|Alias||Calamity from the Skies, Crisis from the Sky, Heaven's Dark Harbinger|
|Species||Unknown (mistaken to be a Cetra by Shinra)|
|Gender||Considered female, but actually ambiguous|
|Age||Thousands of years (possibly millions)|
|Behind the Scenes|
|Universe||Final Fantasy Universe|
Jenova is an extraterrestrial lifeform in Final Fantasy VII. It also appears in a retelling of a section of the game in the animated film Last Order -Final Fantasy VII-, and in flashbacks in the movie Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. Jenova serves as one of the primary antagonists in the world of Final Fantasy VII, and experiments on its cells have produced many of the other antagonists as well, including Sephiroth.
Throughout Final Fantasy VII, Jenova is often referred to as "she", though Ifalna calls "her" a "he" (or "it" in the PC version). Jenova has a female form and is said to be the "mother" of Sephiroth. It is called the "calamity from the skies" or the "crisis from the sky" (空から来た厄災, Sora kara kita yakusai, lit. "Disaster which came from the sky"), or "Heaven's Dark Harbinger" by the Cetra.
Jenova's name is a portmanteau of "Jehovah" and "Nova". "Jehovah" is a widely-accepted romanization of the ineffable Hebrew name 'יהוה', one of the many names of the Abrahamic God. "Nova" is from the Latin feminine adjective for "New". Thus, Jenova's name means "New God", a point of symbolic significance, although this connection is not seen in the game. Additionally, a nova is a cataclysmic nuclear explosion of enormous proportions caused by the accretion of hydrogen onto the surface of a white dwarf star. Given Jenova's association with planetary and universal themes, this may or may not be a coincidence.
The 'jen' segment also hints at 'genetics', an important theme within the game. In this way, the name can be interpreted as 'gene-nova'.
All of these combine to form a name which alludes to planetary catastrophe (Meteor), genetic traits and experiments (Hojo's creations, Aeris's Cetra genes, Jenova's genetic 'children') and the birth of a new god (Sephiroth), making it very appropriate.
Sephiroth being Jenova's "son", as well as the implication throughout Final Fantasy VII that he had become one and the same as it, may refer to the Christian belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, yet also via the blessed trinity one and the same with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
Whenever Jenova is seen in a dormant state it appears as a gray-skinned woman (shown as blue-skinned in Final Fantasy VII, or only appearing blue through its container in the Mako Reactor on Mt. Nibel in other games). Although Jenova appears feminine its gender is ambiguous at best as it is an extraterrestrial lifeform whom the Cetra never appear to refer to with a feminine pronoun; Jenova is known as "Calamity from the Skies" in the legends, and in Final Fantasy VII Ifalna (a Cetra) refers to Jenova with either 'it' or 'he', depending on the version of the game. Jenova is bare (other than what appears to be an external biological system), with something resembling a heart at its feet. Connected to the heart-like organ are a number of ventricle tubes that reach to different parts of the body, the largest of which, pinker in color, inserts into its abdomen (or in Final Fantasy VII, an apparently empty space in its abdomen). On its back are similarly colored appendages along with what resembles a wing protruding from its left, and a stub of a wing from its right. Jenova has long silver hair parted through the center. Its left eye glows red and it has no right eye that is often unseen and covered by hair in all Compilation of Final Fantasy VII releases where the eyes are recognizable. Placed on Jenova's head is a headgear that links to its container and has an inscription which has had a different message between different depictions of the scene. Above the headgear, a brain is seen, lying within Jenova's cranium.
Jenova Doll Edit
At Mt. Nibel Jenova's container is covered by what has been referred to as the "Jenova Doll." The doll is a presumably man-made metal construct that resembles the torso of an angel. The doll obscures Jenova itself while the wings cover the side of the container. Presumably connected to the roof are cables bearing the appearance of golden hair, offering to cover the higher areas of the container.
A tube links from the chamber's entrance to the doll's midpoint, possibly meant to resemble Jenova who has a similar tube; whereas Jenova's tube leads to a heart-like organ, the area the doll's pipe leads to has tubes that resemble ventricles. The tube linking to the doll can also used as a path to reach the container. At the entrance to the chamber lies a sign reading 'JENOVA'.
Jenova's genetic structure is a two-way conduit; it can both take in the traits of its prey, and insert its own genes to turn other organisms into violent monsters. Once Jenova lands upon a new planet it will begin to destroy every form of life it finds. Jenova can absorb its prey's memories and form, hiding as their loved ones to destroy them. As stated in Professor Hojo's Jenova Reunion Theory, once Jenova's cells have been separated from the main body they will eventually reunite into one again. If they are inside a host body they can influence its mind and body to join the Reunion — sometimes so extremely the host organism is killed. For an unknown reason organisms affected by Jenova often grow a single wing capable of flight. The pupils of the affected can also change into a cat-like slit, though the rest of the eye remains unchanged.
Once Jenova has completely destroyed a planet it uses it as a vessel to travel the cosmos to the next unfortunate planet and this cycle may have been going for millions of years before the beginning of Final Fantasy VII. Jenova's age is unknown but since it can lay dormant for millennia if necessary it might be older than the planet of Gaia itself.
Approximately two thousand years before the main events of Final Fantasy VII, an alien creature landed on Gaia, having traveled through space on a meteor. The impact created a giant wound on the Planet's surface that would come to be known as the "North Crater". The alien emerged from the crater and approached the Cetra using its mimicry abilities to destroy them. Its victims were infected by the alien's cells and mutated into monsters. The alien would then take the form of the fallen Cetra, using this appearance to approach and destroy their loved ones. Ifalna describes the process as the alien creature giving the Cetra "the virus".
The creature destroyed most of the Cetra civilization. Their daughter race, the humans, hid from it, while the Cetra were nearly wiped out; the few surviving Cetra banded together to defeat the creature and quarantined it inside the North Crater where it would lie dormant for thousands of years. Despite the Cetra's victory over the "Calamity from the Skies" their civilization was lost, their numbers dwindling down to almost nothing while humans spread over the planet. As time wore on humanity forgot about the alien creature and the Cetra fell into legend.
Two thousand years after the calamity's fall onto the planet all memory of Jenova had faded. The Shinra Electric Power Company ruled the planet with Mako energy but was ever looking for a more efficient way to harvest it. Their interest piqued by the Cetra legend of the "Promised Land," the company delved into research into the seemingly long-extinct race. Approximately 30 years before the main events of Final Fantasy VII, Professor Gast Faremis excavated the alien creature's remains, mistakenly identifying it as a Cetra and gave it a name, "Jenova". Thus began the Jenova Project, an effort by a number of Shinra scientists to take Jenova's cells and use them to create a human hybrid, a Cetra who would lead them to the Promised Land. As Jenova was not a Cetra, Shinra was, understandably, unsuccessful in using its cells to create a Cetra hybrid; however those humans treated with its cells proved to be super-soldiers, leading to Shinra's injection of Jenova cells into the members of its elite military force, SOLDIER. Sephiroth, Genesis Rhapsodos, and Angeal Hewley were born from the project during its first stages when Shinra was still trying to create a Cetra. Most of the early research took place in Nibelheim's Shinra Mansion, and Jenova was kept within the Mako Reactor at Mt. Nibel.
Sephiroth, the ultimate SOLDIER who was directly infused with Jenova's cells in his fetal stage, was not told of his role in the Jenova Project. His biological father, Professor Hojo, told the young Sephiroth his mother's name was "Jenova" and that she died giving birth to him. However, his true biological mother was Lucrecia Crescent. Many years later, when Sephiroth traveled to the Nibelheim reactor with Zack Fair and Cloud Strife, the three found the reactor filled with Mako-infused mutants-- ordinary humans infused with such high levels of Mako they had turned into monsters. Sephiroth suspects that he was born the same way and his suspicions are confirmed when Genesis Rhapsodos, having turned rogue and rebelled against Shinra, reveals the truth of the Jenova Project, and how Sephiroth was the "perfect monster" to be created from it. Sephiroth, wanting to learn more, ventured into the Shinra Mansion's basement and for several sleepless days, read all he could about the Jenova Project. The strain of his discoveries drove him insane.
Believing himself to be the descendant of the Cetra, whom the humans had "betrayed," Sephiroth went on an angry killing spree, burning the whole of Nibelheim to the ground. Sephiroth went up to the reactor to get his "mother," but Cloud mortally wounded him, and Sephiroth, only able to escape with Jenova's head, fell into the Lifestream below the reactor.
Shinra forces took over the reactor and Cloud and Zack became test subjects in Professor Hojo's newest experiment, an attempt to test the Jenova Reunion Theory. Sephiroth was deemed dead, the Nibelheim survivors were infected with Jenova cells to create Sephiroth Clones, and what remained of Jenova was taken to Midgar, placed in Hojo's lab in Shinra Headquarters.
Due to Jenova's cells present in his body, the Lifestream was unable to absorb Sephiroth completely; his will traveled the Lifestream learning everything about Jenova, Cetra, and the cycle of life, formulated a plan to be reborn as a god, and built a new body for himself in the Northern Cave within the North Crater. At this point Sephiroth's will was stronger than Jenova's, allowing him to exert his influence on those injected with Jenova cells and manipulate them towards bringing him the Black Materia.
In Sephiroth's Form Edit
Five years after the Nibelheim Incident, Sephiroth puts his plan into action, taking control of Jenova's main body housed in Shinra Headquarters, morphing it into a vessel in his likeness, and using it to massacre many of those in the Shinra Building, including President Shinra. From there Jenova escapes into the outside world.
Cloud and his party, unaware they are actually chasing a Sephiroth-controlled Jenova, chase "Sephiroth" across the planet; while Cloud seeks revenge upon Sephiroth for Nibelheim's torching, he is also being subconsciously controlled by the Jenova cells inside him. Several times the cells take complete control of Cloud and he becomes mentally unstable, which Sephiroth uses to control Cloud. As the party follows Jenova's trail they run into parts of Jenova Sephiroth uses to hinder their pursuit and to keep them from discovering the truth. The first one, described as Jenova's arm, transforms into Jenova∙BIRTH and is fought on the Cargo Ship. Jenova∙LIFE manifested as Sephiroth when he murdered the last known Cetra, Aeris Gainsborough, at the altar in the Forgotten Capital. A third battle with Jenova occurs in the Whirlwind Maze with Jenova∙DEATH.
As Cloud and his friends defeat the final part of Jenova's original body, Cloud realized what they had been pursuing wasn't the real Sephiroth. The party finds the real Sephiroth crystallized in hibernation. Falling under Sephiroth's control, Cloud gives Sephiroth the Black Materia, letting him summon Meteor, the most powerful of all offensive spells, capable of harming the planet itself. Sephiroth reveals he plans to wound the planet's surface so grievously the Lifestream would be summoned to heal it, giving him an opportunity to take control of the entire world.
Cloud recovers and throws off Sephiroth's influence. Together with his party, he travels down into the Northern Cave to defeat Sephiroth. Just before the final battle they fight Jenova∙SYNTHESIS, a form of Jenova composed of all the remaining Jenova cells and considered the entity's true form. Once defeated, the party reaches an evolved Sephiroth and defeats him.
Even after its main body has been destroyed, Jenova's cells remain within the Lifestream, infecting thousands who came into contact with them as the Lifestream washed over the Planet in its efforts to destroy Meteor. Human bodies overcompensate in efforts to eliminate the cells, leading to the development of sores and scars- the plague of Geostigma. Not fully diluted in the Lifestream, Sephiroth manifests his remnants into being with Kadaj being the first to be created. Joined by his brothers Loz and Yazoo, Kadaj is compelled to find the physical remains of Jenova to evoke a second Reunion and restore Sephiroth. Capturing children infected with the Geostigma, they turn them into "bloodhounds" to find it. Rufus Shinra is in possession of Jenova's remains the whole time. Kadaj reaches Jenova's remains assimilating it as Sephiroth is reborn in his body. During his fight with Cloud Sephiroth unveils his intentions to assimilate the planet and journey to another world to repeat the cycle as Jenova had done before him. Sephiroth is defeated and Kadaj is left on the verge of death. Aerith's Great Gospel brings a healing rain down upon Midgar and Edge, healing those suffering from Geostigma while Sephiroth's Remnants cease to be. Due to Jenova's high adaptability and previous ability to survive, whether or not this is the end of Jenova remains unknown.
Although in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Jenova's remains are explicitly referred to as "Jenova's head", Tetsuya Nomura has stated the remains are merely a few random clusters of its cells, but for lack of an official term to refer to the remains the term "head" stuck.