In Shining Armor

Faithful retainer to his family's liege, with the courage and strength of a thousand men...
- Cyan's Introduction (SNES version)

Like most characters in Super Nintendo titles, Cyan's appearance is different in every place you see him. The gallery shows just this (and provides a handy companion to this article.) But which image is the "real Cyan", given what visual and statistic information we have?

Early sketches by head character designer Yoshitaka Amano show a big, burly fellow in flowing purple robes and ornate armor. The key facial features are there: the ponytail, the moustache, the stern gaze. He clutches a katana, and his armor protects key areas. The armor's look is based on late samurai outfits, most evident in the plating and bows.

The violet hues were later ditched for a striking blue and gold combination. Though Cyan's chest is still heaving, his face is thinner and its expression more mischievous. Another portrait replaces the blue clothes with a black, and the armor fades from bright yellow to weathered bronze. His body is also slim and taught, more in keeping with his weight, 158 lbs.

These later pieces were no doubt the basis for the portrait in the game manual. Since all the characters appear in a style known as "super deformed" - rounded and with a 1:3 aspect of head to body - it's difficult to tell his body type. The armor is gold with a black tunic and pants. While seemingly disconnected from the original onscreen graphics, the 2014 FFVI mobile release uses this look for the revamped game sprite.

The original SNES 1994 game sprite - the graphic that you move around the screen to represent Cyan - wears a dark blue suit of armor with no sleeves, and a mighty brown belt buckle. His skin is tanned, his ponytail evident in side views, and the eyebrows and mustache retained. He looks rather formidable and grizzled. The sprite is surprisingly expressive, conveying laughter, surprise, sadness, and relief when needed, and allowing for several imposing stances.

A key recurring characteristic not yet mentioned is that Cyan is strongly represented as Japanese. There is irony in this, since in one sense, all the FFVI characters are Japanese (Nintendo and Squaresoft games having been developed there) yet their skin is fair and their hair blond or wildly colored, just like in Japanese anime. Cyan's Eastern visage and garb distinguish him even more clearly as a samurai.

Cyan does not appear in the CGI Full Motion Videos included in the Final Fantasy Anthology release for the PlayStation One. Likely, he wasn't a popular or significant enough character to include. An injustice, since even the fleeting Shadow has a shot! We are left to imagine what he might have look like, rendered with the computer technology of 1998.

Cyan has made his way into several contemporary games that incorporate characters from the main (numbered) Final Fantasy series. He has a cameo in Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy for PSP, becomes a playable character in the Pictlogica Final Fantasy and a Legend in Final Fantasy Airborne Brigade (both mobile games released only in Japan), and joins the party in Final Fantasy Record Keeper, a mobile game released internationally. In these games the sprites combine aspects of Cyan's SNES appearance and the Amano artwork.

So for a true image of Cyan: picture a tall warrior, five foot ten, perched on a sun-drenched hill, in golden armor with intricate carvings and violet silk details, in pastel tints. His tied back, jet-black hair catches in the wind. Shadows seek the deep and well-earned age lines on his bronze face. His eyes are fixed and probing, his bristled mustache nearly hides the hint of a smile. His katana is held at his side but his grip relaxed, for the blade will be drawn instantly at the first sign of danger, and woe to any that stand in its way.