Whether you love it or hate it, Final Fantasy X is a prequel to Final Fantasy VII. Thankfully, for everyone who dislikes this connection, the two games don’t actually impact each other in terms of plot or characterization. However, for the rest of us, it’s always fun speculating about all the different ways the two games are alike and figuring out the history of both their worlds. This connection is something the game creators have been adding to for some time, and considering that Auron shows up in the new FFVII remake trailer, I imagine that we’re going to have a few more hints and Easter eggs in our future. And yet, somehow, I found myself surprised when Kingdom Hearts turned Sephiroth into an Aeon.
Sephiroth is probably one of the most well-known Final Fantasy characters. He’s iconic, and at this point in time, I’ve yet to come across another Final Fantasy villain that evokes the same memorability as him. Sephiroth’s backstory is that he was experimented on by the Shinra Corporation and imbued with cells from Jenova, a murderous alien lady from outer space. This gives him awesome powers. However, knowing that he was little more than an experiment pushes Sephiroth over the edge, and whether or not Jenova controls him or simply has a deep bond with him remains a bit of a mystery. Nevertheless, he becomes the game’s main antagonist, and the memory of him, even after he dies, haunts all the characters.
Memory is a big theme with Sephiroth. He irrevocably changes so many of the characters’ lives and his actions ensure that no one will ever forget him. Despite that, Sephiroth doesn’t want to be just a memory, and at the end of Advent Children, after Cloud beats him once again, Sephiroth tells us, “Omoide ni wa naranai sa.” This translates to, “I will not become a memory.”
This statement has a lot of meaning behind it. No matter how hard the characters try, they can never truly be rid of Sephiroth. And for Sephiroth himself it’s also ironic—he fears becoming a memory, but by the time Advent Children rolls around and Cloud defeats him again, that’s exactly what he is. In the worlds of X and VII, memories and dreams hold a lot of power. Through dreaming, people can manifest their memories into physical structures. We even discover that X’s main character Tidus is nothing more than a dream based on someone’s memory of a lost civilization. Tidus is undoubtedly a person with thoughts and feelings the same as anyone else—but being a dream limits who he is as a person. He can only exist in the real world so long as someone else is calling him forth. In Advent Children, Sephiroth is in a similar situation. Despite his awesome abilities, he is only able to live on through people’s memories.
This type of memory/dream manifestation is a central plot element in Final Fantasy X. The Summoners from X would go on pilgrimages to obtain Aeons—powerful dreams or memories of the Faith that formed into benevolent monsters at the Summoner’s call. Aesthetically, each Aeon had specific glyphs and symbols that would appear while being called forth. What purpose the glyphs actually serve is never fully explained, but they always accompanied the Aeons. I suppose that, narratively speaking, it makes sense that Sephiroth could become an Aeon, since the magic in X holds true for the magic in VII, but this is not something that happens in the original game or movie. Advent Children did go further into the X/VII connection by giving us multiple villains that were simply the manifestation of memories—Kadaj bursts apart into Pyreflies at the end, meaning that he was just a culmination of memories of the dead—but while VII also has summon monsters of its own, we see neither glyphs nor Aeons throughout the whole story.
It wasn’t until Kingdom Hearts came out that the Aeon aspect of X was tied into VII. When Sora goes to the Olympic Coliseum in Hercules’s world, he has the option of fighting Sephiroth during the Gold Match. When Sephiroth first appears, a bunch of glyphs form in the sky and he’s called down to the arena. What this means is that the Sephiroth in Kingdom Hearts is an Aeon. I know that visually, the game makers probably only did this because it looked cool and it’s just another small way to hint that the two games are connected, but this has a lot of implications. For starters, if Sephiroth is an Aeon, that means that there’s both a Summoner and a Faith somewhere. I suppose that it’s possible that Sephiroth is his own Faith, and that his dream is simply himself. After all, Faith are souls of real people trapped in stones, and Sephiroth spends the majority of Final Fantasy VII suspended in stasis anyway—usually when you see him, he’s just a remnant or a vision of the real Sephiroth. But that still leaves us with the problem of who’s summoning him.
The Faith only give their Aeons to people they form a connection with, and anyone who’s familiar with VII would know that the only person both capable and willing to call Sephiroth forward is Jenova. But then, that would mean Jenova herself is a Summoner, which is a profession that started in the world of X. I suppose that this is possible—after all, there is a theory that Jenova is actually Lady Yunalesca, the first Summoner. So I guess we can take from that what we will. However, we never see or hear about Jenova during Kingdom Hearts, and considering that she’s a destroyer of worlds, Sora should probably go find and kill her.
Making Sephiroth an Aeon has so many implications that I know the people who wrote Kingdom Hearts most likely didn’t really think about, but it’s not like that game makes a lot of sense anyway. For anyone who’s also confused by the worldbuilding mess prevalent in Kingdom Hearts, trying to come up with solutions to explain Sephiroth’s new Aeon status is certainly fun. I find Sephiroth’s being an Aeon interesting because that means that he is literally nothing more than a memory brought forth through someone’s dreams. It’s hard for me to say whether or not this was a good decision though. What happens in Kingdom Hearts doesn’t actually impact what happens in the Final Fantasy games—so in that way, I would argue that this was just another fun means to explore a “what if” factor for his character. But while Kingdom Hearts is not canon, this was still a creative decision that someone had to consciously make. Inconsistent worldbuilding really disappoints me, because worldbuilding is often my favorite part of any story. Though the convoluted disaster that is Kingdom Hearts’s worldbuilding doesn’t bother me nearly as much as it would in another story, what does bother me is that it transferred some of its confusion to the VII/X canon. Sephiroth becoming an Aeon would have been a fitting ending for his character arc, given his fears about only being a memory, but instead it was just added in with no thought or planning.