In The Defense of Cloud Strife. [Spoilers for Compilation of VII]



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Pandymint

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I originally made this post back when the VII remake was released. The original version can be found here: In the Defense of Cloud Strife. - Final Fantasy VII Forum - Neoseeker Forums[/URL]

The only difference is that there's some tidier formatting but other than this, it's a copy-paste of my original post.

[HR][/HR]


Due to the recent announcement of FFVII coming to PS4 (an event that left me in complete shock and awe), my Tumblr dashboard was awash with both love and hate for the man, the myth, the formation of water molecules: Cloud. Mostly, it was the usual hate for him being so broody, so emo, and being a Zack copy. I had a discussion with my friend about how I justify his entire mood throughout the compilation. So here is my own little defense for him due to the fact that I feel like doing it.


Note that due to the nature of this writing, there will be plentiful spoilers ahead. This won't be a day-for-day notion of Cloud's life, but I will be talking about major events in his life. So if you're one of the few who have never played the original, Crisis Core, watched Advent Children or read a synopsis of any of them and don't want spoilers, then click away now. And without further adieu.


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To start, lets look at Cloud when he was a kid in Nibelheim. Growing up, his father died while he was young which is tough for anyone. He didn't have many friends, only his crush, Tifa. Even then, Tifa herself says that they weren't very close. To help himself cope, he developed the idea that he was superior to the other kids, that he didn't need their companionship.


When Cloud was nine, Tifa's mother died. She had a difficult time dealing with it, and was convinced if she traversed Mt. Nibel, she'd be able to meet her mother again. Cloud decided to follow her, for whatever reason. While crossing a bridge, it buckled and collapsed, taking them both with it. Cloud survived the fall relatively unscathed, but Tifa wasn't so lucky. Since they were the only two there, her friends and family ended up blaming Cloud for this. Her father forbade the two from seeing each other. This led to Cloud developing an anger problem, getting him into several fights for little to no reason at all.


At age thirteen, Cloud learned of Sephiroth: the greatest SOLDIER alive. Cloud looked up to him as a hero, and wanted to be a hero himself. One day he decided he was going to pursue his dream. He called Tifa to the water tower that night, his only friend, and told her he would be leaving for Midgar to join SOLDIER.




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Cloud reached Midgar, but despite his enthusiasm and bravado, he didn't make the grade. Instead of joining the ranks of his hero, Sephiroth, Cloud was reduced to being a Shinra Infantry grunt. This was humiliating for him. So much so, that he wore his helmet to conceal his identity.




At age fifteen, while working a mission to escort Tseng to Modeoheim, Cloud meets Zack Fair. Zack represented who Cloud wanted to be. A SOLDIER 1st Class, a hero. Zack befriended him quickly. They didn't see each other again until Genesis attacked Junon. Later that month, he works a mission once again with Zack, also joined by Sephiroth. This is when he returns to Nibelheim for the first time. He told Tifa when he returned, he'd be with SOLDIER. Alas, he wasn't. So he wore his helmet and didn't tell anyone of his failure.


On October 1st, Sephiroth becomes enraged and burns the town of Nibelheim. Cloud's mother dies in the fire as he watches. He rushes off to the reactor to confront Sephiroth. There, he finds a gravely injured Tifa who attempted to do the same thing. Along with her, Zack was there after being knocked unconscious by Sephiroth. Filled with determination he raises Zack's Buster Sword and impales Sephiroth, appalled by the actions of his idol. While his back his turned, Sephiroth impales him on his Masamune, intending to kill the grunt. Cloud summons a strength he was unaware of, using the long blade as a lever to throw Sephiroth into the depths of the reactor, killing him. In the aftermath, Cloud collapses.




For the next four years, Cloud and Zack both were kept in containment by Professor Hojo. The good doctor attempted to turn them into Sephiroth clones, injecting them with Jenova cells and exposing them to Mako. Due to his low resistance, Cloud developed severe Mako poisoning. Zack escapes with help from his mentor, and rescues Cloud as well. This whole time, Cloud is barely more than a vegetable sitting idly by while his best friend protects him. Eventually, Shinra finds the fugitives and a last stand begins. Zack places him out of the way and goes to fight one last battle.




At the end, Cloud finally begins to regain his self and finds his best friend on his death bed, riddled with bullet holes. With his dying breath, Zack informs him that he is his living legacy and passes the Buster Sword to him. Due to his broken psyche, Cloud interprets this literally and replaces his own personality and memories with those of Zack.



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(This is going to be paraphrased to keep it as short as I can)




Once returned to Midgar, Cloud continues acting as Zack, meeting Aerith in the process. He grows close to her, potentially a love interest. The entire time no one is aware of what happened to Cloud. At the Temple of the Ancients the party discovers the Black Materia. Cait Sith sacrifices itself to get the Black Materia before Sephiroth, but due to his Jenova cells, Cloud is manipulated into giving it to Sephiroth. Then we get to the Forgotten Capital. Aerith has run off, and Cloud finds her praying at an altar. Here, Sephiroth attempts to manipulate him into killing her. At the last moment, he resists, frozen. But it's for nothing, as Sephiroth comes down and impales her, killing her himself. For the second time in his life, Cloud has had to watch a friend die in front of him, unable to do anything.




At the Northern Crater, they regain the Black Materia and Cloud hands it off, not trusting himself. He reveals that he has been under Sephiroth's control, and that it could happen again. Sephiroth steps in once more and shows him pieces of the real events at Nibelheim, revealing Zack's presence but not Cloud's own. This leads him to believe that he is a clone of Sephiroth, created by Hojo. This shock breaks his psyche and morale, and he tricks the party into giving him the Materia once again to hand it over to Sephiroth. He apologizes to Tifa for "not being the real Cloud", and the earth shakes open, causing Cloud to fall into the Lifestream.




In Mideel a week later Cloud is paralyzed and incoherent once again after intense mako poisoning in the Lifestream, and Tifa elects to stay and care for him. Ultimate Weapon attacks, and for the second time Cloud falls into the Lifestream, Tifa with him. It is here that Tifa explores his subconscious, learning about the real Cloud, the Cloud who was a Shinra grunt and never made SOLDIER. Tifa helps him piece himself together, letting the real Cloud finally appear. after nearly five years.




Cloud slowly starts to become upbeat and his true self once more as the party descends onto the Northern Crater to defeat Sephiroth once and for all. In the end, Cloud wins and the planet begins to heal. Cloud attempts to live his life in the upbeat way he should after this.




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Two years later, we have Cloud in Advent Children. He broke and returned to his dark, moody personality due to lack of closure on the deaths of his friends. He blames himself, leaving the Buster Sword as a grave marker for Zack and staying to himself as the Geostigma affects him. He ends up pulled into the fray once more, and fights Sephiroth. Sephiroth gains the upperhand and is looking to win, but near the end Cloud gets what he has needed for the last two years. Zack and Aerith appear to him and tell him to move on. They tell him that their deaths were never his fault and they never blamed him. In closing, Zack reassures him that he defeated Sephiroth once, so he can do it again. This renewed confidence boost finally breaks Cloud out of his slump, out of the shadow of his past so he can move on. In the end he returns the Buster Sword, freshly polished, to the Church not as a grave marker, but as a memento to the start of a hero's journey.









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In closing, my point is that people who like to bitch and moan about Cloud's personality seem to never have played the games, or watched the movie. And if they did, completely missed all of this development Cloud had. Two of his closest friends died while he could do nothing, his peers ridiculed him as a child, his archrival manipulated him like a puppet. He accepted his fate with the Geostigma as penance for sins that were never his. I don't think anyone could go through all of that and still be happy and upbeat, and it's not like Cloud didn't try. I just want people to understand that Cloud's personality, while maybe not ideal, is entirely justifiable when you look at everything he has gone through. And as for those who complain that he's a copy of Zack? Well, yeah, that was kind of a huge part of his character. And besides, Zack was only in the original game for one scene really. It's only in Crisis Core that he finally gets character development. I just love Cloud's character, call me a fanboy, but I just want to lay to rest the same arguments I hear about him over and over. He's a complex character and has been through a lot. I believe his characterization is accurate given his history. I just wish people wouldn't continually hate on him for these reasons.




If you took the time to read all of this, I thank you.
 

hemmoheikkinen

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An very interesting read. Thank you for posting this! :) It did not cross my mind that Cloud would blame himself for the deaths of his friends. This post really helped to get a new perspective on his charter, especially the way he is shown in Advent Children. The line he says in the movie: "It feel lighter", has an different meaning to me now. The red/pink memento of Aerith in his arm is like a metaphor of that burden he is been carrying around all that time.


Mr Strife sure is an interesting character. :)
 

Pandymint

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Thank you for reading! That was my goal. I just want to provide perspective and show why he was the way he was. After AC he's back to normal and the 'real' Cloud. He's sentimentally one of my favorite characters and the occasional jest is fine and whatnot. But if you're gonna hate, be an educated hater at least, you know?
 

BlackOsprey

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What I find very odd is the popular opinion that Cloud is an insufferable emo. Aside from his appearances in KH (which are non-canon to the FF-verse) the several justified phases he went through that you listed, Cloud ins't a overly serious or mopey character. In fact, especially at the beginning of FFVII, he's cocky and snarks everyone. The only times he acted "emo" were under circumstances like mako poisoning and mental breakdowns, which would do that to just about everyone.

Blame it on the hipster hate.
 

kuraudoVII

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Excellent analysis, Pandymint. I always found the hate for Cloud annoying as hell and mostly chalked it up to either hipster hate (as BlackOsprey put it) or people simply having never played the games as you mentioned. This was a refreshing look at Cloud's psyche throughout the series thus far, and I'm glad to see that there are others out there that can see why Cloud acts the way he does throughout the series.
 

Pandymint

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Thanks! I'll admit, there was a time that I hated Cloud because he was so emo before I played the original game) but once I had seen his whole story, I realized that he has been through more than several people will in a life time.


As for those people that complaina bout him being Zack Clone? It's like they miss the whole point. He WAS A Zack Clone until Tifa helped him. It was a major part of his character and what drew Aerith to him.
 

bgizzles45

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[video=youtube;A1Hv7lJTXPU]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A1Hv7lJTXPU[/video]

Cloud wasn't always a whiny emo wrist slitter.
 
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