Bravely Default, FF Tactics Character Designer Leaves Square Enix

By Sato . December 5, 2013 . 1:22am

Akihiko Yoshida, who first joined Square Soft in 1995 to work as a character designer on titles such as Final Fantasy Tactics, Tactics Ogre, and more recently Bravely Default and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, has announced his departure from the company he’s been working with for almost two decades.


The announcement is in his personal message section of the Bravely Default art book in Japan, titled “The Art of Bravely,” released today with Bravely Default: For the Sequel in Japan.


After thanking all the artists who made the book possible, along with his co-workers from Silicon Graphics, and other staff members, Yoshida added the following message:


“This is a personal message of mine, but I’d like to say thank you for all the support these past 18 years. I have decided to leave Square Enix, but I believe our relationship will continue going on.


And as long as I’m needed [laughs,] I will continue working on the Bravely Default series. Thank you for your continued support.


Bravely Default main character designer & lead artist,

Akihiko Yoshida


It hasn’t been confirmed yet if Yoshida is working on Bravely Second, the sequel to Bravely Default, which was announced yesterday, but Yoshida does say he wants to keep working on the series, so keep your fingers crossed.

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  • Stuart Nisbet

    i’m literally crying.

    • Randgriz

      Im crying too =[

    • Emsa

      Leaving Sqeenix isn’t neccesarily bad, now instead of being wasted on squeenix next smartphone cash grab game, he might join a company that focuses on console games instead.

      Not that I “hate” the mobile gaming platform, I’ll just never get used to playing without physical controls and it feels…. substandard, playing with only touch controls.

      Here’s hoping we’ll see more from Yoshida-san in the future wherever he ends up!

      • Stuart Nisbet

        i don’t think he’s ever been lead designer for a mobile game, so… (also he’ll probably work freelance and for high profile companies, which is good, and all, but leaves FFXIV high and dry etc)

        • Kuromadou

          Hideo Minaba did some artworks for Rage of Bahamut and Fantasica, i’m pretty sure Yoshida would following the same pattern.

      • Yause

        As a whole, the industry is retreating from console games. Of large Japanese publishers, Square Enix is actually among the last to shift.

        Yoshida is freelancing. The majority of offers will likely be mobile games (plenty of RPG illustrators are involved with these now, including longtime talent from places like Square Enix and Brownie Brown), but that doesn’t mean there won’t be any handheld/console work either.

        • Devinja

          Failing companies who are deaf to what the market wants are turning to mobile.

  • Sato

    I’ve always been a huge fan of his artwork, and it’ll feel strange seeing it on non-Square related things, but hell, I’m sure I’ll be glad to see it, wherever and whenever it may be.

    Best of luck to Mr. Yoshida!

    • DyLaN

      ……it’ll feel strange seeing it on non-Square related things….

      Hmmm…… Pick one :P

      -art for a VN/eroge
      -art for a JRPG
      -art for a hunting game
      -a vocaloid character design
      -an anime character design

      • Sato

        Haha I could only see it fitting a random JRPG, most likely something mobile, by the way things have been going with former Square Enix staff.
        If it were up to me:

        -art for a new Final Fantasy Tactics after Square Enix realized who they’ve lost and begged for his return.

      • Bwahahaha. Naive child. Here, let me whittle that list of options down to something more realistic:

        -Social game for DeNA
        -Puzzle & Dragons expansion
        -Online card collecting RPG by Sega
        -Breath of Fire 6 for iOS/Android

        (On a more serious note, I do hope he ends up working on something more significant or ambitious than Matsuno has.)

        • Sato

          Dammit Ishaan, you just had to make it Hard Mode!

          -All of the above

          • …that probably will end up being the case. Maybe he’ll even join Amano and Uematsu on Fairy Fencer F for the Sequel.

          • I would have called that a cruel joke if it hasn’t happened already…

          • Chiupon


            why is Fairy Fencer F a thing

            pls no

            although if he designs the characters…

        • Yoshida is way ahead of you.

          >Mobage title for Cygames. :P

        • DyLaN

          I was actually going to type iOS/PC Browser but I decided against it.

          Again, say whtever you want abt the medium but nice art is still nice to look at.

          • Chiupon

            it’s hella good art. The little white mage wannabes are so cuteee

      • Landale

        First thing that came to mind with “non-Square related things” was “Maybe he’s going to Idea Factory.”

        • Sato

          You and Ishaan are going to jinx it! If that happens, I’ll blame you guys haha

        • DyLaN

          Well, nice art is still nice art disregarding ppl issues wh IF/CH.

  • He will be remembered =)

  • Thrasher429

    No…nononononono T_T hopefully he will continue working on the Bravely Default series

  • Warboss Aohd

    i wonder where he will work next?

  • Romancer Ecclesia

    Did he leave to work on Project Phoenix? Hmm…

    • Zangetsu777

      possibly lol

    • icecoffemix

      God I hope that one succeed to encourage Japan for indie and/or crowdfunding JRPG.

  • icecoffemix

    Can’t blame him.

  • Stranger On The Road

    I wonder what made him finally leave. I’ve been working in this company for around 14 years, after being in the same place for so long it kind of hard to say: I am leaving. The thought has crossed my mind many times, but I always find myself back in the office dealing with the same nice people; some of which I had strong disagreements with, yet would still have a nice chat with afterwards :-)

    SE even let him immortalize this departure message but letting him add it to the art book. That says a lot about his relationship with SE; I wonder if he just decided that “I want to do something else” and just left. I know that every time I think about leaving I think more of doing something else instead of doing the same job somewhere else.

    Thank you for the hard work Yoshida-sensei, looking forward to what you would work on next.

    • Yause

      As an illustrator, Yoshida could’ve gone freelance long ago. However, he was a technical artist too (specializing in 3D environment direction; he and the other leads on Matsuno’s team were always proud to push the envelope in visuals), and a huge benefit to developing at Square Enix was the chance to work on cutting edge graphics. External designers generally don’t get too involved with technical production.

      Given how the industry shifted to handhelds and now mobile, along with the protracted development cycle of console productions, focusing on illustration actually makes sense, if that’s what he’s decided to do.

    • Which division of Square Enix do you work for; NA, EU, or JP?

      I remember reading a survey of anonymous Square Enix Japan staff once, and among the complaints were that they never received a promotion no matter how long or how hard they worked there.

      • Stranger On The Road

        Sorry ambiguous statement, meant my current work place. I removed the word ‘same’, but I guess ‘this’ is still ambiguous considering the contains.

        Sorry about that :-)

  • Honestly I didn’t even realize Yoshida was employed by SquEnix; I thought he was an independent who worked with them on a contractual basis. Well, doesn’t matter to me, as long as he doesn’t just do F2P mobile games for the rest of his career.

    • You were saying? :P

      • We’re investigating if that is indeed Yoshida’s art, but right now, there’s no concrete confirmation of that. There’s a best wishes message from him on their website, but I don’t see him credited anywhere.

        • Oh, interesting. Perhaps he’s not credited anywhere because that teaser site launched before Yoshida announced his departure, and so Cygames couldn’t reveal the illustrator yet due to contractual reasons. Similar to Take-b at Project Phoenix, whom I also suspect is Akihiko Yoshida.

          • That was my thought, too, which is why we’re still trying to look into it. Thanks for pointing it out in the comments. :)

  • Ethan_Twain

    And more top talent leaves Square Enix. They’ve lost directors, musicians, and now one of their three most significant artists.

    Eh, it’s not so bad. I’m sure the world won’t mind having Nomura take care of character design and aesthetic for even more of Square Enix’s output.

    Or, you know, new talent could step up and make a name for itself… but that doesn’t seem to happen much in modern Square Enix. For whatever reason(s) they aren’t cultivating new talent NEARLY at the rate they’re losing it.

    • It doesn’t make any difference. Yoshida isn’t going to stop illustrating for Square Enix.

      • Ethan_Twain

        That’s what was said about Mr. Uematsu leaving too. And it’s true, he has contributed tracks to a Square Enix game or two since leaving. But has his leaving made a difference? I think it has absolutely. I would assume this to work out in a similar manner.

        • I don’t think it will be same with Yoshida. He’s already promised to continue designing for the Bravely series, and he’ll likely draw for any future FFXIV expansions too. But yeah, I guess his overall involvement with Square Enix is going to decrease.

        • JSYK

          but i must say that despite uematsu’s departure, hamauzu has been doing a pretty good job

          • Kari

            BTW Hamauzu left too.

          • JSYK

            he did? Goddammit square!

          • Yause

            Four years ago, actually. Supposedly, the board voted to cut the in-house music team (and then hire them as contractors when needed), so everyone was forced to become freelancers.

            In retrospect, I think it was unpleasant but inevitable given how long development cycles had become. Composing a soundtrack takes only a few months, yet games were in production for years (hence the glut of arrange/remix/special collaboration/anniversary albums released around this time to give composers something to do).

        • $1484028

          has it really?

          the reality is the “death” of the JRPG sdtrk (for more than just FF) has had a lot more to do with the genre’s move into recorded dialogue than it really has had anything to do with the old guard composers leaving.

          its analogous to movies transitioning from silent films to talkies.
          the sdtrk simply isn’t as important anymore other than for background noise.
          old fans are going to have to get over the fact that you’re never going to have another Eyes On Me song/moment because… well… when character emotion needs to be expressed in modern rpgs the characters will simply TALK now. we don’t need music to express the emotions of the scene anymore.
          and the likelihood any studio is going to go back to those days (outside of some arthouse project) is unlikely.

          heck, its not like Uematsu has produced any epic noteworthy work or had any significant impact on any project since leaving S-E; so this claim that he’s some major game-changing influence is greatly exaggerated.

          • Darknut

            I disagree with that sentiment, music definitely still has a large impact, even during dialogue. Obviously there are different degrees to which people will enjoy or notice the music in and of itself, but look at Monolith Soft (and the hiring of Hiroyuki Sawano) for their new game. Brilliant composer, and his large fanbase from an anime background draws more attention to the game. It’s a pretty perfect choice actually for the game imo

    • Alex Shadov

      Man… SE is going down pretty bad… if XV don’t deliver an amazing new and explosive experience… they are as good as dead.

      • Virevolte

        Well, with A Realm Reborn working well, they won’t go down without putting a fight.

      • Herok♞

        I don’t see how SE is going down in any way shape or form, people leave companies and people join companies that’s how all business works, eventually more people who were beloved will leave, but someone else will become well known and take their place and the cycle will continue. Its not like this guy is the only reason they ever made. Personally I feel most of Square’s games have been pretty good recently, and I don’t see how the ” I don’t like some of their games so they will die” attitude works. They aren’t in any danger like Capcom is where we hear about the incredibly low amount of they have in the bank. SE is fine and they will stay fine unless they truly mess up and having a fragmented fanbase isn’t a true mess up

        • Alex Shadov

          Ok, you have your point and is a damn good one. But… did you remember Square Soft… those were good games, the ones that they made. And then… Square Enix happened. I am a fan from FF and from Square Soft games. I’m just saying that the old school guys are leaving and that, makes SE, less the game company I used to love and venerate. But hey, I’m not that stupid, I know that they will find their way to get back to the hearts of all the fans.(And while on it, made enough money ….. (눈_눈)

          • Herok♞

            The when I look at the premerger and the postmerger the only games premerger I am fond of are Kingdom Hearts and Chrono Trigger, yet I would have a list of postmerger games I really like. I really think some people give the old games to much credit, I played FF7 and even that was just kinda meh to me but different strokes for different folks

    • domonkun

      Ehh, I don’t know, I feel like they’re giving Nomura so much control over all their stuff as of late. Like, the staff behind FF15 is pretty much the same as KH3.

      They still have some good staff, like Nomura and Yoshinori Kitase. Not to mention, my favorite Squeenix personnel, Nobuo Uematsu, still has strong ties with them. But yea, I agree they should look towards rising talent. Like Naoki Yoshida (no relation, lol!) might get some notice with the successful FF14 revival.

      BTW, shout-out to Yoshida’s designs for FF12 and FF3 DS, my two favorite works of his (which the article didn’t mention! >:O ).

      • Yause

        Those at the helm of production ensure that they and their friends remain there (and I’m speaking of the industry at large, not just Square Enix). When the industry was strong, there was more of a tendency to cultivate younger talent. However, developers have learned that lifetime employment and the power of seniority are no longer be guaranteed. Young upstarts with fresh ideas and up-to-date skills can displace veterans.

        Naoki Yoshida only emerged as a rising star because of the leadership shakeup on FFXIV. Had that never occurred, the old guard would still be in charge.

        That said, young people dominate the social/mobile game business. In that sense, their day finally came (which shouldn’t be too surprising since younger creators are naturally more in tune with the tastes and culture of today’s youth), and they’re beating the tar out of the traditional game industry.

    • Monterossa

      This is sad. I think Yoshida should be the main designer of FF series instead of that “Darkness” guy.

      • Chiupon

        don’t worry Monterossa. With more room for Nomura, soon every plot can be about eradicating the power of darkness through the light of friendship and maximum freeze holding spray.

      • Klarktastic

        This. Imo yoshida actually makes final fantasy look like fantasy. Hell even bravely default looks more like a final fantasy game than ff15 or 13.

    • Neckbear

      “Eh, it’s not so bad. I’m sure the world won’t mind having Nomura take care of character design and aesthetic for even more of Square Enix’s output.”

      Ewww. Yoshida was the only good character designer and artist Square had left. FFXIV looked beautiful thanks to him.

    • Belphybear

      Nomura needs to stop hogging the FF games like a fat kid hogging cake.

      • Chiupon

        belt and zipper yaoi cake

        • Monterossa

          all those black clothes, pretty boy faces, and boyband hairstyles.

          • Chiupon

            pretty soon we’ll have hair gel application mini games

            wouldn’t count it out for XIV.
            what’s the plot of that game again? Homoerotic space adventures?

  • Tarlol

    ah, by far my favorite character designer..I’d be glad to see him get picked up for work elsewhere, but who knows. this is just a shame.

  • Well, he can still continue working for bravely series as a freelancer. But I thought the girl art from the announcement of bravely second yesterday is his art? So im sure he’s working for bravely second

    • Yause

      Correct. As he stated, he expects to continue working with Square Enix.

  • ChiffonCake

    Oh man… Yoshida has always been my favorite Square artist by far, so this kind of sucks. But at the same time, I’m excited to see what he’ll be working on next… hopefully it won’t just be mobile games.

    >It hasn’t been confirmed yet if Yoshida is working on Bravely Second
    Just look at the art of Magnolia that was shown with the game’s reveal. That’s obviously his work.

  • Don’t follow the Final Fantasy franchise much, but I have really liked the artwork I’ve seen for Bravely Default. The character designs are unique, but more importantly they’re not ***BUSY*** like I see in so many FF games. There’s something to be said for keeping it simple, and I think this Yoshida pulled it off well.

  • Alex Sargeant

    Glad he said he’s still working on Bravely Default as a series even if he’s not at Square. Clearly he’s bloody great at what he does so if he can be squandered less at another studio then that’s good.

  • Rogerrmark

    I don’t mind if he goes as a freelancer.

  • Kuromadou

    I KNEW IT , i just hope he still stick with FF XIV and Bravely series.. :(

  • Eh, this too shall pass.

  • epy

    More talent leaving SE. It’s no wonder, they Ito making smartphone games and Toriyama directing million dollar console titles.

  • I’m sorry but Square-Enix needs to just be put to sleep already! I always knew it was a bad thing but whatever. At least we got more translated games I guess but even that’s kind of iffy. You know things are odd for when I enjoy some Dragon Quest games more than Final Fantasy games now.

  • AnimusVox

    Aww whut? :[
    This is kind of unexpected, he’s always been my favorite designer.
    I wish him luck wherever he may go.

  • Sylveria

    Another of the few remaining SE persons with talent takes their leave.

  • Bigabu Beaze

    As long as he keeps designing and drawing for games I don’t mind. Seems like everyone is jumping ship. Stupid SE.

  • XaviIniesta

    Well hopefully he will work on Bravely Second, and possibly Third.

  • Draparde

    I’m just glad he’s still gonna do stuff for Square enix. :x Was a bit worried, since he’s got to be one of my favorite artist of theirs.

  • Devinja

    Now he can make a RPG with Matsuno and Level-5.

  • Sergio Briceño

    Wonder if he just wanted a time off, was laid off, or wanted to focus on something else. Because if it’s the third option I’m curious as to just what exactly he is up to right now.

  • chroma816

    Squeenix loses yet another great.

    Still, I hope he stays in the biz – I love his art style.

  • Michael Cortorreal

    Ok…first of all NOOOOOO T-T i might never see your awesome drawings in a FF Tactics game…
    Then yeeeeeesss i can still your amazing drawings in Bravely Default, for me, hedoing the art of a game is enough reason to buy the game. Loved his style since Final Fantasy Tactics (War of The Lions) back in 1996

  • ElAbuelo69

    He also provided great art for A Realm Reborn. Sad to see a master leave, but I wish him the very best.

  • James Enk

    i hope he finds a place to put his talent to good use

  • Bondan Aliano

    This breaks my heart a little.. :/ I really like his arts, but oh well..

  • Kuromadou

    it seem most of people here perceive his resign as the end of his career….. keep it in mind, guys. as far as i know, artist/illustrator is one kind of flexible profession. there’s no big difference between affiliated/employed by a company or being a freelancer. i’m sure Square still needs him very much.

  • Go2hell66

    Toriyama should leave too

  • Oh no! My all time favorite artist and an major inspiration for my art! No matter what, I’ll support him 100% on any future project he’ll work on as main character designer.

  • Lelouch Vi Britannia

    First it was Tetsuya Takahashi who left in 1999 after making Xenogears in order to make MonolithSoft along with numerous other former SquareSoft Employees who went on to make the Xenosaga Trilogy for PS2, Xenoblade Chronicles for Wii, and Xenoblade 2 for Wii U.

    In 2000 video game composer “Yasunori Mitsuda” who composed music to Xenogears, Chrono Trigger, and Chrono Cross leaves.

    In 2004 “Hironobu Sakaguchi” creator of Final Fantasy left Square to create Mistwalker.

    In 2007 “Makoto Ishii” creator of the Mana series starting with Secret of Mana leaves Square-Enix.

    • Yause

      Some corrections:

      Takahashi left in late 1998 to work on Xenosaga. He had a disagreement with Sakaguchi and where he was taking the company.

      Mitsuda left in mid-1998. Chrono Cross was his first project as a freelancer.

      Sakaguchi was forced out in 2001; it wasn’t a voluntary decision. Mistwalker first started operating some time in 2003, during which he spoke with Square Enix (who didn’t commit to a project with him), Nintendo, and Microsoft.

      The company’s history is complicated, and it was doomed to struggle even before the PlayStation era. To this day, their biggest problem is an inability to chart a new course and adapt to a modern game market. There’s blame to be shared all around, from management to current and former creators.

      It’s a bit like what happened to Gainax, which had a similar kind of culture during the early days. The arrangement worked under specific conditions, but the company cracked as the anime industry evolved.

      • Göran Isacson

        I have to admit this may be a bit off-topic, but what “arrangement” would it be that was so disadvantageous for Gainax, and when did it start to crack in your opinion? Was it during their economic woes (and Annos personal troubles) during NGE, or earlier? I’m kinda new-ish to Gainax series (didn’t even watch Evangelion until last year), so I’m not as knowledgeable on them as I am on SE.

  • Lelouch Vi Britannia

    If Tetsuya Nomura leaves Square-Enix in the next 10 years then Squeenix is as good as Defunct.

    • LightZero

      Some would be happy. Quite honestly I rather Nomura step down as character designer for awhile. I want some new blood.

  • Grape Monet

    Doesn’t anybody realize what this means? He can work with Yasumi Matsuno again!!

  • This is a fucking gut-check. Half the reason I gave FFXIV a shot was for Yoshida’s design work. Half the reason I’m interested in BD is for the same.

    This is a serious loss of top talent. I hope, for their sake, he continues to do some work for them in a freelance capacity.

  • sammy11

    Man that’s disappointing. Edea is one of my favourite looking FF characters.

  • echokanon

    Another thing related to FFT is gone again….

  • 1Truth

    I hope he’s contracted to do the character designs of FFXVI, which is likely directed by Hiroyuki Ito. I can’t take another offline, mainline FF that’s made by the trinity of Kitase, Toriyama, and Nomura. I’m not even interested in FFXV.

  • samjosiah

    I’m surprised at how big of a blow this feels to me.

  • CirnoLakes

    Square Enix has lost another one of their great talents.

    As Square Enix is continually losing talent. I feel that they’re losing more and more appeal as a company and a developer.

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