Cloud Strife Analysis

Happy birthday, Cloud!

To celebrate his existence, I figured I’d do my thing and analyze his personality.

Of course, please be aware…
Spoilers Ahead

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A lot of strange wibbly wobbly science/magic things happen to Cloud at the end of Crisis Core and through FFVII, so the best place to begin is naturally the start.

Nibelheim
His friendship with Tifa sheds a lot of light onto who Cloud was growing up and how he differs from the larger personalities found in the FFVII cast.

His father died when he was young and aside from Tifa, he didn’t have any friends. In a discussion Cloud has with her about his childhood, he said, “Later, I began to think I was different… That I was different from those immature kids [her friends]”.

There is a crossroads here for his thoughts behind this sentence – either he really believed them to be immature or he rationalized that he was better than them to cope with his difficulty making friends.

Based on the loss of his father at a young age and his continuing desire to be better throughout the series, I’m inclined to believe it was a rationalization to help himself adjust to his struggles in making friends.

The issue with that being that instead of trying to make friends in his own way, as he did with Tifa, he convinced himself he didn’t need them – that he was better than the rest. This further increased the divide between him and other people, and his ability to socialize and connect to other people took a fairly serious hit.

But it also put greater value in the friendships he did have. So when Tifa’s mother died and she tried to see her by crossing Mt. Nibel, Cloud followed her to keep an eye on her.

This was another formative moment for him because when she misstepped and he tried to catch her, they both fell. He was unharmed and she was in critical condition.

The village believed it was Cloud’s idea to go up the mountain and as a result, her father wouldn’t even let Cloud go near her. The only friend he had.

He tried to be the hero and do the better thing, and it all fell apart. For someone who suffered loss at a young age and coped by thinking he was better than others his age, this was even more devastating.

The harsh realization that he wasn’t as good as he thought (with such severe consequences) combined with the rejection from everyone in the village was sure to wreak havoc on 10-year-old Cloud’s psyche. And so he developed a temper problem and began picking fights with little to no provocation.

SOLDIER
Four years later, word of Sephiroth’s reputation reaches Nibelheim and 14-year-old Cloud, who is still in the throes of self-blame and puberty.

Hearing about such a legend re-inspired Cloud to become the superior person he used to think he was, in my opinion, and with so few personal ties to Nibelheim – of course he left for glory in SOLDIER.

To reinforce that theory, Cloud arranged to meet Tifa at the village’s water tower to say he was leaving and promised to save her if she ever found herself in trouble.

It’s strong evidence that he still blamed himself for her injury and that drove his need to be better – so he’d never fail someone he cared about like that again.

Taking a step back and viewing this as a writer, that’s what I love most about Cloud. He’s relatable. Zack is insanely charming, Angeal is dad-wise, Genesis is extra fab, and Sephiroth is actually superhumanly powerful. Cloud is there to aspire to greatness as a Shinra Infantryman.

His honest ambition to improve humanizes the story and makes it more accessible than having the top tier people of Midgar alone.

Return to Nibelheim
After befriending Zack, Cloud sees him about once a year for missions – one of which was when he was 16 and involved an investigation of a reactor on Mt. Nibel.

Cloud still feels ashamed of not being SOLDIER, not being better, and he hides his identity from everyone but his mother… But the most important aspect of this mission is his confrontations with an unstable Sephiroth.

The first time, he’s knocked out by Genesis and becomes angry that he failed again. Everything he wants to be is escaping him, and since he holds himself to such a high standard, he’s bound to frustrate himself.

Cloud is steeped in that bitter anger when Sephiroth burns down his home town, killing his mother, and Cloud finds him with a heavily injured Tifa and barely conscious Zack…

It’s the worst moment of his life that he can’t forgive himself for, only worse, and this is a chance to finally do it right, be the hero he wants to be.

He ambushed Sephiroth, stabbing him with the Buster Sword, and going back for his two friends. This is a proud moment for him, what he’s aspired to be was finally within his grasp. His friends were in danger and he saved them from Sephiroth. The Sephiroth.

So when Sephiroth returns and lifts Cloud up on his sword, ready to kill him, this stepped on years of rage at failure, inadequacy, and a powerful need to protect the ones he cares about.

That’s where the strength came from for Cloud to use the katana as leverage to throw Sephiroth into the Mako pit… Before falling unconscious, of course, because he’s got his limits.

After that point, he spends about a year as a Mako poisoned vegetable, so that’s the end of this analysis… Although I hope you enjoyed the read! Questions, comments, etc., go for it!

Braig from Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep

End of the Road, Buddy

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KINGDOM HEARTS 3 SPOILERS AHEAD


Braig knew Dilan’s haunts almost better than his own in the years they guarded that castle from– who even cared at that point? The black spaces in Braig’s memories were getting pretty damn big these days, and he had a bad feeling about what that meant.

Exit Braig, enter Luxu, and who would ever believe him if he tried to warn them? As if he’d be that lucky.

“Dilan,” he called out to his old friend while Dilan stepped through the castle gates towards the city itself. They had shifts and time off, but it meant nothing to that overachiever. Braig knew he was out on one of his self-determined patrols that no one assigned or needed. Show off. Braig smirked, making his offer. “Looking for a little company?”

Even at a distance, it was clear how much of a difference there was between the two of ’em. They ate the same stuff at the orphanage and the barracks, but you wouldn’t know it. Looked like they fed the weak ones to Dilan.

He glanced to Braig, not exactly smiling so much as accepting his presence, but that was Dilan for ya. “Not quite, but I’ll make an exception.”

“Oh, I’m moved by your generosity,” Braig teased, hopping down from his perch on one of the taller stone walls by the castle. One of his haunts, as it turned out. He fell in beside Dilan, just another day on one of the patrols they didn’t have to do.

Usually, Braig did just about all the talking, but he wasn’t up to it. You’d think with his presence in his own body being a limited-time offer, he’d be all over that shit, but nah. Apparently not. For a good stretch, it was only them walking side by side in silence with the stupidly picturesque sunset that Radiant Garden always delivered.

“What’s wrong?” Dilan broke the silence and Braig looked his way, getting a one-sided skeptically raised eyebrow that wasn’t doing anything to cover the concern written on his face. If these cobbled streets were anything but perfectly level and empty, they’d both fall flat on their faces since they couldn’t be bothered to watch where they were going.

“Huh?” Braig paired that up with his best ‘what’s wrong with you’ look. He could probably blow this off and make Dilan drop it that way, and that was definitely the plan here. The one plan.

“We passed at least three things you could make fun of, and you said nothing.” Well, that plan flopped. Dilan had his smug, shit-eating grin on that Braig could sense in the air if he had to. Braig rolled his eyes at him, but that didn’t stop his friend for a second. “Must be serious.”

“Nah, it’s nothing.” He brushed it off with a vague sweeping gesture. Just Braig’s soul in the balance and he was losing “Just thinking.”

“That’s new.” There it was again, that attitude and arrogant smile. What the hell had gotten into Dilan anyway? Seemed like he was determined to take up the mantle if Braig was gonna slack off. Hell, who was he kidding? He brought out the worst in Dilan and they both loved it.

“Go fuck yourself,” Braig snapped back, laughing. They were quiet again and this time, Dilan just waited. He kept up the patrol gig as usual, violet eyes scanning the safe streets for any danger. Maybe a stray leaf or pebble that erred onto the path, who knew? He busied himself while he waited for Braig to come around, and that bastard was always this patient. Had to be to deal with Braig. He sighed, shrugging, and finally answered. Sort of. “Just feeling lucky. Not like that, you pervert.”

Dilan chuckled, and that was enough of a reply for Braig, at least.

“We came into this world with nothing, and I’m a huge asshole.” That was more of an observation than anything, setting the scene for what he was working up to. It wasn’t much of a goodbye, but it was better than nothing. “You didn’t have to stick with me, dragging me along in a lotta cases. But you did, and I’d probably still have jack shit if not for you.”

That was their first awkward silence in years. Dilan wasn’t a man of a many words, but he sure as shit didn’t hold back. Braig shoved both hands in his pockets and kept a vigilant eye on the other side of the street in a last ditch effort to pretend none of that just happened.

“Are you drunk?” Dilan wasn’t even kidding that time, he really just thought⁠— well, of course he did, Braig was a lovey, two-faced drunk that would hug someone to pick their damn pocket.

“No! You know what, I’m taking it back.” Braig shook his head, kicking himself for even trying this dumb ‘goodbye forever, nice knowing you’ thing. No one was even gonna notice he was gone.

Dilan dropped it there, noticeably less attentive to his route than normal. They were halfway back to the castle now anyway, so Braig just stuck with him. It’d be exactly the same distance no matter what. He wasn’t counting how long it was before Dilan spoke up, but it was a hell of a relief when he broke the silence again. “Thanks.”

“Don’t get used to it.” Braig answered flatly, the closest either of them would get to something heartfelt. Probably for the best. Never could trust your heart. It’d steer you wrong every time.