I recently just replayed both of X’s games and VII, because hey, they are my favorite Final Fantasy games. With the exception of direct sequels, most Final Fantasy games are completely independent from each other. That’s not always true—we have the Ivalice Alliance games such as XII and Tactics that both take place in the world of Ivalice, albeit a thousand years apart from each other. But unless we’re specifically told otherwise, it’s always been safe to assume that the Final Fantasy games have no impact on each other. At least, that was the case until X-2 happened. During an interview for Final Fantasy X-2 Ultimania, Nojima confirmed that X and X-2 are prequels to VII. While the stories in the games are still more or less independent from each other, this connection allows for some interesting social and religious implications, specifically for the Al Bhed.
Advent Children takes place two years after the events in Final Fantasy VII, and it introduces three new villains to our cast, as well as a few other characters. The world is being overrun with a disease called Geostigma, and many people are dying. Geostigma turns out to be connected to Jenova and her son Sephiroth—the main villains of the game—and the three new characters also consider Jenova their mother and plan to use some of her remains to revive Sephiroth.
Cloud returns as our main character and works as a delivery boy. He doesn’t really want to be caught up in anything else that’s going on, because he’s still coming to terms with Aerith’s death and being unable to save her. But when the three new villains kidnap a bunch of children suffering from Geostigma and with the threat of Sephiroth on the rise, Cloud eventually decides to stop moping around long enough to do the right thing and stop our new villains in epic, physic-defying battles.
Most reviews for this movie have been mixed. On the one hand, it had amazing CGI for its time. On the other, most people who hadn’t played the original game would have had trouble following its plot. I feel mixed about this movie for a different reason. I like it simply for existing and delving deeper into the world of Final Fantasy VII. However, this movie is completely pandering and clearly only exists as a cash cow for Square Enix.
Read Part 1 here.
Last time, I talked about Aerith, Tifa, and a little bit about Shera. Now I’m going to talk about Yuffie and Elena. Yuffie is much the same as Tifa and Aerith. She has a lot of good qualities about her. She also has a very interesting past. But in a lot of other ways, she falls flat. Elena is a little bit different. She is more like Shera, in that I have relatively nothing positive to say about her.
A game certainly would have a hard time becoming as popular as Final Fantasy VII if it didn’t have some decent characters. On the whole, I think the game did a really good job with its characterization—but like just about all video games, it is not excused from sexism. Unfortunately, when it comes to VII, the sexism seems almost worse than it is in the other games because of how much more successful this one became.
Tifa and Aerith are the two most prominent female characters. In some ways, however, that’s not because of their personalities, but more because of their relationship to Cloud. Both of them are relegated into a love triangle with him. Fortunately, this does not cause any catfights or petty backstabbing. However, that’s all the more I can positively say about it. Not so positively, both of their motivations and their reasons for existing in VII are there to further Cloud’s storyline, when Tifa and Aerith could have been well-written characters otherwise. Much like Barret still displaying some racist qualities despite otherwise being a really good character, the same can be said of Tifa, Aerith, and sexism.
I’ve already discussed religion before in Final Fantasy VII. To be sure, there are a lot of religious themes in VII, especially when it comes to Aerith’s character, who I think is a female Christ figure. Even the background of her people—who are referred to as the Planet’s chosen people—plays off a lot of Judeo-Christian themes, such as the search for the Promised Land. Not everything involving her people, the Cetra, are Judeo-Christian in nature, though. The Temple of the Ancients, for instance, is shaped much like a ziggurat, and the one room inside it has what looks like hieroglyphics.
I’m not about to launch into another post about Aerith, however, even if I left out a lot of things in my other post. What I plan to talk about is how religion in VII affects the culture of the world, by which I mean, not very much, if at all.
Final Fantasy VII is considered by many to be a classic, and though some of the previous installments had varying degrees of success, VII has the honor of being the Final Fantasy game that made Final Fantasy popular in America. It came out all the way back in 1997 and was the first in the franchise to utilize polygon graphics and to be developed for the PlayStation. Furthermore, it was also the first game of the series to be ported to Windows. At the time of its release, it had some of the best graphics ever seen in a video game.
This was also the first Final Fantasy game to take place in a more modernized setting. On the whole, it was the first Final Fantasy to do a lot of new things. This game was pretty groundbreaking, and has thus far been one of the most successful games ever. Certainly, VII has a lot going for it. Not only was it different in terms of technology, it also features a lot of well-written characters and a good story. That’s not to say that there aren’t any problems in the game. There are problems all over the place.
The biggest issue I noticed right away is how this game was edited. Everything involved with it is a graphic designer’s nightmare. And I don’t just mean the game. Everything from the box to the strategy guide has problems. The translations are terrible, and they mar what could otherwise have been a great story. It’s not a good sign when even the game box has noticeable, easily fixable mistakes. I cannot actually take a picture of my game box for you guys, because the text would be too small to read, so I recreated the image instead.
So I’ve already given an overall review on the plot of this game, but for any of you who either didn’t read that or didn’t play the game, here’s what the plot boils down to in its simplest form: some asshole’s mother tells said asshole to summon a meteor to murder the Planet, so he does it without question. Of course, that doesn’t really do the plot justice, because as I said last time, Final Fantasy VII can become really complex, especially when we take into account the setting and character backstories.
Furthermore, VII did something completely unexpected and shocking: It killed off a main character.
This is not something that often happened in games at this point in time. The death of Aerith has to be one of the most memorable moments in video game-dom. Unfortunately, though FFVII did succeed in giving Aerith’s death meaning, her passing is still surrounded by plot holes.
I probably shouldn’t be starting another series for this game, but I gave X a series, and VII is a much more well-known story. Not only that, it’s much more loved, and between the two, I think it’s the better game. It certainly has less ginormous gaping plot holes, and it didn’t dedicate one-third of its story to something that has entirely nothing to do with the plot. I do, however, still think there are some problems with the way the story is told.
Other than X, I’ve already reviewed IX, XII, X-2, and XIII-2, but VII is my favorite Final Fantasy game. I’m going to warn all the hardcore fans right now that the downside of this being my favorite in the franchise means that I’m going to be a lot more critical of it. And like X, there’s a lot to talk about. But first, let’s begin with the plot.
Well, this was not the post that I had been planning on doing since I started reviewing X, but after some sound rebukes on Tumblr from my last post, Ace plays Final Fantasy X: The Sexism, I decided to not delay. And oddly enough, though I also knew what I wanted to say for my next post, which is also about sexism in Final Fantasy, some of the comments I received just really put into perspective to me how much people let Final Fantasy, or rather that they don’t notice it, get away with certain things.
It also made me realize that I certainly didn’t make my points as well as I should have. And so, before I get into the sequel and sexism, which was what I originally had planned, I’m going to address some of the things that people pointed out, because they are things that need to be addressed. And after the reactions of the last post, I also feel the need to add a disclaimer to this.
If you are under the delusion that Final Fantasy can do no wrong and is perfectly amazing in its representation of female characters, you are not going to like anything that is after the jump.
It’s not often that we find Christian themes in media straight from Japan, except for when we do, because it happens all the time. Japanese culture seems to be very fascinated with Christianity as a whole, and so it comes as no surprise that we may find some Christian themes in the Final Fantasy franchise as well. When I first sat down to outline what I was going to say for this post, I initially planned to discuss Aerith as a Virgin Mary figure, but I don’t think that’s entirely accurate. Aerith has more in common with Jesus than she does Mary. While it’s true that she does share some traits that we would find with a Mary figure—purity of heart, (more than likely) virginal, etc.—these are also traits that Jesus had. And really, the main reason I first thought of Mary and not Jesus is because Aerith is a woman.
So let’s talk about Aerith as a female Christ figure.