Friends, the Final Fantasy VII Rebirth hype train has left Midgar station and is barreling toward us at a fever pitch in the run-up to the RPG’s PlayStation 5 release date of February 29, 2024. Y’all see that new trailer? If you haven’t, you’ve probably at least heard fans squealing about the first look at Vincent Valentine, Zack not being dead like he’s supposed to be, and several other cool moments. All that’s well and good, but there’s one moment in the trailer we are not talking about enough. And we should be, because the best character in all of Final Fantasy VII is coming back in Rebirth: Andrea Rhodea, the king of the Honeybee Inn.
I Didn’t Play Final Fantasy XVI ‘Right,’ And That’s OK
Andrea is one of the best additions in Final Fantasy VII Remake’s new spin on an old story. He’s the owner and lead dancer of the Honeybee Inn, which was a brothel in the original 1997 Final Fantasy VII. In Remake the Honeybee Inn is a lavish nightclub, complete with extravagant dance routines, stunning costumes based on the titular bug, and a hunky pansexual king running the place.
The changes worked on a few fronts. It made the Honeybee Inn a more memorable touchstone of Cloud and Aerith’s time in the Wall Market rather than a weird, uncomfortable detour tinged with gay panic. Now it’s a celebratory moment about the freedom of expression and breaking down gender norms. The updated scene let Cloud dress in drag without shame and felt like a real queer space in a game that was otherwise willing to assume Cloud was involved with a woman as long as they were in each other’s proximity. Sure, Cloud and Aerith are just passing through, but it was a meaningful moment for Final Fantasy VII’s larger world to show that queer people and places exist.
Square Enix / Chariflame
Even as a person who doesn’t love Final Fantasy VII Remake for a lot of reasons we won’t get into—don’t get me started on my lack of faith in Square to pull off an Evangelion-style meta-commentary after nearly every extended universe it’s done in Final Fantasy has undermined the source material in some way—the Honeybee Inn scene remains an all-time great moment for me in the series. It’s joyful to watch unfold, and Andrea is one of the most captivating characters for as little screentime as he gets.
Given that he’s a side character and pretty tied to a specific location the party is departing at the end of Final Fantasy VII Remake, I didn’t think we’d see Andrea again in Rebirth, or the third game that will wrap up this revamped story. But it looks like we’re heading to the Gold Saucer in Rebirth, and Andrea is about to dance his ass off once again.
And look at this king fucking go. He was a charismatic dancer in Remake, even when saddled with a newbie dance partner like Cloud. Whenever I heard a catchy pop song back in 2020 (say, anything from Lady Gaga’s “Chromatica”) images of Andrea and Cloud dancing immediately entered my mind, like an old screensaver or music video. So I’m sure the new choreography he and his crew are working on in Rebirth will stamp itself onto any pop album I listen to in 2024.
I really loved Dion and his gay relationship in Final Fantasy XVI, but because of a few disappointing decisions Square Enix made with the character, I still left that game a bit saddened by its apparent hesitance to showcase his love story with the same confidence as it did his straight counterparts’. Fresh off Remake’s Andrea, an incredibly proud queer man in the Final Fantasy universe, Dion’s treatment felt like two steps forward and one step back. I don’t expect Andrea will play a huge role in Rebirth, but I’m very glad to see he’s back, killing it on the stage, and looking fine as hell in white.