“Not even in the face of Armageddon. Never compromise”

Just as the anti-Tifa worldview subscribes to a number of misconceptions, it is easy enough for those who recognize the Cloti relationship as canon to succumb to fallacy as well.

Here follows the greatest of these misunderstandings, as well as why they neither promote a Cloti outcome nor necessarily downplay Clerith potential.

—Claim: Aerith never really moved on from loving Zack in the first place, and her affection for Cloud was born of her love for Zack. This is confirmed by Aerith’s CollectaCard from Theatrhythm Final Fantasy:

“The Promised Land… A fateful encounter sets in motion the pendulum of fate. As Aerith searches for the traces of Zack living on in Cloud, the innocent love in her heart will make her destiny’s plaything…”

Along those same lines, Aerith’s profile on pg. 197 of the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 1: Character guide says that she was only interested in Cloud because he reminded her of Zack.

First love Zack
Aerith’s first love was Zack, a young SOLDIER 1st Class who she lost contact with 5 years ago. He was Cloud’s best friend, and his personality has had a great influence on Cloud’s behavior. Aerith is unaware that the two were best friends, and takes an interest in Cloud because she sees Zack in him.

[Screenshot caption]
Although Zack is already deceased since the beginning of the story, Aerith is unaware of this fact.

Japanese text:

エアリスの初恋の相手は、5年前に消息を絶ったソルジャー・クラス1stの青年ザックスだ。彼はクラウドの親友でもあり、クラウドの行動に大きな影響を与えた人物。エアリスはふたりが親友同士ということは知らなかったが、クラウドのしぐさのな かにザックスを見いだし、クラウドに興味を抱く。

[Screenshot caption]

In Aerith’s profile on pg. 27 of the FF 25th Memorial Ultimania Vol. 2, we find more of the same:

“I’m searching for you.
I want to meet…you.”
—Gold Saucer: Said to Cloud during their date

She initially sees in Cloud vestiges of her first love Zack, but after spending time with him, she perceives the true personality sleeping in the depths of his heart. She says to him these meaningful words in the hopes of provoking an awareness of it in him.

Japanese text:


初恋の人ザックスの面影を見てクラウドに惹かれるが、ともに時間を過ごすなか、クラウドの本当の人格が奥底に眠っていることを察知。彼にその自覚をうながすよ うに、意味深な言葉を告げる。

Even Maiden Who Travels the Planet demonstrates that the things she thought she knew about Cloud were only traits that had belonged to Zack (pg. 587 of the FFVII Ultimania Omega):

“How can I help Cloud? And what about Meteor? I didn’t think Holy would be hindered. If things stay like this, the planet will become as Sephiroth desires … What can I do about all this? Tell me, Cloud …”

Aerith wept for Cloud’s broken mind, her prayers in vain. It seemed already too late to restore the ruins of his persona. If he wasn’t Cloud to begin with, who was he then? Knowing him only as a former SOLDIER, she had no means to so much as guess. Despair beyond words gripped her.

“Cloud … I want to meet you. The real you …”

A murmur, the thought became a ripple that spread through the mako.

Memories of her time with Cloud, which had faded, suddenly resurfaced in her mind. Although he acted unsociable, he had some cheerful behavior that stuck with her.

“He gave off a mixed-up impression, but was it all fake; just part of his false personality? … No, that can’t be the case. There were thoughts he couldn’t have had unless he were Cloud. Things he could do because he was Cloud. He wasn’t an empty shell from the beginning!”

However, she couldn’t determine the reality. And so, her thoughts just went in circles. Aerith traced her memories again. Memories that showed Cloud’s habits. The way he walked. She went over each of his actions one by one …

A consciousness that had already dissolved into the sea of mako awoke. Responding as though summoned by the image she traced with her memory, “he” wakes up.

Japanese text:

「どうしたらクラウドを助けられる?それに、メテオのことも。ホーリーが邪魔されているなんて、思わなかった。このままだと、星はセフィロスの思い通りになっ ちゃう……わたしにできること、何だろう?教えてよ、クラウド……」
祈りも虚しく、崩壊してしまったクラウドの心に、エアリスは涙した。人格の残骸は、もはや修復しようがないように思える。そもそも、彼がクラウドではないとすれば本当は誰 なのか?元ソルジャーのクラウドとしてしか彼を知らないエアリスには、それを推測する手段さえない。言いようない無力感が彼女を包んでいる。
「ちぐはぐな感じはしたけど、それが全部作り物の、偽の人格だなんてことあるかしあら?クラウドには何の真実もなかった? ……ううん、そんなわけ、ないよ。クラウドにしか考えつかないことだってあった。クラウドだからできたこと、あった。最初から空っぽの人間なんて、いない!」

Whatever the reasons for Aerith initially taking an interest in Cloud — which is all those quotes actually speak to — she loved him and even wished to get to know him for who he really was once she realized she had been chasing a ghost. Furthermore, numerous quotes, including several that we have gone over that also identify Tifa’s love for Cloud, explicitly state that Aerith loved him.

As long as we’re quoting Maiden, by the way, let’s not forget that it also states that Aerith came to love Cloud more than she had loved Zack (pg. 578 of the FFVII Ultimania Omega):

When her thoughts turned to Cloud, Aerith hurt deeply.

She had been carrying love for him. Initially, she thought he had similarities to her first love. Although they didn’t share faces, voices or disposition, his behavior and mannerisms made her wonder about this mysterious person — but that was alright almost immediately anyway. Because she had come to love him more than her first love.

Japanese text:

彼女が好意を抱いていたということもある。最初は、初めて好きになった人に何となく似ていると思っていた。顔も声音も性格も何ひとつ似てはいないのに、不思議とその人を思 い起こさせる仕草やクセ――でも、それはすぐにどうでも良くなった。なぜなら、初恋の人よりもずっと好きになっていたから。

One of Benny Matsuyama’s earlier writings from pg. 159 of the Kaitai Shinsho The Complete featured Aerith saying the same sort of thing:

[Aerith: While staring at the ruined mako reactor]
This village is Zack’s hometown, and I’m a bit shocked.

Though I call him my first love, that doesn’t mean we were particularly intimate. I met him while selling flowers in Midgar, and things were pretty good — or I thought so anyway.

A childish SOLDIER who was kind to everyone, especially if they were a girl. Meeting Zack, it became clear to me for the first time that there could be good people even in Shin-Ra.

So, after he left on a mission five years ago and I didn’t see him again, I cried a lot. Yeah, I call him my first love. Seeing me like that, my mom got angry with Zack. He was bad news.

When I first met Cloud, I thought he was similar to Zack. Little gestures and expressions … and a certain gentleness too. But Cloud is Cloud. I certainly love Cloud more than Zack now.

Japanese text:


For more explicit proof of Aerith’s love for Cloud, see the next “Claim” header.

—Claim: Much is made among pro-Clerith fans of the following line in the Lifestream White installment of Kazushige Nojima’s On the Way to a Smile series of official novellas:

(translation by hitoshura)

Cloud was the woman’s friend, her koibito — a symbol of what was to be protected, and someone important to her.

Japanese text:


Given that “koibito” is typically used in cases where the feelings between parties are mutual, this is taken to mean that the feelings of Cloud and “the woman” (Aerith) are mutual.

What needs to be considered here, however, is that all the On the Way to a Smile stories are written in what’s known as the third-person limited narrative mode. The term refers to a written perspective in which the reader is limited only to the thoughts and knowledge of a chosen character, as in the first-person narrative mode, yet while still using pronouns such as “he,” “she” and “they,” but not “I.” The narrator reveals the chosen character’s thoughts, but is not the character themselves, nor are they the voice of the writer.

As an example, consider the following line about Sephiroth from the Lifestream Black installment of the same series:

(translation by hitoshura)

The planet was to be his to rule, and to become a part of that system would be nothing short of defeat.

Japanese text:


Clearly, the narrator is not stating that it is a fact that the planet would be Sephiroth’s to rule; this is merely what Sephiroth believes.

Written in like manner, the reference to Cloud as Aerith’s koibito may well be reflecting only her love for him while saying nothing of Cloud’s feelings for her. Being written in past tense as it is, it may even be that Aerith no longer feels for Cloud precisely what she felt while she was alive.

For that matter, being described as “a symbol of what was to be protected,” Aerith’s feelings may not even be literally ascribing that role to Cloud in her thoughts.

Of the two “koibito” quotes that often come up in the LTD (the other being Nomura’s reference to Tifa as someone’s koibito on pg. 19 of the Reunion Files), if one had to be a one-sided love, it only makes sense for it to be this one.

At any rate, Cloud and Aerith never had an opportunity to establish a romantic relationship before she was killed. If she truly believed that to be the case, she would be somewhat delusional — and no one who appreciates the character would venture down the path of claiming that. No matter what choices the player makes during the game, an established relationship between she and Cloud is never a possible outcome.

Furthermore, a caption to a screenshot from the Gold Saucer date in Cloud’s FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania profile (pg. 37; pg. 39 of the Revised Edition) states that he was unaware of the feelings either woman had for him:

Both Aerith, who is forthright, and Tifa, who is demure, have feelings for Cloud, but he is none the wiser to them.

Japanese text:


Seeing as the accompanying screenshot is from the date at the Gold Saucer, it stands to reason that Cloud was unaware of either woman’s feelings for him at that point — and it was not long thereafter that Aerith died.

Some pro-Clerith positions would argue, however, that an established relationship can be taken from Cloud telling Aerith “But, I’m…… we’re here for you, right?” at Cosmo Canyon during her moment of loneliness, this sort of dialogue often being used when one character slips up about their romantic feelings for another. While that is often the case with such dialogue, and most likely is here as well, Aerith did not seem to catch that it indicated Cloud had feelings for her, nor does she ever comment on it.

Further still, even when Cloud and Aerith get off the gondola after their ride at Round Square together during the Gold Saucer date, Aerith is still unsure whether Cloud feels the same about her; she asks him “You don’t like being with me?” What’s more, even if Cloud became aware of Aerith’s feelings at the Temple of the Ancients when she asked Cait Sith to divine their compatability with each other, he doesn’t have opportunity to comment on it before Sephiroth forces him to beat her, resulting in her leaving the group soon after — only shortly before she is murdered.

There simply was not time for Cloud and Aerith to become an established item, no matter what their feelings were.

A short-sighted conclusion with some dubious reasoning that this author has himself argued at times in the past. Not all the reasoning is unsound, mind you — it certainly is true that, regardless of what Cloud and Aerith may have felt for one another, they never had the opportunity to openly express it.

It’s also true that Cloud probably never knew how Aerith felt about him while she was still alive. It’s even true that all the On the Way to a Smile stories are written in the third-person limited perspective and that the statement that Cloud *was* the woman’s koibito is rendered in the past tense.

However, all the On the Way to a Smile stories are written entirely in the past tense, so that’s hardly relevant. Furthermore, it makes little sense for Cloud to merely be a symbol of her koibito when he actually was her friend, another role ascribed to him in that same passage.

Most significantly, the fact that Cloud and Aerith never became an established pair may not necessarily preclude them from being described with “koibito.” So long as the feelings were there and were mutual, it’s not out of the question that they could be described in such a way.

And, certainly, the feelings were there.

Aerith’s love for Cloud is well-established by this point, and Cloud’s romantic feelings for her require little more proof than this statement from Yoshinori Kitase on pg. 11 of the FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania:

Having 2 heroines, Aerith and Tifa, and having the hero waver between them, that was something new.

Japanese text:


Cloud wouldn’t be wavering between the two women if he didn’t have romantic feelings for both. As simple as that.

Perhaps even more simply put, this Memorial Scenes passage from Marlene’s profile on pg. 63 of the FF 25th Memorial Ultimania Vol. 2 shows that Cloud had a mutual interest in Aerith as early as of the time she was kidnapped by the Turks:

Marlene is a sharp girl
Even though she’s only 4 years old, Marlene is perceptive and well attuned to the woman mind. This grownup behavior is demonstrated in the scene where she ascertains that Aerith has favor for Cloud and tells him so, then says “I won’t tell Tifa!”

Japanese text:

まだ4歳なのに、マリンはおしゃまで女心に敏感。エアリスがクラウドに好意を持っていることを見抜いて彼に報告し、「ティファには内緒にしておく」と一人前に気をま わすひと幕も。

Cloud’s canon response to Marlene telling him “I bet she likes you, Cloud!” is “Let’s hope so.” Marlene only tells Cloud “I won’t tell Tifa!” when that is his response.

Further, a third official quote exists alluding to Cloud’s romantic feelings for Aerith.
Consider: In the On the Way to a Smile interview in which Kazushige Nojima talked about Cloud and Tifa’s relationship as it was portrayed in Episode:Tifa, he also ruminated on how things might have gone with Aerith had Cloud ended up with her instead. There would be no need to do that if it was never even a possibility.

If in need of a fresh reminder of those comments, see below:

“Episode:Tifa … first, there’s the premise that things aren’t going well between Tifa and Cloud, and that even without Geostigma and Sephiroth, it would still be the same. I don’t mean to get into my views on romantic love, marriage and family. (laughs) After ACC, maybe Denzel and Marlene can get them to. Perhaps things would have gone well with Aerith, but Aerith’s responsibility is big, I think. Oh, I remember. I also wanted to write about Cloud through Tifa. It certainly can be difficult to ascertain his feelings. (laughs)”

Japanese text:

「ティファ編」「バレット編」はいかがでしょう? ティファ、バレットそしてクラウドもですが、まさに贖罪の物語という意味がありそうですが。
「ティファ編」は……そもそも、ティファとクラウドはうまく行かないんじゃないかという前提がありまして、これは星痕やらセフィロスが無くても同じではないか、と。僕の恋愛観とか結婚観、家族 観について語るつもりはありませんが(笑)。ACCの後、デンゼルとマリンがなんとかしてくれればいいですけど。エアリスとだったらうまく行ったかもしれませんが、エアリスの負担が大きいだろうなとも思います。ああ、思い 出しました。ティファを通じてクラウドという人を書きたかったというのがありました。ただやっぱり彼はなかなか本心を見せてくれませんね(笑)。

One of the only remaining points under the “Claim” heading above that really merits being made is that if one of the two “koibito” quotes involved in the Love Triangle Debate *had to be* meant in a one-sided context, it would make more sense for it to be the one written in elegant prose and based on one character’s point of view. An extra-textual statement made by a developer describing a character’s roles would not be the first place to go to look for that sort of misleading irony.

That being said, even if a romantic relationship wasn’t established between Cloud and Aerith, she has never been delusional, nor would Nojima write her that way. There must exist a legitimate basis for her to think of Cloud as her koibito — thus, she and Cloud having mutual romantic interest must be enough to merit the use of the word.

In that sense, Clerith is every bit as much canon as Cloti.

For what it’s worth, even without the metatext provided by Ultimanias and interviews, it’s quite simple to make a case for Cloud having romantic feelings for Aerith. It isn’t possible to argue that he has such feelings for her at the exclusion of also having them for Tifa, but the case for romantic inclinations toward Aerith can certainly be made.

Cloud is quick to accept Aerith’s offer of a date after meeting her, which indicates an initial attraction. He’s also uncharacteristically polite and easygoing with her, despite them having just met.

Not long thereafter, Cloud consents to Aerith’s suggested manner of infiltrating Don Corneo’s place, demonstrating that he has come to value her opinion by that point. In addition, when she is taken by the Turks — again, soon thereafter — he immediately resolves to rescue her after Tifa, Barret and himself pull themselves together in the wake of Sector 7’s destruction.

This instant determination to aid Aerith shows the player that Cloud cares about Aerith herself at this point, as does the “But I’m…… we’re here for you, right?” line in Cosmo Canyon. As mentioned earlier, such dialogue is a classic convention indicating “I’ve said too much.” This device is a common way of showing that one character has romantic affection for another.

The line pretty much has to be read as indicating something “more,” if only because that’s the go-to thing in film and literature for a character to say when they realize they’re giving too much about their feelings away — just as the fade in the higher affection Highwind scene is classic cinematic language for “sex happened here.”

Otherwise, one has to ask: “Why is it there?”

Though not necessarily indicative of romantic fancy, additional signs one may point to are that Cloud’s spoken thoughts turn to Aerith several times following her death in the original game, and that he thinks of meeting her again during the ending, having seen her hand in the Lifestream and realized that death doesn’t mean loved ones are forever separated. Less cut and dry than the previous references, though one could hardly be faulted for reading into them a bit.

Whatever feelings Cloud had for her, though, were eventually perverted by his growing sense of guilt. Certainly the presence of romantic feelings could make that situation all the more bitter — especially if he ever realized how she felt about him — but it isn’t necessary to still be carrying a torch in order to be crushed under a crippling guilt in these circumstances.

To clarify once more: None of this requires assuming that Cloud doesn’t also have romantic feelings for Tifa. It also doesn’t assume that any ongoing relationship exists between Cloud and Aerith after she has died — obviously, they had no interaction between her death and Advent Children, at the end of which she walks off into a white light after telling Cloud that he’s okay now.

In summary, all that has been concluded here is the following: Cloud had romantic feelings for Aerith, and those feelings eventually became another part of his distorted memory of her as guilt crept up on him. Fortunately, he does get all that sorted out and moves on with life, but he will carry with him fond memories of Aerith to the day he dies now that he’s freed her memory from negative associations.

Though Cloud’s personality and thought processes weren’t those of the genuine article during the time he knew Aerith, it stands to reason that the attraction to her was genuine enough. One may attribute that to the false persona he had constructed if they wish, but an attraction was there at that time and is obvious within the original game itself, even without official comments that render the matter inarguable.

For that matter, why wouldn’t Cloud have been attracted to someone like her? Plenty of characters in the game are, including Zack — whose personality had a significant influence on Cloud thanks to Jenova’s cells.

As well, the fact that Cloud does agree to the date exchange with Aerith says much. At that point in the game, Cloud had not even been interested in sticking with Tifa out of chivalry, so he clearly wanted something from Aerith if he was agreeing to help her.

Sure, the real Cloud would have helped her for free due to his protective nature, and perhaps even “What’s In It For Me?” Cloud from the beginning of the game would have — but he was going to have something to show for it if he could.

For that matter, regardless of whether his attraction to her was due only to the fake personality — implausible as that is — Cloud would still remember seeing her like that once he was himself again. The real Cloud would have had to integrate those memories.

As poignantly illustrated by TheLifestream.net forum member Fairheartstrife:

Fake Cloud = red. Real Cloud = yellow. Pieced-together Cloud = Orange.

Separate entities or not, when Humpty Dumpty is pieced together again, the experiences of Fake Cloud will blend with Real Cloud.

Yes, those feelings may have originally belonged to the “Composite Cloud” of his real self, his idealized vision of himself, Zack’s influence, etc., but it’s still Cloud from some point in the game, and Real Cloud must ultimately square with everything that took place during Composite Cloud’s time in the driver seat.

Finally, let it be clear that it is not being argued here that Real Cloud necessarily felt what Composite Cloud did for Aerith by the time he emerged — just that some form of Cloud at some point in time undoubtedly felt something more than platonic friendship for her.

By the time Real Cloud gets his day in the sun, circumstances would have made his feelings for Aerith more complicated. However, one can be certain that he remained fond of her memory, even while an ongoing, ever-developing attraction would be impossible for obvious reasons.

Before moving on to the next “Claim” header, it may prove a valuable intellectual exercise to also consider thoughts from several other forum members of TheLifestream.net, though this author does not quite agree with all the sentiments expressed:

Cloud was attracted to Aerith. How is this even up for debate? He was. Fractured, splintered, ZaCloud or whatever *was* attracted to her.

I imagine that was very conflicting for him, as his inner Cloud was still jonesing for Tifa, but that’s another discussion. Cloud was intrigued at the very least.

However, having said that, attraction =/= love. And that’s where I don’t buy Clerith as canon or even a “relationship.”

Could it have been? Maybe. It’d be a stretch considering the events after the Lifestream sequence when Cloud was whole again. Honestly I don’t think Aerith would find insecure moody Cloud all that appealing — just my opinion, people.

Not to mention that even if you feel Cloud had a hard-on for Aerith, there’s a ton of underlying feelings about Tifa that would need to be worked through.

Tl;dr: Cloud was attracted to Aerith, but that doesn’t mean he loved her.


Obviously, Puppet Cloud was somewhat romantically attracted to Aerith. The game makes that somewhat clear. Puppet Cloud is not the real Cloud, however, and to say they would act the same with her is a stretch.

You cannot say that the real Cloud had any feelings of romance or love toward Aerith based on Puppet Cloud’s interactions with her — namely, their dialogue and the fact Cloud agreed to go on a date with her. All of that is unusable when trying to argue Cloud was romantically attracted to the girl given that it’s like asking why wouldn’t “Zack” accept to go on a date with a pretty lady.

Paint the scenary with the Cloud we know from the end of FFVII and the Compilation. Would his responses have been the same, despite being an entirely different personality? Think of real personality disorder cases here. There exist diametrically opposed personalities in the same mind. Only, luckily for Cloud, he was able to expunge his fake self in a catharsis.

And to say Fake Cloud was not that different from his real self — or that he was still, in a large sense, his own person — is just completely cheapening the most important aspect and theme of his character: The fact he was lost and not himself.

Heck, let me take a quote from the big boss herself: “I want to meet you.”

Can It be certified that Real Cloud posseses romantic attractions to Aerith enough that he would take her on a real date? Especially given the fact that Puppet Cloud’s memories of Tifa and such were repressed at the time?

Could It be said that Post-Lifestream Cloud still feels anything but platonic love for his friend after becoming aware of his real memories and Tifa’s feelings? Moreover, would he ever have agreed to a date?

To add to that, what has been said about assimilating memories is ambiguous. One can have memories of feelings not possesed anymore. If anything, Puppet Cloud’s attraction to Aerith would be just that: A memory of how he acted and used to feel. Not an actual tangible feeling that the real Cloud obtained through his own interactions.

The crux of the argument is that no romantic implications have ever been shown between Real Cloud and Aerith. She’s obviously an important person to him, as is Zack, but their interactions don’t speak to anything romantic.

If anyone does want to say that Real Cloud has any sort of romantic inclination towards Aerith, I’d just like something more solid to substantiate the claim. All I see when they meet in Advent Children is the desire for forgiveness.

Moreoever, I don’t understand why it’s not possible that Real Cloud had his own interactions with Aerith from the backseat and formed his own emotions, separate from those of his fake personality.


My personal stance on Cloud’s feelings toward Aerith remains unchanged.

It was made apparent in the game that Cloud felt attracted to her. Whether it was because of the Zack part of him or because of something else, we will never know — but the thing is: He was attracted. This attraction made him gravitate towards Aerith. Yet, did he love her romantically? That is the question.
My personal stance on this ever since the beginning was that he was slowly falling in love, but *fell in love* he didn’t. Of course, this is arguable, but definitely not implausible.

I’d even hold it in my headcanon that this is what happened in the game: His reasons and factors for breaking are many, including Aerith’s death and Cloud’s own guilt. These feelings, combined with internal and external factors, made him conflicted, and conflict turned to confusion — confusion which translates to unsolvable mystery.

Ergo, Aerith is a mystery to Cloud. The fact that she’s dead and will remain dead just makes her a mystery which he will never be able to solve.

And I personally like it this way.

—Master Bates

Regarding Fake/Real Cloud: Even if he wasn’t completely himself at the start, I don’t think what he felt during that time would suddenly disappear after he regained himself.

I don’t think everything that happened then necessarily reflects the truth. For example, I don’t think Cloud not remembering his promise to Tifa at first — which he remembered in detail seconds later — means that it meant nothing to him like some say, but I think things like the feelings and friendships (like with Barret) he formed during that period still meant something. Whatever personality he has at the start — and even if he might have reacted differently with his original personality — what he experienced then is going to stay with him.

Otherwise, why would he feel any remorse about causing Aerith’s death (even if he didn’t, really) if everything that happened to him while in his false persona wouldn’t apply to him post-Lifestream?
I think even if the face he puts up for the world, the way he acts or behaves, changes it doesn’t mean that how he feels or felt inside is going to completely change. I don’t necessarily think there was this big genre-defining love between him and Aerith, but I think he did feel something special towards her (which doesn’t get in the way of anything he feels for Tifa, because I think that whole “one person/soul mate” thing is silly) that was different from how he felt about others.

I don’t think his mannerisms changing necessarily means all his feelings and emotions have suddenly changed.


I will admit that I’ve always been intrigued by this aspect because it’s never made totally clear where Real Cloud starts and ends, and the same holds true for Composite Cloud — unless there is some quote that I’m missing that clears it up. I’m not sure that there is a clear cut line as to how much of Real Cloud was encompassed in Composite Cloud, if any at all.

Cloud does appear to have two distinct personalities, though, represented by the two voices that converse within his own head — and which do not appear to be coming from the same individual given that one of the two clearly has knowledge the other lacks and they appear to be able to think separately from one another.

The voice representing Real Cloud spends most of his time trying to convince Composite Cloud to figure out/realize the truth, but given that it’s always approached in a different manner and that Composite Cloud is unaware of this thought process when Real Cloud is not trying to reach him, it would seem there is actually thought involved separate from the dominate personality’s train of thought. The dominate personality of Composite Cloud is clearly able to operate without Real Cloud given that he does for a good portion of the game…

Truthfully, I’m not sure how much overlap occurs between the two personalities when they finally combine or even before that point. Some, I assume, given that I’d imagine that when the two personalities become a part of one individual, the experiences of the composite persona would become part of Real Cloud in some sense.

Even that’s not totally clear cut, though, given that while Real Cloud may only have a limited amount of influence over his composite persona, he is still clearly aware of what’s going on around him (e.g. asking if he’s alright after the fall in the church, commenting about how he used to be able to get away with just skinned knees and trying to stop his composite persona from giving the Black Materia to Sephiroth). He may not be experiencing things as Composite Cloud does, but he is aware during the game and I don’t see why he wouldn’t be able to develop affection for those around him all on his own.

He still clearly cares for his friends after regaining himself, but how much of that comes from Composite Cloud and how much from Real Cloud? I have no idea and I have zero idea how romantic attraction in particular would transfer or if Real Cloud ever felt a romantic attraction for Aerith given that he has only limited influence over himself. But, then again, limited influence is not the same as no influence — although it’s usually indicated in the game when Real Cloud is active.

Overall, I think that it’s a complicated point and that complexity is part of what I love about the game. There isn’t much that is clear cut in the game, but there isn’t much in life that is clear cut either.

The question isn’t “Can Real Cloud feel?” because the evidence appears to indicate that he certainly can. He can feel and he can form strong bonds, as indicated by the fact that he is, in fact, aware of what’s happening and does continue to have strong bonds with the other characters even after the Lifestream sequence. The issue is: Was the bond that the real Cloud formed with Aerith ever romantic?

Given that it’s hard to know how much influence Real Cloud has on Composite Cloud when we don’t directly see the interaction, it’s also hard to read what type of bond Real Cloud might have been forming with her. I don’t think there is any doubt that he has a bond with her and a strong one at that just as he does with his other companions, but the nature of it is trickier to pinpoint.

On top of that, how much of Composite Cloud’s feelings transferred when both personalities were combined and were those feelings romantic in nature? Aerith is precious to him, but her being precious to him doesn’t mean that his feelings for her are romantic.

And even if we assume that Composite Cloud’s feelings are romantic in nature, which is something I’m willing to run with for the sake of discussion, how do we know to what degree those feelings transfer? His feelings from his composite persona have to be combined with Real Cloud’s feelings from both the period prior to the fracturing of his psyche and after he’s restored to normal. It seems unfair to assume that just because Composite Cloud was interested that Real Cloud must also be, at least to me.

I think the issue is that Real Cloud and DisC1oud’s emotions have to be combined into one and there’s no reason to assume that there is a direct transfer. As I mentioned before, emotions are not a matter of copy and pasting — plus we need to factor in Real Cloud’s thoughts and feelings, which are mostly an unknown by this point. The only thing we know for sure about Real Cloud’s point of view is that he deeply cares for Aerith, but that still doesn’t mean that his feelings are romantic and that he’d view her in the same light after he becomes whole again.

Now, it isn’t impossible for those feelings to carry over. It’s just that we don’t know what happened after the two personas combined, and Cloud’s never really shown anything to indicate that his feelings for Aerith are/were romantic after he becomes whole again. That’s not to say that they couldn’t be, just that they don’t have to be and, therefore, it can’t really be stated factually.

Sort of like the “guilt can indicate romantic feelings, but doesn’t have to” matter as far as Advent Children goes. Nor has anything ever been stated to that affect in the official materials. Anyway, the possibility that his feelings could be romantic hasn’t been ruled out, but there just isn’t enough to prove it to be a fact. It’s still a matter of “could be” and not “is.”

Wanting to protect also does not, by default, mean romance. It doesn’t for Tifa anymore than it does for Aerith. It’s an indication of importance, and I don’t think anyone is denying Aerith’s importance to Cloud. She’s intensely important and precious to Cloud, but it’s a jump to assume that this means romance unless we want to make that assumption for everyone that Cloud wants to protect or for everyone that he views as important and precious.

If that was all the indication that we had for Cloud’s feeling for Tifa, I’d give you the same answer: that the feelings can be, but aren’t necessarily romantic. The difference is that Cloud’s feelings for Tifa are indicated to be romantic before he becomes headfucked and after, which indicates — although doesn’t necessarily prove — that there is probably some continuity there in reference to Real Cloud. At the very least, his feelings for Tifa after he returns to himself are indicated to be romantic within the canon materials, while his feelings for Aerith are much less defined at that point.

I just don’t think there’s enough to assume romantic feelings. Possible? Yes, but not enough to come to the conclusion that his feelings are/were romantic in nature.


Aerith is always quoted as someone that’s “engraved in Cloud’s heart,” “in his heart” and “someone he’d never forget” — and when Sephiroth asks him about what’s important, she’s right up there on the list with Tifa/the family and Zack. Obviously, something about her really got him, despite his fractured state, which means he must have felt something intense for it to get under the six inch layer of crap in his head.


I think that everyone accepts that Aerith and Cloud shared a special bond and that he has real feelings on Disc 1. Cloud loved Aerith, but the issue is romance. The thing is, though, some of us feel his actions on Disc 1 cannot be used as evidence for romance since the real Cloud would have acted and reacted differently.

In Disc 1, Fake Cloud’s feelings are from real circumstances, not things he made up in his mind. He’s not immune to attraction, love, friendship, pain, hatred, etc. However, if Real Cloud was on Disc 1 from the start, he would certainly act differently toward his friends and differently toward Tifa and Aerith. Real Cloud may still fight Sephiroth, save the world, save Tifa and Aerith, hate Shin-Ra, etc., but the way he will treat these people around him will not be the same as the Fake Cloud. It’s not totally off to say that Real and Fake Cloud would not have the same bonding experience.

True, Aerith knew the real Cloud hiding underneath, but Cloud was still in that shell. Aerith may have reached Cloud, but did Cloud reach out towards Aerith? So Cloud and Aerith’s bond was real, his bond with everyone else is real, but my point is still the same: What’s the evidence that he loved her romantically?

Falling in love is different from “fell in love.” It’s ambiguous. I think a lot of people here who don’t think that Cloud and Aerith have a two-way romantic relationship are open to the possibility that Cloud is in the process of falling in love. It’s like an engine getting started but the tires got destroyed as soon as the gas is hit.

So Cloud was attracted to Aerith, he liked Aerith, admired her, was falling for her perhaps — but then tragedy struck. Some believe he got there, some don’t.

I’m saying that Fake Cloud is capable of falling in love because he’s experiencing reality, and that love can be genuine and can even be carried in Advent Children. Fake Cloud is part of Real Cloud now. But we need stronger evidence that Cloud was able to reach this romantic level with Aerith since the strongest emotion we get from Real Cloud is guilt.

It’s also a matter of standards. Some of us feel that Aerith’s death will have less emotional impact if the player does not see romance between the two, while some can say that omitting romance won’t really cheapen her death.

I’m really open for Clerith; it’s just that I don’t see enough proof of romantic love before and after Aerith’s death – and with romantic love we have different standards of it. I think they are more than friends, but less than lovers. They have immense potential, but to know the end result of their relationship if Aerith had lived and Cloud returned to his real self is a mystery.


There is romance between Cloud and Aerith. If there wasn’t, there would be no love triangle.

Yes, I agree Cloud feels guilty and responsible for her death, and he seeks forgiveness from her in Advent Children. I don’t think he’s “pining” for her. I think he misses her and he will always miss her. I also don’t think that his only feelings for her are in regard to forgiveness; there’s more to it. But, yeah, the guilt is definitely a driving factor.

I don’t think Cloud is miserable because he isn’t with Aerith. I think he’s miserable because he’s a screw up and he can’t get anything right. Here he is, trying to atone for his mistakes and be happy. And then someone he loves is dying and instead of finding a cure, he ends up contracting a deadly illness instead. And now he’s useless to everyone.

Just like how he felt when he saw Aerith die in front of him. Useless.

Like I said, I don’t think he’s pining for her. Only that he misses her and always will. She’s engraved in his heart and, therefore, will always be someone he can never forget.

—Raven Roth

—Claim: Aerith is dead. She and Cloud can’t have an ongoing relationship anyway, as she herself acknowledges in Maiden Who Travels the Planet.

While they cannot have such a relationship, this doesn’t preclude Cloud from being in love with her and refusing to move on with his life to love another.

Of course, that is exactly what he does. However, Aerith being dead or being alive has nothing to do with who Cloud *can* love.

—Claim: In Episode:Barret, Cid says “In the end, it’s the women wear the pants” while he and Barret discuss Cloud and Tifa. More to the point, they’re discussing Tifa whipping Cloud into shape and spurring him on to be productive.

Certainly most readers will be familiar with the expression “to wear the pants in the family,” particularly as it’s applied to women who make many of the major household decisions.

Dialogue such as this among Cloud and Tifa’s friends definitely points to a romantic relationship between them. Really, what else could it imply?
While this dialogue would certainly paint that picture were it present in the Japanese text of Episode:Barret, what Cid actually says there is something more to the effect of “After all, women are the strong ones” — a comment lacking the connotation the English idiom carries.

Japanese text:


It does merit pointing out, however, that — while Cid didn’t use that exact choice of phrasing — he does seem to be making an association between the situation between Cloud & Tifa and the situation at home between himself and Shera, whom Cid has married. There’s an implication here that what he has said is true for himself and his wife as well.

—Claim: In Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII, both Cid and Vincent call Cloud to inform him that Yuffie would like him to go to “Barret’s place.” This tells us that Barret most certainly isn’t part of the Seventh Heaven family, and that he definitely doesn’t live there.

In other words, the only adults it belongs to are Cloud and Tifa.

As mentioned earlier in this article, whether Barret lives at Seventh Heaven at any point has no bearing on whether Cloud and Tifa are or can be a couple.

That being said, what’s called “Barret’s place” is “Barret no tokoro” (バレットのところ) in Japanese.
As discussed a couple of times earlier, “tokoro” refers only to someone’s place in time at a given moment, not the place they call home. Essentially, Yuffie was just demanding that Cloud go where Barret was.

In any case, we’ve already examined the matter of who the Seventh Heaven belongs to, and it is identified only as belonging to Cloud and Tifa anyway.

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