The Final Fantasy House was a bizarre cult that fascinated thousands across the internet and remains a stern warning about fandoms taken too far. It also helped bring the Otherkin into web culture awareness, which is a fringe group of people who claim to be the reincarnation of mythical creatures. This particular form of Otherkin concerning the Final Fantasy House deals with an offshoot called soulbonders. These people believe that they’re the reincarnation of video game characters from an alternate dimension (Yes, you did read that correctly). They take the name of a character and have a strange and ritualistic obsession with them. Believing themselves to have a special connection with the character on a spiritual level.
The whole thing started on April 18, 2005. Genkicrack, whom I will refer to as the author from now on, posted a long story on Live Journal about how he fell in with the delusional cult and even gave a warning of how dangerous they were. The author ran a website back around the turn of the millennium dedicated to two characters from the game Final Fantasy 7, Cloud and Zack. It was popular because the internet hadn’t quite exploded yet and there was very little information on the character of Zack, especially since he had such a brief part in the overarching plot in the game. There was a decent amount of traffic on the site. People would send the author fan art often, and he’d post it, so the author was no stranger to emails from the fandom.
Then one day he got an email from a woman calling herself Hojo, a skinny mad scientist character from the game. She also ran a website dedicated to FF7, which focused on the character of her namesake. The author and Hojo became friendly and occasionally chatted on AOL instant messenger, where the author may have shared too much with her, admitting he was a heavy drinker at the time. The first strange thing Hojo did was start calling the author Zack, like the character in the game. At first, the author just thought it was a reference to his website, but Hojo would just ask more and more odd questions. It started with things like “Do you believe in reincarnation?” to which he was very open-minded. Then the author was introduced to Hojo‘s wife who went by the name Jenova, in reference to a godlike alien being fallen to Earth in Final Fantasy 7, or just Jen for short. This was when stuff started to go sideways.
Jen would ask the author strange questions too… like if he had any memories of past lives. He did tell her he believed in reincarnation and that it was a valid belief just based off all the people in the world who subscribed to it; he didn’t have any memories of past lives. In his Live Journal, the author says this was his greatest mistake and that it was like inviting a vampire into his home. Jen explained to the author how there are limitless alternate universes, and that there is a universe out there where the accounts of the Japanese videogame Final Fantasy 7 actually happened. The author being imaginative and open to the idea anything is possible went along with Jen‘s esoteric rants. But then Jen dropped the bomb. She told the author that she thought he was the reincarnation of the videogame character Zack from an alternate universe. She made all kinds of ridiculous connections to him and the character. The author was taken in by it, though, but he admitted he wasn’t in the most stable state of minds thanks to his constant drinking and being a young idiot. He responded to Jen that he wasn’t Zack now in this life, but it was possible.
The author would continue their odd conversations until agreeing to meet Jen and Hojo in person and stay at their house a week before Christmas. He took a $300 bus trip to meet them. At the bus stop, he was greeted by a young woman in a lab coat. Hojo introduced herself proper, and the two were off to see Jen. The author was instantly shook up when they reached the home. Jen approached them in a fury and started screaming in Hojo‘s face right there in front of him. She wore a one-piece purple skirt and looked like a mess. He had no clue what the one-sided argument was about, and the whole situation made him extremely uncomfortable, to say the least. But then Jen turned around to him, and her overall demeanor instantly changed to being sweet and nice. All anger left her with whatever she had been mad at Hojo for like it was forgotten entirely. The whole time the author had been in communication with Jen prior, he thought she was role-playing. This is when he realized that she wasn’t role-playing. Jen was completely serious about her ‘children’ and ‘other-selves’ that lived within her. She was a serious soulbonder, with the belief that many people lived in her head and communicated with her and that she can take on these personalities whenever they best suit her needs. For example, if she wanted sympathy, she would act like a child. Jen was hardcore about her “religion” and didn’t screw around even managing to gain a small following.
The strange behavior of Jen didn’t bother the author too much though because he stayed and actually enjoyed the visit. He would continue to spend $300 on bus tickets to visit Hojo and Jen meeting more and more soulbonders who said they were the reincarnation of videogame characters from an alternate universe in the process. The group was accepting the author into their little ‘click’ and he really enjoyed feeling like he was a part of something. For some reason, though it didn’t seem off to him that Jen would ask for grocery money from him when he visited. Being a part of the group and feeling a sense of obligation, the author willingly gave away his hard-earned cash to buy food for Jen and Hojo. Jen would also try to increase the other soulbonder‘s obsessions with the characters they were reincarnations of in very strange ways. Like having imaginary magical battles in front of everyone while maintaining total seriousness, or doing a past life regression hypnosis where the individual would lay on the ground and listen to the Final Fantasy 7 soundtrack. But Jen‘s methods of indoctrinating new members for her cult could go overboard too.
During a visit to a college, Hojo and Jen locked the author in a room and wouldn’t let him out until he grew closer to the Zack character he was the reincarnation of. This imprisonment went on far longer than any sane person would have made another endure and was a horrible experience for the author. Jen even tried to force the author and another soulbonder (who was connected to the character Aeris) to have sex, to which the author refused much to Jen‘s agitation. Somehow though, despite all this bizarre behavior from the author’s new group of friends, he was not dissuaded from hanging out with them. In fact, the indoctrination worked on him. He just grew more and more invested with the soulbonders. So when Hojo and Jen asked the author to live with them, he actually said yes.
The author moved in planning not to stay longer than the summer. He got a job at a nearby supermarket, and things seemed pretty good at first. He quit drinking and had a group of friends who accepted him. Things quickly began to turn sour. It was clear he was meant to do all the work. After all, Hojo was a skinny, frail scientist character and Jenova was a godlike alien being. Zack was the muscular man who liked to get his hands dirty. The girls apparently took this kind of mentality to heart.
Jen did have a part-time babysitting job and quit shortly after the author moved in. So all physical labor fell into the author’s lap. Not only this but he also had to buy the food for Hojo and Jen to eat, and his savings quickly began to deplete. She forced him to spend what little money he had on extravagant food like steaks. When food ran out, she forced him to beg for uneaten food from his job.
Jen was online all the time not allowing the author to surf the web and on the rare occasions where he could, she was there watching his every move. On hindsight, the author realized this was damage control not only to keep him there as their pet but to make sure he didn’t complain to anyone about his treatment. Jen would listen in on his phone calls and keep tabs on all the author’s online interactions. He wasn’t allowed to go anywhere unless Jen knew and had to be 100% punctual on when he would be back. She would wake him up in the dead of night to do nonsense chores; like to get stuff for “magical rituals” and other such weird requests. This was to keep him sleep-deprived and on edge. Yes, Jen was turning out to be the most hands-on little cult leader, and easily dominating the author’s mind.
During the time he stayed with the duo, Jen refused to bathe for some reason. The purple one-piece skirt Jen wore when the author met her was apparently her only clothes because she never took it off. To say it reeked would be an understatement. To cover her body odor, Jen would cover herself in scented oils and glitter, which was also her strategy for combating the smell in her house. No one in the home cleaned. No one in the home took out the garbage. The author would wash the dishes, but that was it. So the house quickly degenerated into the epitome of filth with a sickening artificial scent sprayed everywhere in an attempt to hide the stench. The only time anything got cleaned was when the many soulbonder guests came over; it was still too little to make any difference. The home smelled of miasma and rot. The strangest thing about it was Jen would never admit to being the cause of it. She always claimed it was something the former resident must have done and was in ‘no way her or Hojo‘s fault.’ So instead of just cleaning up, Jen demanded the landlord give them a new apartment. She did so, and the three moved into a single bedroom home. This distressed the author because before he could hideaway. Jen and Hojo would have noisy sex and fight a lot, sometimes violently. In the new home, the author would have nowhere to go.
All of the indoctrination and Jen‘s domination of the author’s life actually worked at depleting his will. The author soon supported them blindly despite all the insanity and abuse the two soulbonders oppressed him with. It seemed he completely fell under Stockholm syndrome. This came to a head when the friend of the author soulbonded to the character Aeris had a falling out with Jen. The author went full herd mentality and joined in the senseless hate against her; sending Aeris nasty emails and ignoring her when she tried to talk to him. It was apparent she still wanted to be friends with him, and the author felt really guilty about it later. During the time he was brainwashed, the author simply obeyed the will of Jen. To further manipulate the emotions of her cult, Jen pretended to slice her own wrists telling everyone Aeris was the cause. In truth, Jen just scratched her wrists and turned all the soulbonders against Aeris including a man who was supposedly the reincarnation of the Final Fantasy Character Cid.
Cid saved the day by rubbing Jen‘s wrist scratches with wet paper towels; Aeris was most assuredly banished from the cult. After the incident, the author was a wreck. His job limited his shifts to one hour a week. He had no money, no confidence, and was all-around a shell of his former self completely under the domination of Jen. When it was time to move into the new single bedroom apartment, Hojo took them on a spending spree for new things as a home warming. This infuriated the author, and they fought about it in front of an onlooking crowd because it meant Hojo had money, but she had been taking the author’s cash the entire time he lived with them. It was obvious to him now he had been used. The only real friend he had was Cid, who had stabilized the author’s shaky mental health many times before. It was after a visit from Cid that he was inspired to leave the toxic environment finally. He walked the streets homeless for a while before Cid went with him to gather his belongings from the house. The author went to live with his mother. Jen still had many souldbonders to manipulate and use, including someone who sold their blood and gave the money to her.
After posting his story of the Final Fantasy house on Live Journal, the whole thing exploded in popularity. The soulbonder community would comment on the Live Journal post claiming they had heard of the Final Fantasy House but didn’t know about the insane details. People who knew Jen laughed and actually weren’t surprised at her bizarre behavior. Soon the story spread far and wide in internet land, gaining a pretty decent sized following, and being shared and talked about in many forums. But where it blew up was 4chan. This haven for internet trolls instantly grew fascinated and equally repulsed by this group of Otherkin pretending to be videogame characters. This is actually where the story got its name: The Final Fantasy House (or the Final Fantasy 7 House). Countless trolls couldn’t help not getting involved in mocking such a strange group of people and the author’s legacy was cemented on the interwebs.
Shortly after the outbreak of this popular story, the author was receiving other people’s testimony about being abused by the cult. Some of them, even soulbonders, whom the author had met while living with Hojo and Jen. To share these testimonies, the author created a website where all accounts could be read by anyone which brought even more light to the weird activities of the soulbonder group. All in all the site turned into one of the most strange compilations of stories ever collected concerning Otherkin. There were so many people wronged by Jen. The whole issue was much larger than the author ever could have imagined.