“Like an abattoir full of retarded children …”

Final Fantasy VII was released in Japan on January 31, 1997. The most passionately and frequently debated aspect of the game almost 17 years after its release remains the LTD.

“Well, what is the LTD?” you may ask.

Before we analyze the topic, it would likely be beneficial for us to first go over exactly what the topic is. Certainly readers unfamiliar with the subject will need that foundation before we continue.

To those already familiar with the debate’s background, you may skip ahead without missing anything of import. To the uninitiated, I envy you for having escaped the LTD’s vicious maw for this long, and apologize for now placing you in its frigid embrace.

You would have found your way here eventually anyway, for it is that manner of evil with which we are dealing, but you are nonetheless entitled to an expression of penitence for being shoved into the abyss that awaits. Like an intellectual Sarlaac, the LTD draws in all that it can to be slowly and painfully digested over a thousand years. That’s not a mistake, by the way: the LTD digests you, not the other way around.

So, knowing that we are about to cross the event horizon into a realm of endless darkness and deeper despair, what then is the LTD?

If your guess is the automobile of the same name manufactured by Ford, while a good — and very close — guess, what “LTD” actually refers to here is the Love Triangle Debate of Final Fantasy VII. Specifically, the debate — if, indeed, it can be called that at all — which seeks to answer the question, “Which woman is Cloud Strife in love with, Aerith Gainsborough or Tifa Lockhart?”

Players of the game’s North American and PAL releases setting out on their maiden voyage with Final Fantasy VII will first become aware of the love triangle in Aerith’s bio from the accompanying instruction booklet:


Her unusual abilities enable her to use magic, but she seems more interested in the deepening love triangle between herself, Cloud and Tifa.

Shortly into playing the game proper, it becomes readily apparent that both Tifa and Aerith have an ever-growing romantic interest in Cloud. Their feelings are not in doubt here. Instead, the question is “Which of the two is Cloud himself in love with?”

If Helen of Troy was the face that launched a thousand ships, then Cloud Strife is the face that launched a thousand debates — and I say that without any fear it could be hyperbole. A search of the terms “Cloud,” “Aerith,” “Tifa” and “love” in the search engine of your choice will more than adequately demonstrate why.

Over this question, more than a few arguments (in every sense of the word) have sprung up, in advancement and dispute of as many points of contention. While not all will be covered here (they couldn’t possibly be), I am confident all the major fronts in this senseless conflict will be. We’re almost ready to delve into all that, but before we do, we should quickly go over a little more background terminology. Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you: the shippers.

Index page | Next part—>