Friday, December 4, 2015

Comparing Terra Branford and Aerith Gainsborough

A lot of time is spent online comparing the villains of Final Fantasy VI (III in it's original American SNES release) and Final Fantasy VII, including on this blog.  But I feel today like pointing out some narrative similarities between two important Heroines of those games.

Both women are essentially named Earth, Terra is Earth in Latin, and Aerith is well known to be a variation on the English "Earth".  (Yes I know Terra is Tina in Japan where this wouldn't work, but I still don't think it's a coincidence).

Both are half Human and half magical species.  Terra is Human by her mother while Aerith is by her father as I've discussed elsewhere.  The Cetra and Espers are very different from each other, but both are magical races vital to the lore of their respective games, and in both the parent of the Heroine in question was the last of their respective magical race.

Both essentially are the real deal of what the mentally unstable Villain of the Game thinks they are and/or wants to be.

Because of that the villain is argued to be their Evil Counterpart.  That argument is more valid I think for Aerith and Spehiroth, they summon the opposing plot relevant spells.

But in VI however if any of our Heroes can be viewed as the Good Counterpart to Kefka it would be Celes Chere, who has her magical powers because of the same unnatural Magitek experiments.  But I do find it amusing how if you gave Kefka Terra's hair the ability to distinguish him from The Joker would be gone.

This is a comparison really of their archetypal plot relevance, their personalities are very different.  Aerith was NOT the Ingenue she gets flanderized as.  Terra is different from both versions of Aerith in being more introverted, and not part of a Romantic plot-line which is pretty rare for a female character even now much less in the 90s.  I think it could be valid to interpret Terra as Asexual.

Terra is ultimately considered the main lead character of Final Fantasy VI.  The creative team insists it was supposed to have no main lead but be a true ensemble. However Terra is who we start with, Terra is on the Box art (in Japan).  Yes later in the game we're often without Terra, but a similar thing happened with Cloud in VII.

Aerith was easily among the three most important of Cloud's companions throughout Disc 1, but then she is killed off.  By the end however her Death to me becomes more then a Fridging because she becomes the Messianic Archetype of the story.  Terra also in a different way develops a bit of a Messianic quality.

I like both characters, but it's Terra who is one of my favorite video game characters ever.  I really wish her rather then Cloud had been the first Final Fantasy character to get into Super Smash Bros,  Her game was originally on a Classic Nintendo Console unlike Cloud's.  And is often considered the best RPG for the SNES.  And I think SSB needs more Women far more then it needs more sword fighters.

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