It’s Cloud Strife’s birthday. Well, to be more exact, it was August 11th. It could also be August 19, depending on who you ask. So we are right on time.
In case you didn’t know, Cloud Strife is the protagonist of the critically acclaimed film. Final Fantasy VII and its remake. He is known for his no-nonsense attitude, spiky blond hair, and the giant Buster Sword that he carries on his back. He’s also one of the first JRPG anti-heroes with an emotionally compelling story that still stands out to fans of the original game.
We don’t just forget about Cloud Strife, even if they have a hard time remembering his birthday. So why is he such an icon? Let’s get back to the facts.
Final Fantasy VII came out at a time when the average RPG protagonist was a friendly, energetic, selfless hero. Cloud was the opposite. You could say he was passionate in his own way. However, he wasn’t the kind of hero his counterpart, the more typical Zack Fair, was.
Cloud redefined the anti-hero trope as his own brand of “bad boy anime”. He was a troubled but warm young adult who had a hard time opening up to others and had a thing for the pretty ladies in his life. TV Tropes might call him a Jerk with a heart of gold or Troubled but Cute. This socially awkward but distant attitude has charmed players from Japan to the United States.
There’s also his character development showing Cloud growing throughout his journey. It’s a trend that repeats itself on social networks: people love the Cloud and his history. He is often seen as a “deconstruction” of the typical antihero, where he first seems like a familiar trope before the writing turns him into his own person with unique ideals and insecurities.
“At first you see him as this aloof guy who’s kind of a jerk, only to realize how horribly broken he is as the game progresses. Dealing with this pretty upsetting information and then coming out more strong on the other side, is a big part of why I love him so much,” wrote a Redditor. “Most of the other protagonists have a similar moment, but I don’t think any of their moments has as much impact as Cloud’s.”
Another Redditor agrees with the part that Cloud starts out as an “idealized generic golden-boy protagonist” before “the shit gets extremely real.” However, there is also a part of the story that portrays him as a real human and not just a soldier.
“You see Cloud had a lot in common with what a lot of people who played the game probably went through in their childhood/early teens. Difficulty making friends, talking to girls, feeling like he’s not the same, and being apart from most other people. Cloud is terribly human, more so than any other FF character before or since,” they wrote.
It’s not a happy accident either. Director Yoshinori Kitase said (via shmuplations) that Final Fantasy VII was supposed to be Cloud’s story.
“Our development concept for the story in FF6 was to have more than 10 main characters, each of which could be referred to as “the protagonist”. We challenged ourselves to create a world without someone you could point your finger at and say ‘that’s the main character,'” Kitase said in an interview about the original. Final Fantasy VII.
“This time with FF7we knew from the beginning that we wanted Cloud to be the main character, and we were going to tell his story.
Cloud’s birthday sometimes appears as August 19 in older Final Fantasy books. However, the most recent Ultimania book confirmed this on August 11. He was apparently born in 1986, so he would be 36 if he were a real person. These Final Fantasy the encyclopedias also confirm that Cloud is 21 and 5’7″ according to the original game. So he’s old enough to drink and a little king.
Well done, Cloud.
Final Fantasy VII Remake is available for PC, PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 5. The next Final Fantasy VII Revival is currently in development.