Aerith’s story is one of the most tragic and shocking in the entire long run of the Final Fantasy series. Aerith is the sweetheart of Final Fantasy VII and an all-around fan favorite. She is in a love triangle for Cloud against Tifa. Aerith’s bubbly personality makes her run remarkable. She could well be why the current Final Fantasy VII remake is going in this direction. After all, what if Aerith will be left to survive?
Aerith is the main character in the Final Fantasy VII Remake and the compilation. Even if she may not be alive in all games, she plays a massive role in them. She also plays an intriguing role in other titles, such as the Disney-infested Kingdom Hearts. Here’s
Bottom Line Up Front
Sweet, courageous, and loving, Aerith Gainsborough is what many see as the perfect girl. Besides being a great person, she is also the last one that can help save the Planet from its imminent destruction at the hands of greedy corporations and lunatics.
Let’s start our Aerith Gainsborough guide by looking at her story.
Discussing Aerith is impossible without talking about her fate and spoilers. Her tragic death features across many media. People recall their shock when they first played Final Fantasy VII regardless of what year or even stumbling upon the plot of Final Fantasy VII on articles.
Aerith Gainsborough’s sudden demise while summoning Holy materia to fight Meteor and Sephiroth, who attempts to use the Planet as a vassel, leaves a dramatic cliffhanger. Players have to wait a long while to see whether the Planet heard Aerith’s plea to save it.
Aerith’s 101 in Final Fantasy VII Universe
Being the last of the Cetra after her mother’s tragic death, Aerith has two sides to her. She feels what the Planet is going through. Aerith hears the screams of despair as it suffers from Shin-Ra’s greed. She has heard such cries ever since she was a young girl.
One of the last parting gifts from her late mother was the Holy materia, which only Aerith understands how to use and what to make of it as the game progresses.
Last of the Cetra
The Cetra were the ancient population who lived in Gaia, The Planet, and looked after its wellbeing. They were one with the Planet. Also known as the ancients, Cetra history dates far back enough that some consider it an old folks tale.
Fallen Shin-Ra warrior Sephiroth believes humans descended from the Cetra but gave up their connection to nature. The theory is another reference to the metaphor that people who do not understand nature are killing the Planet.
The original Cetra, who refused to give up their contact with nature, are the ones who can still talk to The Planet through the lifestream and hear its pleas. Despite being an essential part of the Planet, very few humans know what the Cetra.
As Aerith is the last one of them, decyphering the story of her people and their role in protecting the Planet becomes nearly impossible.
Ifalna and Elmyra
Due to Aerith being the last of the Cetra, Shin-Ra had been hunting her down since she had been little. Her father was human, a professor called Gast Faremis. Professor Hojo killed him in hopes of keeping the Cetra secret. T
he scientist’s ultimate goal was to could hold Aerith and Ifalna in his lab for experimentation. Both mother and daughter managed to escape, which is something Aerith still tries to do so throughout her life during the story of Final Fantasy VII.
Ifalna gets mortally wounded during their escape to the Sector 7 slums. She then entrusted her daughter to a passerby called Elmyra Gainsborough, a woman whose husband had been in the frontlines in the war against Wutai.
She received a letter that he’d come back home, so she would have to meet him at the train station. During one of those days of fruitless waiting, she met Aerith and her dying mother, Ifalna.
Elmyra promised to take care of Aerith, which she also saw a sign from her late husband that fate had given her a daughter to look after. Later on, Aerith was the one who told Elmyra of her husband’s passing.
For many years Aerith hid her powers, while Elmyra made sure to protect the young girl from the Turks and Shin-Ra. She knew they were on the lookout for her. During Aerith’s time in Shin-Ra’s custody, they did not treat her as poorly as others held in captivity.
She would recall that they would give her crayons to draw around in the room where she and her mother stayed. The two received food and water regularly. Shin-Ra would take Ifalna daily to study the Cetra.
We learn later that Professor Hojo kept Ifalna’s dead body in his laboratory to extract the DNA from hair, skin, and bones to continue researching the Ancients for his own twisted needs and try and understand how everything worked.
As Aerith grew up, she could still hear the Planet’s cries. She did her best to suppress them, as she did not want to feel the odd one out and wanted to make her life as close to normal as possible after losing her mother and enjoying a quiet life with Elmyra in the slums.
Aerith found recluse in the Sector 5 church, where she managed to harvest a small flower garden where she would grow flowers. Her hobby as a florist gave her a reputation as the flower girl early in the Final Fantasy VII games.
Zack being the stand-in for who Cloud thought he was, it makes sense why Aerith fell for Cloud in such a fast way. Aerith met Zack in the same way she met Cloud. Zack fell through the church’s roof and landed on the flowers. The disoriented SOLDIER believed that Aerith was an angel.
The flower girl had previous bad encounters with Shin-Ra and its employees, spoke badly of anyone who worked there, without realizing that Zack was a SOLDIER First Class, the highest rank among the elite Shin-Ra troops. They quickly trusted each other and bonded romantically, as Zack was even the one who bought Aerith her iconic pink ribbon, which she has worn at all times ever since.
Zack suggested making a living selling flowers above the Midgar plate to people, as these were luxury items in the city. Originally Aerith had a wagon made by Zack, which she stopped using as a wheel broke, explaining the flower basket at the beginning of the game where we see her sell the flower to Cloud.
During the first iteration of Final Fantasy VII, we seldom hear about Zack, despite him playing a crucial role for Cloud and Aerith. When Zack gets gunned down, Aerith also feels his death approaching in Crisis Core. This game covered their relationship in more detail than Final Fantasy VII.
In the 2020 remake, we can see that Zack is still alive, which leads to many questions what will happen to the couple and how will Cloud react?
Final Fantasy traditionally has very tragic stories in its entries, but Cloud and Aerith’s romance is one of the most heartbreaking in the series. As we can see further along with Advent Children, the former SOLDIER cannot forgive himself for Aerith’s death. Cloud cannot let go of his beloved flower girl.
He first met Aerith when she was selling flowers, then bumped into her again when he fell through the roof, making him another SOLDIER interested in her. This time around, having lost a beloved, she acted cautiously. She was quick to start feeling something more than a friendly interaction with Cloud, hiding behind him and letting him protect her. She also made the ultimate sacrifice while summoning Holy to save everyone on the Planet and Gaia itself.
Through her run in the game, she is the one to suggest Cloud crossdress to save their companion in the gang, Tifa, who is both her friend and romantic rival. Aerith remains rather cheerful through the entire game. Behind her smile, she thinks a lot about being the last of the Cetra, discovering more about Zack and the high stakes as they get closer and closer to the real villain of the story, Sephiroth.
Aerith senses that something is going on with Cloud’s mind and even implies that she would love to meet the real Cloud, hinting that something is going on before Cloud realizes or Tifa mentions it. The connection they share goes through the game and is what stops Cloud from killing Aerith while under the control of the villain. That does not stop Sephiroth from succeeding, however. Cloud is the one who lays Aerith back to the lifestream and her final rest.
Later we see that they communicate through Cloud’s dreams. He longs for her throughout the sequels, Advent Children and further. Aerith always aids Cloud and gives him more power to end battles in his favor, as if she is still there to support him more than mentally.
Their romance is visible in other Final Fantasy and Square Enix entries. One of them is Kingdom Hearts, where Cloud appears to be searching for his light which we discover in the post-credits scene was Aerith. He explains why he had searched for her in the darkness as well. Cloud and Aerith are seen as twin souls and appear together often.
Aerith Stats in Final Fantasy VII
- Good Attributes: Magic and Spirit
- Poor Attributes: Strength, Luck, Vitality and Dexterity
- Traditional Class: Sage
- Weapon: Staves
- Best Materia Weapon: Wiser Staff
- Ultimate Weapon: Princess Guard
- Ultimate Limit Break: Great Gospel
Limit Break Progression
- Healing Wind (Level 1): Restores 50% of the party’s HP
- Seal Evil (Level 1): Stops and silences enemies
- Breath of the Earth (Level 2): Cures all party members from ailments
- Fury Brand (Level 2): Gives all party members a full limit bar
- Planet Protector (Level 3): Makes the party temporarily invincible
- Pulse of Life (Level 3): Restores 100% of the party’s HP
- Great Gospel (Level 4): Summons Planet Protector and Pulse of Life at once
Aerith was designed mainly by Tetsuya Nomura. He would later rise to the ranks of Square Enix with his Kingdom Hearts series. Nomura’s career came full circle when he returned to direct the Final Fantasy VII remake.
While creating Aerith and Tifa, he wanted them to contrast one another with. Aerith catered to a more western ideals of beauty, while Tifa would respond to the eastern ones.
Originally Aerith’s hair was supposed to resemble Sephiroth’s because Nomura envisioned them as siblings. He backtracked on the idea and made the fallen angel her lover. After more thinking, he scrapped that relationship to put Zack in the picture.
Aerith vs Aeris
There was a small debate as originally Aerith was spelled as Aeris in some translations, confusing the official translation be Aerith, as further confirmed in Kingdom Hearts.
To this day, players still prefer to use Aeris as it is the name found in the 1997 log when you are trying to name the flower girl once she enters the party and the name selection. Today the debate is not as heated as she is called Aerith across the board.
Question: Who is Aerith in love with: Cloud or Zack?
Answer: Aerith has canonically been in love with Zack, but she figured he probably found another girlfriend and moved on without her. There is no doubt that she held strong feelings for the late soldier. When it comes to Cloud, she also shows strong emotions, and they do share a deep connection through the games and the movie, showing how much they both bond.
Question: Why is Aerith special?
Answer: Aerith is the last Cetra left on the Planet, making her the only one who can even summon Holy to defeat Meteor and Sephiroth’s plans to make the Planet a traveling vessel for him and his mother Jenova. She can also speak to the Planet and hear their cries and voices.
Question: Why did they change Aeris to Aerith?
Answer: As Japanese lacks the “th” sound, Aerith should be called Aeris, but in the translation, they choose to have her Aerith, as that was the name Nomura intended for her in his first drafts for the character.
Question: Is Cloud in love with Tifa or Aerith?
Answer: The question is a heated discussion, but I believe that Cloud is in love with Aerith. He could not move on after her death and remained cold towards Tifa even when Aerith was out of the picture.
Question: Why does Aerith have mako eyes?
Answer: There is not enough lore that explains why Aerith has green eyes. They look like the result of exposure to mako energy, like the SOLDIER members and other Shin-Ra experiments. Some theories state that she might have suffered from mako exposure throughout life. One example to support this is the opening scene of Final Fantasy VII Remake, where Aerith is staring at a leaky mako pipe. However, we do not have enough flashbacks which would prove that she had any other eye color in the first place other than green.
Aerith is one of my favorite characters ever created by Tetsuya Nomura, but also by anyone in history. I love Aerith, her relationship with Cloud and the tragedy of it. She is a great character to fight with, and you truly miss her after her death in the game.
The way the remake is going, everyone is anxiously rooting for Aerith to remain among the living. We are all rooting for Aerith and for her relationship with Cloud because Final Fantasy VII showed us how to love and how beautiful that can be.