News

Mythtaken: “It’s Always Night in Midgar!”

by July 11, 2015 7 comments

It’s been eighteen years since the release of the original Final Fantasy VII on PlayStation. Midgar is undoubtedly the most iconic location in FFVII, arguably even in all of the Final Fantasy series.

 

ff7_midgar_1024x768These features are pretty much instantly recognizable: It has a pizza slice layout, it consists of two levels, there are eight Mako reactors and the Shinra HQ sits in the center.

What else? Oh yeah, it’s always night due to the heavy pollution.

Wait, hold on. Is that really true?

The short answer: No, it is not. But due to Midgar’s constant portrayal at nighttime, this is one pesky misconception that – to this day – just won’t die.

So let’s clear things up, hopefully once and for all!

 

 

First of all, there’s talk about how people in the slums don’t see the sun. Makes sense, they actually have the upper level of the city sitting above their heads. But is it ever mentioned that heavy pollution blocks out the sun even for the people living on the upper plate?
There is in fact no dialogue in the game that ever suggests that. This has only ever been a fan theory as to why Midgar is always dark.

But this supposed perpetual darkness is for the same reason why we only see Junon or Cosmo Canyon at dusk – it just sets the mood.
There are a few visual clues in the original game as well as other Compilation entries that show us that the sky above Midgar is indeed not just a thick, black cloud of smog.

Let’s start with the original game.

The beginning of FFVII is of course set in Midgar and you never really see the light of day for the entirety of your stay there.
Then, after a daring motorcycle chase over a highway under construction, you finally reach the city limits and you see this:

Midgar_Highway_Roadend

We can see that the sun is just about to come up in this image. The sky above is cloudless and we even see stars.

The party climbs down from the highway and ends up outside the gate to the Sector 5 slums. By now it’s clearly daytime. We can see the sky in the upper right. It appears slightly overcast but with bits of blue sky in-between.

Midgar_Sector 5_gate

Now you might say “Well, but that’s just at the city limits, not within the city proper!” But any pollution that would literally cause a perpetual black night would certainly extend to out here. Unless you believe it’s instantly night once you take a step into city limits in which case that would mean Midgar looked somewhat like this:

MidgarSmogSmall(artist’s impression)

A weird case is the attack of Diamond Weapon. It attacks from a few kilometers outside the wasteland, and the lighting makes it look like late afternoon or sunset.

Diamond_Weapon

Yet every time the scene switches to Midgar, it’s night. This seems to actually support that it is always night in Midgar regardless of actual time of day. However, if you look very closely you can actually see faint stars in the sky.

Midgar_Mako_Cannon_Star_sky_edit
So it looks like it’s actually a clear night in Midgar. So what happened here? This can probably be chalked up to a continuity mistake. Wonder if they will fix that for the remake?

FFVII_Meteor_SkyAnd here we have a shot of Meteor as seen from Midgar. Again, it’s dark here but if this darkness was caused by a thick layer of smog, we wouldn’t be able to see Meteor at all now, would we?

We also see Midgar during the day here:

Midgar_Cliff_BackgroundIt’s overcast and raining but even then a few rays of sunlight can be seen breaking through the clouds.

More examples can be found in other Compilation entries.

In Denzel’s chapter of the novella On the Way to a Smile, we get this:

” ‘Shall we go outside?’ she asked. Ruvie went out into the back garden through the kitchen door. Denzel wavered, but soon followed after her. He stepped across the thickly laid soil and stood next to Ruvie, who stood there looking up towards the sky. Denzel followed her gaze and saw a large black stain in the sky. So ominous, the way it contrasted with the blue and white of the daytime sky. This must be why everything’s so gloomy and anxious.”

Although the anime adaptation has opted for the more traditional nighttime/evening depiction:

Episode_Denzel_MeteorHowever, same argument here: If Midgar’s sky was covered by a heavy layer of pollution, they would not be able to see Meteor like this.

Moving on to Crisis Core, we can see the sky in the distance. Overcast, but clearly not dark.

Tseng_Sector 5_Midgar_Slum_Playground

And towards the end, we even see Midgar from a distance on a very sunny day:

Crisis Core_Midgar Crisis Core_Zack_MidgarAnd then this gorgeous shot of the city after heavy rainfall:

Crisis_Core_Ending_MidgarThe final nail in the coffin is a close-up view of Midgar’s upper plate during broad daylight in the Remake teaser:

E32015-highway_system_hdWhile many initially assumed this to be Edge, further analysis seems to indicate that this is indeed Midgar.
(See our own visual analysis here.)

So as you can see, Midgar was never intended to be a city literally stuck in perpetual night. It might have problems with smog as we do see it under an overcast haze more often than not, but the sky is not an eternal black void as people often still believe it to be.

It wouldn’t make sense for the city to be in this state permanently since you’d have to wonder what the incentive would be in moving from the slums to the upper plate if that place is just as dirty and polluted and still doesn’t give you any sunlight.

Rather, it seems like Square Enix chose to show it mostly at night simply for giving it that dark and oppressive atmosphere. The Remake teaser seems to be the first proper insight into what a regular, somewhat sunny day would look like for the citizens of upper Midgar.

But there you have it. Midgar’s eternal night is indeed just a myth!

Although what’s a sunny day if you can’t even relax in the shade of a tree?

Cloud_Shrug

7 comments

  1. Licoriceallsorts
    #1 Licoriceallsorts 11 July, 2015, 14:33

    Another head canon bites the dust!
    Nice work, Tets

    Reply to this comment
  2. Raulfin
    #2 Raulfin 12 July, 2015, 02:03

    The fact that anyone that has actually played FF7 even once, can even think that daylight in Midgar doesn’t/can’t happen completely baffles me. There are many times in Midgar at the start of the game that you can see daylight… I mean, literally, did they not go to Aerith’s house, or church, or return to Tifa’s bar after the first mission!? There are dozens of scenes of daylight in Midgar, it is literally impossible to have not seen them.

    Reply to this comment
    • nope
      nope 31 January, 2017, 10:25

      You’re confusing light for daylight.. Aerith’s house and the church are underneath the huge plate of Midgar. Anything under this plate is completely blocked off from the sky. None of the light below the plate is natural from the sun. It looks more like its an evening time with lights turned on everywhere, but the reality is its always like this in the slums because the sky is covered.

  3. Tash
    #3 Tash 12 July, 2015, 05:34

    I find this super confusing. I mean, seriously, how can anyone who played the games of FFVII think that daytime doesn’t exist in Midgar? I know this is plain obvious, but the reason people can’t see the sky in Midgar(except in Sector 8) is because they have several plates-levels over their heads which blocks out the sky.

    If people want to think that day time doesn’t exist, why not to go Pluto or something?(being sarcastic here.) Sorry, but I just find this stupid and confusing.

    If there were places in FFVII world I’d want to explore in real-life(In my dreams), it’d be Banora, Wutai, Costa Del Sol, Sector 8 of Midgar, Cosmo Canyon and the Forgotten Capital.

    Reply to this comment
  4. LeadMySkeptic
    #4 LeadMySkeptic 23 July, 2015, 03:34

    While I don’t necessarily think it’s always night in Midgar (I honestly never gave it much thought, as the slums are the heart of what you see and the focus, and for them it is always “night”), but I actually thought this, while very very interesting, was far from being a definitive “put this myth to rest” piece. It seems like just one of the cases that would have been made during the many debates of this issue prior, i.e., “During the Diamond Weapon attack is does SEEM to be night in Midgar while not elsewhere, but…er…continuity error? Because it doesn’t work with my theory”. Bottom line, excluding the remake (which again, is a REMAKE), this is still something we need to hear from the creator’s mouth(s), so it could certainly still be debated…

    Reply to this comment
    • Tetsujin
      Tetsujin Author 23 July, 2015, 20:47

      It’s not a continuity error because “it doesn’t work with my theory”, it is one because as I mentioned in the article, the sky above Midgar literally depicts stars. There is no good reason for Diamond Weapon and Midgar to be in different times of day.
      And even excluding the remake (there is no point in exluding it though, *because* it is a remake not a reimagining), Midgar is seen in broad daylight in Crisis Core which I clearly pointed out. I do not think there is room for debate here honestly.

    • LeadMySkeptic
      LeadMySkeptic 25 July, 2015, 15:42

      “My goal with the remake is to make it apply to the current era, the current generation of players that are going to be coming into contact with or playing FFVII for the first time through this remake,” Nomura continues. “I want to make it so it’s relevant to the modern era, as well as having an element of surprise.”

      “It has to be something that riles up this sense of wonder and amazement. I don’t want to change it so much that it’s unrecognisable, but make sure that it’s something fresh and new [yet still] recognisable as FFVII. That’s what I’ll be keeping in mind as I work on this.” Sounds like a reimagining to me. Not that changing Midgar’s weather status is included amongst those altered elements haha, but I’m just saying, they have made it fairly clear that they are intending to take the game and world we know and bring it back, but in a new and altered way…that’s pretty much how I’d define reimagined.

Data protectionYour email address will not be published. No data will be shared with third parties.