The Origin of "Crisis"

Suzaku

Pro Adventurer
#1
At this point it's probably been decades since I looked at this, but while reading a thread on reddit about the new dialogue and information concerning the Midgar Avalanche cell, my memory was jogged a bit and I recalled the very early FFVII timeline that was included on the International bonus disc. Many years ago I translated this for my own personal use, but never posted a direct translation as far as I recall.


This timeline, which it seems at one point was intended to be displayed against the starfield during the opening cutscene, briefly describes the origin and growth of the Shinra company and an escalating conflict between Avalanche and the Shinra Company that leads to the events of Final Fantasy VII.

Looking at it for the first time since probably before Before Crisis actually even released, I had a very interesting realization!



That giant bolded kanji phrase for the entry immediately prior to the start date for Final Fantasy VII is 一触即発 (Isshoku Sokuhatsu), an idiom that has been translated many ways but literally means "one touch, instant shot," referring to a hair-trigger on a firearm. Colloquially, the phrase simply means a crisis. Western equivalents would include "tinderbox," "powder keg," "flash point," "zero hour," "breaking point," etc.

So, there you have it, the origin for the title and plot of Before Crisis way back in 1997, some seven (six?) years before it was even announced.

For posterity, here's a full translation of the timeline:

  • [ μ ] - εуλ 1959/9/23

    The Shinra Company discovers the next generation energy Mako

  • [ μ ] - εуλ 1968/1/9

    With the development of Mako Reactors, consumer electronics become widespread

  • [ μ ] - εуλ 1976/6/24

    Midgar, the world's largest Mako City, is constructed and becomes home to their head office

  • [ ν ] - εуλ 0001/2/30

    The anti-Shinra organization Avalanche increases aggression

  • [ ν ] - εуλ 0007/10/5

    The leader of Avalanche is assassinated

  • [ ν ] - εуλ 0007/11/3
    The Shinra Company and Avalanche are on the verge of CRISIS

  • [ ν ] - εуλ 0007 12/9

PS: Now that FFVII is nearly 25 years old, isn't it kind of shocking to think that there were only about six years between FFVII and the start of the Compilation?
 
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#4
It seems to me that these time notations did not appear in the original game until the release of the international version (a few months after the initial release) and only on the 4th CD (bonus).
I guess we can say that this timeline was not invented later to develop the compilation but that it was well at the heart of the development of the original script.

I think we can say that the [μ] Era lasted roughly 2000 years according to official data, but that does not mean all the other Eras had the same duration. However, this is what this "Grimoire Valentine" tells us. From reliable sources he's said to have said...

I also think that this time notation system is a heritage of the Cetra (or their ancestors, or their creator, ...), in any case it is not a modern system (there were logically 11 Eras before the [μ] Era).

2000 years also symbolically represent (in our "real" world) the number of years that have passed since Christians decided to count them based on the supposed birth date of a Christ (event).

It is interesting to note that approximately 2000 years passed between the arrival of Jenova on the planet and her awakening at the time of the game. In addition the end date of the [μ] Era roughly corresponds to Jenova's awakening or the Meteor event, even if it corresponds more precisely to the end of the Wutai War (and not the exact date apparently).

If the Eras have a variable duration, one can think that a change of Era is marked by an important event, the end of the Wutaï war could be one. A board of officials would then decide on the change (transition to the [ν] Era). What event could have initiated the change? Who could have been the members of this board at the time of the game ?

If Eras have a fixed duration (assumed to be 2000 years) then this way of counting may be more of a tradition. But then on what basis would they have determined this fixed period? Couldn't the duration of a migration be a natural global time marker for a faithful Cetra.
To try to answer this question it may be interesting to remember that the "Jenova event" lasted about 2000 years (if one considers that the event ended) and that it started around the time of the Cetra secession (Edit : Secession = when some of the Cetra chose to stop being Cetra and became the ancestors of baseline humans).
 
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The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
AKA
TresDias
#5
We only have the range for a single era, so there's no way of determining how long others may have lasted -- or, indeed, if any others have ever been designated.

As you said, the prior era seems to have begun being counted around the time Jenova came and decimated civilization. The current era seems to have been chosen to correspond with the end of the Wutai War, possibly to demarcate when Shin-Ra's presumed-to-be-uncontested oversight of the world began.
 

Odysseus

Resident Potato
AKA
Ody
#6
Oh man, this is the nitty gritty bullshit I came to this forum for.
[ μ ] - εуλ 1968/1/9

With the development of Mako Reactors, consumer electronics become widespread
This piece here interests me. I always figured electronics and other high-tech things were a relatively recent innovation in FF7's world, but it is never stated so plainly as here. Kalm was always my favorite town on the game because of the great visual world building it does; it's clearly an old fashioned Germanic-style town that has been retrofitted to incorporate the Mako energy. All the houses have these garish and out of place pipes and wires running through their otherwise rustic interiors. It's nice to know that was all intended.
 
#7
We only have the range for a single era, so there's no way of determining how long others may have lasted -- or, indeed, if any others have ever been designated.
I think there is a mention of a [v] Era in Advent Children on the Meteor Monument (see Q: What is written on the plaque on the monument in Edge ?).

We maybe have a clue that others have been designated as μ is the twelfth letter of the greek alphabet, which could mean that the other letters were used before. But I agree this is no proof.

As you said, the prior era seems to have begun being counted around the time Jenova came and decimated civilization. The current era seems to have been chosen to correspond with the end of the Wutai War, possibly to demarcate when Shin-Ra's presumed-to-be-uncontested oversight of the world began.
I agree there is a possibility (among other) the end of the Wutai War marks the start of the new era.

I wrote that the [μ] Era started around the time of the Cetra/modern humans secession, but we only know that it happened before Jenova's presumed arrival. So maybe it happened a significant amount of time before.
 
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The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
AKA
TresDias
#8
I wrote that the [μ] Era started around the time of the Cetra secession, but we only know that it happened before Jenova's presumed arrival. So maybe it happened a significant amount of time before.
We don't even know that much. The designation could have begun being counted once Jenova's assault on the world ended and civilization began to rebuild.

All we have is that Jenova came approximately 2000 years ago and that the calendar era to have ended a few years before the events of FFVII had lasted 2000 years.
 
#9
I wrote that the [μ] Era started around the time of the Cetra/modern humans secession, but we only know that it happened before Jenova's presumed arrival. So maybe it happened a significant amount of time before.
We don't even know that much. The designation could have begun being counted once Jenova's assault on the world ended and civilization began to rebuild.
I didn't expressed myself well, I meant we only know that the secession happened before Jenova's arrival. So maybe the secession happened a significant amount of time before so that there is no way to connect it with the start of the [μ] Era. Or maybe the secession marks the start of the new era and Jenova arrived shortly after that event (for this proposition to be plausible, I guess the secession date should represent the moment when the renegades took power or became the majority).
 
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Suzaku

Pro Adventurer
#12
Forgot I even posted this thread, so a follow up regarding the meanings of the eras.

I had personally always assumed that the shift to a new calendar era was probably instituted by Shinra to mark their victory over Wutai, which matches up with the timeline as presented in Crisis Core. However, the fact that the changeover takes place between [ μ ] era 2000/12 to [ ν ] era 0001/2 renders it ambiguous.

It's certainly possible that they simply change eras every two millennia and [ ν ] era literally means "thirteenth era," meaning recorded history on Gaia dates back approximately 24,000 years, though that seems extremely unlikely to me, given that our own recorded history only goes back about 5400 years.

More likely, in my opinion, is that the use of μ and ν is purely symbolic:

[ ν ] era is obviously pronounced "new era" which is pretty straightforward. It's literally the new era.

In Japanese, mu (無) means "not," "nothing," "without," "non-," "un-," etc. So you could read [ μ ] era as "無 era" which would mean something to the effect of "null era," "lost era," "discarded era," etc.

That makes the most sense to me, at least.
 
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