Final Fantasy VII Remake drops plenty of clues that this modern retelling of the 1997 classic takes a lot of liberties with the original story, and between hints from within the game and a series of interviews featured in the Ultimania companion databook, it seems totally possible that an obscure canonical novel about Aerith could be the unifying thread that makes FF7 Remake the most mind-bending crossover ever.
Move over Avengers: Endgame, because this JRPG saga might be the new epic crossover to look out for.
Spoilers ahead for FF7 Remake and the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII.
Unlike Aerith from the original Final Fantasy VII, her character in FF7 Remake seems almost omniscient, having pre-knowledge of future events and even more magical power than her PS1 counterpart. She has displayed far more precise control over the Lifestream in this adventure, which could become crucial to the resolution of the Remake series, whether or not she still dies at the hands of Sephiroth.
Is it possible that FF7 Remake Aerith is the original Aerith reborn into this new timeline? And that's why the Whispers appeared? Or at the very least, is Remake Aerith communicating with her alt-reality self that's now one with the Lifestream? No matter what the explanation here, it seems clear that Aerith will be crucial in uniting characters from across the FF7 Compilation for the final epic battle against Sephiroth. Here's why.
Aerith in the original FF7 – In the original FF7, Aerith seems mostly ignorant of her connection with the Ancients until shortly before her death. She doesn’t talk much about her powers in the Midgar section of the game. We learn only a little about her past and her mother Ifalna in later sections, but she becomes increasingly more distant and meditative in Disc 1 of the original game leading up to her death. Yet for most of FF7 Remake, she seems to commune directly with the Lifestream regularly.
Aerith in Hoshi o Meguru Otome light novel – In a light novel called Hoshi o Meguru Otome, it's confirmed that after Aerith dies in Final Fantasy VII, she maintains her existence within the Lifestream, continuing to interact with the main world. While there, she facilitates a team-up in the afterlife between other deceased characters like Jessie, Biggs, Wedge, Dyne, President Shinra, Professor Hojo, and Zack Fair all in the effort of stopping Meteor from destroying the world during the game’s final act.
Even in the context of the original game, we’re led to believe that she’s instrumental in mobilizing both Holy and the Lifestream to help stop Meteor, so this contextualizes how this happens a bit more. She also shows the ability to communicate with Cloud from the Lifestream in Advent Children, a further extension of this power she acquires by becoming one with the Lifestream.
However, she only gains these kinds of abilities after her death, so why does she seemingly already have several of these powers within FF7 Remake?
Aerith in FF7 Remake – Aerith can carry out full conversations by using the Lifestream in FF7 Remake. In an optional Chapter 14 cutscene, she speaks to Cloud in the flower garden by her mother’s home while still in captivity, via some kind of dreamlike astral projection. This seems remarkably similar to the power used to communicate posthumously in Hoshi o Meguru Otome and Advent Children.
The ability is further expanded upon later in FF7 Remake. There’s a moment at the very end of the game when Aerith seemingly notices the supposedly alive Zack as they pass each other. The Ultimania guide has basically confirmed that this is an alternate timeline Zack, inadvertently showing that Aerith’s connection to the Lifestream grants her a kind of omniscience that also allows her to peer into alternate timelines and through time itself.
What we learned in Ultimania – In addition to basically confirming that alternate timelines exist in Final Fantasy VII Remake, Ultimania also expands on Aerith’s altered character.
When asked about her seemingly prescient dialogue for an Ultimania interview, director Tetsuya Nomura says, “I wonder why [she knew the future] … Please wait until the next installment for that answer.” Many fans have taken her knowledge as a sign that her demise won’t happen this time around.
However, in the same book, producer Yoshinori Kitase said, "We’re not drastically changing the story and making it into something completely different than the original. Even though it’s a Remake, please assume the story of FF7 will continue as FF7 always has."
The original game's major beats will remain largely the same, so while Part 2 will explore how Aerith has knowledge of the future, the shape of the story will resemble the original. Therefore, there'll still be a dramatic confrontation against Sephiroth at the Temple of the Ancients, but will Aerith still be killed?
Assuming she does still die, that means she’ll be able to facilitate a team-up from within the Lifestream that includes more than just deceased characters. It’s going to take every Compilation of Final Fantasy VII main character to stop Sephiroth and Meteor. She’ll also remain a driving force and a character that you interact with well after her death.
FF7 Remake concludes the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII — Final Fantasy VII Remake is intended to function as the fifth game in the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII and as the Compilation's conclusion.
There are numerous connections to narratives from the Compilation. More characters from spin-off titles will probably be introduced as the Final Fantasy VII Remake series progresses to help flesh out the new depth of the Remake series. Everyone will seemingly have a role to play by uniting for the final battle against Sephiroth and Meteor. This would even celebrate the entire Compilation in a way that makes Remake far more than just a simple remake.
What it all means for FF7 Remake Part 2 – When it comes time for Aerith to die, this might be how Square Enix gets to have both ways? Aerith could still die in FF7 Remake Part 2, but by incorporating more elements of her time in the afterlife in subsequent entries, she'll still exist in an even more important way.
Other than being cool fanservice, this ties into director Tetsuya Nomura’s writing style: Kingdom Hearts III, which united every spin-off and interlude that released between the second and third entries, had a climactic team-up battle as well that incorporated characters that came back from the dead.
Every spin-off protagonist in the greater universe of Kingdom Hearts games teamed up with the main trio against a villainous team-up composed of the series’ antagonists. Team-ups are Nomura’s thing, and with him at the helm of the Final Fantasy VII Remake series, it makes sense that we're careening towards an Avengers: Endgame-scale team-up for the grand conclusion to the saga.