|Final Fantasy character|
|First game||Final Fantasy VII (1997)|
|Created by||Yoshinori Kitase
|Designed by||Tetsuya Nomura|
Mandy Moore (Kingdom Hearts)
Mena Suvari (Kingdom Hearts II and Advent Children)
Andrea Bowen (Crisis Core and Dissidia 012)
Aerith Gainsborough (Japanese: エアリス・ゲインズブール Hepburn: Earisu Geinzubūru), mistranslated as Aeris Gainsborough in the English releases of Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Tactics—is a player character in Square's (now Square Enix) role-playing video game Final Fantasy VII. She was designed by Tetsuya Nomura with influence from Yoshinori Kitase, Hironobu Sakaguchi and Yoshitaka Amano.
In Final Fantasy VII, she is a young woman who joins the eco-terrorist organization AVALANCHE. As the story progresses, AVALANCHE begin to pursue the game's antagonist Sephiroth, and the player learns that she is the last surviving Cetra, or "Ancient", one of the planet's oldest races. She has also appeared in the later-released Compilation of Final Fantasy VII and Kingdom Hearts series.
Her voice actor is Maaya Sakamoto in Japanese. In English releases, her voice actors are singer and actress Mandy Moore in Kingdom Hearts, actress Mena Suvari in Kingdom Hearts II and Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, and actress Andrea Bowen in Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. The character and the events surrounding her death in Final Fantasy VII have met with an overall positive reception from critics and fans.
Final Fantasy VII
Aerith Gainsborough is first introduced as a flower seller, when she briefly converses with Cloud Strife, a mercenary working for the anti-government group AVALANCHE, who are fleeing from the bombing of a Mako reactor. The two later meet in Aerith's church in the Sector 5 slums, where she is faced with the possibility of capture by the Turks. Aerith asks Cloud to be her bodyguard for the cost of one date. She is eventually apprehended, but is ultimately rescued by Cloud and his allies. Aerith then joins them in the pursuit of Sephiroth, while also embarking on her own journey of self-discovery.
After a failed attempt to foil Sephiroth's theft of the Black Materia, Aerith ventures alone into the Forgotten City. Cloud and his companions give chase, eventually finding her praying at an altar. As Aerith looks up to smile at Cloud, Sephiroth appears and kills her by impaling her through the torso. Cloud carries Aerith's body out into a lake in the Forgotten City, and releases her back to the Planet. Reeve Tuesti, the head of Shinra Urban and Development, brings the news of her death to Elmyra Gainsborough, Aerith's adoptive mother. The party later learns the reason for Aerith being in the Forgotten City; through her White Materia, Aerith was able to summon Holy, the only force capable of repelling the ultimate destructive magic, Meteor, which has been summoned by Sephiroth. Although Aerith successfully cast Holy before her death, it is held back by the power of Sephiroth's will. When Sephiroth is finally defeated and Holy is released, it appears that it is too late to function as effectively as it should, as Meteor has already come too near to the Planet's surface. While Holy clashes with Meteor, attempting to prevent its impact, the gravity of both Meteor and the Planet pulling on Holy in opposite directions weakens it. Aerith is seen praying with both hands interlocked whilst urging the lifestream to ultimately defend the planet.  The Planet's Lifestream then flows forth, intervening between Holy and Meteor, and acting as a battering ram while aiding in the destruction of Meteor.
Compilation of Final Fantasy VII
In Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, set several years prior to the events of Final Fantasy VII, Aerith becomes the target of the original incarnation of AVALANCHE, led by Elfé, who seek to prevent Shinra from acquiring the last surviving Cetra. Instead, AVALANCHE intend to use her to learn the whereabouts of the Promised Land for their own purposes, although a member of the Turks tries to protect her.
Aerith makes several appearances in the CGI film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, as Cloud's spiritual guide, urging him to move on with his life and to forgive himself for the tragedies that were beyond his control, telling him that she never blamed him for her death. During their spiritual reunion, Aerith speaks to Cloud in an open meadow laden with flowers, cheerfully and kindheartedly poking fun at how he needlessly burdens himself with the past. However, she also acknowledges his suffering and offers kind words of support. One of Aerith's interactions with Cloud comes when each member of the original game's party helps in Cloud's final attack against Bahamut SIN; she appears as the last party member to assist Cloud. She also appears in the final scene of the movie, along with Zack Fair, where she gives Cloud more words of encouragement before she and Zack walk into the light. Near the end of the film, it is discovered that water mixed with the Lifestream flows beneath the flowerbed in Aerith's church, which manifests itself as a cure for Geostigma.
The On the Way to a Smile novella "Case of the Lifestream – Black & White" focuses on Aerith and Sephiroth's respective journeys through the Lifestream after the end of the game but before the events of the film. The "Black" section deals with Sephiroth, the "White" section with Aerith.
Aerith also appears in the prequel game Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. At the age of 16, she meets Zack, for whom she develops feelings during his stay in Midgar. Aerith and Zack develop a romantic relationship, but Zack is killed at the end of Crisis Core after being held in a Mako chamber for four years in the Shinra Mansion basement. During those years, Aerith helped her adopted mother earn a living by growing and selling flowers, a job that results in her meeting Cloud at the beginning of Final Fantasy VII.
Aerith's character has appeared in several games outside of the Final Fantasy VII continuity. In Final Fantasy Tactics, she appears as a flower girl; when a group of criminals harasses her, Cloud appears and the player engages in battle with the group, letting her escape. Itadaki Street Special features a playable version of Aerith, as well as other Final Fantasy VII characters Tifa Lockhart, Cloud Strife, and Sephiroth. She also appears in Itadaki Street Portable with the same characters from Special, with the addition of Yuffie Kisaragi. While not playable, Aerith appears in the fighting game Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy as an assistant character. She is also featured in the rhythm game Theatrhythm Final Fantasy as a sub-character representing Final Fantasy VII. In LittleBigPlanet 2, Aerith is featured as a downloadable character model.
Aerith makes an appearance in the Kingdom Hearts series as a member of a group dedicated to defeating the Heartless; the group also includes other Final Fantasy VII characters and Leon of Final Fantasy VIII. In the plot of Kingdom Hearts, Aerith suggests a method for defeating the Heartless to protagonists Donald Duck, Goofy and Sora. Throughout the game, she also gives advice to the player. She also appears in Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories as a perceptive figment of Sora's memories. Aerith returns in Kingdom Hearts II, wearing a modified version of her dress from Before Crisis. She, Leon and Yuffie run a restoration committee for the town of Hollow Bastion.
Hoshi o Meguru Otome (Maiden who Travels the Planet), a novel written by Benny Matsuyama which appears in the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω guide, follows Aerith's journey through the Lifestream immediately after her death in Final Fantasy VII. Aerith is mentioned in a graffiti in the subway station early in the animated film Wreck-It Ralph; the graffiti reads "Aerith Lives".
Concept and creation
Aerith was designed by Tetsuya Nomura, with influence from director and scenario writer Yoshinori Kitase and Hironobu Sakaguchi, whilst Yoshitaka Amano created conceptual artwork which also helped to influence her design. She has green eyes and long brown hair tied in a braid with a pink ribbon. She wears a long pink dress, a bolero jacket, and brown hiking boots. The long dress was designed to appear ladylike and as a contrast to Tifa Lockhart's miniskirt. During development, Aerith was supposed to be Sephiroth's sister as both designs resembled each other, but they were made former lovers with Aerith remembering Sephiroth when meeting Cloud as both are ex-SOLDIERS. Late during development, Aerith's first love was changed to Zack Fair.
Her green eyes were meant to symbolize nature and also served as another contrast to Tifa's brown eyes. Nomura did not change much of Aerith's design for Advent Children, but her design was updated in Kingdom Hearts with the removal of her bolero jacket, which made her attire appear more as Amano had originally drawn her. Other changes included the addition of bracelets and a belt. Nomura modified her dress in Before Crisis, adding white and green colors, and this version was also used as the basis for her design in Kingdom Hearts II.
Aerith's original Japanese name is エアリス Earisu, pronounced [eaɾisɯ] ( listen). This was transliterated to "Aeris" in Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy Tactics, but in later products has been changed to "Aerith". Both transliterations have basis, as the Japanese "su" (ス) is used when transcribing "s" (/s/) and "th" (/θ/) to Japanese. However, official Japanese material uses the spelling "Aerith", and developers have stated that "Aerith" is a near-anagram of "Earth". Prior to the game's release, Western gaming magazines, such as the May 1996 issue of Computer and Video Games, also referred to her as "Aerith".
In early planning stages of Final Fantasy VII, Aerith was to be one of only three protagonists; herself, Cloud and Barret. During a phone call to Kitase, it was suggested that at some point in the game, one of the main characters should die, and after much discussion as to whether it should be Barret or Aerith, the producers chose Aerith. Nomura stated in a 2005 Electronic Gaming Monthly interview: "Cloud's the main character, so you can't really kill him. And Barrett... [sic] well, that's maybe too obvious." While designing Final Fantasy VII, Nomura was frustrated with the "perennial cliché where the protagonist loves someone very much and so has to sacrifice himself and die in a dramatic fashion to express that love." He found this trope appeared in both films and video games from North America and Japan, and asked "Is it right to set such an example to people?" Kitase concluded: "In the real world things are very different. You just need to look around you. Nobody wants to die that way. People die of disease and accident. Death comes suddenly and there is no notion of good or bad. It leaves, not a dramatic feeling but great emptiness. When you lose someone you loved very much you feel this big empty space and think, 'If I had known this was coming I would have done things differently.' These are the feelings I wanted to arouse in the players with Aerith's death relatively early in the game. Feelings of reality and not Hollywood."
According to Nomura, "death should be something sudden and unexpected, and Aerith's death seemed more natural and realistic." He said: "When I reflect on Final Fantasy VII, the fact that fans were so offended by her sudden death probably means that we were successful with her character. If fans had simply accepted her death, that would have meant she wasn't an effective character." From the original release of the game, rumors have circulated that Aerith can be resurrected in or that the original plan was to have her come back, but this was scrapped in development. Nomura has categorically stated that neither of these rumors were ever true; "the world was expecting us to bring her back to life, as this is the classic convention." A lengthy petition asking for Aerith's revival by Japanese players was sent to Kitase, but he dismissed it, pointing out that "there are many meanings in Aerith's death and [her revival] could never happen."
The orchestral arrangement of "Aerith' Theme"
Problems playing this file? See media help.
A leitmotif associated with Aerith is played several times throughout Final Fantasy VII; it is first heard during the flashback scenes with Aerith's mother at her house, and is repeated as she is killed by Sephiroth. It was composed by famed Final Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu. The piece "Flowers Blooming in the Church" is based on it.
"Aerith's Theme" is very popular among Final Fantasy fans, and has inspired an orchestral version, a piano version, and a vocal version performed by the artist Rikki ( who also performed "Suteki Da Ne" for Final Fantasy X). A piano arrangement of the theme appears twice in Advent Children, and the track "Water" also echoes shades of the theme: the opening phrase of "Aerith's Theme" appears just prior to the climax of the track "Divinity II", which shortly thereafter includes as its final line the Latin phrase "Sola Dea fatum novit" ("Only the goddess knows fate"), and is also featured during the end credits of the film. It also has been reinterpreted on the OverClocked ReMix Final Fantasy VII compilation Voices of the Lifestream. In 2013, "Aerith's Theme" achieved the third place in the Classic FM Hall of Fame.
Aerith has received an overall positive reception from critics. GamesTM referred to her as a "gaming legend." RPGamer's Stuart Hoggan opined that although Aerith "represented the token damsel in distress," she "broke the mould in terms of personality," possessing "an admirable pluck that was not brassy nor off-putting." In 2007, she was included in Tom's Games list of top 50 greatest female characters in video game history, for her death scene and the beauty of her appearance and personality. That same year, she was named the fifth best character of all time in Dengeki PlayStation's retrospective awards feature about the original PlayStation. IGN ranked her the number two in their top Final Fantasy VII character list – a rank higher than the game's protagonist, Cloud Strife. GameTrailers ranked her at the top of their list of "babes who are out of your league" in 2010. Heath Hooker of GameZone ranked Aerith as fifth on his 2012 top list of Final Fantasy characters and wrote she "has become an icon in not only the Final Fantasy series, but also in video game history." Her relation with Cloud has also received positive response, including the two being listed in IGN's article about the best video game romances.
Her death in Final Fantasy VII has received a great deal of attention. According to GamesTM, her death helped establish the popularity of Final Fantasy VII. Players commented on message boards and blogs about the emotional impact the scene held. Fans submitted a petition to Yoshinori Kitase requesting her return. GameSpy numbers her demise as the 10th greatest cinematic moments in video game history, while its readers voted it the second most cinematic moment. GamePro considers her death sequence to be the greatest of all gaming moments. Tom's Games called the scene "one of the most powerful and memorable scenes of the Final Fantasy series—or any other game, for that matter." Edge called her death the "dramatic highpoint" of Final Fantasy VII, and suggested that reintroducing her through the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII titles "arguably undermines this great moment." In 2005, Electronic Gaming Monthly listed Final Fantasy VII number six in their list of ten most important games, stating that without this game, "Aeris wouldn't have died, and gamers wouldn't have learned how to cry." ScrewAttack has added Aerith's death to their top 10 "OMGWTF" moments, referring to it as one of the "touchiest moments in video game history." In 2011, IGN ranked her death scene at No. 1 in its list of top video game moments. In 2012, PlayStation Magazine included it among the ten most emotional PlayStation moments.
The character is also popular among gamers, especially Japanese and fans of the Final Fantasy series. Aerith has been included in most of GameFAQs' "Character Battle" contests, though she progressed only a few rounds each time. In 2010, Famitsu readers voted Aerith as the 24th best video game character. In 2013, Aerith was voted the second favorite female Final Fantasy character in an official poll by Square Enix. That same year, Complex ranked her as the seventh greatest Final Fantasy character of all time.
- "Kingdom Hearts – Tech Info". GameSpot. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
- Square Enix (17 August 2009). Kingdom Hearts II. PlayStation 2. Square Enix U.S.A., Buena Vista Games.
- Tetsuya Nomura (Director) (14 September 2005). Final Fantasy VII Advent Children (DVD). Square Enix.
- Square Enix (17 August 2009). Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. PlayStation Portable.
- SoftBank, ed. (2006). Final Fantasy VII Advent Children: Reunion Files (in Japanese and English). Square-Enix. p. 58. ISBN 4-7973-3498-3.
- Bugenhagen: It says, when the time comes, we must search for "Holy". / Cloud: Holy? / Bugenhagen: Holy... the ultimate White Magic. Magic that might stand against Meteor. Perhaps our last hope to save the planet from Meteor. Square (7 September 1997). Final Fantasy VII. PlayStation. SCE America.
- Cloud: Aerith has already prayed for Holy. ... She said, she was the only one who could stop Sephiroth...... And to do that, there was a secret here... That was Holy...... That's why, she had the White Materia. Square (7 September 1997). Final Fantasy VII. PlayStation. SCE America.
- Studio BentStuff, ed. (2005). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω (in Japanese). Square Enix. p. 591. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0.
- Aerith: So, why did you come? / Cloud: I think ... I want to be forgiven, more than anything. / ... / Cloud: But... I let you die... / Aerith: Dilly dally, shilly shally. Isn't it time you did the forgiving? / ... / Aerith: I never blamed you, not once. You came for me, that's all that matters. Tetsuya Nomura (Director) (14 September 2005). Final Fantasy VII Advent Children (DVD). Square Enix.
- Aerith: You see? Everything's all right. Tetsuya Nomura (Director) (14 September 2005). Final Fantasy VII Advent Children (DVD). Square Enix.
- 小説 On the Way to a Smile ファイナルファンタジーVII (in Japanese). Amazon.com. ISBN 4757524625.
- Aerith: What a shock..... I didn't know Zack was from this town. / Cloud: You know him? / Aerith: Didn't I tell you? He was my first love. Square (7 September 1997). Final Fantasy VII. PlayStation. SCE America.
- Ludwig Kietzmann (11 January 2011). "Dissidia Duodecim demo unlocks Aerith assistant in full game". Joystiq. Archived from the original on 21 January 2011. Retrieved 11 January 2011.
- "Aerith, Snow, Vivi, And Faris Are In Theatrhythm: Final Fantasy Too". Siliconera. 12 November 2011. Archived from the original on 10 October 2013. Retrieved 30 June 2012.
- Gantayat, Anoop (13 July 2011). "Final Fantasy VII LittleBigPlanet 2 Costume Pack Hits Tomorrow". Andriasang. Archived from the original on 30 September 2012. Retrieved 13 July 2011.
- Hollinger, Elizabeth (2006). Kingdom Hearts II Official Strategy Guide. BradyGames Publishing. ISBN 0-7440-0526-4.
- Aerith: We don't know you, Sora, but your heart is full of memories of us together. Those memories must resonate in our hearts, too. Maybe they tell us things we couldn't otherwise know. / Leon: So you're saying that Sora's memories are affecting ours? / Aerith: His memories do seem to have a certain power. / Sora: Maybe it's like that guy said, then. This town is just an illusion. Something my memories created. Jupiter (7 December 2004). Kingdom Hearts: Chain of Memories. Game Boy Advance. Square Enix U.S.A., Disney Interactive.
- Studio BentStuff (2005). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω. Square Enix. ISBN 978-4757515208.
- "Leeroy Jenkins Lives! The 6 Best Video Game References In 'Wreck-It Ralph'". Movieline. Archived from the original on 29 July 2013. Retrieved 16 June 2013.
- gamesTM Staff (November 2007). "Hall Of Fame... Aerith". gamesTM (63). Imagine Publishing. pp. 150–151.
- "Tetsuya Nomura's 20s". Flare Gamer. Archived from the original on 7 November 2016. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
- "Nomura, Kitase and Nojima Discuss Final Fantasy VII's Development". Andriasang. Archived from the original on 13 March 2016. Retrieved 21 May 2012.
- Studio BentStuff, ed. (2005). Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω (in Japanese). Square-Enix. p. 525. ISBN 4-7575-1520-0.
- Final Fantasy VII instruction manual, Characters
- V Jump Final Fantasy VII the Perfect
- Final Fantasy VII 10th Anniversary Ultimania
- Famitsu, ed. (1997). Final Fantasy VII Kaitai Shinsho (in Japanese). Famitsu. p. 14. ISBN 4-7577-0098-9.
- "Final Fantasy VII". Computer and Video Games (174): 106–111 . May 1996.
- "Interivew with Yoshinori Kitase and Tetsuya Nomura from Electronic Gaming Monthly, issue No. 196, October 2005". Electronic Gaming Monthly. Final Fantasy VII Citadel. October 2005. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
- of EDGE magazine, ed. (2003). Edge, May 2003. Future plc. pp. 112–113.
- "Final Fantasy Symphony – Vocalists". Final Fantasy Symphony. Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2007.
- "Final Fantasy VII OST". RPG Fan. Archived from the original on 14 October 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2007.
- "Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Original Soundtrack :: Review". Square Enix Music Online. Archived from the original on 12 June 2008. Retrieved 6 June 2008.
- "Tracks – Final Fantasy VII: Voices of the Lifestream, an OverClocked ReMix Album". OverClocked ReMix. Archived from the original on 12 September 2008. Retrieved 26 September 2008.
- "Hall of Fame | Classic FM". Halloffame.classicfm.com. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
- Hoggan, Stuart. "Damsels and Distress?". RPGamer.com Editorials. RPGamer. Archived from the original on 12 May 2008. Retrieved 8 December 2007.
- Wright, Rob (20 February 2007). "The 50 Greatest Female Characters in Video Game History". Tom's Games. Tom's Hardware. Archived from the original on 20 January 2008. Retrieved 26 February 2008.
- Gantayat, Anoop (22 November 2007). "Nomura Talks FFXIII". IGN. Archived from the original on 23 November 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
- Smith, Dave (25 March 2008). "Final Fantasy VII: Top 10 Characters". IGN. Archived from the original on 3 March 2013. Retrieved 15 May 2008.
- "Top 10 Babes who Are out of Your League". GameTrailers. Archived from the original on 14 July 2013. Retrieved 2 August 2011.
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 3 March 2016. Retrieved 5 July 2014.
- "Top 10 Tuesday: Best Videogame Romances". IGN. 14 February 2006. Archived from the original on 2011-06-29. Retrieved 18 July 2010.
- Lopez, Miguel; Phil Theobald (27 September 2004). "Case File 28: Is Square Enix milking the Final Fantasy VII franchise?". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 5 November 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
- GameSpy Staff (16 April 2007). "GameSpy's Top 25 Video Game Cinematic Moments". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
- Kuo, Li C. (25 June 2007). "Readers' Choice Top 10 Most Cinematic Moments in Gaming". GameSpy. Archived from the original on 15 October 2007. Retrieved 16 October 2007.
- The Gamepros (17 August 2006). "Feature: The 55 Greatest Moments in Gaming (page 9 of 9)". GamePro. Archived from the original on 13 September 2008. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
- "Final Frontiers". Edge (177). Future plc. July 2007. pp. 72–79.
- "10 the 10 Most Important Games". Find Articles. Electronic Gaming Monthly. January 2005. Archived from the original on 27 October 2015. Retrieved 9 October 2007.
- "ScrewAttack Top 10 OMGWTF Moments". GameTrailers. 11 July 2008. Archived from the original on 29 July 2008. Retrieved 30 July 2008.
- "#1 – Aerith's Death". Top 100 Video Game Moments. IGN. December 2011. Archived from the original on 8 January 2012. Retrieved 12 January 2012.
- "The 10 most emotional PlayStation moments - Page 5 of 10 | Uncategorized". Official PlayStation Magazine. 12 June 2012. Archived from the original on 2 November 2013. Retrieved 31 October 2013.
- "Summer 2002: "The Great GameFAQs Character Battle"". GameFAQs. 2002. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
- "Summer 2003: The Great GameFAQs Character Battle II". GameFAQs. 2003. Archived from the original on 26 October 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
- "Fall 2006: The Great GameFAQs Character Battle V". GameFAQs. 2006. Archived from the original on 18 October 2007. Retrieved 22 October 2007.
- Glifford, Kevin (10 February 2010). "Snake Beats Mario, Is Coolest Video Game Character Ever". 1UP.com. Archived from the original on 8 September 2010. Retrieved 10 March 2010.
- "Square Enix Poll: Favorite Female Final Fantasy Character". Anime News Network. 17 January 2013. Archived from the original on 21 January 2013. Retrieved 23 March 2013.
- "Aeris Gainsborough — The 20 Greatest Final Fantasy Characters of All Time". Complex. 8 October 2013. Archived from the original on 12 October 2013. Retrieved 22 November 2013.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Aerith Gainsborough.|
- Aerith Gainsborough at the Final Fantasy Wiki