Final Fantasy VII
- For the fandom of the 2020 remake, see Final Fantasy VII Remake.
|Name:||Final Fantasy VII (ファイナルファンタジーVII)|
|Creator:||Square (now Square-Enix)|
|Date(s):||1997 (first release)|
|Medium:||Video game, with the series extending into anime, CGI film, and short stories|
|Country of Origin:||Japan|
|External Links:||Square Enix (EN)|
Advent Childern at Square Enix (JP)
Crisis Core at Square Enix (JP)
Dirge of Cerberus at Square Enix (JP)
|Click here for related articles on Fanlore.|
Final Fantasy VII is the seventh game in the Final Fantasy series by Square. The game was first released in 1997 for the Sony PlayStation system; it was re-released for PCs in 1998 and for the Sony PSP in 2009. It is one of the most popular games of all time and retains an active fandom over twenty years later.
The main game follows the adventures of Cloud Strife, a solider turned mercenary, and his teammates as they attempt to save the world by stopping the destructive plans of Sephiroth and the Shinra Corporation. There are various other games, movies, and short stories set in the FFVII universe, known collectively as the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII (see below).
The game's cast includes some of the best known video game characters of all time, such as Sephiroth, who became somewhat of an archetype for anime and video game villains. Because of their popularity some of the characters also appeared in other Square-Enix game titles. For example Cloud Strife, Tifa Lockhart, Sephiroth, Yuffie Kisaragi, Vincent Valentine and Zack Fair are playable character in PlayStation fighting game Ehrgeiz (also the boss Django resembles Red XIII); Cloud, Aerith Gainsborough, Tifa, Yuffie, Sephiroth, Cid Highwind and Zack also appear in the Kingdom Hearts video game series; and Cloud, Tifa and Aerith appear in the Dissidia: Final Fantasy game series.
There is some tension among fans regarding Aeris/Aerith's name; in Japanese her name is given as エアリス Earisu, with the su ending intending to substitute a th sound. In the first English release of the game and accompanying official materials, her name was transliterated as Aeris, which stuck with fans. But in later releases, such as in Crisis Core, it was changed to Aerith. Many fans still favor the original "Aeris" version of her name, and both versions are used frequently in fandom.
Compilation of Final Fantasy VII
The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII refers to the extended universe of FFVII in its many mediums. There is a strong debate in regards to what should and should not be recognized due to who was involved with production and writing as the Compilation is fraught with what many see as retcons and poor characterization. The compilation includes, in order of in-story chronology:
- Before Crisis - Mobile phone video game featuring the Turks.
- Crisis Core (2007) - Video game prequel to the original game, starring Zack Fair.
- Last Order (2005) - Short animated film about the events of Nibelheim with Zack, Cloud, Tifa, and Sephiroth.
- Final Fantasy VII (1997) - Original game.
- On the Way to a Smile - A series of short stories intended as a prologue to Advent Children.
- Advent Children (2005) - Full-length CGI-animated film sequel to the original game. An updated and extended version, Advent CHildren Complete, was released in 2009.
- Dirge of Cerberus (2006) - Video game following Vincent Valentine a year after the events of Advent Children.
Advent Children.net was launched by Summoner Yuna on 23 October 2003, shortly after the announcement of the Advent Children movie. The main draw of the site was its forums; Advent Children.Forums (ACF) was a major hub of discussion for the fan community. Amid some drama, ACF eventually shut down sometime in the late 2000s. Many consider The Lifestream, founded 25 September 2008, to be its successor, having drawn many users and site staff from ACF, though many happily report that The Lifestream faces less drama and toxicity.
Final Fantasy VII fans have had a major presence on FanFiction.Net (FFN), with the earliest known English-language fan fiction having been posted on 23 July 1999; activity spiked circa the 2005 release of Advent Children and the 2007 release of Crisis Core (see The Genesis Awards). Notably, FFN divides Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy X-2 into separate sections—as well as the three games of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy—FFN categorizes all FFVII and Compilation fan fiction under Final Fantasy VII.
As Final Fantasy VII Remake has brought the biggest surge in activity from new and returning fans since Crisis Core, Archive of Our Own (AO3) has become an increasingly popular platform for fan works. As of 10 April 2020, the release date of Final Fantasy VII Remake, Final Fantasy VII was the third biggest fandom within the Games category on FFN with over 40 200 stories (excluding crossovers), compared to 10 367 stories (including crossovers) under the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII tag on AO3. Between then and 2 July 2021, FFN's FFVII library grew by a relatively meager 600 stories, while over 7 483 FFVII works were added to AO3 in the same period.
The theorist community is active and positive. Before AC the fandom was taking great joy and deciphering the mystery behind the ending of the game as well as addressing plot holes. Even after the Compilation though, fans still love to discuss speculation on platforms such as YouTube shows like Game Theory and various forums.
In recent years, the fandom has not had the same pleasant response in regards to other social issues and criticism in general. Having already felt burned by the sort of market response attitude Square-Enix had to its audience fans used the game as a response to modern social critique like Feminist Frequency. This branch of the fandom has replaced the LTD as the most toxic aspect of the game's fandom. Particularly since Square-Enix teased a re-mastered version for the PlayStation 3, this branch on the fandom has worried that modern critique of gaming will lead to more changes and retcons. This fear has been compounded upon due to the official announcement of an episodic remake for the newest console generation as well as announcements confirming that changes will be made beyond graphics updates.
On the end of toxic fans responding to developers, the fandom has been active in condemning the negative behavior. In dealing with the harassment of other gaming critics though, the fandom has been oddly silent. It is to the point that many critics will not do retroactive reviews of the game to provide new insight so they can avoid the nostalgia-driven vitriol of the fandom.
Original Game Canon (OGC) and the Compilation
When Advent Children was released in 2005, it drew fire from branches of the fandom who disliked the differences in characterization between AC and the original game. The most common complaint was that AC had undone much of the character growth that Cloud—and to a lesser extent, Vincent—had undergone. Many fans saw changes that seemed almost like the creators responding to the commentary of the original game with a sort of pandering. For example, the character Tifa Lockhart had regularly been criticized for her over-sexualized appearance. Her updated look for AC seemed to be a response to that. These complaints continued as other compilation titles were released and translated, either officially or by fans; Before Crisis, for instance, was not officially translated and released for Western audiences, and fans have been forced to rely on fan translations and videos. A significant portion of fans refuse to recognize the Compilation releases as canon, and often release their fanworks under the tag OGC, or Original Game Canon.
This has been met with strong pushback in regards to Crisis Core and Advent Children which have become flagships for recognizing the Compilation due to much of the post-2005 fan-based entering the fandom through these titles without playing the original game at all. Fans of the Compilation titles frequently feel like their experience is undermined because of their enjoyment of titles that fans of the original game malign as unnecessary garbage.
This has led to many fanworks contrasting and comparing Cloud Strife (the original game protagonist) and Zack Fair (the protagonist of Crisis Core) through pitting them in fights to examining their personalities. While it is only a fringe of the original fans that have an active dislike of Zack, Cloud is seen as oversaturating in both promotional and fanworks. This oversaturation is not helped by the fact that Cloud Strife has been frequently listed as the archetypical base for many gaming heroes to come since his debut.
Het, slash, and femslash ships can all be found within the FF7 fandom. One event in the original game allows for Cloud to go on a date with a party member: either Aerith or Tifa (which are the two easiest to date), or Yuffie or Barret.
The relationships between Aerith, Tifa and Cloud have been the subject of a long-standing ship war, generally called the Love Triangle Debate or LTD. The main members of the debate are Cloud/Aerith shippers and Cloud/Tifa shippers, while other relationships involving the three (including Aerith/Tifa) play a much smaller role. Lively debates about which of the two pairings can considered to be definitively and exclusively "canon" are common and seen as entertaining. Flaming and personal attacks are discouraged, but not uncommon, particularly in anonymous settings (i.e. anon comments on forums, Tumblr, or LiveJournal/DreamWidth). Callouts of people who send personal attacks are common, even on the same "side." Shipping within the LTD has formally been the most toxic branch of the fandom, however, over the years most fans have developed a "Ship and Let Ship" attitude towards rivalries and forum moderators have developed rules involving where and how debates should be handled.
The yaoi/yuri community is active with this fandom and has been embraced with little resistance. In part due to moments of levity in the game involving getting Cloud to go on a date with Barret or the reaction of Tifa and Aerith seeing Cloud dress as a woman. In another part due to the fandom recoiling from its own toxicity involving the LTD.
- Cloud Strife/Aerith Gainsborough (Clerith), Cloud Strife & Aerith Gainsborough
- Cloud Strife/Tifa Lockhart (CloTi), Cloud Strife & Tifa Lockhart
- Cloud Strife/Zack Fair (Clack or ZakKura), Cloud Strife & Zack Fair
- Cloud Strife/Sephiroth (SephCloud or SefiKura)
- Cloud Strife/Yuffie Kisaragi
- Cloud Strife/Barret Wallace (Clarret)
- Cloud Strife/Rufus Shinra
- Cloud Strife/Reno
- Aerith Gainsborough/Zack Fair (Zerith)
- Aerith Gainsborough/Tifa Lockhart (AerTi), Aerith Gainsborough & Tifa Lockhart
- Aerith Gainsborough/Sephiroth (AeriSeph or Sepherith)
- Aerith Gainsborough/Yuffie Kisaragi
- Aerith Gainsborough/Red XIII
- Aerith Gainsborough/Tseng (Tserith)
- Tifa Lockhart/Vincent Valentine (VinTi)
- Tifa Lockhart/Barret Wallace (Barrifa)
- Tifa Lockhart/Zack Fair
- Tifa Lockhart/Reno
- Tifa Lockhart/Rude
- Yuffie Kisaragi/Vincent Valentine (Yuffentine)
- Cid Highwind/Vincent Valentine (Valenwind or CidVin)
- Cid Highwind/Shera
- Vincent Valentine/Sephiroth
- Vincent Valentine/Lucrecia Crescent
In addition, poly relationships have some popularity in the fandom as well, particularly OT3s. Examples include:
- Cloud Strife/Aerith Gainsborough/Tifa Lockhart
- Cloud Strife/Aerith Gainsborough/Zack Fair
- Cloud Strife/Aerith Gainsborough/Sephiroth
- Cloud Strife/Sephiroth/Zack Fair
- Cloud Strife/Tifa Lockhart/Barret Wallace
Furthermore, Final Fantasy VII is regularly subject to crossover shipping. Typically with other Final Fantasy titles and mostly commonly pairing Cloud Strife with the protagonists of the other games.
- Cloud Strife/Squall Leonhart (Strifehart)
- Cloud Strife/Lightning (CloLight)
In English-speaking fandom, fan fiction is extremely popular. Many epic-length fic were released in the late 1990s and early 2000s. Starting with the release of Advent Children in 2005, more fans have started writing FFVII Fanfiction that incorporates the canon of Compilation titles. As a result, FF7 fandom is very fractured, with many fans grouping together around a particular pairing, ensemble, or Compilation title.
The fandom is also home to some of the more notorious badfic titles such as "Cloud Mows The Lawn", "Chocobo Nights", and "Yuffie's Chocobo".
In Japan, doujinshi based on Final Fantasy VII has been popular since its release in 1997. The release of various Compilation titles has helped keep the fandom popular.
Fanart of Final Fantasy VII has always been popular, produced by fanartists around the world.
Fans from TheLifestream.net have created audiobooks of On The Way To A Smile, a series of novellas written by Kasushige Nojima. This series follows various characters as they come to terms with the events of Final Fantasy VII. Featuring an impressive cast of voice actors and beautiful musical compositions, this is a mandatory listen for anyone who is a fan of the expanded canon of FFVII.
Comics and doujinshi
- Final Fantasy VII: The Sevening  by Obstinatemelon and Decalyn. Brilliantly-drawn and hilariously funny spoof of the entire game's plot. Work in progress.
- Dead Fantasy by Monty Oum - features FFVII characters, particularly Tifa and later Cloud and Vincent.
- Final Fantasy 7: Machinabridged (FF7MA) FFVII Abridged by Team Four Star, an in-game machinima abridged series of FFVII
- A Long, Hard Road by Twig, an early Sephiroth/Cloud Strife longfic set five years after the end of the original game.
- OH NO! NOT ANOTHER FINAL FANTASY VII WEB PAGE!, site of Frank Verderosa, including his multi-part Final Fantasy VII Internet Series, Balance of Power, Shards, etc.
- The Poetry in Blood by GlassShard
- I Know What's Beneath the Snow Fields by Zahra, Aerith Gainsborough/Vincent Valentine
- Sink to the Bottom With You by Catalina, Yuffie Kisaragi/Vincent Valentine
- The Conscience of the King by Rahaeli
- Death is Part of the Process by Licoriceallsorts, a novelisation of Before Crisis and Crisis Core
- The Fifth Act by Sinnatious
- anyone care to give me a history lesson on how ff7 fandom was like back in the day?  by ardwynna et al
- See List of Final Fantasy Lists and Communities for an extended list of FFVII-related communities.
- Reddit: r/FinalFantasyVII
- The Final Fantasy VII Citadel: Fanfiction and Fanart
- Icy Brian's RPG Page: Final Fantasy VII category
- Rocket Town 
- RPGamer: Final Fantasy VII fanfiction
- Revolving Refraction 
- ShinRa Electric Co Fic Archive 
- Noire Sensus 
- The Lemonade Café (R-18, contain adult content): Final Fantasy VII and Compilation of Final Fantasy VII]
- The Gaming Intelligence Agency (The GIA): Final Fantasy VII Fanfic Archive
- FanFiction.Net (FFN): Final Fantasy VII stories and crossovers
- DeviantArt (DA): Final Fantasy VII search
- Archive of Our Own (AO3): Final Fantasy VII and Compilation of Final Fantasy VII tags
- Pixiv: #FF7, #ファイナルファンタジー7
- The Lifestream: TheLifestream.net Your No.1 source for FF7 news and info
- Final Fantasy Newbieguide for LiveJournal fandom
- The Final Fantasy VII Citadel
- Sean's Final Fantasy7 site
- Final Fantasy Wikia: Final Fantasy VII and Compilation of Final Fantasy VII
- TV Tropes: Final Fantasy VII
- Wikipedia: Final Fantasy VII
- FantasyAnime: FF7 page
- FF7 Fic Excavation by stormears. https://stormears.tumblr.com/post/616499812344496128/ff7r-fanfic-exvacation-trends-of-the-times-part