I’ve already talked about Chocobos, the giant birds that are used as transportation in the Final Fantasy games, in several entries, most notably this one. Having examined the entries on Chocobos on Wikipedia and the Final Fantasy Wiki, however, I’d like to turn back to these avian mounts and look into some issues, like why people in these games have chosen to ride around on what are basically giant chickens.
Well, according to the FF Wiki, Yoshitaka Amano’s original artwork made the animal look more like a giant land-bound pterodactyl.
As I mentioned before, one of the possible inspirations for the Chocobo was Hayao Miyazaki’s Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, in which people rode on giant birds called Horseclaws.
Both wiki pages mention another possible source, however, which is a commercial mascot. No, seriously, there’s a bird called Kyorochan who’s a mascot for a chocolate candy made by Morinaga & Company.
This character was popular enough to be spun off into an anime series and a few video games
Kyorochan really looks nothing like a Chocobo, but an interesting connection is that the product he advertises is known as Choco Balls, or chokõbo. I suppose that means that, contrary to my assumption that “Chocobo” sounding like a chocolate product was just a coincidence, it might have been completely intentional.
Another question I have is whether the Final Fantasy universe has any more of the traditional steeds from our own world, like horses, donkeys, or camels. There actually are some horses, but as far as I can tell they’re pretty much all wild animals. FF2 does have some soldiers who ride on horses, however. Also, there’s always Odin’s horse Sleipnir, a holdover from Norse mythology.
The mythical Sleipnir had eight legs, but the one in the games usually has six, and sometimes only four.
I suppose the people of the FF worlds just decided to tame Chocobos instead of horses, with the Palamecian Empire of FF2 being an odd exception.
To close out this post, please enjoy this medley of different versions of the Chocobo theme: