Cloud Strife 1st Class Soldier, by N
essay by Anastar
*Spoilers for the end of Disk 1, Final Fantasy VII*
As Aerith leaves for the Forgotten City through the Sleeping Forest in Final Fantasy VII, Cloud tries to run after her.
Why would Cloud try to run after Aerith for any reason other than wanting to be with her? Some people say that he’s running after Aerith only because he wants to protect her, or that he does it out of concern.
However, Sephiroth doesn’t threaten to stop Aerith or even appear until after Cloud starts running after her, so why would Cloud be concerned about her safety? Aerith demonstrated familiarity with her surroundings, told Cloud the Forest’s name, and said where she was going, which shows even less reason to be concerned. The only apparent reason that Cloud tries to follow Aerith is because he doesn’t want to be without her. Once the group finds Aerith within the Forgotten City, look at what Cloud does:
The others move as if to follow, but Cloud waves them away. ~ FFVII script at RPGamer
Cloud waves the other party members away in the same way that Vincent waves the others away when they find Lucrecia under the waterfall. When they find Aerith in the Forgotten City, Cloud makes the same gesture, which can only mean that he wants to see her alone. Sephiroth has yet to take control of him, so Cloud is waving the others away of his accord. Typically, that gesture is used when the character waving the others away has the closest relationship to the character being approached. Cloud’s use of that gesture indicates that he is closer to her than any of the other characters, and that he wanted to see Aerith alone.
[Cloud] leaps across the other columns and reaches the shrine.
He steps onto the stairs leading up to the glass platform where Aerith is kneeling.
The screen goes red for a moment, and Cloud shakes his head.
(He reaches for his sword… then shakes his head again.
He stands before Aerith. She does not move.
He faces away and draws his sword. She still does not move.
He turns to face her, lifting his sword above his head. She still does not move.
Cloud brings down his sword.)
(Cloud shakes his head and steps back.)
Cloud “Ugh… what are you making me do?” ~FFVII script at RPGamer
This is the only time in the course of the game that Cloud is able to fight off Sephiroth’s will, and he does it for the sake of Aerith. The others call out to Cloud to stop, but is that what actually stops him? They also call out to Cloud at the Reunion to stop him from giving the Black Materia to Sephiroth, but it doesn’t stop him there. Even when it meant the fate of the world, Cloud was unable to fight Sephiroth’s will at the Reunion despite the others calling out for him to stop. Cloud was also unable to stop himself from giving the Black Materia to Sephiroth in the Temple of Ancients. The only time Cloud is able to fight off Sephiroth’s will is when he has to do it for the sake of Aerith.
(Aerith kneels in the small shrine. We see now that she is praying. She looks up for the first time and sees Cloud. She smiles at him, beautifully.) ~FFVII script at RPGamer
Notice that Aerith smiles directly at Cloud, and not at the others.
(He gently shakes her body.)
Cloud “This can’t be real!”
Sephiroth “Do not worry. Soon the girl will become part of the Planet’s energy.”
Sephiroth “All that is left is to go North. The ‘Promised Land’ waits for me over the snowy fields.”
Sephiroth “There I will become a new being by uniting with the planet. As will this girl…”
Cloud “…Shut up.”
(Cloud bows his head closer to Aerith, trembling. He abruptly looks up to Sephiroth.)
Cloud “The cycle of nature and your stupid plan don’t mean a thing.”
(He slowly turns his head back to Aerith’s sleeping face.)
Cloud “Aerith is gone.”
Cloud “Aerith will no longer talk, no longer laugh, cry… or get angry…”
(He holds her body close to his own, bows his head over her, his shoulders heaving as though he is crying.) ~FFVII script at RPGamer
Some people claim that Cloud is not crying here, although it’s quite obvious that he is. His shoulders heave as he holds her body close to his own, which can only mean that he is crying. Nowhere else in Final Fantasy VII does Cloud express this depth of emotion.
Cloud “What about us… what are WE supposed to do?” ~FFVII script at RPGamer
Cloud is speaking here of he and Aerith in the first person plural, the same way that couples speak of one another. Some people argue that Cloud does not mean he and Aerith as he says this. They interpret this phrase to mean that Cloud is asking how the group is going to fight Sephiroth without Aerith, since she told Cloud in the Sleeping Forest that only a survivor of the Cetra can do it. However, this interpretation doesn’t fit the context of the passage at all. Cloud is in the midst of grief and shock over her death, while he is clutching her body close to him with his head bowed over her. He is in the midst of talking about his own pain and the loss of Aerith. Why would Cloud suddenly switch topic to ask how the group is supposed to fight Sephiroth without Aerith?
Cloud has just told Sephiroth to shut up, and he’s just told Sephiroth that his “stupid plan [doesn’t] mean a thing”, which shows absolutely no fear or hopelessness or despair about fighting Sephiroth. Why would Cloud switch so suddenly from showing his anger at Sephiroth to a display of hopelessness and fear about how they are supposed to defeat him without Aerith? Besides, Aerith hadn’t told Cloud about the white materia, so there’s no reason he’d think they’d need Aerith in order to defeat Sephiroth. Signs of grief include wondering how to go on without someone you love, and the immediacy of death results in shock and denial so that the dead person is referred to in the present tense as though they are still alive.
Look at what Cloud says next:
(He gently rests her on the floor.)
Cloud “What about my pain?”
Cloud “My fingers are tingling. My mouth is dry. My eyes are burning!” ~FFVII script at RPGamer
Again, the context of the passage shows that Cloud is speaking of his pain over her death, and a random comment about how they will defeat Sephiroth simply does not fit the context. The only interpretation which fits the context of this passage is for Cloud to be speaking about he and Aerith, and wondering how he is going to live his life without her. Later, Cloud again shows no fear or hopelessness about fighting Sephiroth without Aerith in one of the spiral shaped houses:
Cloud “That’s why I should quit this journey.”
Cloud “Before I do something terrible.”
(He raises one fist. He is shaking.)
Cloud “But I am going.”
Cloud “He destroyed my hometown five years ago, killed Aerith, and is now trying to destroy the Planet. I’ll never forgive… Sephiroth.”
(He stops shaking but does not lower his fist.)
Cloud “I… I must go on.” ~FFVII script at RPGamer
Cloud is still expressing his pain over her death and shows no hopelessness or fear about fighting Sephiroth without Aerith. It is illogical to interpret that one line as expressing such fears when Cloud makes no reference within the entire Death Scene to their hopelessness in fighting Sephiroth without Aerith. The only interpretation that fits within the context of the pain and grief expressed by Cloud at the Death Scene is for him to be talking about he and Aerith, in the first person plural… as a couple. It is in that moment that we know just how much Aerith meant to Cloud.
This idea has been endorsed by a member of the CloudxAerith Forums who is a nikkei, or Japanese descendant. This member has learned the culture of Japan from family members who were born and raised in Japan, and much his education is rooted in their cultural view. He is adept with the Japanese language, has played the Japanese version of FFVII, and visits Japanese forums. Here’s what he said about this line:
When Cloud says, “What about US? What are WE supposed to do?” in Aerith’s death scene, the phrase is directed to Cloud and Aerith in a personal sense, almost like a talk between him and her. The language usage in this scene is painful, soft, and personal, instead of Cloud’s usual rough manner of speech. Although that doesn’t indicate love in and of itself, it’s the only scene in the game where Cloud showed a soft side, so it’s pretty much sure that Aerith was very important to him and much more than just a friend. Aerith is the only person who captured Cloud’s attention like this in the game. Since your actions reveal who you love in Japan, then his feelings for Aerith are suggested in this scene. ~Shadow Spirit, member of the CloudxAerith Forums
As a result, the most likely interpretation is that when Cloud says, “What about us… what are WE supposed to do?”, he is actually speaking of himself and Aerith as a couple.
essay by Anastar
There have been several statements made in official sources which suggest that Cloud will always love Aerith, including some statements made by Nomura and Nojima. One such statement appears in the Dirge of Cerberus game manual. Even…
In response to wanderlust-world’s post HERE
Deleting my ‘wtf’ post because I have a feeling that Cleriths see it as a justification to support the ‘Clerith ship’
No, Cleriths don’t see it as “justification”. Cleriths see a spiritual connection between Cloud and Aerith as something portrayed by Square Enix in both FFVII and in AC/ACC.
Examples of that spiritual connection being portrayed in FFVII and AC/ACC can by found in THIS POST.
Furthermore, Nomura talked about such a spiritual connection when he said that Aerith’s consciousness lives on inside of Cloud:
Well said, mireana! In FFVII, a spiritual connection is possible between Cloud and Aerith. SE has even said that such a spiritual connection exists between Cloud and Aerith.
Anti-Clerith people need to stop judging Cloud’s continuing love for Aerith as though he is “stuck in the past” when SE portrays that continuing love very differently. Cloud was “stuck in the past” by his guilt, not by his love for Aerith..
Cloud doesn’t need to bring Aerith back in order to be happy with her now that his guilt is healed, and that’s because they are always together.
OFFICIAL: According to Square Enix’s *relationship charts* found in the FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, Cloud and Tifa are only *childhood friends* in both Final Fantasy VII and Advent Children.
The FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania provides two relationship charts. One for FFVII and one for AC. These two charts are meant to highlight the *changes* the relationships have gone through between FFVII and AC. However, Cloud and Tifa’s relationship does not go through any *changes* because they are referred to as “childhood friends” in both charts.
However, that is not the case for Cloud and Aerith. The FFVII chart states Cloud is Aerith’s “bodyguard.” Then, for the AC chart, it states Cloud feels a, “sense of guilt” towards Aerith. That’s because Cloud failed to protect Aerith — meaning he failed as her bodyguard. The difference between Cloud and Aerith’s two charts was the perfect way for SE to show us how their relationship changed between FFVII and AC — Cloud failed as her “bodyguard” in FFVII, so he feels a sense of “guilt” towards her in AC. Why did they not do the same for Cloud and Tifa? Answer: because Cloud and Tifa’s relationship did not change.
You could possibly argue that Cloud and Tifa have always been childhood friends as well as lovers. But that’s not what the charts say; the charts say they are “childhood friends” only. It mentions nothing about being *lovers*.
In addition, if Cloud and Tifa were childhood friends in FFVII but became lovers in AC, the FFVII chart should say “childhood friends” and the AC chart should say “romantic lovers”. Instead, both the FFVII chart and the AC chart say “childhood friends”. This means their relationship did not evolve beyond childhood friends because they are given the same relationship description in both charts.
If Cloud and Tifa’s relationship had evolved or changed between FFVII and AC, the two charts would have highlighted this change as they did for Cloud and Aerith’s relationship. That was the designed intent of including two charts — to show how the relationships changed between FFVII and AC. Cloud and Tifa’s relationship did not change because they are described as “childhood friends” in both charts.
If anything would tell us that Cloud and Tifa are the *canon* couple, it would be the *relationship* charts. But these two charts tell us that no such evolution in their relationship took place between FFVII and AC. They will forever remain “childhood friends” only.
PS: The other relationship charts found in the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega and the Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Ultimania also list Cloud and Tifa as “childhood friends” only. In addition, the charts only show favor arrows going from Aerith and Tifa to Cloud. They do not show “favor” arrows going from Cloud to either Aerith or Tifa.
The LTD will forever be up to interpretation.