Feel the Hatred: Sephiroth

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[It’s not a theme about hating stuff in videogames without a blog about Sephiroth. — CTZ]

Final Fantasy VII was the first proper RPG I’d ever played. I think my favourite game prior to that was probably Sonic the Hedgehog. That kind of lets you know how little experience I had at that point with story driven games. The idea that a game could contain such a compelling story with characters you actually cared about wasn’t something I had really expected, I certainly didn’t expect that a game could make such an emotional connection with me. Throughout my time with FFVII, I found that the game could make me feel many emotions I never expected a game to be able to bring out in the player.

One of those emotions was most certainly hate.

Sephiroth has been a victim of his own success, with Square Enix whoring the character out, making appearances in games such as Ehrgeiz, Crisis Core, Kingdom Hearts I & II, Itadaki Street, Advent Children and of course Sephiroth’s Fly Fishing Adventure: One Winged Angler. With so many appearances that do absolutely nothing to add to his character, it’s no wonder that people tend to roll their eyes should you even hint that you liked him. However, that’s not what I’m here to talk about.

I hated Sephiroth, and I mean that literally.

In Final Fantasy VII, towards the end of disc 1, Sephiroth had taken the spotlight as the main villain. He was constantly one step ahead of the player, lording himself over you with his “superior” attitude. He showed the ability to control Cloud’s (the protagonist) body and mind. He was also batshit insane. This made him very dangerous, and a jerk, but it didn’t make me hate him.

So when the (possibly) main love interest, a flower girl from the slums called Aeris decides to run off to single handedly defeat Sephiroth, naturally the rest of the heroes decide to go after her. They were, however, not alone.

Deep inside an ancient and forgotten temple, Cloud finds Aeris silently praying. As he approaches her, it becomes obvious that cloud is no longer in control of his own actions. Against his will he draws his sword and raises it above his head, ready to bring the massive blade down upon the completely oblivious flower girl before him. At the very last moment Cloud manages to pull himself back, stopping his sword mere inches from her head.
As he stumbles back, Aries finally opens her eyes. She looks at him with surprise, she doesn’t say a word, she simply smiles at seeing her friend.

She smiled.

Their happy reunion was not long lived, from high above, Sephiroth descended towards the still kneeling Aeris. With one swift movement he impaled her with his Masamune sword, almost killing her instantly. I say almost, because she had just enough time to widen her eyes in pain and horror, before her entire body went limp.

Sephiroth merely smirked as he drew his blade from the lifeless flower girl.

Cloud could only shake Aeris’ dead body in disbelief whilst Sephiroth raised his arms in victory and began to gloat. Before you could even enact revenge, he escapes, leaving you to fight one of his minions.

Aeris’ death was a complete shock to me, it totally blindsided me. Without any sort of warning, a character I really liked was gone, forever. Without really realizing it, I had made an emotion connection to this character, and that link had been brutally and unexpectedly severed for good. I wasn’t used to getting this attached to characters, and I was certainly not expecting her to die. From a more practical point of view, Aeris was always part of my group, she was the healer, the backbone. Now she was gone.

I was furious.

I can honestly say at the time I truly hated Sephiroth. The game had suddenly become personal. I didn’t want to beat Sephiroth because it was part of the story, I wanted to beat him because of what he had done. I felt like I needed closure, I felt like I needed revenge.

Defeating him at the end of the game was an incredibly satisfying moment. One of the most satisfying moments I’ve ever had in gaming. I remember actually yelling in triumph when I landed the killer blow in the last battle. I felt like I had delivered justice, I felt like I’d gotten revenge.

Revenge was so very, very sweet.

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