Trace of Two Pasts novel discussion

kathy202

Pro Adventurer
Doesn't that just underscore Lic's take (i.e. your first proposed possibility)? The situation is only emphasized for one of these characters when it logically should apply to them all, and Lord knows they all have their own real-life stans proclaiming their desirability.
Hmm not really? It feels more like Tifa is supposed to be considered pretty in this world but not the others, because like Lic says, SE is incapable of designing an un-cute character. Which means Tifa is in her world pretty, and unfortunately, in our world, the most sexualized one.

When creators design a large-breasted woman and write a story that repeatedly draws attention to her physical characteristics, it feels deliberate for the wrong reasons. Unless they're trying to say that Tifa's main struggle in the story is dealing with people obsessed about her appearance, which I don't think it is. Her struggles are dealing with loss of her home, rebuilding her life, managing the internal conflict between anger vs her better self, and ultimately being able to help Cloud pull through because she overcame that conflict within herself. Granted, the obsession people in that world have over her looks adds to her struggles in rebuilding her life and it's fine for it to show up every now and then, but it doesn't feel like it needs to be constantly present throughout her story.

If they're trying to make a point here, it's not working for me and it ends up more like what KindOfBlue said, that the devs themselves are the ones who created a sexualized character in the first place and won't stop drawing attention to it.

I suppose they can't undo a decision made over 20 years ago, so maybe they just went along with it and showed us how Tifa really feels about it. Adds to her characterization of being a reserved, down-to-earth woman who has these relatable struggles in a realistically crappy world.
 
For what it's worth, Tifa in TOTP is presented as a teenage girl (only 15 at the start of her ordeal! A child!) from the sticks burdened with a terrible debt as well as the grief and guilt of what happened at Nibelheim, trying to make her way forward in the incredibly predatory world of the Midgar slums. Her only asset in this world is her looks. It's why the clinic is willing to invest so much in saving her; they know a beautiful girl like Tifa will be able to repay the debt and will also boost their business. It's why Uncle hires her. It's why a Corneo thug tries to haul her off to Wall Market. It's why Marle recommends her as a worker to the guy who owns 7th Heaven. Aerith has Elmyra and the Turks to protect her. Until she connects with Avalanche, Tifa has nobody.
 

villains23

Rookie Adventurer
AKA
v
Back to the topic of Tifa being constantly called cute/hot/pretty. I can't tell if they're trying to make the point about how annoying it is to be in her shoes and constantly having people make comments about the way you look, or if they're trying drive in the "cute" factor as a part of her character because she has so many fans who love her just for that.

For me, it comes across more as the latter because it's done so excessively it becomes annoying to me as the reader. I feel like the point might be better delivered if they had just a few outstanding instances of it where it's clearly disturbing and leave it at that.
IMO it's the former.

I feel like there is a meta commentary from Nojima as well. After all, he is the author of the novel. Every time attention is drawn to Tifa's appearance, it's done so deliberately by Nojima. I feel like it's almost like a reminder, or a plea, from Nojima to the fans to not reduce the worth of her character down to her appearance. It's as if he's telling the fans, "Tifa doesn't want her worth to be based on her appearance, and neither do I, so please do not see her that way. Yes she is attractive. We know. Get over it."

That's my impression anyway
 

Ryeleigh

Lv. 25 Adventurer
AKA
Rye
I'm not exactly sure if I can word this well since English isn't my mother language and I haven't played the OG in years. But I don't remember this constant stress in her looks in the OG?

For example, let's compare her to another voluptuous woman who appeared around the same time as Tifa: Lara Croft. I'm currently replaying those games so I actually know what I'm talking about and I noticed she isn't sexualized in her games. At all. Aside from that brief joke at the end of game two and even that ended with a shotgun blast in the viewer's face. And the thing is, she's obviously good-looking. Her tits are nice and round, her waist is teeny, and her hips aren't bad either. But just because she's objectively pretty and externally that might be all that people focus on, it doesn't mean she has to be sexualized within her own story too. Because her story is about stealing mystical trinkets and shooting things in the face. If that makes sense?

Now, there's one common thread with people who fan over Tifa: either they talk about her looks or they talk about how much ass she can kick. Sometimes they might mention her personality too or how she's "imperfectly perfect". If they ever talk about her role in the story, well, it's unfortunately either tied to shipping or Cloud.

How much ass she can kick inevitably gets compared to Aerith in certain circles: "Tifa is fast and strong and fun to play with whereas Aerith is slow and weak and a chore to play with". When you top that off with the constant stress that's put on her looks internally (while Aerith's looks are downplayed internally), it rather feels like the devs are trying to boost her desirability within the perception of the fandom.

And that kind of really irritates me. Just because a character is pretty and may be externally sexualized, it doesn't mean they have to be constantly sexualized within the story too. I mean, the devs were purportedly squabbling over the exact size of her tits and the exact shade of her hair, and they made her "perfect" based on.... was it Nomura's preferences? And now they're constantly stressing her looks within the story and they supposedly want to tell the readers "That's bad. Don't do that"? Like, c'mon. How about they stop it first?
 
I suppose it depends on what story you're trying to tell. Given that Nojima is telling the story of a teenage girl's struggle to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of the slums, where her looks are the only thing that give her value in most other people's eyes, it's not surprising to me that he stresses it. I never got the impression that he over-stressed it. When everyone around her is sexualising her, usually in order to profit off her sexiness in one way or another, that's going to be a big part of her story. To not mention it or barely mention it would seem unrealistic to me. This is how teenage girls who find themselves abandoned without money or protection get treated. IIRC, in the part of the story before she gets to Midgar, her physical appearance is rarely mentioned. She is very wary of human traffickers, though, so that's obviously a thing that happens.
 

Ryeleigh

Lv. 25 Adventurer
AKA
Rye
I suppose it depends on what story you're trying to tell. Given that Nojima is telling the story of a teenage girl's struggle to survive in the dog-eat-dog world of the slums, where her looks are the only thing that give her value in most other people's eyes, it's not surprising to me that he stresses it. I never got the impression that he over-stressed it. When everyone around her is sexualising her, usually in order to profit off her sexiness in one way or another, that's going to be a big part of her story. To not mention it or barely mention it would seem unrealistic to me. This is how teenage girls who find themselves abandoned without money or protection get treated. IIRC, in the part of the story before she gets to Midgar, her physical appearance is rarely mentioned. She is very wary of human traffickers, though, so that's obviously a thing that happens.
Well, sure. But the thing is, that should be the experience of every woman in Midgar then? It's not like the "unbelievably pretty" girls are the only ones who are predated on in a world where that predation is the norm? But from what I remember of Remake, if any character's looks or "desirability" is going to be mentioned, those looks or "desirability" is going to be Tifa's. And while her looks seem to be a part of the plot and world-building in the novel, in the Remake the constant comments are just there. Aside from that bit with Don Corneo, I guess.

Btw, I'm not trying to start an argument over this. I'm just sharing how I view it XD
 
Well, Jessie, Aerith and Tifa have many differences as well as similarities. For one thing, Jessie is older than Tifa. We meet her when she is already almost an adult, or actually an adult. She's street-smart and has a network of friends looking out for her. She's also learnt to play the game when it comes to guys being aggressive towards her, and she's not afraid to fight. Also, Jessie is never a viewpoint character. As players or readers we always look at her; we don't look out at the world through her eyes.

Aerith is extremely well protected thanks to Elmyra, the Turks, and (post TOTP novel) Elmyra's gang connections. So she isn't going to suffer the same experiences as Tifa.

The focus is very strongly on Tifa and Aerith so we're not going to see much of what happens to "ordinary girls". We do see Don Corneo and his establishment chewing them up and spitting them out. Leslie loses his beloved. Naive NPC girls talk about going to Wall Market and making a fortune. Tifa worries about human traffickers. I mean, it's a game for youngsters as well as adults; it's not GTA. But I think we see enough of the menace to know Tifa isn't the only one affected. But TOTP is her story.
 

Thenir

Pro Adventurer
AKA
Nirnaeth
I took it as a way to stress that while all the girls objectively look beautiful, Tifa is a step ahead. I'd personally argue that she's more beautiful than Aerith but, during the Wall Market section, the story shows us that there's a difference between them as Tifa is judged to be perfectly suitable for Corneo's selection even in her civilian outfit, after a bombing mission, while Aerith needs to insist and to get Madam M's help to look appropriate.

Overall the slums are a depressed place where normal people lost part of their humanity, and some of them would try to mercify a pretty girl to make a profit. The Wall Market trio do it on a daily basis.
It's true that this character will have to deal with a lot of major issues, but being aware that every one around you can't go beyond your physical appereance and that they're ready to take advantage on you if you let your guard down, that will impact a lot on your personality, especially if you're young and in a state of fragility like Tifa, who indeed developed a growing lack of self-esteem.
 

frosty

Pro Adventurer
AKA
The Snowman
kathy202 said:
Back to the topic of Tifa being constantly called cute/hot/pretty. I can't tell if they're trying to make the point about how annoying it is to be in her shoes and constantly having people make comments about the way you look, or if they're trying drive in the "cute" factor as a part of her character because she has so many fans who love her just for that.

For me, it comes across more as the latter because it's done so excessively it becomes annoying to me as the reader. I feel like the point might be better delivered if they had just a few outstanding instances of it where it's clearly disturbing and leave it at that.
I agree with this, I also do feel that it was common with the earlier FF games to not-subtly shove down the player's throat that THIS (LOVE INTEREST) CHARACTER IS BEAUTIFUL! In FF9, there is constant NPC chatter that "her highness is the most beautiful", "she is the most beautiful princess in the history of Alexandria" etc. etc. I believe it exists to a lesser extent with Yuna as well where NPCs in Besaid comment on "the summoner's" looks.

It annoyed me as well, but I figured they did this to build up simmering anticipation for the player to meet the heroine. All this chatter seems to be concentrated before the player is formally introduced to her in her big CG reveal. Also, by that time, you might have already have met other female characters (in FF7Rs case - Aerith and Jessie, and in FFX's case, Rikku) and, with anime-same-face, everyone is attractive, so they needed a differentiator - hence they spell it out for you.

But for Tifa's case, it's just really excessive - in game or in book.
Ryeleigh said:
I'm not exactly sure if I can word this well since English isn't my mother language and I haven't played the OG in years. But I don't remember this constant stress in her looks in the OG?
It wasn't this stressed in the OG. All I remember is Yuffie calling Tifa "boobs" at one point of time when you try to recruit her (lol!) and someone in Mideel that says "Aren't you a beaut" to Tifa or something to that effect. In fact, it's Aerith that's described as "beautiful and mysterious" in her official profile.

Ryeleigh said:
And that kind of really irritates me. Just because a character is pretty and may be externally sexualized, it doesn't mean they have to be constantly sexualized within the story too. I mean, the devs were purportedly squabbling over the exact size of her tits and the exact shade of her hair, and they made her "perfect" based on.... was it Nomura's preferences? And now they're constantly stressing her looks within the story and they supposedly want to tell the readers "That's bad. Don't do that"? Like, c'mon. How about they stop it first?
Exactly how I feel about this with the devs as well. And it isn't just ToTP, in The Kids Are Alright, they have these lines:
  • "Its beautiful proprietress was a woman in her mid-twenties called Tifa, who had a fine ‘endowment’."
  • Tifa greeted me with a soft smile. Lots of guys would probably have their eyes drawn a little further down
  • “Evan…” Tifa said, staring right at me. I lowered my gaze, feeling uneasy… and there was Tifa’s chest.
Why even bring this up? It lends nothing to the story. It makes me wonder what is the purpose of all this pseudo "Don't sexualize Tifa!" in ToTp, when they didn't exactly shy from making references to her body in a joke-y manner in the past :huh:

Thenir said:
like Minerva?
I totally forgot that Minerva existed in CC! :lol: As long as she doesn't come into FF7R for 20-30%, talking about men and their quest to fight fate and destiny and Sephiroth's quest for godhood doesn't involve an elaborate plan to usurp her throne, I guess she can stay in the background for some lore. :P
 
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Odysseus

Ninja Potato
AKA
Ody
Tifa was definitely designed to be FF7's sex symbol, there's not much getting around that. You have stuff like that advertisement I highlighted on page 1 of this thread

Or how they animated her in certain cutscenes


Or decades worth of semi-lewd merchandise



Or all the times in the remake where the camera gets real up close to her and lingers on her a long time (This also happens with Aerith and Jessie).

The way people see her is how Square wanted people to see her.

I'm just happy the novel and remake give her more focus on the depth of her character.
 

Odysseus

Ninja Potato
AKA
Ody
Oh and I'm not trying to say that there isn't any issues with reducing her down to just her tits, it's something that bothers me too, I'm just saying Square doesn't deserve many points in the "progressive" category considering how they've presented her over the years.
 

Ryeleigh

Lv. 25 Adventurer
AKA
Rye
It wasn't this stressed in the OG. All I remember is Yuffie calling Tifa "boobs" at one point of time when you try to recruit her (lol!)
Lol! XD

Well, Jessie, Aerith and Tifa have many differences as well as similarities. For one thing, Jessie is older than Tifa. We meet her when she is already almost an adult, or actually an adult. She's street-smart and has a network of friends looking out for her. She's also learnt to play the game when it comes to guys being aggressive towards her, and she's not afraid to fight.
Actually, I was just thinking about Jessie. Like, she's a freaking actress, which is a profession mostly about looks. You'd think she'd be the hot stuff in the world of FFVII but I don't remember anyone commenting about her looks in the Remake?

Okay, to kind of further illustrate what I mean about how Tifa's looks are treated compared to the other girls', here's what I remember off the top of my head:

Jessie: I don't think anyone said anything about her?
Aerith: her looks were downplayed and played for laughs.
Leslie's fiancee (in the Remake at least): her story was more about Leslie, and apparently Cloud and Tifa, than the actual woman who was human trafficked.
Yuffie: played for laughs.
Nayo: she's the only one aside from Tifa whose looks were seriously commented on, but on the other hand, everyone already tagged her basically as discount Tifa so I don't know?
Now, Tifa: gets sector 7, constant NPC chatter, Wall Market, and apparently an entire novel dedicated to reinforcing how good-looking or "desirable" she is.

And I'm not even saying it's "wrong" or that the devs can't be making a legit point about it. But it does feel excessive. It's like, I can already see that Tifa is good-looking and I can already infer that she's desirable without half the NPCs and their grandmothers reinforcing that image?
 

Thenir

Pro Adventurer
AKA
Nirnaeth
Personally I'm not objecting the fact that this character, whose physical appearance is purposefully sexy, has been objectified by the devs themselves to please the fans (especially back in the 90s), but in the novel every comment about Tifa's look is constantly followed by her uncomfortable and embarrassed reaction, which makes me think the point is no more to hammer the fact that she's sexy, but give a focus on a deeper aspect of her personality.
 

KindOfBlue

Pro Adventurer
AKA
Blue
Yeah, we do have to acknowledge SE’s own history of sexualizing Tifa themselves like Ody pointed out. Like I said, SE is guilty of making these situations in the first place, and if the intention was to create an honest portrayal of women, well…I mean, anime does this all the time: women with super bone-thin bodies all around EXCEPT the chest conveniently. Fat distribution be damned. There’s surgery, of course, but to look like that naturally? Quite rare. Perhaps that’s the point?

Personally, I wish Tifa was a bit beefier in the remake, particularly around the arms. Not just to make the proportions a bit more believable but also to match her fighting style. I dunno if I’d go as far as Chun-Li from Street Fighter but a bit more muscle wouldn’t hurt. (well, it’d hurt the enemy lol)

BUT there is a saving grace here. I like Lic’s point about honesty because there’s no getting around how people would treat a woman who has Tifa’s body. It’s not just her face that makes her attractive, the body is what singles her out. We can’t change the past but we could do the best with what we have, and SE’s done a great job with Tifa’s character beyond just making her eye candy.

Good on them for wanting to address that in-universe as some kind of meta commentary, at least...unless it’s just a convenient outlet to keep being perverts lol. (Hey, remember that time Hideo Kojima insisted there was some sort of deep reason for Quiet’s design in Metal Gear Solid V? Yeah, sure buddy lmao)
 
Actually, I was just thinking about Jessie. Like, she's a freaking actress, which is a profession mostly about looks. You'd think she'd be the hot stuff in the world of FFVII but I don't remember anyone commenting about her looks in the Remake?
Actually I think there is some NPC chatter about it near where her house is, with guys talking about how pretty she is, and some of the little kids in the school talk about it too? Not as much as Tifa sure but I'm pretty sure it's there. I'd have to boot the game up again to check it exactly though.
 

kathy202

Pro Adventurer
Maybe I need to re-read the latest chapter, but Tifa doesn't seem too bothered by the fact that it's her looks that are drawing a crowd and boosting sales? She seems more bothered when Rakesh starts being creepy, or whenever suggestions of the Wall Market are brought up.

And by the time in the remake, she shows absolutely no discomfort about item store owner hitting on her. Even tells Cloud about freebies, which Cloud very accurately says "For you maybe". I guess she adjusted to the life there, but this part feels like she's unaware that it's about her looks again, which is unbelievable.

She has a lot of other skills that will help her survive in the slums, maybe not initially, but eventually. She's a great cook, strikes up a good conversation, manages money well, and these factors contribute to her success in running the bar I'm sure. Yet when we run around the slums in game, while we do hear about the food quality (thank you Wedge), there's still the "and she's cute!! I want waifu to cook for me!!" screaming in the background. It feels almost like she wouldn't get anywhere without her looks, which can't be true.

Good on them for wanting to address that in-universe as some kind of meta commentary, at least...unless it’s just a convenient outlet to be perverts lol.
It's starting to feel like they're playing both sides. It generates hype amongst both the perverts and the progressives. Their popular sexualized character gets to stay popular for the same reason. Meanwhile, they also justify the sexualization by saying they're making a point and a realistic portrayal. Can't argue with that, it's indeed realistic.

I'm not exactly sure if I can word this well since English isn't my mother language and I haven't played the OG in years.
Just wanted to say, I think you worded it really well because that's exactly my thoughts and I never knew how to explain it (not even to myself lol). Also, funny you mentioned Lara Croft because I was just about to ask. I've only played a few recent ones and the sexualization felt rather mild or even non-existent.
 

Ryeleigh

Lv. 25 Adventurer
AKA
Rye
Well, at this point I think we're talking about personal taste and individual interpretation. I can't possibly say that you are wrong, but I received a different impression, that's all.
(Obviously Jessie is a very good-looking woman. However, she wasn't a very successful actress; it took her forever to get a main part).
Ha ha, yeah! Let's agree to disagree XD It was a nice discussion, though, I think.

And I forgot that about Jessie ^^;

Yeah, we do have to acknowledge SE’s own history of sexualizing Tifa themselves like Ody pointed out. Like I said, SE is guilty of making these situations in the first place, and if the intention was to create an honest portrayal of women, well…I mean, anime does this all the time: women with super bone-thin bodies all around EXCEPT the chest conveniently. Fat distribution be damned. There’s surgery, of course, but to look like that naturally? Quite rare. Perhaps that’s the point?
I actually once saw this rather interesting video on how Remake!Tifa's body still isn't realistic.

Actually I think there is some NPC chatter about it near where her house is, with guys talking about how pretty she is, and some of the little kids in the school talk about it too? Not as much as Tifa sure but I'm pretty sure it's there. I'd have to boot the game up again to check it exactly though.
Really? If there is then I was wrong and forgot about it XD

And by the time in the remake, she shows absolutely no discomfort about item store owner hitting on her. Even tells Cloud about freebies, which Cloud very accurately says "For you maybe". I guess she adjusted to the life there, but this part feels like she's unaware that it's about her looks again, which is unbelievable.
You know, I actually thought this was cute first. Like, "aw, she's clueless that the guy has a crush on her". But with her background in ToTP, there's no way she would be clueless?

It's starting to feel like they're playing both sides. It generates hype amongst both the perverts and the progressives. Their popular sexualized character gets to stay popular for the same reason. Meanwhile, they also justify the sexualization by saying they're making a point and a realistic portrayal. Can't argue with that, it's indeed realistic.
Yeah, it does kind of feel like they want it both ways with Tifa: like they want to constantly stress her looks but at the same time be "this is ttly bad".

Just wanted to say, I think you worded it really well because that's exactly my thoughts and I never knew how to explain it (not even to myself lol). Also, funny you mentioned Lara Croft because I was just about to ask. I've only played a few recent ones and the sexualization felt rather mild or even non-existent.
Well, aside from Reboot!Lara almost getting raped within the first thirty minutes of her game there isn't a lot of sexualization in the new games either. Personally, I just really don't like Reboot!Lara because of what they did to her character. Original Lara is one of my favourite female characters XD
 

Thenir

Pro Adventurer
AKA
Nirnaeth
Actually I think there is some NPC chatter about it near where her house is, with guys talking about how pretty she is, and some of the little kids in the school talk about it too? Not as much as Tifa sure but I'm pretty sure it's there. I'd have to boot the game up again to check it exactly though.
Yes, also in Sector 6, at least after showing up with the red dress, people comment about Aerith too. Even about Cloud when he dresses up like a lady!
 
I think Tifa has figured out that the least confrontational way of dealing with guys constantly hitting on her is to act utterly oblivious. Getting into a fight over it every half hour isn't going to help her build a life for herself in the slums. By being universally sweet and patient and always smiling, and never playing favourites, she avoids making enemies. Jessie's way of handling unwanted attention is either to go overboard or to give them some attitude, but that's just not Tifa's way. I'm sure living like that puts a lot of stress on her - she has to constantly repress her anger and a lot of other feelings - which is why she gets so much enjoyment out of running around beating up monsters.

I really think people are underestimating just how protected Aerith has been. Yes, she has the run of the slums and yes, she can take care of herself, but the local people definitely know Elmyra has powerful gang connections, and it seems really unlikely they'd be unaware that the Turks are in Sector 5 more often than they should be because of Aerith.
 

The Twilight Mexican

Ex-SeeD-ingly good
AKA
TresDias
They brought it up because we're following Evan's stream of consciosness and Evan is a typical cishet boy in his late teens who is a bit socially awkward, especially with girls, and always notices certain things about women immediately. It's characterisation. He's very self-conscious about his lack of suave, especially when compared to Rufus.
To add to this, Evan does the same thing with Kyrie, who he's actually already close friends with at the beginning of the story.

And to add to that, there's a minimal observation that Kyrie feels a bit inferior in looks to Tifa, and slightly jealous about Evan's obvious attraction towards her. These things don't exist in a vacuum.

She has a lot of other skills that will help her survive in the slums, maybe not initially, but eventually. She's a great cook, strikes up a good conversation, manages money well, and these factors contribute to her success in running the bar I'm sure. Yet when we run around the slums in game, while we do hear about the food quality (thank you Wedge), there's still the "and she's cute!! I want waifu to cook for me!!" screaming in the background. It feels almost like she wouldn't get anywhere without her looks, which can't be true.
I know how the proprietress manages the checkbooks is a big draw for me at a bar. =P
 

kathy202

Pro Adventurer
Granted NPCs can't rave about how good she is with money lol. But I guess my point was that if almost every narrative that surrounds this character emphasizes on her looks, down to what she uses to rebuild her life, the characterization becomes "a beautiful woman who ran into misfortune and has some struggles, and did I say she's beautiful?".

She also seems happy running the bar (with her looks), so the main hardship was being forced to sell buns with poor wages because she is unfortunate enough to look good so someone thought they could make use of her. But hey, she got a job out of nowhere. An ugly person might be starving on the streets because no one could find a use for them.

It's more about her freedom and figuring out her way in a crazy world with her reserved and considerate personality than her being sexualized. When appearances are both a blessing and a curse, it doesn't bring across the point about "sexualizing and harassing a woman for her looks is a bad thing". Not to me at least. Though I suppose we can disagree on personal takes. Was a good discussion though.
 
Not being a remotely beautiful woman myself, I don't know what it's like to live as one, but I would imagine it's pretty relentless.
"But hey, she got a job out of nowhere. An ugly person might be starving on the streets because no one could find a use for them." Tifa seems well aware of this. Her feelings of guilt are never far from the surface.
 
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