Tifa and Aerith are the Real Power Couple in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

Just gals being pals.

artwork of Aerith in Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth
Square Enix/Inverse
Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth

Despite being filled with planet-shaking stakes and a battle for the fate of the world, one of the most memorable parts of the original Final Fantasy 7 is a date at an amusement park. At Gold Saucer, Cloud spends a romantic evening with whichever party member he has the best relationship with according to an invisible in-game meter, leading to debate over which Tifa or Aerith is the canon romance. But after playing Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth, I can’t help but feel like we’ve been overlooking the real love story unfolding before our eyes all along.

Forget Cloud — Tifa and Aerith are Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s true power couple.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s cutest couple was in front of us all along.

Square Enix

To be fair, the idea of Final Fantasy 7’s premier gal pals actually dating far precedes Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth. Fans have been imagining a relationship for them that goes beyond “just friends” for ages. Just search for the phrase “Aerti” to see some of the places players have taken that idea before — just give your safe search options a once-over first to make sure you’re not seeing more than you want to.

But for the most part, Aerti was just in fans’ minds. There’s not much evidence for a romance between the two in Final Fantasy 7, largely because the game is so focused on Cloud’s character. That started to change with Final Fantasy 7 Remake, though. Every party member got more characterization in the remake, and fans with an eye for yuri noticed a special something going on between Tifa and Aerith.

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth’s focus on character development means Tifa and Aerith get a lot more time alone where their relationship can blossom. Mostly, that means a lot of knowing glances, high-fives, and words of support. In one notable scene, present in the game’s Nibelheim demo, Aerith comes to Tifa’s defense if Cloud reveals that he went through her dresser. It’s a quick throwaway joke, but it does establish that Tifa and Aerith have each other’s backs and that their feelings for each other go beyond just teaming up for the good of the mission.

Aerith and Tifa both hint at their feelings for Cloud, but their relationship is much deeper.

Square Enix

For the early game, that’s the extent of Aerith and Tifa’s relationship. They share private jokes, spend as much time as possible on their own, and have a clear spark whenever they’re together. If you see that as just an uncomplicated friendship, that’s totally fair. It’s good to see a positive female friendship on screen, where neither one is defined by their relationships to men and there’s not a hint of jealousy about their assumed mutual crush, Cloud.

But in Costa del Sol, things start looking a lot different. Upon arriving at their vacation destination, Cloud and Barret head to the beach first while Aerith and Tifa hang back to shower and get ready. Control switches to Cloud and Barret as they play games on the boardwalk to earn swimsuits for the beach, which is apparently how Costa del Sol’s inscrutable economy works. Once they’re done, it’s Tifa and Aerith’s turn. As they leave their luxurious seaside cabin to take in the sights of Costa del Sol, an onscreen pop-up tells players that they can switch control between the two “at any time during their date.”

Now, I know the word date can have multiple meanings, not all of which are romantic, but ut when it comes up in a quest called “Girls del Amor,” during an event where the people of Costa del Sol are for some reason obsessed with sorting visitors into couples, it’s hard to read any of those “just friends” meanings into it.

Sometimes a date is just a date.

Square Enix

Tifa and Aerith’s date proceeds much the same way as Cloud and Barret’s outing (which was not called a date, surely to the chagrin of a whole other group of Final Fantasy 7 fans). The pair play a bunch of games to earn cute outfits, being treated like a couple by the games’ proprietors the whole time. Shortly after the girls’ date, I played a sidequest where Cloud and Aerith also go on a date. Compared to the fun time that Aerith had with Tifa, Cloud is sulky the whole time, only going along with the farce because he’s getting paid to (again, Costa del Sol’s economy is wild). Looking at these two dates back to back, it’s hard not to see that Tifa and Aerith have a connection that Cloud doesn’t have with either of them.

After Costa del Sol, Tifa and Aerith’s relationship just feels different. When the group arrives at the Gold Saucer, Tifa grabs Aerith’s hand so they can rush to the front of the crowd. Every time the two are separated — which happens quite a lot as Rebirth often chooses your party members for you — Tifa and Aerith immediately run to each other’s side the moment they regroup. And every time Cloud is a little jerk to either of them, the other is there to offer comfort.

I’m well aware that I’m partially just seeing what I want to see. As much as I wish there were, there’s no moment in Rebirth that makes Tifa and Aerith’s relationship canon. But it doesn’t make a relationship between either one and Cloud explicit either. Rebirth carries a lot of baggage from the original Final Fantasy 7, so it makes sense to see a romance with Cloud as inevitable. But if that seems only natural and the idea that Tifa and Aerith could be in love seems impossible, it’s worth considering why a queer relationship needs so much more evidence to seem real than a straight one.

Just go to the Skywheel together already.

Square Enix

Final Fantasy 7 Rebirth isn’t totally devoid of queer romance either, at least in the margins. As TheGamer points out, gay couples among the game’s NPCs are quite common, with some getting their own mini-storylines through incidental dialogue. Roche, an antagonist from Remake, returns mostly just to tell Cloud he’s in love with him in Rebirth, which he expresses through an irrepressible desire to duel his rival/crush. Love is weird.

Unfortunately, Tifa and Aerith don’t get their own Gold Saucer date, and queer interpretations of their relationship will inevitably be consigned to the realm of fan fiction. The pair’s portrayal goes so far into implicit romance that it could even be considered queerbaiting, but I see it in a more positive light. Aerith and Tifa have more chemistry than maybe any video game couple I’ve ever seen. Their love for each other is so clear that it doesn’t need to be stated to be real. Besides, if two friends being in love but never quite being able to say it isn’t the quintessential lesbian experience, then I don’t know what is.

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