Final Fantasy is a name most gamers and anime fans know, even if they have never played one of the games. Many can probably pick out and name characters even, or tell you that they are pretty sure VII is the most popular. So when a name this big celebrates its 30th Anniversary, the world notices. And here in Japan where Final Fantasy remains one of the biggest names in video games, well. The celebration is massive - and the whole country can’t help but notice! Gamers or not, people here recognise the name all the same. And it’s 30th Anniversary is no secret.
Amongst the many things happening to celebrate this momentous achievement was the Final Fantasy 30th Anniversary Exhibition: Memories of Me. Located on the 52nd floor of Mori Tower in the prestigious Roppongi Hills in Tokyo, it was a significant instalment. The exhibition lasted for about a month, and even in its last week had waiting times of well over an hour as people poured in from all over to see this special instalment. And with amazing views of Tokyo as its backdrop, the art exhibition, special shop, and limited cafe were certainly ready to celebrate the game series’ 30th Anniversary in style!
|When it was Established||2018|
|Length of event||1 month|
|Place|| Mori Tower, Roppongi Hills|
6 Chome-11-1 Roppongi, Minato, Tokyo 106-6108
|Price of Admission|| ¥2300 (advance), ¥2500 (at the door)|
Advanced tickets can be purchased at Lawsons
|Hotels||Roppongi is right in the centre of Tokyo and full of many hotels that would be an easy walking distance from the event. However, due to its central and convenient location, staying nearly anywhere in Tokyo would put you less than an hour away from the exhibition. Choose a place that suits your budget!|
What to Expect
Memories of Me and its associated store as cafe were centred around an art exhibition. That means the majority of what you were paying to see was artwork from the games, especially the newest ones. There were plenty of high definition screenshots, official and concept art, sketches, maps, and more. All of the main Final Fantasy titles were featured in some way or another, with the later games understandably getting most of the focus simply because there was more to show for them. Not to mention they draw in a larger fan base.
There was more than just the artwork to see, though. There were a few models as well, including some life-size items and scenes recreated in real life. And there was a lot to read in both English and Japanese about the history of the games, the story of each title and how it was marketed and received, and plenty of quotes from the creators that made it all happen. For diehard Final Fantasy fans, it was a dream come true to have so much interesting information and their fingertips. And for more casual fans, it was cool to see so many things from their screens brought to life!
In addition to the exhibition itself, there was also an exclusive shop and restaurant. You could only access both of them with tickets for the event, so if you were ready to throw even more money at Final Fantasy, well. Look no further! From themed food to exclusive goods to make everyone envy you, there was a pretty wide variety. It was something a little extra to take home with you to remember your experience at the exhibition and to show to all your friends; or at the very least, share with all your followers on social media.
What to Bring in Order to Enjoy the Event
You can take pictures of nearly everything in the exhibition! And everyone else is definitely going to be taking pictures as well, so you won’t want to miss out. The audio tour is completely hands-free, so you don’t have to worry about balancing an extra iPhone while you try to take pictures. Photos are a free souvenir and easy to share with friends and keep forever yourself, so you’ll be disappointed if you don’t bring something that you can capture some lasting memories on. There might even be a few things you want to have your picture taken with!
Admittedly, Memories of You is not a cheap instalment. The tickets themselves are already a bit high at ¥2500 at the door, and the cost only goes up from there. If you want to buy any merchandise or eat in the restaurant, it’s better to be ready with cash. Few things in the store were less than ¥1500, and many were ¥3000, ¥5000, and up. The restaurant was also more expensive than your average concept cafe with a price range of about ¥1300 for one dish. Of course, for Final Fantasy fans, buying merchandise and eating the themed food is something you really want to do! Just make sure you bring enough money to experience everything you want to.
Memories of You was crowded. Incredibly crowded. And the space inside was pretty limited, so you have to wait to see the things you want to see behind other fans. It’s a lot of squeezing around people and realising that since everyone had headphones on the entire time, no one is aware of the people around them. Just getting into the exhibition involved waiting over an hour depending on when you went, and eating in the cafe was easily another hour queue or more. For fans, of course, dealing with the crowds and waiting is worth it, but it’s not a good environment for anyone in a hurry. Sit back, relax, take a deep breath, and bring a friend to kill the waiting time with.
What to Do While There/What is Available
When you begin your journey into the Final Fantasy world at Memories of You, you’re given an iPhone with headphones to accompany you on your journey. Throughout the exhibition, when you approach any display it will automatically begin to play the game’s accompanying music. You can also choose to have an audio guide begin to explain about the display as well. The iPhone is attached to a lanyard around your neck so everything is hands-free, leaving you free to use your own phone to take as many pictures as you want.
The very beginning of the exhibition makes special use of this audio system. It allows you and the others entering at the same time as you to go on a “journey” with the Warrior of Light to defeat Bahamut. Your iPhone will randomly choose an element to be your power from ice, fire, and thunder. Upon entering the big room, it becomes a 180-degree theatre that looks like you’re on an airship when Bahamut attacks. You have to tap your phone screen to power up your crystal when it’s time for your element to attack in order to defeat Bahamut! Only by defeating him can you enter the world of Final Fantasy. It’s a cool experience!
Once inside the exhibition itself, each game had at least a small section. These areas featured gameplay footage, a brief history and description of the game, and artwork. Some had more than others, with later games having a lot more artwork and features than the earlier ones. A few of the most popular titles had some really special displays as well. Final Fantasy VII had a full-size buster sword and Aerith’s church, FFXII a life-size suit of armour, and FFIV a grave for Haurchefant Greystone. These were really special additions to the instalment that really helped bring the game to life in a way that 2D art can't capture.
There were also a few special rooms with unique themes to give another experience for that game. Final Fantasy X had a room of mirrors with TVs that were playing random scenes from the game, with memorable audio lines playing through your headphones. FFVII had a room designed to look like Aerith’s church that as you explored, certain areas triggered a line that Aerith would say to you. FFXV has a room dedicated to Noctis and Luna’s wedding with portraits of all the main characters giving their well-wishes to the couple. These rooms added additional depth to these games and were something extra special for the fans (though all three experiences were available in Japanese only).
Near the end of the exhibition, there was a special art instalment where an artist depicted a famous scene of each game in miniature and using household objects and food! The figures were incredibly small but very detailed and each display was unique. Even the saddest scenes brought to life were kind of funny with the added element of giant food surrounding all the tiny people. It was a cool special addition to all of the official and concept art was finished!
After you finished exploring the exhibition, you could enter the exclusive shop. It was pretty expensive but a lot of the goods were special. There were a few products that were specific to the exhibition itself, such as t-shirts and art books. Most were just Final Fantasy merchandise though, from the usual file folders and keychains to more unique items like classy neckties and clutch bags. There were also plenty of soft toys and figures to check out, too! And the shop could only be entered by people that attended the exhibition, meaning some of the products could only be purchased by visiting the instalment.
The cafe was much the same, with expensive but really themed food and drinks based on Final Fantasy. There was a wide variety to choose from including savoury burgers and curry, sweet cakes, and fancy drinks. All of them were incredibly photographable and perfect for Instagram or Twitter, which is exactly what everyone was doing with them. Plus the restaurant had amazing views of Tokyo from the 52nd floor! It was especially incredible to see Tokyo Tower. The only hard part was deciding if it was better to see the view at night or during the day to decide when to go to the exhibition.
One of the best parts about Memories of Me was its accessibility to both Japanese and English-speaking fans. While the event’s website was not English friendly, everything at the event was. All of the signs and information was posted in both Japanese and English (which was actually very well translated!). Plus the iPhone audio tour was available in English as well, so English speakers had no problems joining in the game at the beginning and could hear all of the information about the exhibits along with Japanese fans. The only parts of the exhibition that was Japanese-only were the memoir rooms for Aerith, Lunafreya, and Final Fantasy X which all had Japanese audio only. Everything else was easy to understand though, which set this exhibition apart from others.
Another special ending to the event that was a big surprise was a small gift at the end. When you turned in your audio guide headset, you were presented with a printed out list of all of the music you enjoyed during your tour, with your chosen nickname you typed into the phone at the top! You were also able to scan a QR code on the phone at the end of the journey that added your nickname to a scrolling wall of fans’ names to be remembered forever as a Final Fantasy fan. These were small touches, but they really helped fans feel like they were important and could have a personal hand in the action.
In the coming year, there is likely to continue to be more and more events to celebrate Final Fantasy’s Anniversary. But Memories of You was a beautiful instalment to really kick things off and get everyone excited. It featured all of the games in some way, was accessible for many people and had a lot of different things for people to see. Of course, it was crowded and hard to navigate at times, but with how famous Final Fantasy is, that is to be expected. And it was alright in the heart of one of Tokyo’s most famous neighbourhoods! After all, who doesn’t want to celebrate their big achievements in Roppongi? Final Fantasy more than deserves the recognition!
Were you able to attend the exhibition? How did you feel about it and what was your experience like? Do you wish you could have gone, and what would you have liked to see the most? How will you be celebrating Final Fantasy’s Anniversary over the next year? Let us know in the comments below!