“What in life does not deserve celebrating?”

As we near the end of our analysis, in the interest of a thorough study of the canon, let’s take a diversion to consider what information, if any, establishes a canon date for Cloud at the Gold Saucer near the end of Disc 1. For obvious reasons, we’ll go ahead and rule out Yuffie and Barret’s dates as even being in the running, though we will still include information related to them as it comes up in source material.

For a few reasons, Tifa’s seems to be the obvious fit. The name of the music playing on the date is “Interrupted by Fireworks”/”Words Drowned by Fireworks,” and, indeed, her words get drowned out during the date when she tries telling Cloud that she loves him.

Though the idea of the dates being “interrupted” by fireworks might fit all four dates, Tifa is the only character whose words are actually “drowned out” by them on any of the dates — and “Words Drowned by Fireworks” is the actual name of the track, as translated from the Japanese name, “Hanabi ni Kesareta Kotoba” (花火に消された言葉).

It is also listed by this name on iTunes under the page for the Final Fantasy VII Original Soundtrack.
Furthermore, though pp. 150, 151 and 153 of the Final Fantasy VII International Memorial Album provide the scripts for Aerith, Tifa and Yuffie’s dates with Cloud, Tifa’s is provided first.

What’s more, the script for Tifa’s date is the only one featured for the section of the date where Cait Sith is discovered stealing the Keystone (pg. 154).

As mentioned much earlier in this analysis, this is the same book that provided a script of only the High Affection version of the Highwind scene.

Further still, in Cloud’s profile in the FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania (pg. 37; pg. 39 in the Revised Edition), a screenshot of Tifa’s date with Cloud is featured alongside the statement that Cloud was oblivious to Tifa and Aerith’s feelings for him, while yet another screenshot of the same date is included in Tifa’s profile from the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 1: Character guide (pg. 194).

This latter reference to the date includes this caption:

She is shy when it comes to love. She’s getting better at plainly expressing her feelings to Cloud, though, and can do so more easily now.

Japanese text:


Not only does this caption seem to thematically tie together Tifa’s date — where she had difficulty expressing her feelings to Cloud — with the higher affection version of the Highwind scene — where she and Cloud both finally reveal their feelings to one another — but, as it’s speaking in the present progressive tense, it would appear to be treating the matter as something that has already happened from the perspective of the “speaker.”

In other words, as with all other screenshot captions throughout the book, the date appears to be treated here as something that actually took place for these characters.

Meanwhile, there’s no screenshot of or reference to Aerith’s date in either the 10th Anniversary Ultimania’s profiles or its Story Playback section, in which the story of the original game is recapped. None of the profiles from the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 1: Character make reference to the event either — not even in Cloud or Aerith’s profiles.

All this being said, the most recent official published material on the matter provides equal treatment to all four dates. In their respective profiles from the FF 25th Memorial Ultimania Vol. 2, each candidate’s date is spoken of in definitive terms despite their mutually exclusive nature.

From Tifa’s profile on pg. 25:

Feelings That Turn With the Gondola
After everyone has gone to sleep for the evening, Tifa invites Cloud on a date. However, because of her shy personality, she is unable to tell him her feelings directly and, in the end, only mumbles hints.

Japanese text:

みんなが寝静まった夜、クラウドをデートに誘うティファ. もっとも、奥手な性格ゆえに、彼に面と向かって想いを伝えられず、思わせぶりなことをつぶやくだけで終わってしまう。

From Aerith’s profile on pg. 29:

The Promised Date at the Gold Saucer
The “1 date” reward promised when she enlisted Cloud as her bodyguard. She invites him on the date during the night spent at the Gold Saucer; participating in a play and riding the gondola, they have a pleasant time, though it is brief.

Japanese text:

「デート1回」の報酬を約束にはじまった、クラウドヘの護衛の依頼. ゴールドソーサーに泊まった夜、約束どおり彼をデートに誘い、演劇をしたり観覧車に乗ったり、つかの間とはいえ楽しい時間を過ごす。

From Yuffie’s profile on pg. 45:

The Courageous Act of the Tomboy
Despite her usual boyish behavior, she boldly kisses Cloud on the gondola during the date with him at the Gold Saucer. Expecting him to have some kind of reaction, she becomes angry when he can’t even think of anything to say, and so she slaps him.

Japanese text:

ふだんの言動は少年的だが、ゴールドソーサーでクラウドとデートすると、観覧車内でキスという大胆な行動に。反応を期待したものの、気のきいたことひとつ言えないクラウド に怒り、ビンタをかます。

From Barret’s profile on pg. 33:

If his degree of affection for Cloud is higher than that of the
female party members, Barret will go on the date with him at
the Gold Saucer. He speaks frankly about forbidden love with
Cloud … or, rather, probes whether he’s interested in any of the
women, then flies off the handle when he concludes that it’s Marlene.

Japanese text:


Along these same lines, both Tifa and Aerith’s dates are presented in the same definitive terms in the two characters’ personal timelines from their profiles in the FFVII Ultimania Omega, beginning with Tifa’s date on pg. 26 and continuing with Aerith’s on pg. 31.

Added to this, despite Aerith’s presence in the screenshot, on pg. 394 of the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 2: Scenario — the “For the One I Love” page — the caption for the date scene’s entry says:

At the Gold Saucer, Cloud receives an invitation from one of his companions. Who comes around with the invitation is dependent on Cloud’s behavior.

Japanese text:


No attention is called to Aerith’s date here, even on a page that specified that the High Affection Highwind scene took place. The four alternatives are simply treated as equals.

However, despite the arguable favor Tifa’s date has received in some ways and the more neutral presentations seen at other times, ultimately, Aerith’s date is the clear favorite in Square’s corner and the most likely to be canon.

To understand why, let us go all the way back to the FFVII Kaitai Shinsho The Complete guide, originally published in March of 1997 and reissued in November of the same year. On pg. 164, Aerith’s final monologue from the book’s many diary-like entries references her going on the date with Cloud as an established fact.

(translation by hitoshura)

[Aerith: Inside Cloud’s dream]
Cloud… can you hear me?

I’m talking to your heart while you sleep right now. I hope this reaches you okay, like when I hear the voice from the planet.

Sephiroth is trying to summon Meteor using the Black Materia … He’s trying to wound the planet badly. If Meteor really does fall, then everyone’s going to die. People, animals, flowers … The life on this planet will disappear completely.

The only one who can stop it is the last surviving Cetra. Me. I realize that. That was the duty of the Cetra.

So, leave Meteor to me. You just think about yourself, Cloud. Remember your own ways … so you don’t have a breakdown.

Well, I’m off. When it’s all over, we can meet each other again.

Oh, Cloud … I enjoyed our date at the Gold Saucer. The view from the gondola that night was really beautiful. I’ll never forget it.

I’ll never forget you, Cloud …

Japanese text:


Though Aerith’s date would be slighted somewhat by both releases of the FFVII Memorial Album (1999 and 2003), it certainly receives preferential treatment in 2005’s FFVII Ultimania Omega. There, on pg. 148, it is featured prominently in the screenshots from the events of the date in the book’s extensive Story Playback section for Final Fantasy VII.
Though none of the writing on the page identifies any particular date, the preference here is clear.

Likewise on pg. 2 of the FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania (both the original and the Revised Edition), where a screenshot from Aerith’s date accompanies the book’s opening message of “FFVII has always been in our hearts—”:

Japanese text:


Even the “For the One I Love” page on pg. 394 of the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 2: Scenario shows a clear preference for Aerith’s date in that it wasn’t necessary to select a screenshot clearly referencing any particular date.

Added to that, and more significantly, on pg. 225, the same book’s Story Playback section includes Aerith’s date in the main body of the story summary while Tifa, Yuffie and Barret’s dates are off in the margin to the side under a “Deviation” heading:

Gold Saucer
The Keystone falls into Tseng’s hands, and he heads for the Temple of the Ancients
Cait Sith’s true colors are revealed
After collecting information in various places on the key to opening the Temple of the Ancients, Cloud’s team learns that it’s in Dio’s possession. After successfully gaining it from him at the Gold Saucer, the party spends the night at the hotel. That night, while Cloud is on a date with one of his companions, they witness Cait Sith passing the Keystone to Tseng. He has been a Shin-Ra spy. Marlene is taken hostage; hereafter, though, Cait Sith’s behavior with the party doesn’t change; they chase after Shin-Ra, heading for the Temple of the Ancients.

“…So, you have to do as I say.”

[Screenshot caption of Aerith’s date]
During the date, Aerith voices her feelings for Cloud.

Who is the date companion?
Cloud’s companion for the date is determined by your choices in the progress of the story. Whichever character amongst Tifa, Aerith, Yuffie and Barret has the highest value in the “affection rating” will be the one to invite Cloud out for the date; here are screenshots representing each. The course of each date is the same, but, as you can see, they each develop in their own way depending on the companion.

[Screenshot caption of Tifa’s date]
Tifa tries to reveal her feelings to Cloud, but can’t say it in the end.

[Screenshot caption of Yuffie’s date]
Yuffie quietly moves over to Cloud and boldly kisses him on the cheek.

[Screenshot caption of Barret’s date]
Barret arrives on his own at the idea that Cloud has his eye on Marlene.

Japanese text:


[Screenshot caption of Aerith’s date]


[Screenshot caption of Tifa’s date]

[Screenshot caption of Yuffie’s date]

[Screenshot caption of Barret’s date]

Even more fuel on the fire, the Aerith version of the date is referenced by Aerith’s card in the Final Fantasy Art Museum trading card collection (scan courtesy of Quexinos) from 2001 as though it definitely took place as well, given that its quotes from Aerith include her “No, Cloud… I’m searching for you…” line, along with the parenthetical notation, “(Said to Cloud during their first and last date).”

Japanese text:


From that same card collection, the “Sanctuary of amusement” card (#111 in the set) says the following:

(translation by JayM)

The Gold Saucer, the world’s largest amusement park, run by its macho director, Dio. Cloud’s group visited this place many times between fights. The encounter with Cait Sith. Chocobo Square, where so many close races unfolded. And Enchantment Night, when the promise of a date was fulfilled … In the palace of desire that floats on the sand, the faint memories of two people are still held …

Japanese text:

マッチョな園長ディオが運営する世界最大の遊戯場ゴールドソーサー。クラウドたちは戦いの合間に何度もこの地を訪れた。ケット・シーとの出会い。チョコボスク エアで繰り広げられた数々のデッドヒート。そしてマジカルナイトの夜に果たされたデートの約束…。砂上に浮かぶ欲望の城に、二人の淡い想い出は今も眠る…。

「あなたの中に彼を見ていた… でも、ちがうの。今は、ちがう…。ね、クラウド。私、あなたを探してる」

It’s also worth notice that Aerith’s date brings closure to her confusion between Cloud and Zack, as she comes to terms with the fact that they are not the same person, and that she wishes to get to know Cloud as he really is. At least as significant to the story as the theme of Tifa’s ongoing hesitation to voice her thoughts and feelings, this scene seems especially so given that it’s one of the final scenes touching on Aerith’s development.

TheLifestream.net forum member Kittie has also made the following observation with regard to Aerith’s date being canon:

In a way, it ties in very fittingly with Cloud’s “I think I can meet her there” line. I’ve considered the possibility before, but now I can’t help but take it that he meant that Aerith could finally meet the real Cloud and not the pseudo-persona one from the first disc. Compilation-wise, I’m not for sure if this still ties in with the OG, but the connection from the OG can still be interpreted here.

Perhaps most in favor of Aerith’s date, though, is the fact that — in the event of a tie in the game’s affection values — Aerith’s date is played as the default. Even Tifa’s comes only second in order of default.

One could maybe argue Aerith’s use in the Ultimania Omega’s Story Playback as a “placeholder” or some such thing. One could contend that it being the default date in the event of a tie isn’t enough. But the preferential treatment it receives is undeniable, and with a direct statement that “the promise of a date is fulfilled,” that leaves little room for counterargument.

Furthermore, the “Sanctuary of amusement” card makes such an impression in that it cements a period of several years where the Aerith date was unquestionably canon.

For almost nine years after the game was released, there was nothing more to go off of than the monologues from the Kaitai Shinsho The Complete, the Memorial Album script and the Art Museum card collection. Two of those explicitly identify Aerith’s date as the one that happened, and the third presents it alongside Tifa and Yuffie’s.

The card is not so much a silver bullet that supercedes later material, but is something that gives that later material vital context. Knowing of this prior canon status on the basis of something other than Benny Matsuyama’s contentious work — the canonicity of which later came into question (see the TheLifestream.net’s guide to FFVII canon for more information) — paints a much different picture of things.

With regard to the FFVII Ultimania Omega (published September 9, 2005), despite its use of all four dates in the book’s character profiles, it looks less ambiguous due to its use of only Aerith’s date in the screenshots from the extensive Story Playback section. Rather than these images simply serving as possible placeholders because “they had to put something there,” they instead appear to be upholding the established canon.

Thus, it becomes a situation where ambiguity wasn’t really entered into the mix until the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimanias, the first of which wasn’t published until January 31, 2008 — eleven years to the day after FFVII was released! And even then, Aerith’s date is the “placeholder” for the date’s entry on the “For the One I Love” page in the FF 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 2: Scenario and is the main date presented in VII’s Story Playback from the same book, as we’ve gone over.

This makes the 25th Memorial Ultimania Vol. 2’s equal presentation of the dates appear much less ambiguous.

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