Final Fantasy VII: Death of Aeris

One of the most dramatic and emotional scenes I have ever seen on a video game was watching Aeris die in Final Fantasy VII. I found a well-written wikipedia article on the creators of the game and their thought process regarding her death:

 

“In early planning stages of Final Fantasy VII, Aerith was to be one of only three protagonists. Before this, Kitase and Nomura decided that one character would have to die, and after creating the three characters, decided on Aerith after a long debate. Nomura stated in a 2005 Electronic Gaming Monthly interview: “Cloud’s the main character, so you can’t really kill him. And Barrett… [sic] well, that’s maybe too obvious”. This was not changed after other protagonists were created.[12] While designing Final Fantasy VII, Tetsuya Nomura was frustrated with the “perennial cliché where the protagonist loves someone very much and so has to sacrifice himself and die in a dramatic fashion to express that love”. He found that this appeared in both films and video games from North America and Japan. “Is it right to set such an example to people?”[13]

Kitase concludes:

In the real world things are very different. You just need to look around you. Nobody wants to die that way. People die of disease and accident. Death comes suddenly and there is no notion of good or bad. It leaves, not a dramatic feeling but great emptiness. When you lose someone you loved very much you feel this big empty space and think, ‘If I had known this was coming I would have done things differently.’ These are the feelings I wanted to arouse in the players with Aerith’s death relatively early in the game. Feelings of reality and not Hollywood. (Yoshinori Kitase, Edge, May 2003[13])

 

While reflecting on the game, Tetsuya Nomura claims that “Death should be something sudden and unexpected, and Aerith’s death seemed more natural and realistic”, and “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.”[12]

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