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When we first meet Sephiroth he is a cold, emotionless man who seems almost totally disconnected from the people around him. The only time we ever hear him talk of anybody with any sense of respect at all is when he refers to Professor Gast. In contrast to this, Sephiroth speeks of Hojo, who is revealed to be his father much later in the game, as „an inexperienced man assigned to take over the work of a great scientist. He was a walking mass of complexes.“
When Sephiroth and Cloud (it is actually Zak who witnesses this scene and later tells Cloud the story) enter the Mako reactor at Nibelheim together and discover the monsters contained inside Sephiroth says, „Now I see, Hojo. But even doing this will never put you on the same level as Professor Gast.“ He goes on to explain the origin of the monsters in this exchange:
Sephiroth: Normal members of SOLDIER are humans who have been showered with Mako. But what are they? They’ve been exposed to a high degree of Mako, far more than you.
Cloud: Is this some kind of monster?
Sephiroth: Exactly. And it’s Hojo of Shinra that produced these monsters. Mutated organisms produced by Mako energy. That’s what these monsters really are.
Cloud: Normal members of SOLDIER? You mean you’re different? H..hey, Sephiroth!
Sephiroth:N…no..was I? Was I created this was way too? Am I the same as all these monsters? You saw it! All of them were humans.
Cloud: Human? No way!
Sephiroth: I’ve always felt, since I was small…that I was different from the others, special in some way. But, not like this. Am I …human?
At this point, Sephiroth is clearly freaking out. He starts striking at the various monster stasis chambers with his sword and also covers his head with his hands and begins shaking. This shaking is suspiciously similiar to the shaking that Cloud does on his two trips to destroy the Mako Reactors in Midgar and also does later in the game when he is being manipulated by Sephiroth. This is very strange, but what is the connection? When Sephiroth questions how he was created he is on to something, but the knowledge drives him to insanity before he can find out the full extent of the truth.
After this, all Hell breaks loose. Sephiroth dissappears for three nights in the Shinra Mansions basement, reading the files which reveal the nature of his creation. He goes bonkers, burns down the town, and breaks into the Mako Reactor in the mountains, nearly killing Zak and Tifa in the process. He is stopped by Cloud who, in anger over the murder of his friends and his mother, throws him into the Lifestream, even after having Sephiroths sword shoved straight through him (the same way Aeris dies). How is it that Cloud, little Cloud, who spends most of the game being manipulated by Sephiroth, is able to lift up and hurl „the great Sephiroth“ over the ledge? Well he was keeping his promise to Tifa, for one thing. But more than that, could it be that Cloud is alot stronger than he seems while Sephiroth isn’t nearly as strong as he seems?
Earlier in the game, when Cloud and Sephiroth Nibelheim, Sephi roth asks Cloud how it feels to be in his hometown, going on to reveal that he never had a hometown. When Cloud asks about his family Sephiroth replies that his mother was Jenova, who died giving birth to him. He only laughs when he is asked about his father saying, „What does it matter?“
Later on in the game we find out that Jenova is not Sephiroths mother at all. Sephiroths mother is a human woman named Lucretia and his father is revealed to be Hojo of Shinra Inc. What does this mean? Later on in the game, we encounter a very different Sephiroth in the Temple of Ancients. It is in this encounter that Sephiroth reveals his plan to become a God, hence this exchange.
Sephiroth: Look well.
Cloud: At what?
Sephiroth: At that which adds to the knowledge of (he pauses) …I am becoming one with the planet. Mother it’s almost time, soon we will become one.
Aeris: How do you intend to become one with the planet?
Sephiroth: It’s simple. Once the planet is hurt, it gathers Spirit Energy to heal the injury. The amount of energy gathered depends on the size of the injury. What would happen if there was an injury that threatened the very life of the planet? Think how much energy would be gathered! Ha! Ha! Ha! And at the center of that injury will be me. All that boundless energy will be mine. By merging with the energy of the planet, I will become a new life form, a new existence. Melding with the planet…I will cease to exist as I am now…Only to be reborn as a ‚God‘ to rule over every soul. Behold that mural. The Ultimate Destruct ive Magic…Meteor.
He takes off, telling Cloud to „Wake up!“. Aeris reveals that Meteor is a magical force which propels through space, finding small planets and crashing into them, thus destroying them. Cloud goes to the mural and begins to freak out again, his hands covered over his head, his spirit visibly being removed from his body, symbolizing how disconnected from reality Cloud is. Afterwards, the group comprises a plan to get the Black Materia out of the Temple of Ancients. They succeed but Sephiroth shows up and steals it from them, through his manipulation of Cloud, then forcing Cloud to attack Aeris. Cloud goes blank and wakes up in a dream, with Aeris speaking to him through some sort of telepathy in this exchange.
Aeris: Cloud, can you hear me?
Cloud: Yeah, I hear you. Sorry for what happened.
Aeris: Don’t worry about it.
Cloud: I can’t help it…
Aeris: Oh…then why don’t you REALLY worry about it? And let me handle Sephiroth. And Cloud, you take care of yourself. So you don’t have a breakdown, okay?
Good old, Aeris. She’s running in to certain death and she still has that spark of optimism which permits her to joke about what things that really aren’t very funny. But this exchange is really interesting because it is one of the main dialogues that presents the nature of the relationship between Cloud and Aeris. When Aeris and Cloud are on the Gondola in the Gold Saucer she has this exchange with Cloud.
Aeris: First off, it bothered how you look exactly alike. Two completely different people, but look exactly the same. The way you walk, gesture…I think I must have seen him again in you…But, you’re different. Things are different. Cloud…I’m searching for you…
Aeris: I want to meet you.
Cloud: But I’m right here.
Aeris: I know, I know what I really mean is, I want to meet…you.
We already know about Aeris‘ lost love and that his name was Zack and he was a member of SOLDIER. Yet Cloud, when asked by Aeris in Midgar, remembers nothing about Zack. Later on in the game, however, we found out that Zack was the actual member of SOLDIER who was at Nibelheim and and Cloud was just one of the low ranking members. Cloud was totally confused by his subsequent infusion of Mako and Jenova cells, done by Hojo and it is over half way through the game before he pieces his reality together.
Yet Aeris sees that Cloud is not all himself („I’m searching for you.“). She sees his apparent similarities to Zack and knows that something is not right. Aeris is Clouds connection with his present. Tifa is his connection with his past, as revealed through her knowledge of the events of Nibelheim and her disclosure of them to him in the Lifestream. This is the the most of apparent of three character triangles, each involving Cloud and Aeris, that appear in the game. There exists another one between Cloud, Aeris, and Zack. There is also a third triangle within the game that we will explore.
When Cloud and party reach the City of Ancients they try and save Aeris, but fail miserably, as evidenced when Sephiroth cleanly slides his sword through her spine, after failing to manipulate Cloud into doing it for him. Earlier in the game Sephiroth says, „The Jenova Project wanted to produce people with the powers of the ancients, no, the Cetra. I am the one that was produced. Professor Gast, leader of the Jenova project, produced me.“ This is down right eery because shortly afterwards, in Icicle Inn, we find out that Professor Gast was also Aeris‘ father.
Pro fessor Gast who „produced“ Sephiroth and fathered Aeris. This creates a kind of psuedo brother/sister relationship between Sephiroth and Aeris and thus reveals the third character triangle found within the game involving Aeris and Cloud. It also serves as a reminder too how disconnected Seph- iroth is from reality.
After Sephiroth kills Aeris he tells Cloud, „Ha, ha, ha! Stop acting as if you were sad. There’s no need to act as though you’re angry either.“ He begins to float into the air, „Because, Cloud, you are…“ He trails off, almost as if confused by something, leaving another Jenova incarnation to stall them. They kill the seemingly puppet creature and it is Jenova who finishes these five critical words, „Because you are…a puppet.“ This is the only time in the game that Jenova speaks. Why is it Jenova who says this? What does this mean?
The chase for Sephiroth begins again with them chasing him to the Northern Crater. When Cloud finally confronts Sephiroth in the Nibelheim illusion, Sephiroth unleashes another shocker, that Cloud is a clone with false memories who was constructed by Hojo five years before in the laboratory of the Shinra Mansion. When Tifa, who knows that Cloud wasn’t at Nibelheim, begins to doubt Cloud, he becomes agitated with her. Sephiroth tells says, „Cloud don’t blame Tifa. The ability to change one’s looks, voice, and words is the power of Jenova. Inside of you Jenova has merged with Tifa’s memories, creating you. Out of Tifa’s memory, a boy named Cloud might’ve just been part of them.“ We tend to overlook this line, just as we over look the ‚you are a puppet‘ line, because of the shock of the revelation Sephiroth makes to Cloud and Jenova doesn’t really seem to be very powerful, but her abilities of illusion are obviously STRONG. Then again, there are a lot of things in this game that seem to be something while actually being something very different. Very interesting, indeed.
In the final battle between Cloud & Co. against Sephiroth we face four separate entities. The first of these is Jenova noted by her face and two enormous tentacles, who is easily dispatched, and we’ve finally killed her for good, or have we?
In the second battle we face Bizarro Sephiroth, a monstrous form of Sephiroth that symbolizes Sephiroths conversion with Jenova. Look very carefully at this monster. In the torso area, we can clearly identify Sephiroths face, but look on top of the monster above Sephiroth, at the head, and you’ll see Jenova, her two tentacles dangling in front of Sephiroth. Watch the monsters movement when it attacks. Jenovas two tentacles lift and begin dangling over Sephiroths head, like a puppeteer controlling her favorite puppet.
In the third battle, the most difficult of the four battles, we face Safer Sephiroth. This angelic form of Sephiroth is highlighted by its monstrous wing where it’s right arm should be. Note the colors of this wing, blue, white, reddish brown, and black, exactly the same colors that the three Jenova monsters spread through out the game consist of. This battle is the one that gives us the true indication of Jenovas afformentioned power of illusion, hence the ridiculously long Super Nova summon spell which shows a comet tearing through planets before detonating the sun, causing a super nova which eats up the rest of the planets. Also, take note of the translation of the final lyric in the aria sung during this piece. „Come, come, o come, Do not let me die / The winged one of the lower reaches“
In the fourth battle, Cloud fights Sephiroth face to face, without the power of Jenova to contend with…and utterly slaughters Sephiroth. Yet, Sephiroth seemed so strong during the game. How can he be this weak? The answer is simple. Sephiroth seems weak because Sephiroth is weak. He is merely a puppet of Jenova, hence the revelation of the true villain of Final Fantasy VII.
So now that we know that Sephiroth’s not the real villain, what exactly is Jenova, anyway? Let’s journey to Icicle Inn, watch a certain video tape which just happens to be titled „The Original Crisis,“ and find out. When we go into Professor Gasts old house, we see a video of him and Ifalna. Ifalna explains that the Cetra were wiped out by something called ‚the Crisis from the Sky.‘ This creature was an alien life form that came from outer space and insinuated itself into the Cetra’s various cultures throughout the world, gained their trust, and then spread a plague into their society gradually killing almost all of them off. It also crashed something enormous into the Planet (possibly Meteor), causing a wound, at the northern crater, which was never able to heal. Ifalna describes the creatures appearance in this line, „When the Cetra were preparing to depart from the land they loved…That’s when it appeared. It looked like …our…our dead mothers…and our dead brothers. Showing us spectres of their past.“
Whatever this creature was, it had the ability to reach into people minds and show them illusions, thus altering their memories. It is interesting that Sephiroth calls the crater the Promised Land when he kills Aeris, when it is, in fact, an injury that threatens the planet (another one of the games illusions). After the plague, a few of the Ancients managed to survive, track the creature down, and seal it away. However they weren’t able to destroy it because of its remarkable ability to replicate itself.
In the second video, we find out the name of this ‚Crisis from the Sky‘ and the name is, suprise, Jenova. And poor old brilliant, but doomed Professor Gast, what can he do with this information but turn away from Ilfalna, as if deeply disturbed by something? Hey, didn’t he head up some scientific experimentfor the Shinra called ‚The Jenova Project?‘ or something? So now we know that Jenova killed off the Cetra, whereas as Sephiroth puts the blame on „those who appeared that disliked their journey“ for their demise and believes he and Jenova to be the sole survivors of the Cetra as revealed in his revelation to Cloud/Zak in the Shinra mansion basement. Jenova was sealed away and forgotten. Two thousand years later and thirty years before the beginning of the game, Jenova is rediscovered. In the years that immediately follow a huge world war breaks out and the first Mako Reactors are created. Is this a coincidence? When Sephiroth is in the Shinra basement, going insane, he reads aloud this document „Jenova Project approved. The use of Mako Reactor number one approved for use.“ Wow, the first Mako reactor was set up exactly at the time when the Jenova Project, and the creation of Sephiroth, was set into motion.
Jenova was not simply manipulating Sephiroth. She was manipulating everything. She was the founder of the Shinra (translated as ‚God‘) Corporation. Remember when Cloud freaks out just before he sets the bombs up that are to destroy the Mako Reactors in Midgar? This is because he is going against the will of Jenova. She subliminally guided the scientists under her wing to create Sephiroth, her ’son.‘
She set up the Mako Reactors to weaken the planet and prepare it for its easy destruction. Look at the seal around Holy before the final battle and you’ll see that it consists of a red colored rock structure, just like Meteor. Jenova used the power of the Black Materia in order to contain Holy. Remember how the Shinra originally were weapons manufacturers who grew in wealth from the war that occurred? She probably started that war as part of her plan to att- ain the wealth to build the Mako reactors which would be her tool for her enslavement of the human race. She even implanted her cells into the most elite of her army, SOLDIER, in order to have a powerful fighting force of slaves to serve her. She accomplishes her ends in the present, just as she did in the past, by insinuating herself into the ruling society, taking control of it, and manipulating it, all the while keeping her true self and her efforts unseen.