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Thursday, 11 May 2017

Guest Editorial: Aerith Is The Worst Final Fantasy Character (Well, She's In The Top 10)

Editor's note: Reecey did actually suggest titles like 'Aerith is kind of a stupid character' or 'Aerith is the weak link in Final Fantasy VII,' but Buzzia, the God of Clickbait, has demanded a sacrifice in his name, and I am a dutiful servant.

All hail his benevolent, SEO-boosting blessings.

Guest Editorial: Aerith Is The Worst Final Fantasy Character
(Well, She's In The Top 10, At Least)

I have a list of grievances for this one.

I may as well start off with the one that’s been bothering me for the longest.

Her Name.

For years I was absolutely adamant that Square was trying to rebrand her as a sweet and pure character by using the ambiguity of Japanese to English transliteration to claim her names was a ‘near anagram of earth’ instead of what made sense to me.

(Also, ‘near anagram of earth’? Are you having me on, Square? There’s a boat load of actual anagrams for that word that would actually make sense.)

But no, their claim, while still nonsense, has some roots in the truth.

In Japanese she’s ‘Earisu’ which is just the word earth reformulated for a language that doesn’t use thorn and likes the majority of its syllables to end in a vowel sound.

Yeah, they named her dirt.

That’s the reality of what they did there.

Of course, the localisation team had to change it, because FFVII would be laughed out of the Anglosphere if it had a character named after the stuff brussel sprouts grow in.

Well, that and localisation teams can be spotty at best at figuring out what the hell the Japanese developers meant, even if they use the team’s native language and culture. ‘Safer’ Sephiroth? ‘Ifleet’? ‘Berial’?

It's Belial, you cretins.

In this case, I think this stupid name found something in translation. Something far more fitting than what we started off with.

As we all know, her name was initially translated as ‘Aeris’.

Now, doesn’t that sound familiar, like you’ve heard that before?

Like, something … spiteful, and apple related?

Something to do with one of the most important pieces of Western literature to ever be written?

The cause of the Trojan war?

Oh, come on, I know you know this one.

Eris chucked and apple to the gods, declaring itself to be for the fairest, and Aphrodite bribed Paris of Troy to give it to her by making a married woman fall in love with him, and the rest is The Iliad.

Eris (I’ll talk about the spelling in a sec) is the goddess of strife, and that apple was for the fairest.

She’d fit in that little trifecta of misery so much better if her name was derived from the goddess it sounds like, and not from Japanese developers not understanding that you can’t just use random English words as names.

It doesn’t work like that! You have a lot more leeway in Japanese than we do in English, this is just a fact! This is why mock Chris Martin and Gwyneth Paltrow for calling their daughter Apple.

Now, spelling. Yeah, it’s not spelled the same, but I thought it was just a transliterated form of the letter ash.

For the uninitiated, that’s this: Æ. The important thing is that ash sounds like the beginning of ‘Eris’. After all, most people pronounce the ‘ae’ in Aeris/Aerith the same way they do the ‘ae’ in Aethelred, and that is just a modern transliteration of ÆÞelræd. Which, by the way, can also be written ‘Ethelred’, if you’re a cretin.

Considering how it’s pronounced, Aerith has a really archaically spelled name.

Next on the agenda;

Her Appearance.

Learn how to draw plaits, Nomura. Straight hair doesn’t like twists.

Everything Else.

There’s one thing you need to know about me before you read the rest of my opinion on this:

I never finished Final Fantasy VII.

Having never done that, I never got particularly attached to Aerith or saw the end of her arc.

So what I have instead is the absolute bafflement of a character I had seen advertised by everyone as sweet and gentle forcing her company on Cloud, teleporting around, and generally being incredibly creepy.

She sees this poor, confused man fall through a hole in a roof and immediately decides that she’s going to attach herself to someone who has clearly sustained injury just because her dead boyfriend did the same thing.

Considering that I have a basic background on the happenings of the Final Fantasy VII plot, her behaviour is clearly just confusing an already mentally unstable man and driving him deeper into the delusion that he is her dead boyfriend.

Granted, there is no way she could possibly know that, but the fact remains that she clearly sees something of Zack in Cloud and wants to nurture those similarities for her own selfish needs.

Unfortunate coincidence or not, her behaviour here is still unacceptable. It’s basically a large chunk of the plot of Vertigo even if Cloud was just a roofer with an inner ear problem.

Also, I distinctly remember either her, or some random NPC saying that the church was the only place plants would grow, and then being majorly surprised when we get to her house.

Editor's note: I like that waterfall. It's scenic!

I’m sorry, I thought I was playing Final Fantasy VII, but apparently I accidentally managed to switch to Kirby’s Dreamland during a screen transition.

Then there’s the getting out of her house to try and regroup with the rest of Avenging Very Avengingly Little Angels, Nachos, Cheetahs, Hens and Eco-Warriors (AVALANCHE). The first time I did this, I zipped straight through the slums, and somehow, despite leaving the house after me and there being no alternate route, Aerith still managed to cut me off at the pass and make me take her with me.

This is why both I and Doug will occasionally refer to someone ‘pulling an Aerith’, this is what we mean and it gave me a nasty shock when she did it.

Even if she has a character arc that makes her stop pulling a John ‘Scottie’ Ferguson and lose the power to teleport, I’m not sure I’d ever be able to actually like her, or even be able to forgive her for trampling all over Cloud’s boundaries the way she does.

Considering that people have eviscerated female characters for less, I wonder why Aerith, with her stupid name, illogical presence in the city and weird relationship with Cloud is allowed to get away with it.

Although, to be perfectly honest, I can live with her weird Vertigo schtick. It’s pretty awful, but characters don’t have to be innocent lambs to be engaging. I suppose it’s everything else about her that I really don’t like.

Especially her name. Ugh, Square, why?

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