We’re getting so close to end of Into the Deep. I’ve started to look ahead to what may come after. I have several, SEVERAL ideas for other stories, but ultimately I want to write what you want to read!
I’m very open to any and all suggestions. I’ll list some other fandoms I feel comfortable in, as well as some stories I’ve either started, or have thought of doing. Please let me know which sound like fun, or message me an idea you have.
The purpose of this is to give myself something of a timeline and schedule. I need to focus more time on original works (especially now that I know where one story is headed) It’ll be easier and more productive moving forward if I know where to focus instead of working parasitically here and there.
Aerith Gainsborough starts off with more love points than Tifa Lockhart for a reason. And that reason is very simple: Square Enix wanted Clerith to be the primary love story of Final Fantasy VII. If that wasn’t the case, both Aerith and Tifa would have started the game with an equal number of love points. And if both ladies are tied by the time of the Gold Saucer date, the tie goes to Aerith.
As with all love triangles, you have to give both options a way of working out. That is why Cloud can choose to *optionally* rekindle a childhood crush with Tifa through a *variable* scene. However, just because this is an option due to the inherent nature of a love triangle, doesn’t mean it is the primary or canon love story of Final Fantasy VII. It simply means Tifa is an alternative to Aerith if you choose to play the game that way. But when one girl is given 20 more love points from the very beginning, it is not hard to see which girl is the primary love story of Final Fantasy VII.
If gamers played Final Fantasy VII once or twice back in 1997, they probably got the Clerith date and the low-affection Highwind scene. And even if they got the high-affection Highwind scene, the non-optional hand reach between Cloud and Aerith follows shortly after. The big difference here is Cloud and Tifa’s final scene is variable, whereas Cloud and Aerith’s final scene is non-optional. Aerith is primary [non-optional]. Tifa is secondary [variable].
Further – Cloud and Aerith’s non-optional “Promised Land hand reach” was given a “homage” in Advent Children, a theme further explored in Clerith cameos such as Final Fantasy Tactics.
Everyone that played Final Fantasy VII back in 1997 remembers Cloud and Aerith’s love story. It played out before our eyes during the entire first disc and was back again for the finale. It was clear to the majority of gamers back in 1997 that Cloud and Aerith were the intended lovers of Final Fantasy VII – the official Amano artwork speaks for itself.
Cloti’s say Cloud only liked Aerith because “he thought he was Zack.” They reduce the entire Clerith ship to a mere plot twist, saying Cloud and Aerith’s love story was just another example of Cloud’s jumbled memories. In other words… Cloud only fell in love with Aerith because he thought he was Zack, Aerith’s first boyfriend.
According to them, during the lifestream sequence, Cloud discovers he took on parts of Zack’s history/persona, which leads him to realizing he never loved Aerith because it was actually him thinking he was Zack. Subsequently, this re-triggers his love for childhood crush, Tifa Lockhart. Clerith is now reduced to a mere plot twist.
Unfortunately, rediscovering an *unreciprocated* childhood crush that led to a *strong-armed* promise doesn’t automatically translate into present-day romance. Nor does it mean Cloud’s eternal feelings of love for Aerith suddenly vanish. Cloud can both re-discover a childhood crush *and* maintain eternal feelings of love for Aerith. The two aren’t mutually exclusive.
If you can believe it, though, Cloud and Tifa fans go even further and say Square Enix declared the high-affection Highwind scene canon due to largely unknown and unread books mostly sold in Japan. Admittedly, these books do give the high-affection version of the Highwind scene preferential treatment in some places. However, nowhere is the high-affection Highwind scene stated to be the ‘normal’ outcome like the Cloud x Aerith Gold Saucer date is. Preferential treatment doesn’t equal canon, whereas something being stated as the ‘normal’ outcome does make something canon [like the Cloud x Aerith Gold Saucer date].
Given that this is a love triangle, there has to be a way to play Final Fantasy VII the Cloti way. So the answer is yes… you can optionally rekindle a childhood romance through an intentionally *variable* Highwind scene. This is, after-all, a love triangle – Square Enix is required to make Tifa a possibility. But the secondary love story is given a *variable* scene while the primary love story is given a *non-optional* finale regarding the Promised Land.
Everyone in 1997 witnessed Cloud’s heart break when he was holding Aerith’s lifeless body in his arms. Cloud and Aerith had just received a romantic wedding prediction from Cait Sith, went on a ‘normally’ occurring date at Gold Saucer, and spent numerous romantic moments together. Cloud and Aerith’s entire star-crossed love story developed before our eyes – spanning all of disc 1. This clear-cut Clerith love story is why there has been an intentional and systematic campaign to delegitimize, discredit, and downplay disc 1 of Final Fantasy VII.
So although you can play Final Fantasy VII the Cloti way (because this is, after-all, a love triangle)… that is clearly not the way Square Enix wanted you to play it on your first playthrough. Cloud and Aerith’s love story was simply too essential to the main themes of Final Fantasy VII – themes of the Planet, the lifestream, life, death, and the Promised Land.
Everything from the official Amano Clerith artwork, to the Final Fantasy TacticsClerith cameo, to Aerith starting off with more love points than Tifa, it is clear Cloud and Aerith were the intended couple of Final Fantasy VII back in 1997. I have a sneaky suspicion that even the majority of Cloti’s played Final Fantasy VII the Clerith way on their first playthrough.
Recently, I asked my friend DJ about Final Fantasy VII, and what he said about Cloud and Aerith was interesting: “All I remember is that she comes back at the end and they are going to meet inside the planet.” He didn’t even remember the Highwind scene between Cloud and Tifa (and it’s notably absent from the official Final Fantasy VII strategy guide).
Despite Aerith being the intended girl for Cloud, many male gamers seemed to hate Aerith’s spunky, confident personality. And with the release of Crisis Core, these Aerith-haters looked to turn an unsuspecting generation into Cloti and Zerith’s by reducing Clerith to a mere plot twist.
This fan-made theory ignores two key points, however:
1. Cloud remembers a genuine and “real” flashback in Aerith’s house, proving Aerith reaches the “real” Cloud during their disc 1 interactions.
2. The “real” Cloud remains heartbroken over Aerith long after he regains his memories (“I remember Aerith a lot.” ~Cloud during disc 2)
We know by simply observing Cloud’s legitimate and “real” flashback in Aerith’s house that the “real” Cloud was falling in love with Aerith throughout all of disc 1. Aerith was able to evoke the “real” Cloud to the surface and reach his core. That was the entire point of their disc 1 interactions – to showcase that Aerith was reaching the “real” Cloud and brining him to the surface.
We also know by simply observing Cloud’s behavior after he reagins his memories to know that he is eternally heartbroken over Aerith Gainsborough:
“Delivery Item – Bouquet Destination – The Forgotten City Client Name – Elmyra Gainsborough … But, going back to the place where he parted from Aerith might mean that his sorrow and regret was going to tear his heart again.” ~Case of Tifa; Square Enix
After Cloud regains his memories, he remembers Aerith often, fights to avenge her death, and wants to find her in the Promised Land. Cloud remains heartbroken over Aerith throughout the entire compilation, something Tifa is confirmed to become jealous of. So don’t ever let anyone tell you Zack makes Clerith illegitimate. He doesn’t.
Only recently have Tifa fanboys tried to remove Barret from the family he created in Case of Tifa, tried to make Denzel [a boy Cloud believes was brought to him by Aerith and later fights with Tifa about] seem like some biological child of Cloud and Tifa’s, make an optional scene that receives preferential treatment only [never being stated to be the ‘normal’ outcome like the Clerith Gold Saucer date] seem like the canon version, and completely ignore Nojima’s quotes about Cloud and Tifa not working out, saying it probably has nothing to do with Geostigma or Sephiroth.
Clerith has always been obvious to anyone with common sense. Aerith moved on from Zack [as she states on her date with Cloud and through official Square Enix quotes] and Cloud continues to love Aerith even after regaining his memories – thinking of her often. And remember, Cloud’s heart ‘cracked’ when Aerith died, and his heart was pulled at again when he visits Aerith’s grave according to Square Enix. Cloud becomes distraught and drinks after visiting Aerith’s grave and fights with Tifa, leaving Tifa wondering if Cloud even loves her. Then Tifa get’s jealous when she see’s Cloud living in Aerith’s Church after she strong-arms Cloud into admitting he believes Aerith led Denzel to him.
At the end of the day, Cloud and Tifa fans wouldn’t be working so hard to discredit disc 1 if it didn’t make Clerith canon. However, due to the 10 romantic disc 1 Cloud x Aerith moments, Clerith was canonized back in 1997. Cloud and Aerith’s love story is essential to the main themes of Final Fantasy VII – themes of love and life beyond death and within the Planet, the lifestream, and – the Promised Land. I can’t wait for the Final Fantasy VII Remake to expand on Clerith moments that are microcosms of much bigger themes explored throughout the compilation.
Cloud and Aerith’s non-optional, star-crossed love story played out before gamers in 1997. By Square Enix deciding to give Aerith more love points, and declaring her date with Cloud as the ‘normal’ outcome (something that has never been declared for either Highwind scene), it is clear how Square Enix wanted gamers to play the game if they could only place it once. Retcons such as Crisis Core don’t change this.
“I think I’m beginning to understand. An answer from the planet…the Promised Land…I think I can meet her… there…” ~Cloud Strife; Final Fantasy VII
“The ending scene of the battle with Bahamut, the scene where Aerith reaches out her hand, is homage to the last scene from a previous production. It was Tetsuya (Nomura)’s idea….” ~Nojima; Reunion Files; Square Enix
Eternal Love is Real. The Promised Land Does Exist.