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View Full Version : Let's Talk About Why Cloud Is The Best Main Character



Forsaken Lover
05-29-2017, 06:42 PM
In terms of the FFVII Compilation or the whole FF franchise, Cloud stands out. We get to look into and explore his psychology in a way we have never done with anyone else. This is masterfully done by giving us an incomplete Cloud for all of Disk 1. We know something is wrong with him but we don't know what. The Cloud we see isn't a total fake but he's not the genuine article either. It sets up a mystery that we long to know the answer to. Just what is Cloud's deal?

We get our answer next disk. Cloud, in an unprecedented fashion throughout the series, gets mentally and emotionally torn down. We see the mask covering his being is ripped away and he's reduced to a pitiful shell, begging Hojo for a number because even being an object of some note is preferable to being nothing at all. Cloud is, quite frankly, destroyed and if the thing he became after Sephiroth's mind games was bad enough, finding him in Mideal is even worse. One of the most memorable moments in any FF game ever is seeing our proud hero as a drooling vegetable, struggling to even raise his head or breath. That cocky ex-SOLDIER who we were first introduced to is now utterly helpless.

But as cruel as it was, it was necessary. With all the lies and illusions dispelled, we could finally meet the 100% real Cloud. Who was he? Just a guy like you or me. Not an elite supersoldier badass. He was just a little dork who wanted to belong, who wanted the cute neighbor girl to notice him. She always did like him of course but we al know how that is. Two shy people just keep glancing passed each other because neither can admit their feelings and they're scared of rejection. It's a sad irony of life that the other person might have loved you all along but you were so afraid they didn't that you never could muster up the nerve to find out one way or another.

But even if he hadn't become the hero he wanted to be, Cloud was still awesome. He still defeated the greatest supersoldier ever. He still went on to lead AVALANCHE because he wanted to save the world. No longer consumed by vengeance, he merely wished to protect the innocent and those precious to him.

Cloud grows so much more than any other main character in the series, even Ashe. No one else has been built, destroyed and then rebuilt. It was masterfully done and subverted so many expectations.

Wolf Kanno
05-29-2017, 07:13 PM
As I've said before, I appreciate the idea concerning Cloud, but less than pleased with the final result. Real Cloud is a drag to be around and I became less invested in the world and story by this point cause he's kind of whiny and the plot decided to stop caring about making sense by that point, but insisted on going on for another ten hours. So for me it's a bad combo that forever kind of tarnished whatever good the game was trying to do with him. None of this is helped by the fact that Cloud's story overall just doesn't really apply to me, which is why I resonate more with Squall (learning to reach out to other people), Cecil (learning to overcome a jerk past), and Lady Ashe (choosing duty over personal gratification) over a guy who wanted to be someone, kind of got what he wanted in the worst way possible, and then kind of doubts his accomplishments forever after because he never really learned to overcome his insecurity.

I'm sure most people will disagree with me of course. Frankly, I feel Ashley Riot pulled the whole "I'm not who I think I am due to manipulated amnesia" better, but that's largely due to the fact his past is left completely ambiguous by the end.

KleinerKiller
05-29-2017, 07:41 PM
While I don't think he's the absolute best, he's one of my favorites and he definitely gets too much of a bad rap for being "whiny" or "emo". Maybe it's just my affinity for protagonists who're completely falling apart throughout the story and end up having their whole worldview destroyed, but I've always found his story to stand the test of time despite other FF main characters being perhaps more outwardly complex and nuanced.

Jinx
05-29-2017, 07:56 PM
he's not

/thread

Formalhaut
05-29-2017, 08:52 PM
He's not the best main character, but he's pretty decent?

I agree with KK that there is something compelling about watching your main character breakdown mentally and emotionally over the course of a disk. The problem I have with Cloud is when he's still in his shell, he comes across as largely arrogant and vaguely unpleasant at first. Then when he begins to have doubts about his sense of self he can come across as somewhat 'whiny', though I'm not sure how much of this is the writing without a voice intonating the intent.

I feel as if my mood on Cloud fluctuates though. Some days I go "eh, he's alright" and other days I find the concept of his character compelling. Like Kanno said the execution is not perfect, but I think what is there is decent material. I'd be interested to see what happens in the remake version.

krissy
05-29-2017, 10:31 PM
cloud's a great example of development along a storyline

but also they put someone else in for all the extended universe stuff and i dunno wtf they did with original cloud

FFNut
05-29-2017, 10:45 PM
As far as FF playable characters are concerned he is miles behind Setzer from VI. As far as mains are concerned however he does stand out more then others but I wouldn't call him the best.

Example
05-30-2017, 12:54 PM
I like Cloud (at least until Nomura flanderized the hell out of his character in Advent Children and Kingdom Hearts) but I think Tidus is the best main character mostly because he actually feels like a real human being. He has a broad range of emotions and character flaws which make him easier to relate to than any other Square protagonist, plus has his fair share of character development.


As I've said before, I appreciate the idea concerning Cloud, but less than pleased with the final result. Real Cloud is a drag to be around and I became less invested in the world and story by this point cause he's kind of whiny and the plot decided to stop caring about making sense by that point, but insisted on going on for another ten hours. So for me it's a bad combo that forever kind of tarnished whatever good the game was trying to do with him. None of this is helped by the fact that Cloud's story overall just doesn't really apply to me, which is why I resonate more with Squall (learning to reach out to other people), Cecil (learning to overcome a jerk past), and Lady Ashe (choosing duty over personal gratification) over a guy who wanted to be someone, kind of got what he wanted in the worst way possible, and then kind of doubts his accomplishments forever after because he never really learned to overcome his insecurity.

I'm sure most people will disagree with me of course. Frankly, I feel Ashley Riot pulled the whole "I'm not who I think I am due to manipulated amnesia" better, but that's largely due to the fact his past is left completely ambiguous by the end.

For the first half of the game Squall does nothing but wallow in self pity over being an orphan. That might (keyword here) have been understandable if not for everyone else in the game also going through the exact same experience, yet they managed to get over it and move on with their lives while he for some reason couldn't. Why should I feel sorry for him again? Aside from not knowing his parents there was literally nothing else wrong with his life. He was the best at what he did and surrounded by people who genuinely cared about him, yet he constantly pushed them away because he was a afraid of losing them and having his feelings hurt. And no I didn't just exaggerate, that's literally his rationale. This made it impossible for me to resonate with him on any level.

I see lots of people hang shit on Cloud for being "emo" yet give Squall a free pass for being just as bad if not worse, I just don't get it.

Psychotic
05-30-2017, 01:03 PM
I've said this a dozen times already, but I love Cloud because he tries so hard to play the unwilling straight foil to VII's world of wackiness and comedy. But then when a ridiculous situation that is beyond comprehension arises, like they need someone to cross dress, or to ride a dolphin, or to enter a giant bird race, he's always the first to volunteer and gets stuck in wholeheartedly. Like, "Dress up as a woman? What. That's stupid. ...but I mean if I'm gonna do this thing, I've got to do it right. Now, where can I find some sexy panties to wear to really sell this thing...?"

maybee
05-30-2017, 03:43 PM
Reasons why Cloud is not the best-



:zidane:

Psychotic
05-30-2017, 03:56 PM
The thing about Zidane is that you could see him putting on bikini briefs or riding a dolphin for the simple hedonistic reasons that he'd enjoy it and it'd be a fun time for him. The man is openly a deviant. Cloud doesn't want to do it, he grudgingly does what he needs to in order to help his friends. However, in doing so he ends up discovering something about himself along the way.

Wolf Kanno
05-30-2017, 08:01 PM
For the first half of the game Squall does nothing but wallow in self pity over being an orphan. That might (keyword here) have been understandable if not for everyone else in the game also going through the exact same experience, yet they managed to get over it and move on with their lives while he for some reason couldn't. Why should I feel sorry for him again? Aside from not knowing his parents there was literally nothing else wrong with his life. He was the best at what he did and surrounded by people who genuinely cared about him, yet he constantly pushed them away because he was a afraid of losing them and having his feelings hurt. And no I didn't just exaggerate, that's literally his rationale. This made it impossible for me to resonate with him on any level.

I see lots of people hang trout on Cloud for being "emo" yet give Squall a free pass for being just as bad if not worse, I just don't get it.

I wouldn't say he wallowed, I mean you don't even realize he's an orphan until the second disc, instead he's just a highly competent loner that everyone wants to best buddies with. I also find it less whiny and more of him just observing how silly it for people to assume attachment with no basis for anything to go on. He's this really uptight and stiff professional stuck baby sitting highly competent but ultimately juvenile characters acting their age. He's trying to be an adult despite being a kid himself. The other thing I would point out is that Squall was pretty much a loner even as a child, with Ellone being his only emotional connection and she was taken from him. The rest of the cast was adopted except for Squall and Seifer, but Seifer isn't so bottled up emotionally that he can at least make friends even if his childhood woes manifested in other deviant behavior; so being the orphan who wasn't good enough to have parents generally does a number on people and it simply solidified his antisocial behavior even further. So even if you dislike his personality, it's actually justified in game. So yeah, shy kid loses his parents and his only emotional connection and basically shuts down socially to protect himself and carries it into adulthood, then he's forced to confront his emotional baggage cause jokes on him, you need some level of social skills to make it in society. This isn't to say he doesn't whine and have some cringy moments here and there, but you also have to remember that Squall is not emotionally stable and thus his extreme moments of showing his feelings are going to look completely awkward to a normal person because he's wrestling with something he doesn't know how to deal with, whereas more well adjusted people learned to deal with this crap in elementary school.

I can totally relate to all of this because in high school, I was pretty much the same way where I brushed people off cause I didn't want to be connected to them (I still tend to be arms length), I did act older than I really was, I would still say that I have the EQ of a child and I am more logic based in my assessment of the world around me. So having a hero who is emotionally stunted like myself was rather gratifying and it opened up the idea that maybe if he can do it, so can I. So yeah, he totally resonated with me more than a guy who simply wanted to be someone besides himself due to his insecurity. I never had that issue growing up, but I won't be bothered if that's why people like him. So Squall for me was something personal, Cloud was just a character in a poorly written story.

Example
05-31-2017, 04:04 AM
For the first half of the game Squall does nothing but wallow in self pity over being an orphan. That might (keyword here) have been understandable if not for everyone else in the game also going through the exact same experience, yet they managed to get over it and move on with their lives while he for some reason couldn't. Why should I feel sorry for him again? Aside from not knowing his parents there was literally nothing else wrong with his life. He was the best at what he did and surrounded by people who genuinely cared about him, yet he constantly pushed them away because he was a afraid of losing them and having his feelings hurt. And no I didn't just exaggerate, that's literally his rationale. This made it impossible for me to resonate with him on any level.

I see lots of people hang trout on Cloud for being "emo" yet give Squall a free pass for being just as bad if not worse, I just don't get it.

I wouldn't say he wallowed, I mean you don't even realize he's an orphan until the second disc, instead he's just a highly competent loner that everyone wants to best buddies with. I also find it less whiny and more of him just observing how silly it for people to assume attachment with no basis for anything to go on. He's this really uptight and stiff professional stuck baby sitting highly competent but ultimately juvenile characters acting their age. He's trying to be an adult despite being a kid himself. The other thing I would point out is that Squall was pretty much a loner even as a child, with Ellone being his only emotional connection and she was taken from him. The rest of the cast was adopted except for Squall and Seifer, but Seifer isn't so bottled up emotionally that he can at least make friends even if his childhood woes manifested in other deviant behavior; so being the orphan who wasn't good enough to have parents generally does a number on people and it simply solidified his antisocial behavior even further. So even if you dislike his personality, it's actually justified in game. So yeah, shy kid loses his parents and his only emotional connection and basically shuts down socially to protect himself and carries it into adulthood, then he's forced to confront his emotional baggage cause jokes on him, you need some level of social skills to make it in society. This isn't to say he doesn't whine and have some cringy moments here and there, but you also have to remember that Squall is not emotionally stable and thus his extreme moments of showing his feelings are going to look completely awkward to a normal person because he's wrestling with something he doesn't know how to deal with, whereas more well adjusted people learned to deal with this crap in elementary school.

I can totally relate to all of this because in high school, I was pretty much the same way where I brushed people off cause I didn't want to be connected to them (I still tend to be arms length), I did act older than I really was, I would still say that I have the EQ of a child and I am more logic based in my assessment of the world around me. So having a hero who is emotionally stunted like myself was rather gratifying and it opened up the idea that maybe if he can do it, so can I. So yeah, he totally resonated with me more than a guy who simply wanted to be someone besides himself due to his insecurity. I never had that issue growing up, but I won't be bothered if that's why people like him. So Squall for me was something personal, Cloud was just a character in a poorly written story.

I get what you're saying, but there is still a difference between avoiding personal attachments with no basis and outright being an unlikable douche who only responds with "...whatever" when directly spoken to. Squall being an emotionally unstable shy kid with no social skills does not excuse the way he kept telling Quistis to piss off or just outright ignoring her every time she looked to him for advice and/or emotional support. Especially since he's supposed to be the team leader he should at the very least know how to inspire faith and boost the morale of his comrades even without being close friends with them. I won't even get into how Squall is supposed to remember having parents or a sister in the first place despite suffering from amnesia. And last time I checked, Zell was the only orphan who was adopted and whose adoptive parents you actually see, but I could be wrong on that so feel free to correct me. And maybe it's just me, but I don't see that much of a difference between a guy who tries to be an adult but fails miserably due to his insecurities and a guy who tries to be someone else but fails miserably due to his insecurities.

Wolf Kanno
05-31-2017, 09:04 PM
I get what you're saying, but there is still a difference between avoiding personal attachments with no basis and outright being an unlikable douche who only responds with "...whatever" when directly spoken to. Squall being an emotionally unstable shy kid with no social skills does not excuse the way he kept telling Quistis to piss off or just outright ignoring her every time she looked to him for advice and/or emotional support. Especially since he's supposed to be the team leader he should at the very least know how to inspire faith and boost the morale of his comrades even without being close friends with them. I won't even get into how Squall is supposed to remember having parents or a sister in the first place despite suffering from amnesia. And last time I checked, Zell was the only orphan who was adopted and whose adoptive parents you actually see, but I could be wrong on that so feel free to correct me. And maybe it's just me, but I don't see that much of a difference between a guy who tries to be an adult but fails miserably due to his insecurities and a guy who tries to be someone else but fails miserably due to his insecurities.

Honestly, I actually really like Squall's jerkass facade, and understanding how it's a defense mechanism still follows logical consistency psychologically speaking. Now whether you like that persona is completely subjective, and I feel we'll have to agree to disagree on that front since I prefer more misanthropic (again, I would point out that Squall and I are not so different personality-wise) characters over some paragon of virtue,

As for the amnesia stuff, it was shown that strong memories tend to fade last. As for the others being adopted, Zell is the only one shown, but I remember Quistis mentioning that she was taken in but didn't like her parents so she enrolled into Balamb when she was ten. Irvine in passing was mentioned to be adopted but nothing else about is ever brought up and Selphie is unknown. We know that Squall and Seifer were the last two of Edea's orphans who simply transferred to Balamb Garden when it was created.

As for their being no difference, there is. Squall doesn't want to form attachments because he doesn't want to be hurt by losing people he cars about, so he purposely pushed people away so he can't form such bonds. Cloud wants to be acknowledged by others and the Jenova cells allow him to imprint the best qualities of Zack and Sephiroth to create the ideal version of himself. He's afraid no one will like him because he has a poor self-image of himself. Squall comes across as a child who is emotionally stunted due to traumatic abandonment issues. Cloud is your typical middle schooler who simply wants to find his place in society, shoots for the moon and fails because he's just average and not special, well until Jenova and Hojo come along at least. So they're actually on a opposite emotional spectrum, Cloud wants to form bonds , Squall doesn't. The difference for me is that Squall is actually a fairly accurate psychological study, whereas Cloud's issues stem far more from fictional issues and the game doesn't really bother addressing his actual insecurities when they finally come to light. Again, I appreciate the idea, but not the execution, whereas Squall still intrigues me because his story is a real character study and I find his circumstances to be more relatable.

Psychotic
05-31-2017, 10:24 PM
Cloud is your typical middle schooler who simply wants to find his place in society, shoots for the moon and fails because he's just average and not special, well until Jenova and Hojo come along at least. What the hell kind of middle school did you go to where that's typical? :p

Forsaken Lover
05-31-2017, 10:24 PM
Squall's real issues of being forced to forget by magic demons ins his head while attending Mercenary High.

And then it's all fixed when he finds a girl who really wants to jump his bones and she goes into a coma because the future witch possessed her.

The most realistic character in FFVIII was Rinoa and Squall's existence sabotaged her character by relegating her to love interest/damsel in distress who gets no character development of her own.

Wolf Kanno
06-01-2017, 02:51 AM
Cloud is your typical middle schooler who simply wants to find his place in society, shoots for the moon and fails because he's just average and not special, well until Jenova and Hojo come along at least. What the hell kind of middle school did you go to where that's typical? :p

I'm simply talking about how middle school and by extension high school, is all about creating ones self image and trying to find our place in society (yes I've been playing too much P5, and yes it's probably affecting my thinking) which frankly corresponds with Cloud's mentality before leaving Nibelheim. I'm not making a value judgement, I'm simply stating that I couldn't relate to it. Cloud yearns to be accepted and feel useful to society and others, which is a generally typical and almost universal process most people go through.


Squall's real issues of being forced to forget by magic demons ins his head while attending Mercenary High.

And then it's all fixed when he finds a girl who really wants to jump his bones and she goes into a coma because the future witch possessed her.

The most realistic character in FFVIII was Rinoa and Squall's existence sabotaged her character by relegating her to love interest/damsel in distress who gets no character development of her own.

Squall's memory loss really has nothing to do with his actual character growth, I mean I feel we can all agree the amnesia twist was just a really asinine way to make the battle with Edea more emotional and powerful without actually putting any real effort into it. Beyond that, Squall still remembers Ellone faintly, enough to even still recognize her when he sees her in the present. It's not like Squall remembers the orphanage and suddenly breaks out of his shell and becomes best buds with the party, because he remembers all of them and his childhood was magically super awesome or something. I mean he was a loner even back then if the flashbacks are anything to go by. About the only person he actually established any kind of connection with was Seifer, and that's mostly some Fie Yay undertones. Hell, Squall was the one to convince the others to fight Edea despite them all now remembering she was a mother figure to all of them, so this wasn't a Niagra Falls Frankie Angel (https://youtu.be/5FgtVXFRyTQ)moment, he was still on board to get the mission done. He only softens up later after he gets some better character development.

As for Rinoa, she basically just becomes the first person who sees Squalls jerkass facade for what it is and basically doesn't allow it to dissuade her from getting to know the real him. Which is frankly what Squall needed, someone who wouldn't back off when Squall went into total defensive jerk mode. So I'll have to disagree that she was "ruined" for doing her role and frankly her story wasn't original to begin with. Daughters of important, but bad people is a pretty overused cliche if you ask me. The damsel in distress nonsense is certainly a strike against her though.

Example
06-01-2017, 03:31 AM
I get what you're saying, but there is still a difference between avoiding personal attachments with no basis and outright being an unlikable douche who only responds with "...whatever" when directly spoken to. Squall being an emotionally unstable shy kid with no social skills does not excuse the way he kept telling Quistis to piss off or just outright ignoring her every time she looked to him for advice and/or emotional support. Especially since he's supposed to be the team leader he should at the very least know how to inspire faith and boost the morale of his comrades even without being close friends with them. I won't even get into how Squall is supposed to remember having parents or a sister in the first place despite suffering from amnesia. And last time I checked, Zell was the only orphan who was adopted and whose adoptive parents you actually see, but I could be wrong on that so feel free to correct me. And maybe it's just me, but I don't see that much of a difference between a guy who tries to be an adult but fails miserably due to his insecurities and a guy who tries to be someone else but fails miserably due to his insecurities.

Honestly, I actually really like Squall's jerkass facade, and understanding how it's a defense mechanism still follows logical consistency psychologically speaking. Now whether you like that persona is completely subjective, and I feel we'll have to agree to disagree on that front since I prefer more misanthropic (again, I would point out that Squall and I are not so different personality-wise) characters over some paragon of virtue,

As for the amnesia stuff, it was shown that strong memories tend to fade last. As for the others being adopted, Zell is the only one shown, but I remember Quistis mentioning that she was taken in but didn't like her parents so she enrolled into Balamb when she was ten. Irvine in passing was mentioned to be adopted but nothing else about is ever brought up and Selphie is unknown. We know that Squall and Seifer were the last two of Edea's orphans who simply transferred to Balamb Garden when it was created.

As for their being no difference, there is. Squall doesn't want to form attachments because he doesn't want to be hurt by losing people he cars about, so he purposely pushed people away so he can't form such bonds. Cloud wants to be acknowledged by others and the Jenova cells allow him to imprint the best qualities of Zack and Sephiroth to create the ideal version of himself. He's afraid no one will like him because he has a poor self-image of himself. Squall comes across as a child who is emotionally stunted due to traumatic abandonment issues. Cloud is your typical middle schooler who simply wants to find his place in society, shoots for the moon and fails because he's just average and not special, well until Jenova and Hojo come along at least. So they're actually on a opposite emotional spectrum, Cloud wants to form bonds , Squall doesn't. The difference for me is that Squall is actually a fairly accurate psychological study, whereas Cloud's issues stem far more from fictional issues and the game doesn't really bother addressing his actual insecurities when they finally come to light. Again, I appreciate the idea, but not the execution, whereas Squall still intrigues me because his story is a real character study and I find his circumstances to be more relatable.

So it just comes down to personal preference, more than anything else really. I just couldn't find Squall's motivation and backstory good enough to relate to him.


Squall's real issues of being forced to forget by magic demons ins his head while attending Mercenary High.

And then it's all fixed when he finds a girl who really wants to jump his bones and she goes into a coma because the future witch possessed her.

The most realistic character in FFVIII was Rinoa and Squall's existence sabotaged her character by relegating her to love interest/damsel in distress who gets no character development of her own.

Um no, she really wasn't. Pretty much every other character in the game was more believable than her.

Forsaken Lover
06-01-2017, 04:23 AM
Rinoa's character is that her mom died and this caused a rift between her and her father, who was probably never the most affectionate guy anyway. Her father is mere interested in securing the safety of his family but Rinoa wants to help everyone.

These two never heal the friction between them because Squall is a nice hard cock that solves all of Rinoa's problems.

Then she becomes a Sorceress and is justifiably terrified of what will become of her. But this isn't allowed to be her moment, it's Squall's. Squall is the big strong man who has to keep her safe from...uh....

She's not the most amazing character but what does Rinoa have to compete with? Womanizer? Hot Dogs? BLOW EVERYTHING UP?

Example
06-01-2017, 09:31 AM
Rinoa's character is that her mom died and this caused a rift between her and her father, who was probably never the most affectionate guy anyway. Her father is mere interested in securing the safety of his family but Rinoa wants to help everyone.

These two never heal the friction between them because Squall is a nice hard cock that solves all of Rinoa's problems.

Then she becomes a Sorceress and is justifiably terrified of what will become of her. But this isn't allowed to be her moment, it's Squall's. Squall is the big strong man who has to keep her safe from...uh....

She's not the most amazing character but what does Rinoa have to compete with? Womanizer? Hot Dogs? BLOW EVERYTHING UP?

I'm talking more about the way she lampreys herself onto Squall simply for no other reason than the plot needing her to. It's not like how Aerith was interested in Cloud because he reminded her of her ex-boyfriend, or how Tidus and Yuna were infatuated and had great chemistry together, Squall treated her horribly like he does everyone else yet she kept going after him despite having absolutely nothing in common. I'm no expert on the mind of teenage girls but I doubt they would put up with a relationship like that for very long. To make it even worse, the rest of your party constantly tries forcing you two together, even during the most inappropriate of times, which only highlights how little chemistry there is between them.