Essay: Father of the Year
Author: Renee

I think we can all agree that Hojo is not going to win any father of the year awards. He genetically altered his son before birth, never gave any fatherly care to the child, and probably had a guiding hand in the boy's "ultimate soldier" training. It seems clear that Sephiroth's childhood was less than idyllic.

It isn't until nearly the end of the game that we even find out that Hojo is Sephiroth's father. Vincent realizes this when visiting Lucrecia's cave, and Hojo tells Cloud this during his boss battle, but Sephiroth dies without ever knowing who his father is.

And yet... in the end Hojo did care for his son, enough to go out and take over the mako cannon, face the party intent on killing him to get to Sephiroth, and do the only thing that's really left to him to help his son. I believe Hojo did this out of the guilt that had consumed him since his son's "death" in the reactor. Perhaps he hoped to redeem himself in some small, twisted way in his son's eyes, even if Sephiroth would never know the truth.

Incidentally, I've been accused of not giving the discussion of Sephiroth's parentage sufficient voice. There are a large number of people out there who question whether Hojo is Sephiroth's father at all. I'm going to address the question of Vincent in more depth with the help of a young lady I met on a message board. I've copied her statements and my replied here, with her words in italics. You can visit the original thread on adventchildren.net to see the opinions of others as well.

I mean, you know Hojo is a creep but what kind of a person does scientific experiments on his son? And not just that, but isn't even like, nice to them? I'm betting Gast is a whole lot nicer to Sephiroth than Hojo is.

Hojo was ready and willing to do experiments on everyone else in the game, including his wife and himself. I don't think it so far-fetched that he would do them on his son as well. Mind also that the original aim of the experiment was to create someone PERFECT. How easy is it to fall into the trap of doing something for "my child's own good"? Just think of the parents that are abusive to their children for reasons they find justifiable.

Hojo just wants Sephiroth to be his son for the glory.

If Hojo wanted glory, wouldn't he have mentioned being the father of Sephiroth somewhere earlier in the timeline? Perhaps back when Sephiroth was the hero of the Wutai war, or even when the party and the Shinra staff are gathered at the Northern Crater, before Cloud hands over the black materia?

'Cause in the flashback he refers to Lucrecia as the "Mother of my son" and not his "wife" which means he values them posessively.

IMO, that indicates his level of emotional detachment and actually goes against your first statement, that if Hojo were Sephiroth's father, he wouldn't be able to experiment on the boy. Hojo is emotionally detached, and so it's easy to picture him able to experiment on his own son.

Also, Vincent feels all guilty because of what happens. He's not just /guilty/... he's downright angsty.

I'm not sure what this is supposed to prove, if anything. I am of the impression that Vincent feels guilty for not protecting Lucrecia. If he were the father of her child, he might have some say in the matter, but during the confrontation in the basement Hojo says "She and I are both scientists!!", referring to Lucrecia and himself as the ones making the decision - not Gast, so it's not a discussion about the Project itself, but as the parents of the child in question.

I don't mind interesting variations in it in fanfic, where everything tends to be fair game anyway. I don't mind clever theories and well-written ideas. However, I think in a simple discussion it must be acknowledged that the game itself gives a lot of evidence for, and very little against, the idea that Hojo is Sephiroth's father. In addition, the Ultimania Omega book includes a character flow chart which neatly labels Sephiroth as the son (息子: musuko) of Hojo and Lucrecia.

Also, for those who insist that Vincent is Sephiroth's father because they are both pretty, or they look alike, Advent Children has provided us with very nice, high resolution closeups of both Sephiroth's and Vincent's faces. Observe:
Vincent Sephiroth


Due to the facial positioning in the pictures, it's difficult to compare eye shape, but nose and mouth are both clearly visible. You'll notice Sephiroth has a very narrow, somewhat long nose, while Vincent's is wider and has a softer curve. Sephiroth also has a wider mouth with narrow lips, while Vincent has soft, almost heart-shaped lips. You can't see Vincent's forehead because of his headband, but it's worth noting that Sephiroth has a very prominent forehead which is consistant with one of Hojo's most recognizable features. Sephiroth also has a very sharp, defined jawline and chin, and while you cannot see Vincent's chin, his jawline seems somewhat softer.

With any luck, Dirge of Cerberus will give us something better to judge Hojo by, FMV-wise. In the meantime, let us consider what they give us in Last Order:

Hojo Sephiroth Sephiroth Hojo Sephiroth