Director and Cosplayer Cloudie McDoom Talks Final Fantasy, Sephithot, and More

Get to know Cloudie McDoom and his captivating cast of characters 

Cloudie McDoom

With pair of swim trunks, a tousled brown wig, and the power of God and anime on his side, Cloudie McDoom stands tall as Sora, hopefully anticipating his next foe. A burst of energy spontaneously appears, and Sephiroth — also played by Cloudie McDoom — saunters into view with a side glance, shoulder shimmies, and a confident smirk. No Idea (CHOPNOTSLOP REMIX) by Don Toliver plays softly in the background as the two face off, exchanging determined gazes.

Suddenly, Sephiroth charges — but Sora blocks just in time by pressing triangle. Energized by the successful defense, Sora lunges, taking the battle to the skies with aerial combos throttling the one winged angel. Not to be defeated so easily, Sephiroth disappears, his theme commencing loudly as Sora tries to follow his elusive energy trails. Perhaps weary of patronizing the poor boy, Sephiroth glances at his wrist to indicate time’s up before blasting Sora away, then charging at him in his critical state. With Sora down for the count, Sephiroth does a victory dance over the young hero’s body, still rolling away in an ungainly manner.

Although the entire battle played out in less than a minute, it quickly became an incredibly popular video with Cloudie’s 24,000 YouTube subscribers, who watched the video over 120,000 times. “Came for the laughs, stayed for the surprisingly awesome Sephiroth cosplay,” said one commenter. “ok but the sephiroth voice is so fire,” said another. No matter what stood out to each viewer, all shared the same sentiment — Cloudie McDoom absolutely nailed the vibe of the beloved Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts franchises.

But that’s what Cloudie lives for when creating these videos. “I like to put a spotlight on the things you may have missed,” he told HeyPoorPlayer, remarking that his Sora cosplay features swim trunks and a regular brown wig instead of a full-blown Kingdom Hearts costume. And although he has an entire room just full of wigs and a greenscreen for all his video editing needs, his ensembles are less about getting the costumes down accurately and more about recapturing the feeling, movements, or personality of each character.

Cloudie McDoom

In fact, a quick glance at any of Cloudie’s 70+ YouTube videos showcases low-budget costumery and either backyard or CGI sets. The videos themselves range anywhere from 20 seconds to 25 minutes, the majority of them falling around the 1 – 2 minute area. The videos aren’t long, per se, but they’re long enough — they absolutely encapsulate all the little things we love about Final Fantasy, JRPGs, and gaming as a whole. From the very natural, determined gazes into the distance to just perfectly recreated walk cycles (and even humorously running into walls like we all do), Cloudie practically is a real-life JRPG character.

Of course, recapturing that vibe as seamlessly as Cloudie does takes time, energy, and attention to detail. “In Episode Radicus, I actually replicate Tidus’ walk,” he explained, noting the bounce in the Zanarkand Abes’ star player’s step. “It’s an absolute workout. Try it for yourself — find an empty area, then jog/hop in step,” he challenged (no thanks, I believe you!). Even his Sephithot character, who was born from all the thirsty comments on his Sephiroth videos and his own “inner thot,” breaks a sweat while confidently shaking what Jenova gave him. The man suffers for his art, certainly.

Cloudie McDoom

But that’s what makes his videos so memorable — his perfectly mimicked mannerisms that trigger a pattern recognition we may not have even realized we cherished. In Episode Radicus, for example, Cloudie’s original characters will become immediately recognizable to Final Fantasy X fans, as Radicus’ battle stance copies Tidus’ to a T and The Algorithm’s movements mimic the top half of Seymour’s aeon, Anima. Even a Kimahri lookalike, Konchii, is present, complete with a blue Care Bears onesie, cat mask, and baseball bat. All of this alongside Cloudie’s original Red Dead Redemption 2 character, Artie-Mack, who takes Yuna’s place as summoner-turned-gunner.

Naturally, the rag-tag group of heroes is far too weak to defeat The Algorithm — that battle was over before it even began. According to its taunting twerks with Mont Saint-Michel in a dreamlike distance, the party simply didn’t have the sex appeal to garner the overnight success other types of content creators easily receive. And although Cloudie noted at the end of part two that he meant that sentiment in jest, it’s hard to deny there’s a ring of truth to it. “As I was messing around in front of the greenscreen one night, the thought came to me that I — along with a lot of other smaller creators — work so hard for our content but don’t get the same amount of views because of this algorithm.” Cloudie may have felt down at the moment, but definitely not out — The Algorithm battle is one of his most watched series, popular enough for even a spin-off side story in Episode Radicus.

 

It’s Episode Radicus that really stands out against the other videos in his channel — while all of them are generally delightful in their vibes, Episode Radicus is different. Darker. Emotional. Humbling. Sad. “Episode Radicus evolved from The Algorithm series and became something of a personal journey in the style of a Final Fantasy game,” Cloudie explained, opening up about his struggles with depression. “It became a reflection of some personal darkness.” Cloudie shared in a comment on the video that “the way Radicus is walking throughout the segment is almost identical to how my father could barely get around during his last few months of living back in 2016. I think I dug up this buried sadness on a subconscious level.”

That emotion absolutely resonated with viewers, who called the piece “beautiful” and “meaningful.” Most commented how impressed they were with his ability to create real, original characters with interesting backstories and entertaining videography. This unique talent dates back to his experience with cosplay videography; “In another life, that’s what I’m known for,” he reminisced. “Although I began creating videos with friends in college back in 2007, I really started making videos in a more professional capacity in 2013 under the name Akioboy Entertainment. If people saw me at conventions, they always tried to get into my videos because they knew they’d be good,” he said. It wasn’t until 2016 that he made his current YouTube channel, and after two years of hard work, he saw it explode in popularity in 2018. “I was always behind the camera, capturing other people’s cosplays. I finally felt like it was my turn in front of the camera.”

cloudie mcdoom

His turn in front of the camera has been incredibly well-received, with 176,000 people across all his social media channels eagerly awaiting each new video. Even one of his favorite bands, Coheed and Cambria, took notice of his videos, reposting an older tiktok he had made and subsequently following him. “I just felt like exploding,” he stated, recalling how he felt opening up that notification. Of course, he feels tremendous pride when he receives fan comments who have enjoyed his work. “I especially love when I get a comment in another language, because it really hits home that my videos have touched people from different cultures all over the world.”

Despite his growing success, he’s not letting himself feel complacent. “My friend said it really well: it’s like a ripple effect, and I’m in the middle. All my work is affecting other people as it radiates away from me and into the world, but I’m still in the middle of it all.” That mindset of still needing to put in all the hard work shines in all that he does, seemingly unstoppable when paired with his passion for JRPGs, stemming from childhood. “Teachers thought I had a learning disability because I wasn’t retaining information easily. Once I discovered JRPGs, I realized there was nothing wrong with me, because I was able to remember these interactive storybooks vividly.” 

His favorite interactive storybook… I mean, Final Fantasy? “Final Fantasy IX, although I’ve most recently enjoyed Final Fantasy VII Remake.” 

Although he deeply enjoys creating these videos, becoming a game designer would be the ultimate dream. “Even when I’m having a blast making these characters in my head come to life on screen, there’s always something in the back of my head going ‘you know you want to make video games, right?’ Working with a team of animators and coders to bring these characters to life in-game would be fantastic.” Perhaps The Algorithm: The Game will be coming soon to a console near you?

Regardless of warnings, the future doesn’t scare Cloudie McDoom at all. Sure, it may get really hot in those Organization XIII hoodies, he may stay up until the wee hours of the morning editing sometimes, and he may have accidentally brought down his greenscreen more times than he’d care to admit, but he’s happy to be doing what he’s doing. “I want this. I want to create…so I don’t stop.”

cloudie mcdoom

Be sure to follow Cloudie McDoom:

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Heather Johnson Yu
Born at a very young age; self-made thousandaire. Recommended by 4 out of 5 people that recommend things. Covered in cat hair. Probably the best sleeper in the world. Still haven't completed the civil war quest in Skyrim but I'm kind of okay with that. Too rad to be sad.

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