Distant Worlds: Music From Final Fantasy @ Otakon 2018

Distant Worlds - Title

I’ve been a huge fan of Final Fantasy since I stumbled upon Final Fantasy 7 in the late 1990s. I loved everything, from the memorable characters, the epic plot, and the sensational music. Final Fantasy 7 was the start of my wonderful journey through multiple worlds of creativity. With all the hype surrounding Final Fantasy lately thanks to the remakes and remasters for Final Fantasy 7 and 8, and with Otakon 2019 right around the corner, it’s the perfect time to discuss the Distant Worlds: Music from Final Fantasy concert held at last year’s convention. 

Through my notes from the concert, there is one line that stands out to me: “There’s nothing like hearing the songs from your favorite games played by such a talented orchestra live. It’s breathtaking.” There truly is nothing like it. Words can’t do this concert justice, but I will certainly try!

What Is Distant Worlds?

Distant Worlds – Pre-Concert

Launched in conjunction with the 20th anniversary of Final Fantasy, Distant Worlds is a concert tour that features the music of Japanese video game composer Nobuo Uematsu. Grammy award-winner Arnie Roth conducts.

It is a multimedia experience that combines moving screen images with the emotions of a symphony orchestra as they perform music from the world-renowned Final Fantasy video game series.

From the Distant Worlds website, Nobuo Uematsu is described as “one of the most celebrated composers in the history of video game music”. He is recognized for his work on the Final Fantasy series and other video games as well. He is “a major contributor to the increasing appreciation and awareness of video game music.”

Arnie Roth is a music director and a Grammy-winning artist that is known for his work with various performers. Notable names include Il Divo, Diana Ross, Jewel, Andrea Bocelli, and many others.

Distant Worlds At Otakon 2018

The full name of the Distant Worlds concert is “Distant Worlds Philharmonic Orchestra and Distant Worlds Chorus”. It was announced that Nobuo Uematsu, the video game composer for the series, was present in the audience. Their performance at Otakon 2018 was the first time they played at a convention. It was fitting, as 2018 was the 30th anniversary of Final Fantasy, and the 10th anniversary of the Distant Worlds concert.


The orchestra performed a diverse setlist from various games across the series. Their setlist is:

  1. Prelude (Final Fantasy Series)
  2. Liberi Fatali (Final Fantasy VIII)
  3. Victory Theme (Final Fantasy Series)
  4. Character Theme Medley (Final Fantasy VI)
  5. Cosmo Canyon (Final Fantasy VII)
  6. Not Alone (Final Fantasy IX)
  7. Theme of Love (Final Fantasy IV)
  8. Heavensward (Final Fantasy XIV)
  9. Apocalypsis Noctis (Final Fantasy XV)
  10. Chocobo Medley 2012 (Final Fantasy Series)
  11. Opening: Bombing Mission (Final Fantasy VII)
  12. Battle Medley 2012 (Final Fantasy Series)
  13. Zanarkand (Final Fantasy X)
  14. Final Fantasy (Final Fantasy Series)
  15. Encore: One Winged Angel (Final Fantasy VII)

Otakon 2018’s setlist varied slightly:

  1. Prelude (Final Fantasy Series)
  2. Victory Theme (Final Fantasy Series)
  3. Character Theme Medley (Final Fantasy VI)
  4. Cosmo Canyon (Final Fantasy VII)
  5. Heavensward (Final Fantasy XIV)
  6. Not Alone (Final Fantasy IX)
  7. Music From Final Fantasy IV
  8. Apocalypsis Noctis (Final Fantasy XV)
  9. Opening Medley 2012 (Final Fantasy VII)
  10. Chocobo Medley 2012 (Final Fantasy Series)
  11. Aeris’ Theme (Final Fantasy VII)
  12. Opening: Bombing Mission (Final Fantasy VII)
  13. Zanarkand (Final Fantasy X)
  14. Battle Medley 2012 (Final Fantasy Series)
  15. Victory Fanfare
  16. Encore: One Winged Angel (Final Fantasy VII)
Distant Worlds – Nobuo Uematsu & Arnie Roth

Orchestra etiquette prohibits cheering or clapping until a piece has finished. This was incredibly hard to achieve. From start to finish, every piece made you want to cheer along. 

Arnie Roth was very interactive with the audience. He asked questions as pieces were introduced: “How many versions of the chocobo theme do you think there are?” Turns out, quite a few!

Nobuo Uematsu joined the conductor on stage at the end. He teased an encore: “maybe they want more,” and that he has “a large choir” to work with, referring to the audience. He then requested that the audience join him in performing One Winged Angel from Final Fantasy VII, practicing along with them.

Final Thoughts

Distant Worlds – FFVII

If you are a fan of Final Fantasy, I highly recommend keeping an eye out for the next Distant Worlds tour date. They have a few dates coming up in 2019. 

It is one thing to hear the music in the game as you play it, or from a CD, or digital track. However, hearing it performed live is a completely different feeling. This is, perhaps, because it gives each piece a new breath of life and pulls every memory and emotion out of you. It is an amazing experience that no Final Fantasy fan should miss. 

Not only do they have breathtaking music being performed, but the visuals that accompany the music are captivating. Clips and snippets from various games and movies within the series are played on dual screens on either side of the orchestra. Not only does the mix of visual and audio take you on a memory filled journey; it also showcases the evolution of Square-Enix in terms of animation and technology. It is a fantastic ride.

Each video clip played with each piece allowed the audience know what game it was from. As a result, the audience knew the song regardless if it was introduced or not. This helped new fans keep aware of what was going on. And older fans would get excited from the very first note.

It was a pleasant surprise to learn that Otakon would be hosting the concert. I hope Distant Worlds comes back to a convention sometime soon. In the meantime, who is ready for the Final Fantasy 7 remake and the remaster of Final Fantasy 8?




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About the author

Rizuki Ann

… a computer technician, marketing director, and graphic designer by day, and an anime-loving, video game-playing cosplayer by night. Rizuki hosts various workshops, panels, and photoshoots at multiple conventions and events throughout Long Island, New York, and on the East Coast. Her focus is Cos-Positivity, inclusivity in the cosplay community, being a resource for new cosplayers, and uniting the Sailor Moon Fandom. Most of her shenanigans can be found on her Instagram.

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