my friends played FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE that I really started to get invested into it.
Did you understand just how well-known and beloved the character of Yuffie was?
I actually didn’t know how popular Yuffie was and how much she’s loved by the FINAL FANTASY community. When I found out, I was super-nervous because I wasn’t sure what the reception would be - you never know you’re working on it.
But I also feel so blessed, so fortunate to be able to bring her to life for all the fans who know her.
And as a lead role no less!
It’s crazy! I don’t think I was expecting her to have her own story content where she gets so much spotlight on her.
In previous games like KINGDOM HEARTS and Dirge of Cerberus- FINAL FANTASY VII- she played a minor role, so this is the first time we really get to see her character fleshed out in this way.
Of course, you’re not the first actor to voice Yuffie. Did you look at previous portrayals for your own performance?
Well, I’d seen their work because I was exposed to KINGDOM HEARTS and watched FINAL FANTASY VII: ADVENT CHILDREN. So, I did know of them though the part in those games were relatively minor.
I mean, I did go in with a sense of: “yeah she’s really happy go lucky, really confident and kind of goofy.” So, I knew the basics, but I really wanted to have a new take on her - what I could bring to the table without any outside influence.
I think this take on Yuffie has a lot of depth - you definitely get the sense that for all her grandstanding there’s vulnerability underneath…
Exactly. In the original FINAL FANTASY VII, you only got to see one side of her, so we had to figure out how to display her other side without compromising that character. Because at her core, she’s still a very honest kid who doesn't hold back on anything and does what her heart tells her to do.
It was a little challenging to bring all those parts of her together, because we wanted to keep her realistic and relatable for players, while also honoring that ‘grand’ performance you’d expect.
I think it was definitely a balancing act, so I’m glad that the fans seem to like it (laughs).
How difficult was that balancing act? It seems like it would be easy to go a little too big with Yuffie…
Yeah, I think there was definitely potential for her to be a bit obnoxious, especially because her reactions tend to be quite big and anime-like. The fact that she isn’t is, I think, thanks to the writing. I heavily applaud the writers of the game for making the characters so likeable while also capturing the essence of their original personalities.
In terms of the performance, we had to dance around a little, and make sure that it was a little bit more grounded, a little more subtle to match with the original FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE. Cloud, Tifa, Barret and Aerith all had very grounded, believable performances, so we didn’t want Yuffie to become a caricature in comparison.
It was actually pretty challenging at times. Because we didn’t have any visuals for the most part, we often had to reference the Japanese audio as a guide of how big to go, and how she’d react. And there were times Yuffie has to go very, very big (laughs).
But I worked really hard to bring the performance back in and make sure she didn’t go too far.
Are there any particular moments that you thought were particularly memorable?
Without spoiling anything, there's a scene at the end that I poured my heart into. I didn't know that you-know-what was going to happen and I got really emotional about it myself - in that moment it was a very genuine reaction.
Unfortunately, I clipped the mic so we couldn’t use the take! I was like: “Nooooo! It was real!” (laughs).
Also, the team were cracking jokes between takes so it was hard to maintain that emotional energy (laughs). But, yeah, that was a really meaningful moment for me.
Another would be Yuffie’s introduction, where she reveals her outfit. That was something we took a bit of time on to get right.
How did it feel when you saw that introduction in its finished version? Did it match what was in your head when you recorded it?
Well actually, that was one of the few times we did have something to look at - in an incomplete greyscale version. I mean, her expressions weren’t in there, for example, but it gave me an idea of what her actions would be.
But I hadn’t seen her final rendering or expressions, so she turned out to be a lot… cuter than I expected. The way we portrayed her, she was a little more mature - just a little - but super-sassy. But seeing it all come together was really… amazing.
Sorry, I don’t know how else to explain it because I was speechless during that whole scene - trying to take it in, trying to take her in (laughs).
Did all the visuals help you separate your own performance from the character, or did you spend the game thinking about it?
I'm super self-critical and hyper aware of my own performance. I don't like seeing myself in videos or pictures or listening back to myself - so I try not to revisit too much.
But this experience was particularly special to me. I tried really hard not to think about those things and enjoy it for what it is, because everyone has put so much hard work and care into the game. I wanted to respect that - not muddy it with my own self-doubt and criticisms.
It’s not just about me - so I set those thoughts aside and tried to enjoy it for what it is. Because I do like the game a lot!
Plus, your portrayal of Yuffie has gotten a lot of praise from fans. That must feel good.
It’s shocking - I feel really blessed!
I am super-surprised. I was very nervous about what the reception would be because it’s been a while since I recorded it and I have no real recollection of a lot of what I did. Once I stepped out of the booth, I forgot everything because I was in the moment doing it. I honestly had no idea how it would turn out.
The fact that it received such a positive reception means so much to me - especially from fans who have been with FINAL FANTASY VII since the very beginning. When I see comments like: “Oh, she's just how I imagined her to sound ever since I was a kid,” that really touches me. It makes me feel like I’ve, hopefully, done her justice.
Finally, what advice would you give to anyone who’s looking to have an acting career like yours?
Hmm… this question is very hard for me because there’s no secret recipe to becoming a voice actor. I do think you have to have a very thick skin to survive in the industry, because there will be lots of times where it stresses you out mentally due to the constant rejection. You have to be prepared that you might not make it - not because you’re not good, but because there’s so much competition out there.
It’s a process of selection, not rejection. It’s about finding the right person for the part and that means you might not get the role. There are so many factors involved and you have to try not to take it personally. It’s a mental challenge in that respect.
Also, be good to work with - that’s a major thing. Don’t underestimate the value of professionalism, and don’t be a diva - just be a nice person.
Many thanks to Suzie for taking us through the ins and outs of being Yuffie Kisaragi. You can hear her fantastic performance in FF7R EPISODE INTERmission, out now on PS5.
The new episode is included with all new copies of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE INTERGRADE on PS5.
If you already own FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE for the PlayStation 4 (physical or digital version) and own a PlayStation 5, you can download the free FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE PlayStation 5 enhancement update (an internet connection is required to download it).
This update does not include FF7R EPISODE INTERmission - that can be purchased separately as a digital download via the PlayStation Store.
Note: the PS4 version of FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE given to PlayStation Plus members is not eligible for the PS5 digital version upgrade.
In addition, if you have purchased FINAL FANTASY VII REMAKE (physical edition) for PlayStation 4, and own the PlayStation 5 digital edition (the model without a disc drive) then you are not eligible to download the upgrade.
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