The OG+the Compilation

BlankBeat

Pro Adventurer
Who said anything about abandoning Denzel to go search for Aerith?

I won't respond to questions that misrepresent what I said.

And that's a nice excuse for not having to respond to my replies. Clever tactic!!
 

DutchDread

Pro Adventurer
AKA
Dutch Dread
Who said anything about abandoning Denzel to go search for Aerith?

I won't respond to questions that misrepresent what I said.

And that's a nice excuse for not having to respond to my replies. Clever tactic!!
So again, no answer, I was very clear in my original post, just because I don't repeat it in full every subsequent reply doesn't provide you a justification to not answer it.
I was very clear, I want to know how your mind goes from "Aerith sent Denzel to Cloud", therefore "Cloud and Aerith".
Something that logically necessitates, and links back, to you other claims of Cloud looking for Aerith in the promised land. Cloud abandons Denzel with Tifa, and according to you, searches for Aerith, those are the direct causal results of guiding Denzel to Aerith in the scenario YOU are presenting.

So again, ANSWER MY QUESTION!
 

DutchDread

Pro Adventurer
AKA
Dutch Dread
I never said what you said I said.

Where is my quote?

I'm confused.
Are you saying you are not saying that Cloud is looking for Aerith?
Are you saying that that Denzel being sent by Aerith to Cloud is NOT a point of favor of Clerith?
Are you saying Cloud didn't leave Denzel with Tifa to be with Aerith?

Because if you are admitting that you're not saying those things, I am ok with letting it go. But if you then EVER bring it up again, I'll reminds you that you said you weren't claiming those things.
 

The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
AKA
TresDias
Winning cuz the other person died isn't really winning.

I guess it's OK to treat Aerith like shit. She moves on from Zack. She dies. And yet -- she isn't entitled to her own happy ending with Cloud. Weird.
She was entitled to a lot, of course, and that's why what happened to her is so unfair. Likewise for Zack. One wouldn't say that you're treating Zack like shit, though, just because you aren't supporting him getting a happy ending, or because it could be said you're promoting that Cloud "wins" where Aerith is concerned because Zack is dead.

Blank said:
Of course James Cameron is going to leave everything up to interpretation to fuel discussion about his movie.

But the point is -- Rose's heart forever belongs to Jack. Always has. Always will.

No matter if Rose moved on to someone new, her heart always stayed with Jack. Just like Cloud's heart will always stay with Aerith.

So sure -- you can interpret the ending however you want. But Rose's heart stayed with Jack even though they only knew each other for a few days. That's the entire point of star-crossed lovers.
I would say sympathy heartaches from the audience is the point of that concept, but regardless -- why do you insist on this description of one's heart "staying with" the departed? Would it not ring more accurate to you to say that the survivor instead carries the departed with them?

Also, I know you don't believe that one never has genuine or passionate love for more than one person, so why insist on being reductive?

Anyway, while on the subject of romance after bereavement, you told Licorice "All of the above" when she asked which of these interpretations you subscribe to. Putting aside for the moment that one can't select all of them (there are at least two sets of distinct, incompatible options), where does that fit with your frequent reference to things not working out between Cloud and Tifa? If there is no relationship to work out or fail, how can either be said to occur?

Would it be most accurate to say that you subscribe to a specific notion of what Cloud and Aerith's relation to one another is and how that unfolds but don't subscribe to a specific idea of what unfolds between Cloud and Tifa beyond a general negative sentiment?

Nope.

People are saying Cloud only knew Aerith for a week (so it was meaningless), and that Cloud was Zack the whole time.
Some have, yes, and I understand why those inaccuracies are wrankling for you. And make no mistake: I am saying those are inaccuracies.

While I suppose that's a reason to use some of the reductive descriptions you do for Cloud's regard for Tifa, is that really any different from political "whataboutism"? It's not a good reason to do that, is it? =/
 

BlankBeat

Pro Adventurer
Are you saying you are not saying that Cloud is looking for Aerith?
Are you saying that that Denzel being sent by Aerith to Cloud is NOT a point of favor of Clerith?
Are you saying Cloud didn't leave Denzel with Tifa to be with Aerith?

Because if you are admitting that you're not saying those things, I am ok with letting it go. But if you then EVER bring it up again, I'll reminds you that you said you weren't claiming those things.
Huh?

I am free to bring up WHATEVER I want.

What are you even talking about?
 

minami758

Pro Adventurer
AKA
Miiwoo
I guess you are OK with treating Aerith like shit but not Tifa? Weird.
No one here is treating Aerith the way you treat Tifa. You don't deign to give Tifa any type of character complexity or even treat her like a character at all. Like MB said, you treat her as an obstacle. She might as well be an inanimate object to you that simply harbors jealousy. Do you hate Sephiroth as much as you hate Tifa? He's the one who actually murdered Aerith.

I'd actually say that the way you frame Aerith and her role in the story of FF7 to being "the girl that Cloud pines over forever" is reductive of her character and arc, as well as reductive of Cloud's. How can you reconcile a Cloud Strife as he exists in the OG and Compilation with the Cloud Strife you've created in your mind?

Then, later, after Cloud regains all of his memories, he states he remembers Aerith "a lot" in Cosmo Canyon. If Cloud was Zack during disc 1, why would he remember Aerith "a lot"?
I already answered this, stop ignoring our arguments. You're hurting my feelings.:puppy:

Cloud returns to where he is "supposed" to be -- a flower field. We then see Cloud riding through flower fields that represent Aerith at the very end of AC/C.
"Inside, I felt one thing was for sure: Cloud and Tifa would be together. Everybody would be back home where they belonged." - Nojima, pg. 70 of the FF7 Reunion Files.

I can pull quotes too. Quoted as released with AC, a movie that ends with Cloud and Tifa together and Aerith leaving into the light with Zack at her side. The credits are just that, credits. Cloud drives on a rural road that runs through a flower field but nothing happens, he's either just going on his deliveries or taking a joyride. Aerith appears but he doesn't stop to say hi or anything, he doesn't even see her there.

I don't know what you want out of these credits but they aren't helping your argument. And then they were removed in AC/C, which is the definitive version of the movie. In both versions of that movie, you have Cloud actually dying and sent to the Lifestream, but then sent back to the land of the living by Aerith and Zack because he doesn't belong there. They literally say that themselves, in the movie.

Again, this is 100% correct, are you me?
I mean, has anyone ever seen minami and Dutch in the same room together at the same time?
 
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DutchDread

Pro Adventurer
AKA
Dutch Dread
What quote of mine am I answering?
...What quote of YOURS are YOU answering?!....

Are you admitting that you're just talking to yourself? And not to us?

I asked you a question, THAT's what I want you to answer, ME, not your own quotes!

You know what? I have a question, because I've been trying to wrap my head around how your brain works, and failing.

You keep talking about how Cloud believes Aerith brought Denzel to him. And from your tone I gather that you think that means something, that he's still in love with Aerith, or that they're gonna be together, or something, I'm not sure.

Now I can imagine using that line as evidence for Tifa and Cloud belonging together, but how do you get from "Cloud thinks Aerith brought Denzel to him" to "therefore, Cloud and Aerith"?

What is the thought pattern you're imagining there?
Aerith knows Tifa and Cloud are raising a family together. Are you suggesting that Aerith thought "well, I am going to send him a child to raise so that he can abandon said child with Tifa and go look for me in the promised land"?
Is that what you think Cloud is thinking? "Aerith sent me this child, this must mean I should abandon my duties as a father".

"I am raising a child with Tifa, now Aerith sent me another child, she must be telling me that I am NOT supposed to be in a family?"

Seriously, what are you imagining there? How are your eyes seeing one thing, and your brain telling you the exact opposite?

I think an explanation as to how evidence works is required here. The way to prove a claim is correct is not by looking for things that fall in line with your claim, that's how every religion ever got started, it's a basic logical fallacy.
If you want to prove that your claim is true and not ours (to the extent that that's possible), you need to provide evidence that fits with your claim, BUT which would not ALSO be true if your claim were false. So far, the only things you've said that weren't different types of assertions or conjecture, were things that were true whether Cloud likes Aerith or not.

It helps if you imagine "what if the opposite is true, would this still make sense?" In this case, if we imagine Cloud is totally over Aerith, is madly in love with Tifa, and has no feelings left for Aerith besides feelings of guilt, would it still make sense for him to think Aerith sent that kid to him?

And the answer is yes! In fact, it makes more sense in every way.
It works because it's Aerith indicating that he should be with his fmaily.
It works because Cloud himself states that he thinks this might be a way to relieve him of guilt.
It works because why the hell would Aerith send a child to doomed family?

In every respect, Denzel being brought to Cloud by Aerith would indicate he belongs where he is, so, why do you keep bringing it up as if it works in your favor?


Who said anything about abandoning Denzel to go search for Aerith?

I won't respond to questions that misrepresent what I said.
Also, what is happening here? I am asking a clarification on YOUR stance, and YOU refuse to give it, then I ASK you whether or not something is your stance and you refuse to answer because that's not your stance?
HOW are you blaming me for misrepresenting what you are saying when I've been asking you, REPEATEDLY, to explain what you are saying?
How is it possible that you're pretending it's my fault that I am not stating your opinion accurately when YOU are the one who CONSTANTLY refuses to clarify anything when people ask them!?

This coming from someone who, when asked:
Actually, I'm not quite sure what we're debating here. Could you state your thesis unequivocally? Is it

- Aerith is one of Cloud's true romantic loves
- Aerith is Cloud's only true romantic love
- If Aerith had lived, she and Cloud would be together
- Aerith and Cloud are soul-mates (can you define soul-mate?)
- Tifa was never as important to Cloud as Aerith was and continues to be
- Cloud romantically loves Tifa, but he romantically loves Aerith more
- Cloud was never and is never in a romantic relationship with Tifa, only a platonic one

Or some combination of those statements?
Responded with:

Literally no one here even knows what you're trying to say, I feel like I'm losing my mind here.
 
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FFVII creator Kazushige Nojima speaks of a premise that things “won’t go well” between Cloud and Tifa:

“Episode Tifa [Case of Tifa] – First off, there’s the premise that things won’t go well between Tifa and Cloud, and that even without geostigma or Sephiroth, this might be the same.“
~Nojima; On the Way to a Smile interview; Square Enix​

Did you catch that last bit?

Even without circumstances such as geostigma and Sephiroth, things still probably wouldn’t have gone well between Cloud and Tifa. This means Cloud and Tifa’s issues likely have nothing to do with geostigma or Sephiroth.

Interestingly, the two times Cloud and Tifa fight in Case of Tifa revolve around Aerith – the woman Tifa is constantly jealous over.

The first fight between Cloud and Tifa is after Cloud visits Aerith’s grave. The second fight is after Cloud visits Aerith’s Church. Tifa has a BIG problem with Cloud visiting places where he connects with Aerith.

It seems the issue that continually complicates Cloud and Tifa’s relationship is Aerith; NOT geostigma or Sephiroth. One only has to look at the two fights Cloud and Tifa have during Case of Tifa, both of which revolve around Aerith.

Unfortunately for Cloti fans, Cloud and Tifa’s “relationship” doesn’t go well:
Nojima:
“…there’s a premise that things won’t go well between Tifa and Cloud, and that even without geostigma or Sephiroth, this might be the same.”

Case of Tifa proves Cloud and Tifa aren’t compatible due to factors NOT associated with either geostigma or Sephiroth. The only other factor is Aerith – Tifa’s “love rival.”

PS:

You keep telling me to reply to your points yet you haven't replied to numerous responses of mine.

Here you go again -- acting like Judge Judy.
I mean if you go through Nomura and Nojima's quotes, the big issue that Cloud & Tifa have is that Tifa (+kids) make him too happy and he doesn't feel he deserves that type of happiness. On top of that, he feels an enormous amount of guilt for what happened with Aerith and Zack and doesn't feel that he'll be able to protect Tifa and the rest.

If Aerith had lived, he'd have been at a much happier place with Tifa.


The more he realizes how happy he is living with Tifa and the children, the more the fear of losing that and regrets toward the past trouble Cloud… -Cloud profile 10th AU.


Cloud tried to move on once…but he was hurt by the losses he experienced in the battles he fought in the game story. even after all of that he still found a peaceful life. and that made him scared. he lost it all once already and he could lose it all again. even though he was there he couldn’t do anything to prevent it the last time. so the happier he is, the more lonely he becomes. - nomura : distance.


“Nojima: Cloud never had a candid personality to begin with, and although he started living with Tifa and even started working, he obtained a peaceful living he’s never experienced before, and this conversely made him anxious. And in the midst of this he contracts Geostigma himself, and rather than being able to protect the people dear to him, he instead was forced to face his own death, and so ran away.”- Nojima, AC prologue.
 

looneymoon

hedgehog pandacat
AKA
Rishi
I'm still waiting for @BlankBeat to describe how Tifa's happy ending looks like at the end of Advent Children.

Unfortunately, no Aerith isnt entitled to a happy conclusion because she... dies. That's a very sad ending, I cried when I played the game the first time! :( Though I guess... you know, saving the world....... and showing her chilling with the ex she missed a lot lessens that sting a bit...

But once again - BlankBeat, please explain to me Tifa's character arc, and how your interpretation of Cloud makes sense with Square-Enix's depiction of her getting a happy ending?
 
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Master Bates

Do you enjoy your life?
AKA
Mr. Koiwai
From my honest to goodness understanding of BB's interpretation of Tifa's happy ending, it seems Tifa's happy ending is precisely that she ends up physically with Cloud, who does not reciprocate her romantic feelings, but at least stays with her and keeps her company despite that Cloud actually wants to follow Aerith and... continues to pursue ways in which he can get together with Aerith? All while Tifa is by his side and remains his number 2? But that still counts as happy ending because she 'wins' Cloud 'by default'?

Basically Cloud is the prize, and because Tifa gets physical possession of him by default she technically won. Thus, by looking at it under the lens that this is some sort of twisted competition, that counts as happy ending for her?

I'm not trying to put words in her mouth here. This is truly how I understood her posts. Of course, she's free to clarify her stance on this, but I doubt my interpretation is pretty far off.
 
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BlankBeat

Pro Adventurer
@Master Bates -- haha!! You did a pretty good job!!

Fundamentally, this is and will always remain a love triangle that is up to player interpretation:

Nomura: “AC is a piece of work made by Japanese people. In Hollywood movies, I think there is a tendency where the meaning of all the scenes have to be expressed clearly but, this isn’t something like that. With our work, the viewer is free to decide how they interpret or enjoy it. The staff has their own answers to all the scenes in the movie such as the angel statue that makes an appearance many times. But, even if someone who has watched it interprets it differently, then that is just another answer. I guess "comparing answers” with friends is one of the ways you can enjoy the movie. I think AC is a movie that makes those who have watched it, want to talk about it with others.“
~FFVII AC Prologue Book


I’d say, [who Cloud likes] is all how you perceive the game. Cloud, as you know, is a very popular character, so I don’t want to confirm the answer either way. Since the players have affection towards him, I want to leave it up to the players to decide who Cloud likes.
~
2002 interview with Tetsuya Nomura


Now, to address the "happy ending":

Tifa get's her happy ending because Cloud no longer lives in the Church. Cloud returns home to live with Barret, Marlene, Denzel, and Tifa.

If you want to view Cloud and Tifa as a "couple," so be it. You are free to do so. However, there is no scenes of romance between them and no description of them being a couple by SE. This means their relationship is purposely ambiguous (ie: it is forever a love triangle that doesn't include Zack).

To me, Aerith is pushed on you as the main love interest due to the main narrative (ie: she dies). Cait Sith's lines were designed by SE to set Cloud and Aerith up as star-crossed lovers.

“Looks good.
You are perfect for each other!
Aerith’s star and Cloud’s star! They show a great future!

Poor Tifa!”
~Cait Sith

“After solving the puzzle about Cait Sith’s replaceable body, he tells one last fortune of Cloud and Aerith’s affinity.
Cait Sith’s lines, which seem to expect Cloud and Aerith’s wedding, now makes it more painful.”

~Final Fantasy VII Dismantled; Square Enix

So sure -- you can argue that Tifa "wins" by default due to being alive. But if Aerith had lived, it is most obvious to me that Cloud would have picked the Flower Girl.

When both ladies are present, Cloud's preference is Aerith:


Tifa gets her "happy ending" regardless of if she is "with" Cloud. Why? Because Cloud finally returns to them after being at Aerith's Church. Though "them" includes Barret, too. The Seventh Heaven family. We are also assuming that a romantic relationship is necessary for Tifa to be happy.

For me, the fact that Cloud and Aerith developed such a strong bond in such a short amount of time suggests they are soulmates -- "meant to be." Without Sephiroth "thwarting" their budding romance, Cloud would have ended up with Aerith. To me, Tifa doesn't stand a chance if Aerith lives.

Just as Rose moved on from Jack but still returns to Jack at the very end of "Titanic," I believe that regardless of if Cloud moves on, he will still one day return to Aerith. Soulmates are soulmates. A childhood crush simply can't compete with that, and I don't think it was ever intended to. Aerith is the original heroine and the original love interest.

And for the record: people keep saying this isn't a "competition."

Well then why the hell is Aerith described as Tifa's "love rival"?

Like it or not, but the love triangle does make it so Aerith and Tifa are like Coke and Pepsi. You gotta pick one. It is an inherent rivalry. Again -- Aerith is stated to be Tifa's "love rival."

Luckily, SE says both interpretations are valid interpretations. I just personally think the Clerith interpretation is stronger both due to the main narrative (ie: Aerith dies/star-crossed lovers/soulmates/Shinra jail cell), and the fact that Aerith is the original love interest who was developed first -- the star-crossed love story was always intended from Day 1.

PS:

The very reason so many think it is Cloti and Zerith is because of misconceptions regarding Zack. It is also easier for the masses to understand "Cloud and Tifa" -- "Zack and Aerith." That looks "correct" on the surface.

In addition, Crisis Core led many fans down a path of believing that because of Zack, Clerith is somehow invalidated. Many of them never played the OG.

However, we don't see anything romantic between Zack and Aerith in the lifestream.

In MoT, Aerith states she will only call Zack if she gets "really lonely," and she also states that she prefers Cloud's personality over Zack's. And yes, I know most don't consider this "canon" -- but I'll trust MoT (a book approved by SE) over anyone's opinion on this forum. Regardless, there is no scene of romance between Zack and Aerith in the lifestream, and Zack isn't even in the official love triangle.

In the OG, Aerith said her & Zack were "never serious," that her relationship with him is "in the past now," and that Zack probably moved on because he's a "real lady's man." Plus, we know from the "normally occurring" CxA Gold Saucer date that although Aerith initially liked Cloud because of Zack, she has finally grown to like Cloud for Cloud.

Aerith:
......first off, it bothered me how you looked exactly alike.
Two completely different people, but look exactly the same.
The way you walk, gesture...
I think I must have seen him again, in you...
But you're different.
Things are different.


"Things" are different. Aerith now likes Cloud for Cloud.

“Although in the beginning Aerith felt close to Cloud because he behaved like Zack, her interest in Cloud himself grows and she is attracted to him.”
~Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega; Square Enix

Aerith: “At first when I met Cloud, I believed he was similar to Zack. Little actions, the way he spoke… his kindness. But Cloud is Cloud. I, now undoubtedly, love Cloud much more than Zack.”
~Final Fantasy VII Dismantled; Square Enix

At the end of the day, Cloud wasn't Zack. He adopted a few memories from a specific moment in time and that was it. There was no transformation.

Cloud is emo and introverted. Zack is happy and outgoing. Cloud retains his emo and introverted personality during disc 1.

Furthermore, Cloud didn't recognize Aerith. If Cloud was Zack, why didn't he recognize Aerith?

Are we saying literally everything Cloud did during disc 1 is somehow tainted because of Zack?

Are we saying disc 1 Cloud was actually Zack? Where is this stated by SE?

If all of Cloud's interactions with Aerith are tainted because of Zack, why would Cloud feel guilt towards Aerith's death?

If Cloud was Zack, wouldn't that suggest Cloud should feel nothing towards Aerith because everything he ever did or said to her was tainted because of Zack? Do we honestly think SE agrees with that assessment?

I guess SE created an entire star-crossed romance between Cloud and Aerith and want us to go "oh, that was just Zack!"

Really...!?!?

Why is Cloud guilty in AC if he was Zack?

It just doesn't make any sense what-so-ever.

Also --

“After developing his personality by using Zack’s memory as a base, Cloud still maintained the part of coolness even though Zack had cheerful characteristics. The part of Cloud’s coolness that keeps him away from the surroundings and the part of his asserting "no interests” all have nothing to do with the influence of Jenova cells. They belong to the real Cloud’s personality." ~Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega

So although Cloud wasn’t completely himself during disc 1, parts of the 'real’ Cloud were present during his time with Aerith. It is also stated that the Jenova cells inside Cloud mimicked Tifa’s memories of him. Since Tifa’s memories were of the 'real’ Cloud, Jenova’s cells mimicked portions of the 'real Cloud’ and fashioned yet another personality for him.

Further – Aerith Gainsborough met Cloud Strife during a very troubling time in his life. His memories were jumbled and he was being controlled by Jenova’s cells. However, despite these challenges, Aerith was able to reach through to Cloud’s core and leave a long-lasting impression on him that he carries with him to this very day.

One needs to look no further than Cloud’s behavior and actions after regaining his memories to see how much Aerith meant to the real Cloud: he remembers her often, fights to avenge her death, carries grief and guilt over not being able to protect her, and eventually begins living in her Church. Zack’s memories and Jenova’s cells weren’t enough to stop Aerith from reaching Cloud’s heart.

Zack’s memories and Jenova’s cells weren’t enough to stop Cloud from truly caring about and developing a love for Aerith that has stayed with him forever.

All of this makes the case even more compelling for Cloud x Aerith because Cloud developed a love for Aerith despite Jenova’s cells and despite Zack’s memories — a love he has carried with him long after regaining his memories.

I think that about sums up everything!!

Catch y'all later!!
 
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Ruri

Pro Adventurer
Tifa get's her happy ending because Cloud no longer lives in the Church. Cloud returns home to live with Barret, Marlene, Denzel, and Tifa.
Cloud returns home to the be with his family which includes Tifa, who is the 'mother' of his family. [1] Returns home to Tifa who cherishes the memory of Aerith.[2] Returns home to Tifa who he is mentioned a bajillion times to share feelings with.[3]

If you want to view Cloud and Tifa as a "couple," so be it. You are free to do so. However, there is no scenes of romance between them and no description of them being a couple by SE.
FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania For the One I love.

Feel free to reply to me with the other page BB, this page still contradicts this sentence of yours with:

VII – The night before the final battle
Thanks to Tifa, Cloud regains himself, and before the final battle with Sephiroth, without using words, he confirms with her that their feelings match.
 

BlankBeat

Pro Adventurer
Cloud returns home to the be with his family which includes Tifa, who is the 'mother' of his family. [1] Returns home to Tifa who cherishes the memory of Aerith.[2] Returns home to Tifa who he is mentioned a bajillion times to share feelings with.[3]
How Denzel views Cloud and Tifa has no relevance towards how Cloud and Tifa view each other.

Barret is forever Marlene's father.

Uhhh...

I'm talking about post-AC.

Furthermore --



The caption under the date is irrelevant because the Clerith date is forever the canon and "normally occurring" date.

Therefore, in canon, the FTOIL page is applied to the Clerith date.
 

looneymoon

hedgehog pandacat
AKA
Rishi
From my honest to goodness understanding of BB's interpretation of Tifa's happy ending, it seems Tifa's happy ending is precisely that she ends up physically with Cloud, who does not reciprocate her romantic feelings, but at least stays with her and keeps her company despite that Cloud actually wants to follow Aerith and... continues to pursue ways in which he can get together with Aerith? All while Tifa is by his side and remains his number 2? But that still counts as happy ending because she 'wins' Cloud 'by default'?

Basically Cloud is the prize, and because Tifa gets physical possession of him by default she technically won. Thus, by looking at it under the lens that this is some sort of twisted competition, that counts as happy ending for her?

I'm not trying to put words in her mouth here. This is truly how I understood her posts. Of course, she's free to clarify her stance on this, but I doubt my interpretation is pretty far off.
@Master Bates -- haha!! You did a pretty good job!!
A few days ago I made a joke that Cloud probably sometimes guiltily thinks of Aerith sometimes when he and Tifa have boring marital sex. I was very stoned and it was super funny to me and me only.

...I completely forgot how people take this view on his character seriously, and frame it as romantic.

I don't like this version of Cloud. He's gross. It calls into question as to why Tifa or Aerith would even like this dude.
 
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BlankBeat

Pro Adventurer
A few days ago I made a joke that Cloud probably sometimes guiltily thinks of Aerith sometimes when he and Tifa have boring marital sex. I was very stoned and it was super funny to me and me only.

...I completely forgot how seriously find this a serious take on his character, and frame it as romantic.

I don't like this version of Cloud. He's gross. It calls into question as to why Tifa or Aerith would even like this dude.
Nothing "gross" about it.

SE wants players to have their own views on who Cloud ultimately "loves" -- this is forever a love triangle up to player interpretation.

Nomura: “AC is a piece of work made by Japanese people. In Hollywood movies, I think there is a tendency where the meaning of all the scenes have to be expressed clearly but, this isn’t something like that. With our work, the viewer is free to decide how they interpret or enjoy it. The staff has their own answers to all the scenes in the movie such as the angel statue that makes an appearance many times. But, even if someone who has watched it interprets it differently, then that is just another answer. I guess "comparing answers” with friends is one of the ways you can enjoy the movie. I think AC is a movie that makes those who have watched it, want to talk about it with others.“
~FFVII AC Prologue Book


I’d say, [who Cloud likes] is all how you perceive the game. Cloud, as you know, is a very popular character, so I don’t want to confirm the answer either way. Since the players have affection towards him, I want to leave it up to the players to decide who Cloud likes.
~
2002 interview with Tetsuya Nomura

Funny how Cloti's say any interpretation other than Cloti is "gross" -- yet SE purposely wants players to have different interpretations.
 
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