Dramatic Themes & the Games Ending


Diese Interpretation wurde vermutlich um 1997 von John Brittenham verfasst. Die ursprüngliche Quelle ist ungewiss, die älteste bekannte Quelle ist hier zu finden.

So far we have identified two completely different stories that exist within FFVII. There is the ‚apparent but false‘ story that shows the world being destroyed by foolish human beings (Sephiroth and the Shinra). There is also the ‚hidden but true‘ story that shows us that Jenova is manipulating everything. In contrast to this we have Cloud, the apparent protagonist. We also have our hidden protagonist, Aeris (as Cloud puts it, „She was so close, we couldn’t see her„) who, in addition to being the first and last character we see in the game, is the one who accomplishes the major task (the summoning of Holy) which saves the life of the planet. Cloud, in turn, attacks Aeris twice and gives up the Black Materia twice and doesn’t start being a productive member of the party until after his experience in the Lifestream.

On opposite ends of the spectrum, we have Sephiroth our „apparent but false“ antagonist and the „hidden but true“ antagonist, Jenova. Aeris and Jenova are the exact opposite of each other, diff- erent in just about every way possible. Aeris is the last Cetra, a race that was characterized by its migrations into various star systems. They would colonize, cultivate, and communicate with these planets until the eventual move to continue their search for the Promised Land. Jenova goes onto planets, destroys them, and claims their life energy for its own. Aeris (‚heiress‘ of the knowledge of the Cetra) is the symbol for life and truth in the game with her constant excitement about the future and her own natural abilities to heal herself and those around her, as well as her insight that all is not right with Cloud.

Jenova, in turn, represents illusion and destruction in its most absolute form and is also able to reassemble itself whenever it is dismembered. Note the contrast between Aeris‘ healing ability and Jenovas ability to reconstruct itself after it is destroyed.

Cloud and Sephiroth, by contrast, seem to be less protagonist/antagonist and more flip sides of each other. Both are men who have been deceived about their past and want to find out the truth about themselves, but are mislead from this agenda by Jenova. Cloud comes to believe that he is a clone of Sephiroth. Sephiroth comes to believe that Jenova is his mother and that they are both Ancients when, in fact, his mother is Lucretia, a human woman and Jenova is an alien creature bent on the destruc- tion of the Planet for her own rise to power.

Both characters are ‚puppets‘ of the monster Jenova. Both characters spend time in the Lifestream, an experience which sets both of them on their true path of accomplishment. Both characters are infused with the Jenova cells at the hands of Hojo.

The terms ’nothing is what it seems‘ defines the theme of Final Fantasy VII. In fact, it defines each of the characters in the game as well. All of the heroes in this game undergo a realization where they have to confront a belief about their past which is proved to be false. Let’s look at all of them.

Cid spends years blaming Shera for the failure of his rocket launch. Later on in the game he finds out that the oxygen tank that she was trying to fix, which stalled his launch, was actually malfunctiong, just as she said. Shera didn’t ruin Cids dream, she probably saved his life. Vincent spends years in stasis, punishing himself for his involvement in the Jenova project. Later on, he determines that hiding from the problem won’t solve anything and that he must confront it in order to attone for his past mistakes („I was frozen in time, but now I feel my time is just beginning!„).

Yuffie spends the first part of the game trying to steal all the Materia from the group, in order to help restore the power of her home town, Wutai. Later on, she realizes that Cloud and his party are the ones who are really fighting for the future of the human race and that this fight is her true quest.

Cait Sith is really Reeve, of Shinra Inc. But more so, Cait Sith/Reeve realizes that the Shinra/Sephiroth/Jenova is the threat, and that Cloud, Aeris, and Co. are the solution and must come to terms with being able to betray the Shinra and follow his own morals.

Nanaki believes that is father was a coward who abandoned Cosmo Canyon to save his own hide. Later on, he finds out that his father was the hero who saved Cosmo Canyon from destruction by the Gi Tribe.

Tifa believes that something terrible will happen if she tells Cloud that Zak was the member of SOLDIER who was really at Nibelheim. Later on in the game, that knowledge proves to be the key to uncovering the truth about Clouds past, a revelation that allows him to finally resist Sephiroth and Jenova and fight against them.

Barrett is the mastermind behind the destruction of the first two Mako reactors, an act he defines as being for the future of the planet. Later on, Barrett says that the Mako reactor attack was the wrong way of doing things since it cost innocent people their lives. He goes on to reveal that he is really fighting for the future of Marlene, his late best friends daughter.

Cloud, the „false hero“ is the most screwed up character in the game and needs no analysis to prove this. He is the symbol of ’nothing is what it seems.‘ He is the character from whose eyes the story is told, yet he is revealed to have totally false memories about his past. His true memories aren’t revealed until he and Tifa are in the Lifestream together and even then, they don’t seem to realize that Sephiroth is just Jenovas slave. This is what serves to make the story so confusing. By telling the story through Clouds eyes we, the player, see reality as Jenova wishes Cloud to experience it. Cloud doesn’t realize what is really going on until the end of the game and never says so out loud, but rather implies it, through this line, „I think I’m beginning to understand…an answer from the planet.“

Aeris, the hero, is the most honest character in the game yet, as Tifa puts it, „She talked about the future more than any of us…Although she never talked about it to us, she must’ve had a rough life…I think Aeris looked forward to tomorrow and the future more than anyone…She must’ve had many, many dreams…“

In the epilogue of the game, which takes place five hundred years after the games conclusion, we see Nanaki and his children running up a hill to reveal a shot of a long abandoned Midgar and the plant (planet) life that has grown over it. There are no humans to be seen anywhere. The most common argument I’ve heard in defining the meaning of this ending is that humans caused the destruction and were summ- oned back into the Lifestream by Holy because they were a mistake. From the reality presented on the surface of the game, this is the strongest argument. Yet, we also know that most of what is evident about Final Fantasy VII is false. The truth of the game is subtly told in various hints spread throughout the game.

Humans were a creation of the planet. They existed within the natural cycle of the planet, posing no real threat to it. The destruction in this story is all caused by Jenova, who is an alien life form which exists outside of the natural cycle of the planet and manipulates this cycle (namely, humanity and the Cetra) to acheive her own ends.

What does the epilogue with Nanaki really show us? Midgar was virtually trashed during Meteors descent into the planet and would have been long since abandoned by humanity in the five centuries that passed on the planet between the games ending and its epilogue if they indeed continued to exist after Holy is released.

To understand the contrast between the ‚apparent but false‘ ending and the ‚hidden but true‘ ending, you merely have to look at the very, very end of the game. After the conclusion of the epilogue, the Final Fantasy VII logo appears and we hear a strange noise. This sound consists of birds chirping, water flowing, and various other sounds of the cycle of nature. Listen closely and you’ll also hear the laughter of children contained within these sounds, hence a possible revelation that humanity does not vanish at the games end.

But this isn’t the only evidence of this that is contained within the game. To understand this, you must look closely at the games ending before the credits occurr. After Cloud defeats Sephiroth in the fourth of the games four battles, Sephiroth explodes into Lifestream energy that has is colored RED, signifying the contamination of his life force by Jenova. Red is the primary color of both Jenova and Meteor. Watch this scene closely. Cloud is left standing alone. A stream of light emerges from the ground and circles around Cloud. This stream is clearly Holy as it is identical to the streams that later emerge from the Planet and destroy Meteor. The red Lifestream energy of Sephiroth also surround Cloud and enter him. Holy then enters Cloud, combining with him and the Sephiroth/Jenova life force, culminating in a bright flash of light.

This bright flash of light also occurrs at the end of the game when Holy is vanquishing Meteor, only we don’t get to see what happens afterwards, which is why understanding this scene is so important to understanding the meaning of the games ending. After, the flash of light, Holy vanishes. The Sephiroth life force emerges once again from Cloud, only this time it is colored GREEN. This all symbolizes the cleansing of both Cloud and Sephiroth of the Jenova life force that is inside of them by Holy. Notice that Cloud does not vanish after this encounter. Indeed, only moments later, the airship is propelled out of the Northern Crater by Holy. Again, neither the team, nor the airship vanishes. In fact, their lives are virtually saved by Holy’s movement. If they’d remained in the Northern Crater, they’d all have certainly died. Remember this exchange that the team has with Bugenhagen at the City of Ancients, which is also the most commonly misinterpreted line in the game. (I’ll capitalize the most important words in this dialogue to illustrate my point.)

Bugenhagen: The knowledge of the Ancients swirling around here is telling me one thing. The planet’s in a crisis…A crisis beyond human power or endless time. It says when the time comes, we must search for ‚Holy.‘

Cloud: Holy?

Bugenhagen: Holy…the ultimate White Magic. Magic that might stand against Meteor. Perhaps our last hope to save the planet from Meteor. If a soul seeking Holy reaches the Planet, it will appear. Ho, Ho, Hoooo. Meteor, Weapon, everything will dissappear. PERHAPS, even ourselves.

Cloud: Even us?

Bugenhagen: It is up to the planet to decide. What is best for the Planet. What is bad for the Planet. ALL THAT IS BAD WILL DISSAPPEAR. THAT IS ALL. Hoo, hoo, hoo, I wonder which we humans are?

So it seems that the humans didn’t dissappear after all. It was bold move on Square’s part to make sure that this game could only be understood through its subtleties. After all, they spent thirty million dollars on this game, they must have felt obligated to create an RPG that had a challen- ging story as well as an entertaining one. This is an art form after all. ‚Normal‘ RPG’s offer endings that provide closure to the characters. Final Fantasy VII has an ending which offers no closure and can only be understood through the subtle hints that are dropped throughout the game. I guess we all would have liked to see what „really“ happens afterward, but then again, how often is it that we see a story that is truly original?
Yet, just as everything in the ‚apparent‘ story of this game is constrasted by the ‚hidden‘ story, there exists another riddle within the game to finalize this contrast. There are two mysteries that remains unexplained, the meaning of Aeris‘ hand reaching towards Cloud after his cleansing of Jenova, which is signified by her musical theme, a theme which is only played during parts of the story that relate to her.

The other mystery is what the appearance of Aeris in the final scene of the game, showing her head lifting up and her eyes opening. Does this symbolize Aeris returning to the Planet or does it symbolize her being ressurrected? After all, the last thing she says to Cloud is, „Then, I’ll be going now. I’ll come back when it’s all over.“ The truth is that the only way to understand the meaning of this puzzling riddle is to understand the mythology that Final Fantasy VII is based on. This is what we shall explore in the next segment of this FAQ.

» Weiter mit Part III – The Riddle of the Promised Land