Many stories struggle with showing over telling. While I can think of a few notable exceptions, I’ve noticed that it’s not very easy to make the supposed heroes of a story actually heroic when they’re terrorists. There’s nothing that grinds my gears more when characters are presented to me as self-righteous heroes before doing some pretty unheroic things. Final Fantasy VII struggles with this a bit.
Our playable party consists of people belonging to the terrorist organization AVALANCHE—which is apparently not an acronym, so I don’t know why it’s written like that—and their goal is to save the Planet from the evil corporation Shinra. As mentioned in a previous post, Shinra is an electric company, and it gathers power from something called Mako, which comes from the Lifestream. The Lifestream is essentially the Planet’s blood, so by sucking it out of the ground, Shinra is subjecting the Planet to a slow and painful death.
Once again, I feel the need to repeat that, yes, the world is actually called the Planet.
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.
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.