Inspiring Characters: Aerith Gainsborough

When I was trying to figure out which character to do for this month’s Inspiring Characters, I realized I made a fatal mistake. Like, it’s time to put me in jail and throw away the key. How…DID I NEVER DO ONE FOR AERITH??? Like, how did this go unnoticed??? Well, I am here to rectify my mistake, because it’s time to talk about why Aerith from Final Fantasy 7 is so inspiring. There’s a lot to go over, so let’s get started! Major SPOILER Warnings!

Aerith in the original FF7 (left), Aerith in the FF7 Remake (right) (Property of Square Enix)

Long Story Short

Aerith’s father was a professor, and her mother was the only living pureblood Ancient left in the world. When she was a baby, her father was killed by Professor Hojo, and she and her mother were kidnapped. Shinra was doing experiments on the Ancients to try and create more, but the experiments performed on Aerith’s mother weakened her. They were able to escape when Aerith was a little girl, but her mother didn’t make it. Aerith was adopted by Elmyra. Shinra always knew where she was, and they sent the Turks to watch her. The Turks were supposed to bring Aerith back to Shinra for more experiments, but they wouldn’t take her back unless she went willingly (which, of course, she never would).

Aerith started going to the local abandoned church, where she spent her days caring for the flowers there. When she was sixteen, she met Zack Fair, who was in SOLDIER at the time for Shinra. They began dating soon after. Unfortunantly, Zack went MIA (and eventually was KIA), but even though she never got official word that he had been killed, she still knew it because of the abilities she has as an Ancient. It wasn’t the first time she knew when someone died. She knew Elmyra’s husband had died in the war between Shinra and Wutai before they even got word of what had happened.

By the time of the original game, The Turks are still hounding her. She still refuses to come with them. She meets Cloud much in the same way she met Zack, and she gets dragged into the Avalanche scene. She decides to help them take down Shinra, especially after getting captured by them. She is rescued by the FF7 crew just before Professor Hojo can experiment on her. Cloud begins to fall for her, but it’s not to be. Aerith has one of the most iconic, memorable deaths in video game history. She goes off by herself to the Forgotten City, where Sephiroth kills her before the team can get to her. But is her story over? Of course not!

When she died, the Materia that she kept in her bow fell out, which happened to be the Holy Materia. They needed this in order to stop Sephiroth. After retrieving the Materia, Cloud and the others go to stop Sephiroth and Meteor. But they can’t do it alone! Aerith’s soul was in the Lifestream, and it was her soul that helped save the world. Peace returns to Midgar, but only for a while.

In the movie Advent Children, Cloud is still mourning her death. He has a lot of guilt over it, because he knows he could have saved her, he just hesitated for seven seconds too long. He’s also dying from Geostigma, a disease that seems to be spreading through Midgar and killing those who came into contact with Jenova. There’s no cure, but he’s trying to find one. Not only for himself, but for Denzel, who is pretty much his adopted son (fight me if you disagree, I guess!). But the guilt of being unable to save Aerith is dragging him down, and when Sephiroth returns from the dead (because he literally can’t die), he is easily beaten by him. When he is nearest to death, he hears Aerith’s voice. Upon dying, Aerith went to the Lifestream, where she lived in the afterlife with Zack. The two meet him there, but they know he can’t stay. He has to beat Sephiroth again. Aerith heals him and sends him on his way, and this time, knowing that she didn’t blame him for her death, he is able to win.

The last we see of Aerith (aside from the Remake), she is living happily with Zack in the Lifestream.

Aerith offers A flower to Cloud (Property of Square Enix)

What Makes Aerith Inspiring

Ummm, what DOESN’T make her inspiring?! I have been a fan of Aerith since I was a little girl. It was just household knowledge for my family that she dies in the game from the time I was very little, so I already knew it was going to happen when I finally got around to playing it. But somehow, knowing she was going to die and seeing her throughout the game just made her even better.

She was constantly raising the morale of the team, even when things were at their darkest. She cares deeply for the people around her and will go out of her way to help them. She stayed away from the Turks for years, but the instant Marlene (Barret’s daughter) was in trouble, she gave herself up to them in order to keep Marlene safe. And she was always gentle with Cloud, even though he could be a little hard on her.

Being an Ancient, Aerith knew she was going to die when the time came. But she didn’t let that stop her from fulfilling her purpose. She could have decided to turn back and go home, but she never did. And in the Lifestream, she didn’t blame Cloud for letting her die.

Aerith’s behavior towards others is one of the things that stands out to me a lot. As I said, she cares a lot about the community around her. In the Remake, we find out how much she does for the local orphanage. It’s how we should be! When we know those around us might need help, we should step up if we have the means to do so. We should love those around us. Even in the Bible it tells us this is how we should live. So I don’t know about you, but I think Aerith is one of the most inspiring characters I’ve done so far!

Aerith and Zack in the Lifestream (Property of Square Enix)

Greatest Moment –

In my opinion, Aerith’s greatest moment is when she uses the Lifestream to save the planet from Meteor. But hey, she has a lot of great moment, like healing Cloud in Advent Children and telling him she forgives him, or even the scene between her and Cloud before she dies…all right, I’ll stop.

Greatest Quote –

How can I pick just one??? I’ll do this one, since it’s one of my favorites:

“I never blamed you. Not once. You came for me. That’s all that matters.” – Advent Children

Some Fast Facts About Aerith –

– Aerith’s relations with Sephiroth changed more than once during the production of the original game. At first, they were supposed to be lovers, but then it changed to siblings. Finally, they settled on what they are now; just simple enemies. However, the original plans are references multiple times, especially in the Remake. Hojo’s idea to create more Ancients between them is a callback to them being lovers, and the fact that they look similar to each other is a callback to them supposed to be siblings. Who knows? They’ve changed a lot with the Remake, so I’m starting to wonder if now they are related somehow.

– Depending on who you are, her name is either Aerith or Aeris. Some people will fight you for calling her Aerith, because the true name is Aeris. Personally, I call her both.

– It is a possibility that Remake Aerith traveled back in time in order to change fate, and that’s why the Whispers bother her so much. We know that she has memories that are apparently from the past, according to the Ultimania. The Whispers are trying to keep her from altering the timeline, so things are getting interesting…

– There is a supposedly non-canon book by Benny MATSUYAMA called The Maiden Who Travels the Planet, in which we get to see what happened to Aerith’s soul after she died. She meets up with some familiar faces along the way. As I said, it’s non-canon, but things have me wondering if that’ll change.

– Aerith is half-Cetra (Ancient) and half-human. Her mother was the last purebred Cetra, and her father was a human.

– There is a new book about Aerith and Tifa that released last year titled Traces of Two Pasts by the absolute legend Kazushige Kojima (who also wrote The Kids Are Alright (one of my all-time favorite books) and On the Way to a Smile). In this book, Tifa and Aerith tell each other about their pasts. I believe it is entirely canon.

There. My mistake has been corrected. Aerith is such a queen, and I can’t wait to see more of her in the next Remake part! What are your thoughts on this post? Let me know in the comments below!

God bless y’all and have a wonderful weekened!

All media property of Square Enix.

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