Some people argue that humanity’s idea of religion began as a response to the great forces of the unknown. Death is the first and foremost of these; all religions grapple with death in some capacity. Following close behind are the forces of nature. Agrarian peoples from the earliest farmers to modern-day Californians feel the effects of drought. Many respond by praying for rain. Rain has become a powerful symbol in our culture to convey a variety of meanings, but more recently it’s more of a used-and-abused trope that’s lost much of its rich complexity.
Almost a year and a half ago, we explored the curious fact that the Harry Potter series doesn’t seem to include anyone who practices a religion. There are plenty of Christian elements in the story, from celebrations of Christmas and Easter to inscriptions on gravestones to christological figures. Rowling seemed to make the conscious decision to not include characters who practice a religion. Considering the other Christian elements, I have to wonder if this was by request of her editors, who had her make other changes (like censoring Ron’s swearing) to make her story more palatable for parents of young children. Regardless, with the advent of Pottermore, we’ve discovered that religious practice is indeed compatible with the Harry Potter universe.
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.