Final Fantasy VII Character Analysis Cloud Strife & Sephiroth

so I mentioned earlier the theme of identity and this is quite important when we look at the primary characters I'm going to be discussing now because it really plays out quite prominently through cloud and Sephiroth and their main story arc so in these two we see a fascinating pair of characters unfold and I think the writers made a really great decision to depart from the classic hero villain archetype and instead craft an antagonist but you know you can sort of empathize with and a protagonist who is actually only the facili of a hero he's basically a fraud so unlike the jeonggyun hero archetype I covered in Final Fantasy 10 and that clip cloud comes packaged as the finished article this stoic professional who rather than having this sudden call to adventure and an older guide so it would have come in the form of Zack and predates the events of 7 and meteor fool he is merely fulfilling a mercenary contract for avalanche his stoic disinterested demeanor prevails for most of the first disc of the game and it's only when Tifa starts kind of noting holes in his backstory that everything kind of shifts into philip k dick territory and we realized that we've so far been witnessing a false reality you know an unreliable hero who's not actively deceptive but rather undergoing a severe kind of crisis of self perception following Mako poisoning and trauma we see numerous iterations of cloud from the stoic imposter to the mentally unbalanced to someone who thinks he's a Sephiroth clone kind of begging Hojo for a number and it's only through maker induced vegetation and a trip into his subconscious later in the game that we are finally able to salvage a cloud that's a truer representation of his original and you know authentic self and just note on the authentic self of cloud it took me a while to figure out but there's actually a voice that recurs in in clouds head throughout the game and it's always been popularly regarded as Sephiroth or aries or even clouds mum but I've concluded that while some of the inner monologues also rock on communicating with them some of the more advisory and warning kind of tones that kind of come through clouds come in through clouds mind are actually the real cloud who's kind of stuck inside his mind and they're informing this imposter a kind of impending danger and things like that so yeah I found that quite interesting because it happens right from the beginning of the game when he says you know in his own mind watch out this is more than just a reactor and also sorry you know who is this but yeah so we see the kind of Inklings of the real cloud and this kind of mental trauma you know right from the get-go you know through subsequent playthroughs I also think it's great how clouds imposter syndrome as a soldier first class is kind of questioned and alluded to by other tertiary characters you know we have a weapons dealer in Midgar you know right at the beginning of the game and he's a weapons dealer by tifa's bar and you kind of encounter him and say on clouds hold your first class and he's like I've never heard of you and even when you're you have your first encounter with a president's INRA in the reactor he kind of shrugged off cloud and he's like I literally don't remember who you are so you know that's quite interesting to see is this kind of subtle nod to you know things not quite being what they seem now clouds self-denial is interesting in that in many ways it serves as his primary antagonist and foil rather than several at the beginning of the game and largely throughout Sephiroth is merely an illusion you know he's this idea he's a guy in a black cape that is always kind of one step ahead so in many respects cloud is chasing his own dilemma rather than a tangible Sephiroth who remains in stasis at the northern crater until basically the end of the game and this is fascinating because in actual fact the two primary characters are for about 70% of this game existing as fabrications you know they're doppelgangers they're illusions and their hangovers from the events of crisis called pretty much so yeah I think that's kind of really interesting that that is in fact the case with Final Fantasy seven and you know the fact that the main obstacle to AI hero is his own existential dilemma is refreshing and it's basically one of the things I think sets quantum Fantasy 7 apart from other installments it took this profound turn into the introspective aspects of being rather than external events to provoke a call to action for a group of heroes which up until this point had been standard fare for an RPG of of a Japanese persuasion now clouds identity and this adopted persona can be triangulated I think by three key figures first an often overlooked is Teva you know the entire endeavor of cloud joining soldier or trying to join soldier was a reaction to his social context during childhood we quite literally have a girl next door scenario who he desired that was reluctant or incapable of obtaining and this was the catalyst I think for his decision to try and emulate Sephiroth now Sephiroth embodies everything cloud lacks you know fame charisma physical and mental aptitude and is basically a day I'd goober mint and cloud feels that you know becoming this would earn the attention and respect of his peers and specifically Tifa who we often see kind of fawn over by the other children of Nibelheim and you know by comparison we see cloud kind of brooding and internalizing you know on his own so it's safe to say that t4 prompts clouds journey into Midgar in an effort to become soldier first class now the second character to inform clouds identity is of course Zack in a very literal way everything from his look to his mannerisms are the template for who cloud wishes to be and eventually does fraudulently you know become crisis course shows us Zack as a successful and increasingly famous up-and-coming soldier but the original game doesn't sorry meteor for Final Fantasy 7 proper doesn't give him that much elaboration our knowledge of that comes from flashbacks and passing comments such as from his parents of gonk our village and most significantly his rescue of cloud at Nibelheim so these classifieds bridge clouds pass with his present and how he came to be in possession of the Buster Sword and indeed carrying out mercenary contracts for avalanche now the sword in the mercenary profession are of course Zacks legacy being lived out through cloud who at the beginning of the game is essentially an abrasive blank slate personality and just a ghost like a simile of Zacks hope and hopes and dreams which word you know disgusting the flashback when they're in the back of that truck and clouds basically in a maker induced coma and the third character to inform clouds identity is of course Sephiroth as I previously mentioned Sephiroth is this ubermensch sort of character and I'd like to discuss that in depth here but looking at him first as clouds proxy it's obvious how an almost obsessive desire to become this unattainable alpha male consumes DeLong the young cloud and it propels him down this path in life that we see him eventually takes center stage as a hero and indeed kill his aforementioned hero Sephiroth which honestly is quite a jarring story arc considering clouds weakness and Sephiroth strength are defining parts of their personalities and their characters so having cloud kill Sephiroth was always unnecessary but quite questionable climax crisis cord did go some way to explain this away by showing Zack damaging set path and that's the cloud to finish him off but again this is sort of a wreck on because the last order anime shows act getting defeated really easily by Sephiroth so I guess that's just up there interpretation you know take it as you will but regardless cloud killing suffer was an important plot point and it creates this dynamic and duality between them and though questionable I think it's also quite a tragic twist for Zack because this is the turning point in the transition of two core characters where zach becomes the hero that never was and his defeat by Sephiroth and eventual murder results in a delusional cloud kind of living out his life and even his romances and although Final Fantasy 7 is hallmarked by the death of Ares in many ways I think zach had a more better bitter ending in the long run he is tied into and lingers over many events and characters in this game but has dwindled to the point of being forgotten essentially which many would argue as a fate worse than death and I really do feel quite bad for this character you know by the time meteor fool comes around so anyway in conclusion Sephiroth goes from clouds greatest hero to grab greatest adversary and in doing so maintains a potent relevance to how clouds identity developed over the course of the game and beyond you know well into the events of Advent Children for example where we see this mulignans kind of come back to challenge cloud once more now the Sepphoris part as a character he comes across as a complex personality who prevailed successfully in soldier until discovering his origins of the Nibelheim reactor efforts to humanize him I used to really great albeit subtle effect such as the idle conversation that takes place in the truck on the way to Nibelheim it's a great device for kind of cracking empathy for this character and it also brings him down to earth in a lot of ways which simply haven't happened with other Final Fantasy villains you know kefka ultimecia and cuda as the closest canonical examples all will exert this degree of theatricality in bombast that fit into a camp stereotype sort of villain but Sephiroth comes packaged as overtly humane you know he has a sense of humor he has a genuine although quite stoic compassion for his comrades and a climactic episode of mania shows him really grappling and trying to rationalize his his identity and rationalize these origins so it shows a degree of logic and reason about him that make him very human they're obviously kind of erodes nonetheless because of course he finds out this terrible thing about his his birth and his conception another aspect of Sephiroth that comes across clearly is this stoic detachment from those around him it's a personality trait that he shares with cloud but where cloud is salvaged due to tifa and you know the friendship with his party Sephiroth remains stoic and isolated and autonomous you know nobody attempted to save him while he was sanity insanity kind of manifested in the Shinra mansion and this is another reason why I think we can sympathize with him in some ways in cloud showdown with him in the reactor cloud explains he's going crazy any saying how he looked up to him and he idolized him but this is not the same as being friends with someone you know there's always been a necessary divide between those would power and those that aspire towards it and this is the great tragedy of several you know as someone who was peerless even among comrades like Genesis and NGO from Crisis Core there was nobody truly who could emot– with him on the same level as him and on a final note I think Sephiroth strengthened human abilities are presented fantastically in the game you know the way people disgust him and this almost mythic status for example you know cloud noting whilst looking at the dead president Shinra that only Sephiroth could wield the Masamune sword this combined with how he appears in battle you know in the flashback sequences and finally how he manages to mini manipulate Jenova cells in the Shinra tower to manifest a clone of himself through sheer force of will I think you know the sheer aptitude for violence and unearthly manipulations and sci-fi aspects of his character contribute to this mystique and overall appeal in the game you know and I think is why he's probably such a popular you know antagonist and wins all these awards for best bad guy in videogame history and whatnot because you know this is just absolutely fantastic how they craft this this mystique in this intimidating aspect suited to his character

16 thoughts on “Final Fantasy VII Character Analysis Cloud Strife & Sephiroth

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  • I kinda thought the inner voice in Cloud’s head was Zack. The things he’d expect a well informed friend of his to say and fill in the blanks or warn him about. It seemed more like a way for Cloud to keep Zack’s memory alive in his mind while still repressing the the past.

  • Great video man! I just posted a short one about the must read “A Way To A Smile.” I remember that I was Cloud as an RPG you play as the character so as a kid I was like in full live with Aeris/Aerith and when she died, it was brutal. Great breakdown man!

  • Clouds still cool because he was still himself during the present day events of ff7,and he doesnt really seem like a fraud.

  • I like clouds character because there have been other stories where you start out a video game playing a blank monotone main character, which I think is cool because you can impose your own identity onto this “blank slate” main character, but it does get repetitive. Either they have amnesia or it’s “just their personality” or they have a tragic backstory, always one of those. But Cloud on the other hand, has like all that. He “has amnesia” but it’s filled in with Zack’s “tragic backstory” changing his “personality” into a this monotone blank main character which was really refreshing to discover.

  • Nice video. I found it really impressive when you explained the voice that Cloud hears inside his mind throughout the story. I've never realized that that voice was the real Cloud speaking to the "cocky, cool" persona he basically practiced in the first half of the game. But thanks to your analysis, it makes perfect sense. The Cloud we saw for the first half was just a deeply conflicted with a lack of self-identity. Thanks for uploading this in-depth analysis.

  • I think sephiroth literally lowered his guard on purpose simply to enter the life stream as a means to control it as he ultimately did. His strength, speed and durability were so far beyond anyone ever being able to touch him that he consciously weakened himself to reach a new level in the life stream. If he was aware as a child of what he was i likely think he would've not fractured mentally or at the very least not let shinra use his power as he would quickly realize that he was incapable of being stopped.

  • I don`t think calling Cloud "basically a fraud" is a fair assessment especially since it was Cloud who always defeated Sephiroth even if it was by the skin of his teeth and in part because he was an imperfect copy of Sephiroth who had absorbed Zack`s memories through MAKO poisoning and Sephiroth`s JENOVA Cells injected into him by Hojo.Zack for all his bluster and SOLDIER honor was never able to even scratch Sephiroth once.Zack was a hero because he died fighting for his friends and when Cloud had friends he was willing to die for,he became an even greater hero than Zack ever was and succeeded where Zack failed:Banishing Sephiroth`s evil spirit back to The Lifestream and redeeming SOLDIER`s legacy.

  • Great analysis mate. You've earned yourself a new subscriber.

    Btw it was always my perception that cloud was able to kill Sephiroth because deep down inside he actually had great potential which is what came out after the Mideel breakdown.

  • I thought with Cloud and Zack with the shoulder armour/pad things, while Zack has both, Cloud only has the one being it like a visual metaphor of Cloud being half a man, trying to live Zack's life.

  • omg just realized you uploaded these analysis' and discussions! I'm so glad to see that you're still making these videos. I love hearing your thoughts and breakdowns on these characters. I wish i could contribute to your thoughts but unfortunately It's been years and years since I played FF7 so i don't really remember a lot of the deeper details of the game. I do have one weird little snippet of information though in regards to Sephiroth's visual design. It's not confirmed anywhere i think(at least not anywhere i'm aware of) but i feel like Sephiroth's design HAD to be inspired by Allen Shazar of Escaflowne. It's not something anyone really talks about but when you examine their silhouettes and their kind of hair styles and even the type of weapons they use the two characters have kind of an uncanny resemblance to each other that i can't really believe is just pure coincidence(even down tot he point of how people might perceive them within the world). I feel like Nomura had to have taken inspiration from that character. Even for advent children, when you compare Sephiroths hairstyle to Escaflowne's movie version of Allen, the two are pretty much exactly the same. Anyway, i don't know if it holds any truth but i figured i'd just bring it up i guess. I always thought the resemblance was odd.

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