|“||Originally a member of SOLDIER, he is now a mercenary who will take any job...
— Description, Final Fantasy VII
|Date of birth||August 11, 1986|
|Affiliation||Shinra Inc. (past)|
Yazoo, Kadaj and Loz ("little brothers")
|Behind the scenes|
|Created by||野村 哲也 - Nomura Tetsuya|
北瀬 佳範 - Kitase Yoshinor
野島 一成 - Nojima Kazushige
坂口 博信 - Sakaguchi Hironobu
|Designed by||野村 哲也 - Nomura Tetsuya|
|Performed by||櫻井孝宏 - Sakurai Takahiro|
堀内 賢雄 - Horiuchi Ken'yū (Ehrgeiz)
佐々木 望 - Sasaki Nozomu (Ehrgeiz: PS)
Cloud Strife is the main protagonist of both Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, who also appears in other games of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII as a supporting character.
An arrogant and proud swordsman at first, Cloud believes himself to be a member of an elite warrior unit called SOLDIER, but soon discovers the memories of who he was are not his own and, with the help of his friends, learns there is more to being a hero than possessing physical strength and fame.
Creation and development
Cloud was one of the first three characters designed for Final Fantasy VII by Nomura with influences from producer Kitase, scenario writer Nojima and director Sakaguchi. Originally conceptualized by Sakaguchi as one of only three playable characters (the others being Barret Wallace and Aerith Gainsborough), Cloud's various lines and personality traits were supervised by Nomura while Kitase and Nojima were in charge of developing Cloud's background and his relationship with Sephiroth. Nojima thought of the relationship between the player and the protagonist when writing for Final Fantasy VII, and in an interview in Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Ultimania, he makes a comparison to Dragon Quest, where the main character doesn't have a set personality and the player is free to "become" the hero. In a case of an RPG protagonist whose name and past have already been decided, Nojima tries to come up with ways to get the player to empathize with the character. The characters living in a game's universe know their world well, but it's a new place to the player, and so Cloud's foggy memories were created as a solution to introduce the information to players. In the 1996 demo version Cloud's menu portrait is the young Cloud portrait seen during the Kalm flashback to the Nibelheim Incident in the final game, and his character model is different and shorter than his finalized model. This "demo version" is also seen in other pre-release shots published in magazines before the game was out, and his battle model also had an earlier build, wielding a different version of the Buster Sword that had only one slot as opposed to two.
In early drafts of the script Cloud was meant to be more directly controlled by Sephiroth, and as he fell to his death in the Nibelheim's mako reactor, his strong will to live would manifest itself in Cloud. It would be told that Cloud's memories were created by Sephiroth himself out of his emotions when he was "killed", and he would later discover that Sephiroth was directly trying to take control of him, and that his own complexes, combined with Sephiroth's willpower, would've created his alternate persona. This version was altered after the introduction of Jenova and the fleshing out of Zack Fair's story. The game's directors only had a vague image of Cloud's identity, mainly that it was intended as mysterious, but the actual unfolding of events was left in Nojima's hands. Event planner Motomu Toriyama had made the "Cloud showing off" pose, which was made to be be used in the scene where Cloud first appears in the game, the animation impressed Nojima, who determined Cloud's false persona based on that pose.
After figuring out Cloud's identity issues, Nojima made not only the scenario but the event scenes as well, and the parts where the mysteries are made clear. The team ended up doing the test play with no idea how it was going to end, and that's how they first found out the true course of events. Zack was a character Nojima brought in while he was building up the mystery, so the others had no clue he would be such a pivotal character. Cloud's original character design called for slicked-back, black hair with no spikes, a depiction supposed to contrast to the long, flowing silver hair of Sephiroth. However, to make Cloud stand out more and emphasize his role in the game as the lead protagonist, Nomura altered Cloud's design to give him spiky blond hair instead. Aspects of Cloud's original design were later used in designing Angeal Hewley, and the image of Cloud and Sephiroth was based on Miyamoto Musashi and Sasaki Kojirō, famous Japanese warriors whose duel became legendary, and since appeared in many forms of Japanese pop culture. Originally listed as a "Mystic Knight (Berserker)", Cloud's Buster Sword was smaller, its size increasing with Nomura redesigned Cloud. Nomura nicknamed it "the giant kitchen knife" due to how he originally envisioned it. The sword was meant to be held on his back with the use of magnets and have a small chain.
Cloud's redesign for Advent Children is an accumulation of eight designs the staff made, ranging from deformed to realistic designs, and in The Reunion Files, Nomura explains that, while Cloud was depicted as a more upbeat character at the end of Final Fantasy VII, he chose to have Cloud be a character fans would find more familiar, and the script was written to explain why Cloud had returned to such a frame of mind. Nomura said a great deal of care was taken to animate Cloud's face and expressions, and over thirty different models of his face were made. His face was modeled to keep "a stiff upper lip", with his emotions and thoughts being expressed through his eyes. On explaining Cloud's situation in the film, Nomura said that "Cloud tried to lead his life positively after the end of FF7 but he cracked... The sin which Cloud thinks he owns is not anyone's fault in particular. It is something Cloud has to overcome by himself". Cloud, in choosing to fight against Sephiroth once again, is finally "given healing and forgiveness".
Nomura admits that in the film, "Cloud seems to be a weak guy. Generally, heroes are strong, cool and don't have any weaknesses... Although Cloud is a jerk sometimes, he is really human-like. It's through redemption from his friends and having children to protect that he becomes stronger". Cloud's new weaponry in Advent Children was created based on jokes by fans who commented that, since Cloud's weapon in the original game was enormous, in a sequel he should go with sheer numbers. Although it does not have an official name, the staff named them the "Fusion Swords" during the film's development. The concept was to have Cloud hold a total of six swords he would carry in his back, but it was changed to six swords interlocking to form a single weapon. Although the film's staff originally thought doing sequences with the Fusion Swords was impossible, they decided to make it as they found it made an interesting twist to the battles.
In Final Fantasy VII, due to the combined effects of mako poisoning and the influence of Jenova's cells in his body, Cloud unknowingly holds a fake persona created by the alien cells mixing his memories of Zack's personality with the cocky and selfish attitude he believes a SOLDIER 1st Class would have. After restoring his original personality, Cloud shows genuine concern for the planet's fate, a sharp contrast to his persona at the start where he claimed he didn't care and only agreed to help AVALANCHE for the right price.
Despite the feelings he may have, Cloud remains steadfastly loyal and true to those he cares about and is driven to protect them, going as far as to hide his pain and emotions so he would not worry them. He does have a lighter side, willingly cross-dressing as a woman to save Tifa from Don Corneo's mansion. In Dirge of Cerberus, he is shown to have a dry, ironic wit, and although he has a moody demeanor, his personality is not as brooding as that of Vincent Valentine. Cloud suffers from motion sickness that is seemingly cured during the period when he upholds his fake SOLDIER persona, but returns when his true self is restored, although his ability to ride the Fenrir on delivery business suggests his motion sickness has since improved.
In Advent Children and many related appearances, Cloud is a somber and dark character, tormented by guilt over what he perceives as his past failings to save those he cares about. The final straw was when he contracted the terminal Geostigma plague, adding to his feelings of helplessness. Distancing from his friends and living alone, Cloud tries to keep his affliction secret. Cloud faces his past both metaphorically and literally, and with the shows of loyalty from the friends he tried to let go he comes to forgive himself and moves on. It is unclear what this ultimately means in terms of his personality and lifestyle. In Crisis Core, Cloud is shown as a shy, upbeat person who idolizes Zack and Sephiroth.
Cloud possesses a lean build and spiked blond hair which, in Final Fantasy VII, features one particularly large spike. Cloud's hair has become one of the trademarks of his appearance, although in later appearances the spikes have been toned down. His eyes are of a glowing blue, due to the mako flowing through his body. His weapon is the Buster Sword, a massive sword several feet long which he wields in most of his appearances. Cloud's other trademark weapon is a set of Fusion Swords which he uses in Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, Dissidia and Kingdom Hearts II. The set consists of six individual interconnecting swords that form a larger sword similar in shape and size to the Buster Sword. Because "mako eyes" are an icon of SOLDIER, Cloud is often mistaken as one.
His outfit in Final Fantasy VII is the standard uniform for 1st Class SOLDIER (indigo pants with a sleeveless shirt and a belt), with brown boots and gauntlets with a pauldron over his left shoulder. This is the uniform he wears for most of his other appearances, with slight variations, although in one occasion, he was forced to cross-dress in order to enter Don Corneo's mansion, where men weren't allowed. In Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, Cloud wears the uniform of a Shinra Inc. infantryman of blue clothing with several belts and straps and a green-gray piece of cloth around the collar, wearing his helmet to hide his identity at times. After he gains the SOLDIER 1st class uniform his appearance is the same as in Final Fantasy VII, albeit with both shoulder pauldrons intact and the SOLDIER logo as it is in Crisis Core.
In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, Cloud's clothing design was made with fighting in mind, and the concept began with a black robe and was restructured into the final version seen in the film, and Cloud's hair was changed both to show the passage of time since Final Fantasy VII, and to be more realistic. He wears a high collar sleeveless black shirt, black pants and boots, and black cloth covering his left leg and arm (the cloth on his arm covers a geostigma mark). Cloud gains a new pauldron, and his chest is covered by two straps, held in place by a badge representing Fenrir, the wolf that has come to be associated with him. Like the rest of the party, he wears a pink ribbon around his left arm in remembrance of Aerith, though it stays hidden for most of the movie due to his black cloth. He wears the same outfit in Dirge of Cerberus.
In Kingdom Hearts, Cloud's costume was designed to resemble that of Vincent Valentine, being composed of a tattered red cloak with dark blue pants and a shirt and brown boots. The costume features many crossing belts as well as gloves, the left of which has golden trimmings, almost like a claw. Cloud's most distinctive trait in this appearance is a demonic black wing protruding from his left shoulder, symbolizing both his connection to Sephiroth, and the dark powers he is using. The costume can be obtained as downloadable content in Dissidia 012, and in Kingdom Hearts II, his appearance is identical to that of Advent Children, save that his new sword is loosely bound as the Buster Sword was in Kingdom Hearts.
In Dissidia, Cloud's costume is almost identical to his original Final Fantasy VII appearance, the only differences being the redesigned SOLDIER logo on his belt, his fingerless right glove, and the fact his pauldron is dual-layered. His hair is spiky and blond and his eyes glow bright blue, the sign of a mako-infused SOLDIER.
Cloud's first alternate costume in the game, "Cloudy Wolf", is his outfit from Advent Children. He wears a sleeveless zipped-down turtleneck sweater with black cloth covering his left arm and leg, and his boots and pauldron are different with the Fenrir emblem on his pauldron. His hair has more spikes, albeit shorter ones, and he wields the main blade of his Fusion Swords, the First tsurugi. In his EX Mode, he wields the fully assembled Fusion Swords, though for purposes of gameplay he never separates them as he does in the film. Cloud's second alternate outfit, "Steady Light", is based on Amano's artwork of him. He wears a different shirt and white boots, and a small white pack slung over his back. His belt has the original SOLDIER symbol on it, his pauldron, gauntlets and belt have small blue and white details, and his belt has a string of beads. This outfit is Cloud's attire in Dissidia 012 while serving as a Warrior of Chaos. Cloud's DLC costume, "Kingdom Hearts gear", is based on his appearance in most of the Kingdom Hearts series, a gauntlet with a golden claw, a torn red cape, and dark blue clothing underneath. A demonic black wing emerges from his left shoulder, and the Buster Sword is wrapped in bandages. In Japan, the code to unlock this outfit is included with Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep Final Mix, while in the United States the code was acquired by pre-ordering Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy from GameStop. In Europe it can be purchased via PSN since June 8th, 2011.
Due to experiments conducted on him by Shinra, Cloud has superhuman strength, speed, stamina and agility. Cloud's strength is such that he is able to expertly wield the enormous Buster Sword (although many theories appeared regarding the matter of just how strong that makes him), and the even larger first tsurugi with a single hand, and has shown the ability to slice through several meters of stone with a swing of his blade. His speed is slightly above peak human, and can be observed within the swiftness of his combat techniques. His stamina is so great that while infected with geostigma (shown to be a devastating condition), he was capable of battling the three Remnants of Sephiroth on equal footing, while it took only one to defeat Tifa Lockhart in hand-to-hand combat. His agility is enhanced to the point where he can perform feats of tremendous acrobatic prowess while fighting and riding a motorcycle simultaneously.
Additionally, Cloud is an expert swordsman and, although his abilities are inferior to Sephiroth's, he emerged victorious on two combats. Once cured of his geostigma, he easily defeated Kadaj, the most powerful of the remnants. He also also a superb motorcyclist, being able to combat Kadaj, Loz and Yazoo while driving at extremely fast speeds, as well as fighting Shinra's cycle troops in Final Fantasy VII. Cloud has also shown the ability to use magic skillfully through the power of materia.