From the Lifestream, all things originate, and to it all things return. Meaning people are knitted together from spare fragments of spirit energy, go live in a crappy world, then when they die, their spirit and consciousness is completely dissolved bit by bit and the cycle starts again. Then there's the fact that even as a living being, contact with raw Lifestream results in mutations, insanity, and other unspeakable things.
Also, that lightbulb in your room? Powered by your dead grandfather's soul courtesy of the Shinra Electric Power Company.
Also, what happens to Grandpa's soul once it has been used to power that light bulb? Is it thoroughly spent? Is it trapped somewhere? Think about it. Or better yet, don't.
Not exactly Fridge, since there's a cutscene where Bugenhagen shows you a simulation/vision of all the Lifestream drained from the world, leaving it a lifeless rock...
I would disagree there, I think he's quite right about it being fridge- the point isn't about what happens when the whole Lifestream is gone, it's about what happens to the part that was your grandpa's soul. After all, the energy in a light bulb is released as light and heat, so those photons energised by ol' grandpa? Flying off into space, perhaps? Dissipated into the air across millions of square metres, never to rejoin the planet? Fridge indeed...
Grandpa's soul wouldn't have even reached the lightbulb. It would have already burned out in an atomic furnace to create normal electricity.
Natural materia is quite rare, and with good reason: it's formed from the condensation of Mako over the course of many many years. Materia can be manufactured too, though it's said that man-made materia is less powerful than natural. Materia allows you to focus and call upon the powers of the land, or so they say. No matter how you slice it though, materia is spirit energy balled up into a crystal and used to perform magic. If you've ever used materia, you're a necromancer.
Another spooky thing about Midgar: We all remember the scene when Shinra blows up the support beam holding up Sector 7, right? And how Tseng mentions how its self-destruct is set to go off if anyone messes with it too much... while this was undoubtedly to prevent anyone from messing with it once they'd set it to get ready to blow, this opens a whole other can of worms. Think about it: A team of 8 people could get to each tower's control unit, goof around mindlessly a few times, and completely wipe out the entire city.
What he's saying is that if the heroes mess with the self-destruct that he just activated it will go off. Not that if anyone just futzes around with the console on a normal day it'd go off. That'd just be stupid. He's describing the current, specific circumstances, not how it always works.
Hell, just to take that bit of FH one step further: Why the hell were the primary support beams designed to be able to self-destruct in the first place!? Thank goodness nobody in this world thinks like that when designing major cities... umm, they don't, right?
Worse still: A member of your party is Shinra's Head of Urban Development!
Even worst: when Shinra caused the plate to fall, they killed two towns' worth of people just to get at a group of six. This at first sounds like Shinra holding a Villain Ball, until you realize how Mako works; they were refueling.
All the talk of Cloud being a "puppet" by Sephiroth or Jenova, depending on your view seems just a kind of cheesy and stereotypical villain talk... Until you examine Cloud going catatonic. The moment he was made to abandon Zack's persona, he became like a lifeless, unresponsive doll. The puppet metaphor is literal, because before Tifa managed to help him piece back together what little of himself remained, without being controlled by someone else there was nothing inside Cloud. You were essentially playing as an empty, soulless shell for the entire game to that point.
Aerith works as a flower girl. Sweet and innocent, right? Until you find out that the term "flower girl" has been used as a euphemism for "prostitute" in certain cultures, including China. If you think about where she works, and wonder if her price of 1 gil a bloom is enough to make the rent, and think about how readily she agreed to date Cloud, and how comfortable she was pretending to work at the Honeybee Inn, and... well, it's WMG, but let's just say the poor girl might have had more than aphids to worry about...
If you talk to some of the men outside the Honeybee Inn after Cloud enjoyed the company of 20 burly men (or just had a freak out, depending on which room you went in), you find out that Aerith sold some flowers to them for 500 gil. Maybe not a prostitute, but definitely a tease.
One of the men also says that Aerith told him that she wouldn't go out with him for even 1000 gil! It's actually more Fridge Brilliance than Fridge Horror in that it's Aerith'slittle joke. Aerith presents herself as a "flower girl", and if men take that the wrong way, she charges them lots of gil to "buy her flowers." (Remember that when she was clearly literally selling flowers towards the start of the game, she only charged Cloud 1 gil.) So when it turns out that she really was just a flower girl and not THAT kind of flower girl, it's too late for the poor horny guys to get their money back!
Building off of that, in the film sequel Advent Children, the villains bring all the sick kids to the Forgotten City and have the kids drink from the water there. And then you remember that Aerith's body has been down there decomposing for the past 2 years. Ewww.
... Or rather, her body and soul became part of the Lifestream. That water's clean... Well, until Kadaj... does that weird black inky thing to it.
"Peeing in the water", as this troper's friend put it. Let that sink in...
Even more strange is the way Cloud is clearly standing in the water, but as soon as he lets go of her, she sinks at least a few meters to the bottom.
How did Lucrecia find out she couldn't die? She tried to kill herself.
There's the Hell House, an enemy that is powerful for its early appearance in the game in the Sector 6 slums. It looks like a fairly innocent house, but rams and guns down those who attempt to approach it. Do sufficient damage to it, and its innards pop out, which include a skull-like head and several arms. The horror becomes apparent when you remember that most people in the Midgar slums live in appalling squalor. Many live in shacks constructed of scrap metal and abandoned equipment. The Hell House seems to take advantage of this by luring its victims to what appears to be an actual, well-constructed and pleasant house.
There's the moment when, after you've been taken prisoner by Shinra, you wake up to find that all the guards have been brutally killed off and the door to your cell unlocked. One of the guards' corpses is just to the left of your cell. Sephiroth was right outside your door as you slept. He may very well have been the one to unlock your cell.
It is even more scary when you go back and look where Jenova was being held. When you examine it the game will show you a message saying that it was pried open from the inside. Along with many lines in the game and the battles when you encounter it is implied that you have been chasing after Jenova, taking the appearance of Sephiroth. It is said that she is a virus-like organism that infects others, and they have a degree of hive mind. Of course that all the sequels and retcons might have something to say about it, but it's still terrifying.
Materia is heralded by many as the knowledge of the Ancients, i.e. the Cetra, who are played up as peaceful nomads since the one we know is a kindhearted young woman. However, Aerith was not raised as a Cetra. She was taken as a baby by Hojo after he killed her father and took her and her mother for use in his experiments. After her mother escaped with her, she was witness to her mother dying of wounds and then taken in by Elmyra. She was raised by a bog-standard human without practically any Cetra cultural influence other than what she could piece together herself. The knowledge of the Ancients? Fire. Ice. Thunder.Poison. Curses. Army-smashing summoned monsters.World-ending spells that exist in opposition to each other. The Cetra were not a peaceful people. Granted, if the monsters infesting the wilderness in the modern day are any example, the Planet is a Death World par excellence, but if that's not the case (and it's hinted that Shin-Ra's practices are having a mutative effect upon the wildlife), who were the Cetra fighting? Each other? Jenova? Just how long did it take the Eldritch Abomination to nearly exterminate the Cetra tribes? Was there time for them to become Proud Warrior Race Guys, or were they already that way and overcome all the same?
Consider Final Fantasy 7 from Aerith's perspective. Her boyfriend disappears and is almost certainly dead. Years later, some random stranger cosplaying as him crashes through her ceiling. This guy has patterned his entire life on Zack and is obviously pretending to be him (to the point of impersonating a SOLDIER 1st Class.) Aerith would know immediately that he's a fake - she's been on the run from Shinra for a while, and it's not like there are that many SOLDIER 1st Class out there. So what's the logical conclusion from her perspective? She suspects Cloud has murdered her boyfriend and stolen his life. After all, from her perspective Cloud is a violent, mentally unbalanced terrorist wearing her boyfriend's worn, tattered clothes and constantly impersonating him (badly.) The logical assumption is that Cloud was connected to Zack's death. This is why she travels with him. If you do the Golden Saucer date with her, the reason she's there isn't because she feels anything for Cloud, it's because she's trying to (discretely) probe for information on Zack's death. But she can't be too obvious, because for all she knows Cloud is a serial killer, and if he catches on that she's connected to Zack, he'll kill her, too.
Rufus Shinra's Heel–Face Turn in the film was actually being foreshadowed during the game.
Despite his talk of ruling the world through fear, he expresses nothing but disgust towards the monsters his father had placed in charge of Shinra and likely would have replaced them once the crisis was over.
Also, he never commits any acts of mass murder to deal with his issues and only uses the big guns on very serious threats, like the Diamond Weapon. In contrast, several acts of outright murder happened under his father's orders.
However, the biggest clue can be easily missed: after Tifa wakes up from the incident at the Northern Crater, Rufus sentences her and Barrett to be publicly executed. So where is the foreshadowing? He apparently allowed the rest of the team to go despite their previous fights against Shinra. However, Barrett and Tifa are known to be AVALANCHE terrorists responsible for the deaths of hundreds of innocents from their bombings of the reactors. As criminals, they deserved a death sentence, so Rufus only punished the people who actually carried out the murders.
So when a Materia's level maxes out, the original Final Fantasy VII will spawn a new materia and tell you "X is born!" I thought that was a result of the "Blind Idiot" Translation... but think about it. Materia is make of Mako, and Mako is the LIFE of the Planet... so that means that whenever a materia spawns a new one, it is literally giving birth, amoeba style. Nice one, Square Enix.
But all Materia is crystallized life stream, so where does the energy for the new Materia come from? Think about it, as materia grows in AP it gains new abilities, explained as accessing the memories of the past, so the increased AP must mean more of the lifestream is somehow being 'stored' in the materia so that more memories are available, when it fills up the excess goes to birthing new materia. How do you gain AP, killing things, the stronger the thing the more AP. The best explination is that your capturing some of the Mako energy that was stored within the things you killed, the energy that would have otherwise returned to the lifestream, and that is the AP that fuels materia growth. Your materia just gained access to Fire 2 because you captured and harnessed (part) of the souls of every sentient being you fought!
Worse, if that's true that means that even without Mako reactors running or new Materia being created part of the lifestream is going to be siphoned off into materia any time anyone uses non-mastered materia. With how useful Materia is most people are going to keep using them. That means the world may still be doomed as the lifestream is slowly syphoned away, all the heros did is slow the eventual death of the world.
The eventual death of the world is already assumed. That's the whole point of the Omega WEAPON existing, to start new life elsewhere after the world has died of natural causes (as opposed to being choked to death as Jenova and Sephiroth wanted, or being drained to death as Shinra was doing).
When Cloud tells the story of the Nibelheim incident for the first time, there's a lot of little foreshadowing tidbits that you cannot but notice on during later playthroughs, namely:
Cloud's POV during the train scene is actually from Zack's right until Sephiroth starts talking about Nibelheim being "your hometown". Although the speech bubbles still come from "Cloud", the dialogue is from the real Cloud (the sick grunt).
In that same scene, Cloud starts doing squats when he gets excited. Which is a Zack mannerism that the real Cloud never displays IIRC.
Sephiroth tells Cloud he can go visit his family and friends right at the moment when a grunt enters from the left side of the truck. That grunt is actually the real Cloud, whom Sephiroth is actually addressing.
For someone who left only two years ago, everybody in Nibelheim sure takes a bit too long to recognize Cloud. Evidently, it's because of the helmet that is part of his grunt uniform.
Cloud's Mom asks Cloud if what he's wearing is a SOLDIER uniform, presumably with excitement, and Cloud replies "Mom, I...", presumably embarrassed at her delight. Actually, Cloud's Mom's question is probably her sensing that something went wrong because she sees it as a "low rank" uniform and Cloud's embarrassment is about his failure. That's why Cloud's memory has so many blanks in this part; a good deal of the conversation was probably about Cloud's failure. You probably thought sometime that Cloud seems weirdly uncomfortable being around the mother he should have been eager to see.
Additionally, Cloud has many other flashbacks of his mother telling him to just settle down and marry an older girl. These flashbacks have the same 'painful white' flash, meaning they're painful suppressed memories. Why would they be painful suppressed memories? His mother gave him that lecture after discovering he'd failed to join SOLDIER.
Either that, or his mother was never there to begin with. She's the only person in the current Nibelheim town who doesn't have an actress to take her place and can't be accounted for elsewhere in the world; plus, when Cloud finally gets back around to himself, he never even mentions her. But, we do know that Zack had loving parents in Gongaga. Cloud probably "remembered" going to visit his mother because going to his parents' house is what Zack would have done.
That makes no sense. Cloud talks about his mother being killed there.
He does, but there's no mention of when she died. Cloud's Mom only appears in that one scene, she's conspicuously absent from the rest of the game (especially the flashbacks to Cloud's childhood memories with Tifa; shouldn't a mother have something to say about a bunch of adults blaming her son for Tifa's injury?) and almost all of Cloud's memories that can't be verified through either Tifa or Zack are either fake or jumbled. He also doesn't spare her any thought once he's got himself together again, it's not likely that the "mom" in Nibelheim existed the way we see her.
We know exactly when she died. When the whole town is on fire, Cloud goes into his mother's house, then comes out in silent rage and grief. That makes it pretty clear. I'm sure she did have something to say about her kid being blamed, but what's she going to do? She doesn't control the town. And he doesn't say or think about her after he pulls himself together because, what would he say about her? She's still dead, and her death wasn't really a focal point for his memory break.
Additionally, while she looks nothing like cloud's mother, there IS a woman in her house when the party reaches Nibelheim in the present. I believe she even mentions Shin Ra by name towards the end of the game. So they found someone to "replace" her, easily. They probably didn't care too badly about how she looked, just that they knew a woman had lived there before. (Possibly since her only known living relative - Cloud - was likely presumed dead when they did the rebuild-and-hire.)
Tifa asks afterwards if she was very hurt when Cloud found her. Your first reaction would be to think she didn't remember the details of what happened. On the contrary, she is beginning to think that Cloud has assumed Zack's role in the story and is asking him something that only the person who attended her would know - just to affirm her suspicions that the real Cloud was the grunt she remembered being with them, and to see how much of the real Cloud is still there. Her constant interruptions when Cloud is visiting her house might have something of this as well.
Another possible interpretation is that she was, at the time, doubting her own memories and trying to make sense of what actually happened. Sure, Cloud clearly wasn't well when she found him, and she was sure he wasn't at Nibelheim... but she had been badly hurt, he knew things he shouldn't have unless he was there, and our minds do have a funny way of messing with our memories. IIRC it's not until they're in the Lifestream that she realizes Cloud was the grunt.
The ending, or rather the complete lack of one. Cloud cuts off once he and Sephiroth face down in the reactor and doesn't elaborate further. He doesn't believe for a second that he could have killed Sephiroth, but Cloud obviously didn't die either. All anyone knows at that point is that Shinra has officially stated that their best SOLDIER is dead. They're correct- Cloud did it.
The reactions of everybody after Cloud tells the story: Tifa asks for a small detail, as discussed above. Aeris dodges Cloud's personal issues and changes the subject directly towards Sephiroth and the Ancients. She probably suspected she was seeing Zack inside Cloud since some time and Tifa's small questions probably confirmed her doubts. Barrett says the story doesn't make sense. He's right. Red XIII says "What a fascinating story". Which doesn't imply he believes any of it.
Furthermore, the difference in power between Cloud and Sephiroth. Didn't Zack hold his own against Sephiroth before getting defeated? Surely a 1st class can't actually have been that (comparably) weak. A grunt, however...
As a good example of Gameplay and Story Integration, Flashback!Cloud has almost the exact same stats as the Shinra guards you first fight at the beginning of the game.
If you date Aerith at the Gold Saucer, she and Cloud have the following exchange (which, in hindsight, is a hint that she knows that Cloud has adopted Zack's personality and memories as his own):
Aerith: Cloud... I'm searching for you. Cloud: ............? Aerith: I want to meet you. Cloud: But I'm right here. Aerith: I know, I know... what I mean is... I want to meet... you.
When Shinra opts to drop the Sector 7 plate onto the slums, it seems like overkill to take out an Oddly Small Organization, and demonstrates just what a ruthless pack of immoral bastards most of the higher-ups are. And then we remember that it happened not long after Cloud presented himself to the president as an ex-SOLDIER. Crisis Core showed that SOLDIERs are so badass that they needed to send a small army in just to deal with one who had gone rogue. As far as Shinra is concerned, AVALANCHE had crossed the Godzilla Threshold by taking in a rogue SOLDIER.
If you look at Aerith's profile in FF7 website you will see that her blood-type is O. People from this blood group are known as "universal donors", meaning that they can donate blood to people from any blood group. It fits perfectly with Aerith always giving the best of herself for the good of the planet, especially with her death.
Cloud's blood-type is AB, making him a universal recipient. Many Japanese believe blood-type to be an indicator of personality. The table here describes the negative traits of Cloud's blood-type as Critical, indecisive, forgetful, irresponsible, "split personality". The other characters all have blood-type A, B, O, or "Unknown".
When Cloud asks Aerith what answers she's searching for by following Sephiroth, she's extremely evasive:
Aerith: I'll go too. There are things I want to find out. Cloud: About the Ancients? Aerith: ... Many things.
This is because she is trying to find out what happened to Zack — and she's evasive because, by this point, she's seen enough (especially if she noticed the Buster Sword) to suspect that Cloud is impersonating Zack.
Something that isn't really noticeable in-game, besides a skinny comment from Barret early on, but rather in character artwork; Cloud carries his famous Buster Sword and other large weapons with ease to the point of spinning them with one hand. But while he has some muscles, his build is far too lean for the average person to nonchalantly carry them. While being a SOLDIER, known for their superhuman capabilities, is generally the excuse, he's practically a young man of little note compared to the muscular, tall physique of Sephiroth, and even Zack has a more fitting build to a degree. It's possibly a subtle nod to the fact that the Mako as well as the Jenova cells really are what gives Cloud his physical strength - he wasn't actually physically trained like any SOLDIER proper, especially in comparison to Sephiroth or Zack, since he wasn't in SOLDIER to begin with.
Which doubles when it's shown as a grunt, he's more muscular because Shinra grunts are needed to be physically fit. SOLDIER's need to be fit, but you also need to be compatible with the Jenova genes.
Probably a minor thing, but there's a company called Barrett Firearms Manufacturing, founded in 1982, which supply many firearms, including machine guns. The name of the leader of AVALANCHE, that guy with the machine gun grafted onto his arm? Barrett.
Why is Cait Sith so emotional during his not so Heroic Sacrifice, and why does he refer to it as the "final farewell"? We all know that he's going to be safe, as he's really just Reeve, who will just send another Cait Sith to replace the old one, right? Consider the fact that he is a fortune teller, and consider the fact that Aeris will always be one of the party members that he says this "farewell" speech to, and consider the fact that he just read Aeris and Cloud's fortune. In other words, he now knows that Aeris is going to die soon, and that ultimately it will be for the good of The Planet, meaning it would do more harm to interfere with this. So he is forced to just let everything happen, and is emotional not just because of this, but because he knows he could never die for the good of others the way Aeris is destined to do so, regardless of whether it's an actual sacrifice or not (note Word of God says it isn't), but the closest he will ever get to it is by sacrificing an expendable toy.
In addition, his farewell speech could really be him saying goodbye to Aeris knowing that he will not have the chance to do so when the time comes.
In Advent Children Aerith's name is never said aloud, primarily for dramatic effect but also to avoid favoring either of her equally accepted names.
Looking back nearly twenty years later, the game's story is dominated by a fascinating and only slightly controversial dichotomy between the all-but-extinct nomadic race searching for a "Promised Land" and the jack-booted military-industrial complex with Germanic pagan theme naming (and a head honcho literally named Heidegger). The parallels go even further with the Lifestream, a fictionalized version of the godhead from Kabbalah. It's the focal point of Cetra spirituality, yet the Teutonic bad guys also used it to manufacture through unethical human experimentation a Dark Messiah who at first believes himself to be part of the Cetra and a guide to the Promised Land, yet later sees himself as a superior being with a right to rule the Planet because of his lineage, as he believes himself to be the son of an evil being from the sky whose name is one letter off from "Jehova". He kills the last of the Cetra, but she triumphs in death when her strong spirituality enables the true godhead to save the day from the callous materialism of the Teutonic military-industrial complex and its infectious false god. And of course, all the while the Asian counterpart culture is a tourist attraction dreaming of one day reclaiming their former glory.
Cloud being so powerful compared to everyone else in-game seems odd, but then you remember that even though he never officially became a SOLDIER, Cloud still had mako inside him, making him canonically stronger than his teammates. Also, after the Nibelheim incident Hojo experimented on both Cloud and Zack. We don't know what those experiments entailed, and they may have included additional augmentations beyond mako infusions and Jenova cells.
This might just be Faux Symbolism, but Cloud's sword is outright stated to be larger than he is. Perhaps it's a metaphor for the fact that he took up the tough persona of a SOLDIER, but he couldn't live up to it. He's trying to bite off more than he can chew.
The identity of the spy was in fact hinted at from the moment they joined. After all, what materia does Cait Sith join with? Manipulate.