Final Fantasy VII/Catalogs/Characters
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Aerith Gainsborough, also known as Aeris Gainsborough, is one of the main protagonists of Final Fantasy VII and a major character in the other Final Fantasy VII games and the Advent Children movie. She is the last of the Cetra and so is hunted by the Shinra Electric Power Company throughout her life for her unique abilities. Aerith is portrayed as an independent, outgoing and kind young woman who displays an intuitive understanding of others at times, and is deeply in-tune with nature. Partway through Final Fantasy VII Aerith is killed by Sephiroth, an event that has been cited as one of the most famous and influential moments in video game history.
In the English release of Final Fantasy VII, her name was translated as Aeris by Sony Computer Entertainment, as the Japanese language does not have the "th" sound, and the closest thing is "su," the equivalent of the English-language "s" sound. The translators took the "su" sound in her Japanese name to mean an "s."
Appearance and Personality
In Final Fantasy VII, Aerith wears a shin-length pink dress with a slit up the front that buttons up. Over this she wears a red bolero jacket with metal bracers on her wrists. She has brown boots and uses staffs and rods as her weapons. In all her appearances, Aerith's hair is drawn back in a thick plait with a large pink ribbon tied around it. Her bangs are segmented and frame her face on the sides, and she has emerald green eyes. This is Aerith's most well-known appearance. She roughly keeps this appearance in Kingdom Hearts, but her jacket is absent and she wears a large blue belt around her waist. She also retains this outfit in Advent Children. Co-Director Nozue has said that Aerith's appearance in Advent Children was designed with particular detail, as it was believed that fans would pay close attention to her when she appeared. Tetsuya Nomura stated that they knew from the beginning they would not show her face until the final scenes, and when her face was finally revealed, he thought she looked "cuter than ever".
Aerith is very upbeat and cheerful, and several times in Final Fantasy VII attempts to cheer up her fellow party members. As she was raised in the slums, Aerith maintains that she can take care of herself, and is capable of fighting off Shinra troops and goes out of her way to help Cloud rescue Tifa from Don Corneo. Aerith and Tifa can often be found spending time together when the party splits up on occasion and are good friends. As a child, Aerith was reluctant to accept her Cetra heritage, and in Final Fantasy VII, she later admits to Cloud that she considers herself alone, as she the only remaining Cetra.
Aerith's backstory is given in Final Fantasy VII through a series of video tapes found in Icicle Inn. She was born to Ifalna and Professor Gast Faremis in the Icicle Inn on February 7th, 1985, and is half-human and half-Cetra. When she was barely twenty days old Professor Hojo tracked Gast down, killed him, and captured Ifalna and Aerith. The two became subject to numerous experiments at the hands of Hojo and Shinra as they researched the Cetra. Seven years later in 1992, Ifalna and Aerith escaped from Shinra Headquarters, but Ifalna was greatly wounded and only made it as far as the train platform in the slums under Sector 7 before she collapsed. Elmyra Gainsborough soon arrived there to wait for her husband's return from the Wutai War. Before passing, Ifalna asked her to keep Aerith safe and so Elmyra brought Aerith home with her.
Elmyra raised Aerith as her daughter in the slums of Sector 5 alone for years. Shinra eventually relocated her, and Tseng of the Turks, who considered her a friend, attempted to persuade her to join Shinra willingly instead of capturing her, but Aerith refused. Though Tseng knew where Aerith lived, President Shinra did not and invested a great deal of resources in searching for her in Midgar. As Aerith grew she continued to hear The Planet speaking to her, and although she was reluctant to admit it as a child she was aware of her heritage as a Cetra and tried hard to keep it a secret. Aerith spent a great deal of time as she grew up in the Sector 5 Church. Due to the Mako Reactors draining the life out of Midgar, little could grow in the area, but Aerith managed to cultivate a small flower patch out of the dirt under the church's floorboards.
In Final Fantasy VII
On December 9, 0007, Aerith meets Cloud as he flees from the bombing of the Sector 8 reactor. Cloud warns her to get to safety after the destruction of the Sector 1 Mako Reactor, but Aeris does not heed his words, and the player has an option to buy a flower from her. Later after a failed attack on the Sector 5 Reactor, Cloud falls into the church and wakes up on the flower bed. Reno of the Turks comes to apprehend Aeris shortly after, and Aeris asks Cloud to become her bodyguard, offering him a date as payment. Cloud helps Aeris to escape and takes her home, but sneaks out during the night to return to Sector 7 alone. Aeris heads him off and Cloud agrees to bring her along. Taking a break in the playground, the pair see Tifa on a chocobo cart, and assume Don Corneo has kidnapped her.
Through an idea of Aeris, she and a crossdressed Cloud infiltrate the Don's mansion and try to rescue Tifa, who reveals she did not need rescuing in the first place, and was trying to get information on Shinra from the Don. Don Corneo tells them Shinra has learned where AVALANCHE's base of operations is, and is planning to drop the plate covering the sector to destroy the entire area. The party's attempts to stop Shinra, and Aeris is captured by Tseng while taking Barret's daughter Marlene to safety. Cloud, Tifa, and Barret attempt to rescue her from the Shinra Headquarters, but are eventually captured themselves. Aeris' heritage is made known to them, and when Sephiroth attacks Shinra the group escapes and leaves Midgar to pursue him. Traveling with Cloud and his friends as they pursue Sephiroth, Aeris becomes increasingly close to them, and following a visit to Cosmo Canyon fully comes to terms with her powers and duties as the last Cetra.
Eventually the party tracks Sephiroth to the Temple of the Ancients, and Aeris uses her innate powers to help decipher the temple's mysteries and find the inner chamber. Here, Sephiroth reveals his plan to use the Black Materia to call Meteor, the ultimate Black Magic. The temple itself transforms into the Black Materia, but Sephiroth manipulates Cloud into giving it to him. When Aeris attempts to stop Cloud, he attacks her and passes out. While he is unconscious, Aeris contacts Cloud in a dream, and tells him that as the last Cetra only she can stop Sephiroth. When Cloud awakens, he is told by Tifa and Barret that Aeris is gone. Cloud follows the clues she had given him in the dream to find her to the Forgotten Capital to the far north.
In a temple underneath city, the party finds Aerith praying on an altar. As Cloud approaches her Sephiroth attempts to take control of him to make him kill her, but Cloud is able to resist him. As Aeris finishes praying and lifts her head to see Cloud, Sephiroth descends from the ceiling and impales her with the Masamune. Aeris collapses into Cloud's arms as her hair ribbon unravels, her White Materia bouncing off the altar into the water below. Enraged, Cloud turns on Sephiroth, who flees and leaves Jenova∙LIFE to fight them. After Jenova is dispatched and the party pays their respects to Aeris, Cloud carries her to the pool of water in the center of the city and lays her body to rest beneath the water.
Later in the game, it is revealed that Aeris was praying for Holy, the ultimate white magic that can defend against Meteor, called by the White Materia she wore in her hair. The party learns that Aeris had succeeded in calling it just prior to her demise, but that Sephiroth is blocking its power from working. After Sephiroth is defeated at the end of the game, Holy is able to move, but by this time Meteor has fallen too close and Holy's energy is unfocused by its gravity. Within the Lifestream, Aeris commands it to emerge from the planet and push Meteor back. This gives Holy the room and time it needs to fully focus its energy, and on January 0008, Holy and the Lifestream destroy Meteor and save the planet.
Equipment and Stats
Aeris is severely lacking in the physical stats but makes up for it with her high magic stats. She wields various rods and staffs that often have many Materia slots and boost her magic, making her most suitable for wielding Magic and Summon Materia. One of her weapons, the Fairy Tale, can be acquired in Gongaga Village and has seven Materia slots, the most of any weapon up to that point and for some time after. However, as Aeris cannot be used after disk 1, her combat abilities are highly limited in comparison to the other party members who can acquire stronger weapons later in the game.
As a White Mage-like character, most of Aeris's Limit Breaks revolve around healing the party, and a few buff the party up. Of particular note is Fury Brand, which instantly fills the other two party members' Limit Break bars; the strategies that could be formulated with this should be obvious. Aeris's ultimate Limit Break Great Gospel requires a bit of work to find and teach, but fully heals the party and makes them Invincible. However, for Aeris to actually use the technique, it has to be taught to her on disk 1.
Aerith was, along with Cloud and Barret, one of the first three playable characters designed for Final Fantasy VII before more were added. In the original development materials, it is stated the DNA of her mother Ifalna, not Jenova, would have been used to create SOLDIERs, and Aerith herself would have been cheerful but a bit naive regarding men, having never been in a relationship. During early plans for the game, Aerith was to have the Geomancer job class. Though the final product has no job system, Aerith's Limit Breaks manifest as her drawing power from the earth, a typical trait of Geomancers.
In a subplot that was cut from the final product, Aerith would tell Cloud stories about a nameless SOLDIER who used to buy flowers from her years ago. She eventually fell in love with him, but her feelings were unrequited. Cloud would have eventually deduced from these stories that the unnamed SOLDIER was Sephiroth, and would have gone out of his way to hide evidence of his true character from Aerith to avoid shattering her idealized vision of him. At one time, it was also considered that Sephiroth and Aerith would be brother and sister, and for Tifa to tell Aerith the truth about Cloud and the Nibelheim Incident, including Zack's presence there when the village was destroyed.
Though he has made humorous remarks to the contrary, Tetsuya Nomura has stated that Aerith's death was always planned to be part of the plot, even when she, Cloud and Barret were the only planned characters. In an interview with Electronic Gaming Monthly, Nomura stated the following:
- "We knew even in the early concept stage that one character would have to die. But we only had three to choose from. I mean, Cloud's the main character, so you can't really kill him. And Barret... well, that's maybe too obvious. But we had to pick between Aerith and Barret. We debated this for a long time, but in the end decided to sacrifice Aerith . . . In the previous FF games, it became almost a signature theme for one character to sacrifice him or herself, and often it was a similar character type from game to game, kind of a brave, last-man-standing, Barret-type character. So everyone expected that. And I think that death should be something sudden and unexpected, and Aerith's death seemed more natural and realistic. Now, when I reflect on Final Fantasy VII, the fact that fans were so offended by her sudden death probably means that we were successful with her character. If fans had simply accepted her death, that would have meant she wasn't an effective character. "