The NieR games are some of my all-time favorites (by extension, this includes the DRAKENGARD series). Emil, also known as No. 7, is one of the many thought-provoking characters in these games. His story is melancholic, but that doesn’t prevent it from having those little threads of hope and joy.
He appears in both the console NieR games (NieR: Gestalt/Replicant and NieR: Automata). Although he isn’t present in the mobile game, NieR: Re[in]carnation, outside of being an event character. In Re[in]carnation, he’s known as Oddity.
Emil is beloved by fans as well as his creator, Yoko Taro. Taro frequently appears in public events and interviews wearing a mask of Emil’s skull head. His “weapon” head is iconic for Nier fans and appears as a cosmetic filter for Weiss’ bullets in the game.
NOTE: NieR: Gestalt (published in 2010) and NieR: Replicant (published in 2021) are the same game, with Replicant being remastered. For comprehension, I will refer to these games as Replicant because that’s the newest version (likely the more well-known).
Emil has an exceptionally positive outlook on his life, all things considered. As a small synopsis, in Replicant, Emil is a party member. In Replicant, while you go through the story to gain his subscription to your adventure, you learn more about him. Emil is a test subject in human experimentation, which is why he’s known as No. 7.
His sister, Halua, was also a test subject, although she doesn’t live for long after you… meet her… in Replicant. Emil’s role in Automata is more of a passive, quest-giver one, although no less impactful. You first meet him in a field of Lunar Tears, and he’ll ask you to find him more of them. As you give Emil the flowers, he’ll regain memories and tell you about them.
His appearance undergoes extreme changes from when you first meet him to when he becomes a party member in Replicant. His final appearance in Replicant is also reflected in NieR: Automata, although he’s just his head in Automata. When you first meet Emil, he looks like a Fancy Little Victorian Boy, and he’s wearing a blindfold. After his… awakening, of sorts… Emil gains a skeletal appearance with his iconic round, stylized skeleton head.
- The Less He Spoke, the More He Heard: Emil's Story
- Can You Count the Clouds: NieR: Gestalt and NieR: Reincarnation
- I Carried Water in My Glove: NieR: Automata
- My Sister Gathered together All My Bones: Emil's Primary Relationships
- Here Comes a Chopper to Chop Off Your Head: Halua, No. 6
- Weeping for a Loved One: Nier (Gestalt/Replicant Protagonist)
- They Went to Sea in a Bowl: Kainé
- Seven for a Secret Never to Be Told: Emil's Abilities
- The Old Moon Laughed and Sang: FAQ
The Less He Spoke, the More He Heard: Emil’s Story
Can You Count the Clouds: NieR: Gestalt and NieR: Reincarnation
Emil’s role in Reincarnation is that of a tetartagonist. He joins your party after Kainé and is the balancing force between the three other party members. Where Nier is generally a neutral force, he will egg on Weiss and Kainé’s antics if he’s in the mood. Emil is typically a peacekeeper and will actively encourage Kainé, Weiss, and Neir to get along.
His burdens contrast significantly with his cheerful attitude. For the most part, he speaks to Nier and Kainé as though they are the best friends he’s wanted his whole life.
Foxy’s Not at Home: Emil’s Home, the Manor
We first meet Emil in a Manor on the Southern Plains just before Seafront. It’s big, imposing, and wholly colored in a black-and-white palette. Yoko Taro has stated in interviews that the Manor’s monochrome color palette is intentional; it’s meant to represent that time is at a standstill for the occupants. Neither Emil nor his butler, Sebastian, are human, so they don’t age. Emil is a human experiment and ultimately came out as something other than human.
Sebastian is an Android, and his role wasn’t the same as Devola’s and Popala’s. Instead of being tasked with ensuring smooth sailing for Project Gestalt, Sebastian’s role is more like the Restrictors of Deepground in Final Fantasy VII. He’s a taskmaster, meant to keep all the once-human experiments in check.
There are two parts to the Manor, the upper level, which is the Manor itself, and the basement. The basement is called the Underground Facility in Replicant, and it’s named aptly. The Underground Facility is where the human experimentation that Emil and his sister, Halua, were subjected to what happened. It is known that a frankly ungodly number of people were being experimented on down there. Still, Emil and Halua were the last two survivors… and Emil ultimately ended up as the last and only.
Emil and Halua were also hand-in-hand experiments at the Facility, with their experiment’s code title being Snow (as in Snow White). Snow was originally going to be Emil’s name before they changed his name to Emil, in order to keep the name they used it for the No. 6 and No. 7 weapons experiment code name.
The Manor was constructed by National Weapons Research Laboratory (AKA National Weapons Laboratory or National Arms Laboratory), and, as the name implies, the goal was to create human weapons. There’s more information and connections here, but I’ll spare everyone the long lecture.
The National Arms Laboratory constructed the Underground Facility as a response to Halua, who had become more dangerous and powerful than they had anticipated. They proceeded to put the Underground Facility to more use than just containment for Halua and ultimately built the Manor to conceal the number of experiments being performed at the Facility.
Another exciting thing to scribble on a sticky note is that the Manor is one huge nod to Resident Evil. It has an eerily similar layout to Spencer Mansion (introduced in the first Resident Evil), including the secret lab where people were performing human experimentation.
They also utilized a similar camera gimmick to the older Resident Evil games, with a fixed point that switches depending on the player’s location. Another nod would be the locked doors and their keys. They’re all oddly themed, with Moon Key, Star Key, Light Key, and Darkness Key. The SFX sounds and giant spiders will play in certain rooms that also reference Resident Evil and add to the creepy theme.
Catch a Tiger by the Toe: Emil’s Eyesight
When we first meet Emil in the Manor, he looks like a young boy. He’s dressed in purple, vaguely Victorian attire, and has a blindfold. Emil quickly informs Nier, Weiss, and Kainé that he wears the blindfold for a reason; if he looks at anyone directly, they turn to stone. He bears the weight of terrible guilt over this and wears the blindfold to avoid petrifying anyone.
It’s ultimately for naught, as Emil uses this power in the end-game for Part I. Emil is forced to petrify Kainé to keep a massive Shade, the Jack of Hearts, contained. Five years later (Part II), he requests Nier’s help finding a possible solution in the Underground Facility.
He tells Nier about how he was experimented on by the National Arms Laboratory in their pursuit of an “ultimate weapon.” His sister, Halua (Named No. 6 by the researchers), became their ultimate weapon. In contrast, Emil became her countermeasure, No. 7. They kept Emil in reserve in case Halua needed to be contained.
Nier and Emil complete their mission, which ends with fighting Halua. Emil ends up merging with Halua, in a sense. He absorbs her power after the fight, which vaporizes her body. His body becomes reminiscent of her “weaponized” one– skeletal. Emil gains the ability to hover over the ground, and he wields an enchanted staff now. This is the point when he joins the party.
There Is a Flower within My Heart: The Aerie and Shadowlord’s Castle
Emil’s role during Part II is to aid Nier in his fight against Shadowlord. They must collect five keys to get to Shadowlord (who’s in his castle). The Law of Robotics, The Stone Guardian, Loyal Cerberus, The Memory Tree, and Sacrifice. These can be collected in any order (aside from The Stone Guardian key), and Sacrifice is the one collected in the Aerie.
The Aerie is Kainé’s hometown, a town built over a vast cavern. It’s built on platforms, ladders, and bridges… To say it bluntly, everyone lives in tin cans. They’re all living in tin cans over a death drop. The denizens of the Aerie are rude and distrustful of outsiders, which can be seen when you talk to any of them during Part I. They’ll tell you to go the hell away, and Neir never actually sees any of them when they’re all in their right minds because they’re all hiding in their tin cans.
Regardless, during Part II, after obtaining the information about the keys, you can head over to the Aerie at any time to get the Sacrifice key. The game incentivizes visiting the Aerie by informing Nier that they have suddenly opened up a market. This is an uncharacteristic and unsettlingly sudden change from how Aerie’s citizens were during Part I.
After entering the new market, Nier will express his desire to eliminate all Shades to one of the citizens.
…Unfortunately, the Aerie is over 90% Shades at this point. They all attack Nier after his proclamation, and they finalize their effort to protect themselves and their friends by joining together to make Wendy. Wendy is a massive shade that is notably difficult to beat for many players. In the final mile of the battle, Emil yells at Nier to distract Wendy so he can do something. That something is ultimately something that Emil didn’t mean to do.
Emil tries to utilize his power as an ultimate weapon to defeat Wendy… But he eviscerates Aerie due to his lack of control over his power. Whatever survived Emil’s blast lands in the cavern, and Aerie is no more. Nier obtains the Sacrifice key from this event.
Emil’s second game-changer move is in Shadowlord’s Castle. After the fight with Devola and Popala, where Devola dies, Emil sacrifices himself. After Devola dies, Popala flies into a frenzy and tries to unleash everything she has at Nier to kill him—a no limitations because I don’t care kind of murderous intent. Emil sacrifices himself by creating a sort of tear in the space-time continuum that takes him and Popala in it to save Nier and Kainé.
Although Emil does survive, which is shown in end-game credits, he’s shown to come out of his wormhole to the desert… but as just a head. He expresses relief at being alive and rolls off to find Kainé, Weiss, and Nier.
For He’s a Jolly Good Fellow: Other Notable Events
During the cutscenes that players receive during playthroughs of Part II, Kainé and Emil have some dialogue while Nier is in the Village. Because the Village (where Nier grew up) doesn’t like Kainé and Emil, they are forced to stay outside overnight.
We get to see some small dialogue-based cutscenes with Kainé and Emil while they camp for the night, where we learn that Kainé has a soft spot for Emil. She apologizes for Emil’s new appearance, feeling partially guilty for it. Emil brushes it off and tells her he doesn’t mind; at least now, he can look at her! Kainé also gives him a very simplified version of what her childhood was like.
Glossing over the abuse she received from the residents of the Aerie, she states that her grandmother always believed in her. Her grandmother gave her the strength to keep pushing and living. Emil says they may find a way to cure Kainé’s possession by Tyrann. Tyrann’s the shade inhabiting her arm and leg, the arm and leg covered by bandages. As well as find a cure for Emil’s skeletal form.
Emil also makes several statements during the game that hints at his attraction to Nier. This is especially noticeable during the wedding scene at Facade between the King of Facade, Sechs, and Fyra, who is a servant. Emil wistfully notes how he’d like to do something like this one day.
Yoko Taro has confirmed in multiple interviews, especially after 2011, that Emil is homosexual and has romantic feelings for Nier. Yoko Taro has also stated that he considers Emil’s behavior as transgender, although this sentiment is more prevalent in the earlier interviews.
I Carried Water in My Glove: NieR: Automata
Emil is more of a quest-giver and shop vendor in Automata. He’s adapted and made himself a new body; now, he has an automotive body. He zooms around the map and is announced by the music that he blares from his speakers.
If they approach him, he’ll sell any Androids of YoRHa supplies and weapons.
O Mary, Your True Love Is Dead: Lunar Tears and Emil’s Memory
When 2B and 9S discover a Lunar Tear, Emil approaches them and tells them that the Lunar Tear means a lot to him. He states the flower provokes a tidal wave of unfamiliar memories and a strange feeling. He requests that 2B and 9S come to him if they find more Lunar Tears.
Upon the second flower’s discovery, Emil will regale 2B and 9S with a story. He tells them about when he stopped seeing people—when the sand started expanding as flowers died.
With the third flower, Emil tells them about the aliens who invaded the world. He admits he forgot something important about the people he wanted to protect.
After the fourth flower, Emil tells 2B and 9S that the war with the aliens isn’t going well. In an attempt to reverse the tides of the war, Emil created multiple copies of himself. Although those versions all died, leaving him alone… or so he thinks.
The fifth flower arrives, and Emil tells 2B and 9S about a place that was very special to him. He gives 2B and 9S the key to the elevator in the Shopping Mall, telling the two Androids that he needs a moment to reflect.
After 2B and 9S use the key in the Shopping Mall, they find Kainé’s shack in a field of Lunar Tears. Emil tells them this was a place that a version of himself fiercely protected… a long time ago. He explains his background as a biologically-engineered weapon and the war with the aliens that drove the Original Emil to create copies of himself.
He states that he was a copy of Emil, one among countless Emils. He also explains that the more copies Emil made of himself, the more fragmented his memories became. The Duplicate Emil mentions that the Real Emil spent an impressive amount of time here with the people he loved. He states they were sad and tough times, but the memories ultimately became Emil’s most coveted treasure.
9S asks if he knows where the Real Emil is, and he states that he doesn’t know. He thanks the two and says he wants to gather the rest of the Emils here, as they need to settle something. Together. He gifts 2B and 9S a Lunar Tear as a reward.
Whither Shall I Wander?: Lunar Tear Trivia
I find the Lunar Tears in NieR to be greatly interesting. Emil likes them because, to him, they represent Kainé and Nier. Kainé always had one in her hair, and she kept a wreath of dried Lunar Tears at her camp on the outskirts of Aerie. Nier told Yonah, his little sister in Replicant and his daughter in Gestalt, a story about them at the beginning of the game. Nier states that Lunar Tears bring good luck and fortune to anyone who finds one, which is the catalyst of the rest of the events in the game.
The Lunar Tear, or at least a similar flower, is also present in the DRAKENGARD series, although it’s mainly notable in DRAKENGARD 3. DRAKENGARD is the game that NieR is a spin-off of, with NieR taking place as a “what-if” scenario for DRAKENGARD’s Ending E. Regardless, the Flower in DRAKENGARD is representative of rebirth and everlasting life.
It’s quite literally a harbinger of it. In DRAKENGARD 3, Zero (the protagonist) has the Flower coming out of her eye. It is thanks to this Flower that she can not die. The Flower rebirths Zero every time she dies. It creates a new body for her, birthed straight out of itself. It can also create several copies of its host, but that’s a different tangent.
Regardless, the Lunar Tear represents a lot in the NieR and DRAKENGARD games. I feel the name also holds multiple layers of meaning.
My Sister Gathered together All My Bones: Emil’s Primary Relationships
Here Comes a Chopper to Chop Off Your Head: Halua, No. 6
Halua is Emil’s twin sister. She was experimented on to become an ultimate weapon, just like Emil. After excessive experiments and testing, the researchers selected Emil to become No. 6 (the weapon). The weapon was meant from the beginning to be an extremely powerful force armed with intense magic.
Halua rejected this idea and fought the scientists and researchers to take her instead. She wanted to protect Emil from the painful remodeling process and strong-armed the scientists into taking her in his place.
She kept her human heart after the remodeling process, which unfortunately caused her to become uncontrollable in her rage and her strong desire to protect Emil. She ended up chained and bolted to a wall as a form of containment, and against her wishes, Emil was remodeled into No. 7 as a countermeasure.
Emil loves Halua more than anything and is deeply distraught when they have to fight her. However, during their fusion, Halua tells Emil it’s OK; she doesn’t blame him. She also tells him that she’ll always be watching over him.
Weeping for a Loved One: Nier (Gestalt/Replicant Protagonist)
Emil shows throughout the game that he deeply cares for Nier. This is showcased well during the Wedding at Facade. This cutscene actually has two different sets of dialogue lines depending on the version of Nier you’re playing with. Replicant’s “Brother Nier” or Gestalt’s “Papa Nier”.
In Replicant, If you talk to Emil before entering the wedding cutscene, he will state that he’s jealous of Fyra and wishes he was her. Nier’s reaction is to tell Emil that he’ll find a good bride someday, and Emil’s response is to echo Nier dejectedly…
“Huh? Oh, right. A… bride.“
Emil continues to tell Nier’s back as he leaves for the wedding that that’s not what that was.
In Gestalt, this scene starts with Emil gushing about the wedding. Nier tells him it sounds like he’ll be getting hitched, and Emil tells him that that would be nice… if he can find someone that doesn’t mind his apperance. He asks Nier about what his wedding was like, and Nier tells Emil that he doesn’t remember.
Emil pushes the question a little, asking Nier if he’d ever consider having another one… and Nier tells Emil that it’s not important. As Nier walks away Emil looks at him and mumbles to himself about how he thinks it’s important, though…
Yoko Taro has stated in multiple interviews that Emil is homosexual, with romantic feelings for Nier. Emil desperately wants to protect him and is self-sacrificial regarding Nier’s happiness. He’s willing to suck it up and not say anything when it comes down to Nier and Kainé’s possible pursuit of romance. This isn’t to say that Nier and Kainé are together in the game because they’re not. It’s just mentioning that Emil views Nier’s happiness as something worth more than his own.
As for Nier’s side of the relationship… I don’t particularly think Nier swings any way. I think Nier is just as likely to pursue Emil as he is Kainé.
…I just don’t think Nier realizes homosexuality is a thing. Nier’s kind of stupid and bull-headed. Which is to say he gets severe tunnel vision when he’s working towards a goal. In Replicant, this is obvious… Because while he could try out a long-term relationship, or he could try to learn how to make a sword, or he could grab a job at the tavern, he just doesn’t.
For Nier, nothing is more important than making sure Yonah is safe. By extension, later in the game, Emil, Kainé, and Weiss’ safety also become extremely important to him. Nier and Kainé grieve when Emil is thought to have died from his stunt with Popala.
Nier is pretty messed up from it, and Kainé is the one to kick him into gear.
They Went to Sea in a Bowl: Kainé
Kainé and Emil’s relationship can be classified as familial. He views her as an older sister, and she considers him the little brother she never had. Kainé and Emil camp together when Nier goes to bed in the Village, and they build a fire and roast things. Emil mentions to her in Part II that he’s glad they can camp together. He likes talking to her, and she tells him she feels similarly.
Kainé and Emil balance each other out. Kainé is vulgar, quick to anger, and, more often than not, physical. Emil is more peaceful and is like a cinnamon bun; he’s sweet and kind. Where Kainé would sort things out with her fists, Emil would rather talk. Combined with Weiss’s antagonism to Kainé and Nier’s general neutrality, Emil does play peacekeeper a lot.
Seven for a Secret Never to Be Told: Emil’s Abilities
Initially (meaning Part I), Emil’s only ability is to turn people into stone. He isn’t a party member in Part I, either.
In Part II, however, Emil’s abilites expand immensely. Instead of the power of No. 7, he now has the power of No. 6 instead of his original power. The power of the ultimate weapon, No. 6, comes with a skeletal form and an eternally levitating body. The abilites of the ultimate weapon also include powerful magic both for offense and defense. His magic can be used to heal (seen when he heals Kainé from her petrified state) or to harm (as seen in battles with Neir).
Emil doesn’t have full control over his abilities, however. This can be seen with Wendy in the Aerie. When he tried to aid with helping Nier fight Wendy, he ultimately ended up demolishing the whole town.
The Old Moon Laughed and Sang: FAQ
Question: Is Emil in love with Nier?
Answer: Yes! Emil is in love with Nier. Yoko Taro has confirmed this, himself, in several interviews. He specifically mentions it in most interviews after 2011. Taro has also mentioned that he somewhat consideres Emil to be transgender.
Question: Is Emil a human or a replicant?
Answer: Neither! Emil was a human, but was subject to human experimentation. By the end of it he came out as something other than human. He came out as a weapon, so heavily imbued with magic that he can’t die easily. He’s not a replicant because he’s not a replicated human body, he’s not a clone. He’s not an android because he’s entirely organic still.
…Emil could be considered some form of immortal due to his status as the ultimate weapon, though.
Question: Is Emil in Automata a clone?
Answer: Yes! The Emil in Automata admits during his questline that he is a clone. It’s implied that the real Emil is still alive, but the clone Emil in Automata doesn’t know where he is.
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