Final Fantasy VII Remake co-director Motomu Toriyama has discussed how the Honey Bee Inn had to be changed for “modern sensibilities.”
In an interview posted by Square Enix, Toriyama explains he proposed making the cross dressing scene an extravaganza and musical number, as the team “hadn’t decided exactly how we would portray Cloud wearing a dress.” When asked why they took such a different approach, Toriyama stated they took “modern sensibilities” into consideration.
“Given how famous the cross-dressing was in the original FINAL FANTASY VII, we were aware that people would have high expectations for the remake. We knew we had to do it in a way that both lived up to those expectations, but took modern sensibilities into consideration.
For example, fans these days expect stories and dialogue in games to go beyond stereotypical depictions of gender. Through Andrea’s lines and the lyrics of the backing track, Stand Up, we tried to build in a positive and supportive message for Cloud during his cross-dressing scene.”
Other proposals included a bathhouse, with Andrea being so impressed with Cloud after a massage that he agreed to the make-over. This idea ended up over-lapping with the hand massages from Madam M. Other ideas were also incorporated into other rooms of the Honey Bee Inn.
While hiring professional dancers for motion capture, they had proposed bringing different concepts for each stage of the dance-off. One of these proposed was a pole dancing scene, which would have required an elaborate set to film. Toriyama states “We decided to take that part out due to the impact on the rating!”
“I was a bit worried about what fans of the original game would think,” Toriyama admits, “but the whole scene got a much more enthusiastic reception than I could ever have hoped for, so I was quite relieved. Going forward, I’m sure some parts of the remake will differ significantly from the original. I hope this scene can be a good example of how to approach such changes.”
For those unfamiliar, the Honey Bee Inn was a bee-themed brothel run by crime boss Don Corneo in the original Final Fantasy VII. After learning he is a Shinra informant, Tifa attempts to infiltrate the facility (knowing Corneo calls girls to his mansion to be his “bride” for a day).
Cloud does not realize this is part of a plan, and believes Tifa is being kidnapped. This results in him having to gather clothing items to cross-dress and pose as a woman to enter the facility. One of these events can involve Cloud ending-up in a hot-tub with several muscular and stereotypical-looking gay men.
In Final Fantasy VII Remake, the Honey Bee Inn is now a members-only nightclub. Even so, there are private lounges where Cloud can peek. Therein you can see people getting acupuncture, male guests playfully chasing or being chased by girls, and one man trying to guess the shape a girl is drawing in the air using the stinger of her bee costume (with the abdomen above her buttocks).
This Honey Bee Inn is run by Andrea Rhodea; one of the people who recommend girls for Don Corneo. After winning a short tournament at the Corneo Colosseum, he is willing to put Cloud forward as the third “girl.”
But not before Cloud has to win a dance off against him, where he is subsequently made-up on stage in quick and extravagant fashion. Toriyama explains this was inspired by traditional Parisian cabaret and burlesque-style dance shows.
The Square Enix post describes the scene as “an incredible dance number that culminates with an incredible makeover and a powerful message of inclusion.” At it’s conclusion Andrea states “True beauty is an expression of the heart. A thing without shame, to which notions of gender don’t apply.”
Toriyama states the original conversation was planned to be much longer, but was made shorter. However, this “left us with a stronger, more straightforward message.”
While Andrea seems to honestly believe Cloud wants to cross dress for his own reasons, he helped return Cloud, Aerith, and Tifa’s items and gear while they were rescuing the latter. The dress Cloud will wear depends on the side-quests completed; including doing squats at a gym. The gym features NPCs who highly resemble those from the hot-tub scene in the original, with some acting effeminate.
Some information on the Honey Bee in was discussed prior to release. In an interview with Famitsu, director Tetsuya Nomura confirmed that while the cross-dressing scene would return, “We’ve made it more modern. If we made the place like we did in the original game, the physical uneasiness would be overwhelming, so that was no good…”
It was in this interview that Nomura revealed “The ethics department at Square Enix also said we had to tighten [Tifa’s] chest so it doesn’t look unnatural during all the intense fighting.” This was why her design was given a black tank-top under her shirt, and thigh-high socks.
A Square Enix representative later stated the department “evaluates game content to make sure it is aligned with the anticipated age ratings standards across the globe.” This was in spite of international ratings boards rarely agreeing on smaller details of age-appropriate content within their own nations, let alone between them.
Final Fantasy VII Remake Intergrade launches June 10th on PlayStation 5. Final Fantasy VII Remake is available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. In case you missed it, you can find our review here.