CloTi nonsense: "Maiden of the Planet isn't canon, so you can't use it for proof!"
This argument should automatically be suspect considering that 99.9% of the people spouting this are rabid CloTi fans. Why would they try to discredit an obviously canon novella? Simple- it crushes many of their CloTi ideas It proves that Aerith is over Zack and loves only Cloud, Aerith knows "the real Cloud", and Aerith didn't love Cloud because of Zack. It also strongly hints at Cloud's feelings for Aerith being much more than mere friendship. I will discuss these ideas further in a later essay.
Studio Bentstuff and Benny Matsuyama....
Not long after the first chapter of Case of Denzel appeared on the movie website, a complete guidebook to FFVII was also published by Studio Bentstuff named Final Fantasy VII: Ultimania Omega. Besides an indepth guide to the game, it also contained a short story (not related to "On a Way to a Smile") named Hoshi wo Meguru Otome , "The Maiden who Travels the Planet". This story written by Benny Matsuyama focuses on Aerith as she travels the Lifestream and is set about midway through the original FFVII game. Although not written by the original FFVII scenario writer Nojima himself, the work was under the supervision of Square-Enix. Before the release of FFVII:AC, Nomura had approached the staff of Bentstudio and said he wanted a new book made for FFVII so that fans can enjoy the game once again. As the original game is now obsolete (unless you check some old second hand stores), this was probably the best thing to do. Besides an in-depth walkthrough of the game, this 592 paged book contains huge amount of details about FFVII such as detailed analysis of the story and locations, original concept art along with an introduction to the recent Compilation of FFVII series. (Source: http://xcomprandomness.co. uk/ff7novels/)
Although not written by Nojima, Maiden of the Planet (MotP) was commissioned by S-E, who then carefully supervised its progress. This means that there is nothing contained in this novella that was not approved by Nojima and Nomura. Why would they commission a novella to be written just to toss it aside as a mere fanfic, as so many CloTi fans claim? Talk about wasting their money.
In the weeks before the release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega was released to coincide with the fact that many fans would be replaying the original game as a way of refreshing their memories.
Final Fantasy VII Ultimania was originally released as a deluxe strategy guide and gaming Bible. However, as has happened with other Square Enix titles, such as Final Fantasy X and Kingdom Hearts, whenever a new edition of the game is released, an updated version of the book is published, entitled Omega, the final letter of the Greek alphabet (used in this case to denote the final version of the book). These updated strategy books often contain new information, side stories or strategy guides to help players beat new bosses or get past newly added sections to the games.
Director Tetsuya Nomura approached Studio BentStuff about reissuing the book, and Benny Matsuyama was commissioned to write a short story told from Aerith's perspective, entitled Hoshi wo Meguru Miko, which literally translates as The Holy Maiden who Travels the Planet. Despite the fact that the tale itself was not written by the scenario writer Kazushige Nojima, it was written under the watchful gaze of Square Enix. (Source: http://www.animefringe.com/magazine/2005/12/feature/01-4.php)
Once again, Nomura approached Matsuyama about writing the story for him and then S-E kept a watchful eye on what he wrote. So, you can be assured that everything in that novella had to pass inspection before being allowed to be published in the FFVII Ultimania Omega.
I would also like to point out that Benny Matsuyama is not just another writer at Studio Bentstuff, he is actually co-director of the company, along with Tezuka Ichiro. Benny has also written more than just MotP for S-E. He also wrote the following:
* Musei Renu Haito, Tōbae wa Onore Mazu ("in the abandoned capital where mist never clears up, the first howling comes from me")- a short story set during FFXII's continuity and published in the FFXII Ultimania Omega.
* The Whistle You Called With- a short story set from Yuna's point-of-view and describing her reunion with Tidus, published in the FFX-2 Ultimania Omega.
* The diary entries in Final Fantasy Dismantled. Matsuyama was also in charge of Dismantled itself, and the whole book was supervised by Square who also gave the materials for it.
So, does anyone question the validity of these other written works? No, actually, they don't (not even CloTis). Funny that it is typically CloTis that question the validity of MotP, especially when it slaps a crack in their CloTi doctrine. Double standards much? Why only question this one novella and not the others? Are they really that threatened by it?
Studio Bentstuff itself is S-E's primary workhorse when it comes to publishing guidebooks. Actually, Bentstuff has produced a staggering 38 Ultimania guidebooks for Square-Enix, which encompasses not just Final Fantasy, but SaGa, Legend of Mana, Chrono Cross, Chrono Trigger, Vagrant Story, and Kingdom Hearts. Benny Matsuyama has also had a hand in writing portions of some of these Ultimanias as well.
Other Written Final Fantasy Works....
CloTis like to assert that MotP cannot be canon because it was written by someone other than Nojima. Well, guess what? MotP isn't the first Final Fantasy novella not written by Nojima. And it sure isn't the only one written for S-E by Matsuyama.
* Final Fantasy II - Tsū Muma no Meikyū 1989- novel. Notes: Novelization of Final Fantasy II written by Kenji Terada. The title roughly translates as "Labyrinth of Nightmare." Never released outside of Japan.
* Final Fantasy III Yūkyū no Kaze Densetsu - 1992- manga. Notes: Manga adaptation of Final Fantasy III by Yū Kinutani (art) and Kenji Terada (story). The title roughly translates as "Eternal Legend of the Wind." Never released outside of Japan.
* Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within 2001- novel. Notes: Novelization of Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within by John Vornholt.
* Final Fantasy: Unlimited After Spiral 2002- collection of short stories. Notes: A series of web novels published on the official Japanese Final Fantasy: Unlimited website (which has been taken down), which continued the story of the anime. The stories have later been included in a single anthology published by Digicube.
* Sō no Kizuna 2002- novel. Notes: A side story to Final Fantasy: Unlimited. The title literally translates to "The Bonds of Two".
* Final Fantasy XI ~Hoshi no Chikai i~ 2003– novels. Notes: Series of novels set in the Final Fantasy XI continuity, written by Miyabi Hasegawa. The title roughly translates as "Oath of the Star." Released in Japanese, German and French.
* Final Fantasy XI ~The Out of Orders~ 2004- manga. Notes: Manga set in the Final Fantasy XI continuity, by Kim Byung Jin (art) and Kim Sungjae (story). Never released outside of Japan.
* Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles ~Hatenaki Sora no Mukō ni~ 2004- manga. Notes: Manga adaptation of Final Fantasy Chronicles by Ryunosuke Ichikawa (3 volumes). The title roughly translates as "Beyond the Endless Sky." Never released outside of Japan.
* Maiden who Travels the Planet 2005- novella. Notes: Novella set in Final Fantasy VII's continuity, written by Benny Matsuyama and published in the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Ω guidebook. Never released outside of Japan.
* On the Way to a Smile 2005- novella. Notes: Collection of two novellas set in Final Fantasy VII's continuity, written by Kazushige Nojima and published in the book Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Prologue. The first novella is titled "Case of Denzel" and the second "Case of Tifa." These were later published in English with the Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Limited Edition DVD set, along with another novella, Case of Barret. Later, more novellas followed: Case of Yuffie, Case of Nanaki, Case of Lifestream: White, and Case of Lifestream: Black.
* Kingdom Hearts 2005-2007- manga. Notes: Manga adaptation of the Kingdom Hearts series by Shiro Amano. Released in Japan and North America. Kingdom Hearts- 4 volumes (2005-2006) Kingdom Hearts: Chains of Memories- 2 volumes (2006-2007) Kingdom Hearts 2- 5 volumes (2007)
* Musei Renu Haito, Tōbae wa Onore Mazu 2006- short story. Notes: Short story set in Final Fantasy XII's continuity, written by Benny Matsuyama and published in the Final Fantasy XII Ultimania Ω guidebook. Never released outside of Japan. The title roughly translates as "In the abandoned capital where mist never clears up, the first howling comes from me".
* Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Ring of Fates 4 Komaansoroji Komikku 2008- manga. Notes: Manga adaptation of Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles: Ring of Fates (2 volumes). The title roughly translates as "Ring of Fates 4-Panel Anthology Comic." Never released outside of Japan.
* Adventure Log 2007- Present- webcomic. Notes: Official Final Fantasy XI webcomic. Written and drawn by Scott Ramsoomair.
* Final Fantasy IV 2008- novels. Notes: Two-volume novelization of Final Fantasy IV. Never released outside of Japan.
I would like to point out that the validity of these other written works is never called into question by anyone, not even CloTi fans. Once again, it sort of makes one wonder what the CloTi angle is, and why they assert that only Nojima can write canon works. Guess what? Nojima didn't write Dirge of Cerberus. It was written by Chiba Hiroki. Are you going to tell me now that an official Compilation game isn't canon because it wasn't written by Nojima? FFVII wasn't written by Nojima either. It was written by Hironobu Sakaguchi (with Tetsuya Nomura). Is FFVII not canon now, too?
Does Maiden of the Planet contain contradictions to the original canon? Actually, it is quite fluid with the original storyline and contains very few, if any, contradictions. The ones people bring up are actually contradictions to their interpretation of the original game, typically CloTi fans. I have to say that Maiden fit in just fine with my interpretation of the original game and I can say that for many other ClAeris fans as well. If Maiden contradicts someone's interpretation, then they need to consider that maybe, just maybe, their interpretation is wrong.
Also, I'd like to point out that pretty much every addition in the Compilation of FFVII contradicts the original game. At this point, Square-Enix contradicts themselves left and right. It has left a lot of fans angry and disillusioned. But, I digress....
A few examples of other contradictions:
* Before Crisis: A female of Red XIII's species, named Dinne, is shown living in Cosmo Canyon at one point. And, yet, in the original game, Red XIII is constantly shown being in despair over being the last of his kind. He and Bugenhagen discuss this together and wonder if Red's species will become extinct after Red passes. And yet Dinne is supposedly right there, according to BC, living in Cosmo Canyon with Red and Bugenhagen and they know all about her. Seriously, S-E? o_0 That is the biggest retcon I found from that game but, believe me, there are plenty more, mostly revolving around the Nibelheim incident.
* Crisis Core: This game changed the way Cloud and Zack escaped from Nibelheim as well as Zack's entire death scene. It also changed up the Shinra uniforms and Tifa's outfit (degrading her further by having her dress like a stripper- stupid fanboys! >_<+ ).
* Case of Tifa: This novella states that Avalanche went to Kalm to see Elmyra and it was then that Cloud told her about Aerith's death. However, in FFVII, Cait Sith tells everyone in Disc 2 that he'd been to Kalm to deliver the news about Aerith's death to Elmyra.
* Advent Children/Complete: The main inconsistencies I've seen here revolve around Materia. Not only are they bigger now than their original marble size, but the colors seem to have changed as well. Kadaj uses a green Materia to summon Bahamut-Sin in AC/C, but in the original game Summon Materia was red.
* Last Order: Most of this Anime was completely inconsistent with the original game. The largest retcons, though, involve the actual Nibelheim incident. For example, in the original game, Tifa gets slashed, goes unconscious and never knows that Cloud showed up to fulfill his promise (which is why she reminds him to fulfill it later, when he joins Avalanche). In LO, Tifa gets slashed but stays conscious and sees Cloud there. So, she knows all about Cloud being there and not being a First Class SOLDIER and yet she later lies to him about it? The retcon made Tifa appear to be a liar, like she intentionally deceived Cloud. At least in the original game, she never saw him and had an excuse for deceiving him, because she simply got confused about the events.
Also, in the original game, Cloud and Sephiroth struggle in the reactor. Cloud gets impaled, but overcomes the pain, lifting Sephiroth over the railing and tossing him into the reactor below. In LO, Sephiroth impales Cloud and then does a lemming impersonation, committing suicide into the reactor. Way to go... you just took away Cloud's first defeat of Sephiroth and the entire reason Sephiroth was so dead-set on making Cloud suffer (because he was defeated by a "failed experiment" like Cloud). Thanks for ruining the scene and Cloud's entire twisted relationship with Sephiroth, jackwagon.
Note: Last Order has since been confirmed as not being a part of the Compilation. I just included it because CloTis cling to it so much with its cheek-stroking and all. XD
If you really want to see a list of all of the contradictions throughout the Compilation, I will refer you here. Simply do a search for "The lists [8.2Co]". I haven't read further into this essay, though, so I cannot say if I agree or disagree with other parts of it besides this list. Considering the person who compiled this essay was a CloTi, I am sure there are things in there we wouldn't agree on. ;) One thing we do agree on is that Maiden contains far less inconsistencies than other canon entries in the Compilation of FFVII.
Taking all of these inconsistencies into consideration, Maiden actually fits better into the original game's canon than most of the other Compilation entries listed here. It follows the original mythos and storyline (Discs 2 and 3) of the original game and establishes a foundation for AC/C.
So, what are the so-called "contradictions" in Maiden? Honestly, the only real inconsistencies I could find that actually mattered and weren't some CloTis nitpicking some inconsequential little things were the following:
"Hey Aerith, did you see Cloud's finishing?" Zack guided his energy into the second wave as Meteor was thrown back losing its force. "That was one my sword techniques too. Doesn't it charm you again?" (Maiden of the Planet)
CloTis take Zack's boasting to mean that he taught Cloud Omnislash, but he actually says nothing of the sort. He doesn't actually say that he taught Cloud anything, even though it is common knowledge that Zack at least taught Cloud Meteorain. If you read the excerpt again, you'll notice that Zack simply stated that one of Cloud's "finishing" moves, used during Omnislash, was a technique Zack had once created. As we all know, Omnislash is a series of 15 sword attacks. Since Cloud and Zack were once best friends, doesn't it make sense that Cloud might have learned one of the sword slashes used during Omnislash from observing Zack?
It is also possible that Cloud learned the whole of Omnislash from observing Zack. Or perhaps Zack did teach Omnislash to Cloud at some point, since Zack is also shown using this particular attack in Ergheiz. This website states (search for "Omnislash" within the document) "You should hold the buttons until Cloud, or Zack, does Omnislash just to be safe".
So, no, this excerpt shows no contradiction, despite what some CloTi fans may be saying. Let's move on to the next...
"The mad apostate angel smiled boldly. But the damage he had taken was far beyond what he could endure and his spiritual body started to fall apart as he laughed. Beams of light blasted out from inside his body as if they were cutting him apart." (Maiden of the Planet)
Maiden insists that Sephiroth smiles and laughs after his defeat in the original game. Fans claim that this does not occur. However, given the quality of the graphics used, how would one know for sure? The expressions on the faces of the characters never changed during a battle. Plus, this game did not contain voice acting. So, how would one know whether Sephiroth smiled and whether he laughed? The technology used to create the game did not allow for such expressions of emotion anyways. So, IMO, this scene in Maiden does not directly contradict the original game.
And, honestly, if it did, who cares? Considering the staggering amount of contradictions present throughout the Compilation in other canon entries, trying to prove that inconsistencies exist in Maiden doesn't equate to it being canon or not.
Another reason I have heard CloTis mention in regards to Maiden not being canon in their eyes is that it isn't mentioned as an official part of the Compilation of FFVII. Personally, I think this is a ridiculous reason to not consider something canon, but I will cover it anyways because they continue to insist upon it.
First of all, I think I should bring up the fact that there is a distinct difference between "being canon" and "being a part of the Compilation of FFVII". "Canon" materials consist of all things that are official. This includes the entirety of the Compilation as well as the Ultimanias (official guidebooks), interviews with the creators, etc... In other words, something doesn't have to be a part of the Compilation to be "canon". For example, the Ultimanias are canon and yet they are typically not considered part of the "Compilation of FFVII". The Compilation of FFVII includes the original game, the On the Way to a Smile novellas, and all of the spin-off games (no matter how craptastic they are).
So, if there are materials out there that are canon, but not part of the Compilation, then why does "being a part of the Compilation" mean so much to CloTi fans? Obviously, being categorized as part of the Compilation of FFVII does not denote canonicity. This is just one more reason why I think this argument is absurd and someone really needs to be slapped for saying it.
CloTi fans further make themselves seem foolish by claiming that Maiden isn't canon because it isn't mentioned again. Clearly, in their minds, unless something is mentioned constantly in official sources, it isn't canon. o_0 I know, once again, this really makes no sense.
Last Order: In the Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Edition, on page 226, it stated "'Last Order', is an original anime work depicting the situation of Nibelheim event by one's own explanation." There was also a footnote there, which stated that it was "A work outside the Compilation of FF7".
In Reunions Files, this was stated about Last Order: "The 'Advent Children Advent Pieces Limited' box set includes an animation entitled 'Last Order'- approximately 30 minutes in length. Last Order's production and script were done by Madhouse. Zack's escape and the Nibelheim incident are explored further in this production, while certain scenes differ slightly from the game's storyline (such as the scene in which Tifa looks at Cloud when he comes to save her). Since a single scene can be subject to multiple interpretations, it was agreed upon to portray them in this way. (p.95)
Also, in the FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania, it said, "The most distinguishing feature of 'LO' is that, after completing the supplement of FF7 story, it initiated an independent one. For example, 5 years ago, in the Reactor of Nibelheim, Cloud runs to Tifa and their faces meet at each other; Sephiroth flies downward the Reactor. If you consider it a new interpretation to start FF7, then this work can furthermore be enjoyed."
Also, from the FFVII 10th Anniversary Ultimania: The feature of 'LO' is that it partially has its own unique interpretation based on 'FFVII'. (Tifa's profile)
So, not only is Last Order not considered a part of the Compilation, its canonicity has been called into question. It was called an "original anime work" and the scenes within are called a mere "interpretation" of the events of FFVII. It was also referred to as an "independent" work. It even clearly stated that the script and production were done entirely by an outside source, the animation studio Madhouse. Just how much guidance were they given, if any? It never says.
Not only that, but no one who has actually seen LO would actually consider it an accurate representation of the Nibelheim events. It completely bastardizes that sequence of events and warps the storyline to such an extent that the events of the original game no longer make sense. And, then, there is Crisis Core, which came along after Last Order, and actually changed the events back to fit more closely with the original game's canon.
So, why am I bringing up Last Order? To make a point- that when something isn't canon, it not only doesn't fit at all with the original game's events, but the creators themselves make statements that ostracize that particular piece of work from the current canon.
Have they ever stated anything like this for Maiden? Actually, no. Like I said before, it was commissioned by S-E, who then carefully supervised its creation (unlike LO, which was completely dropped on an outside entity and may or may not have been supervised by S-E). Maiden also fits in almost perfectly with the original game's canon, the novellas, and AC/C (unlike LO, which completely screwed up the entire plot basis for FFVII). Themes from Maiden are also followed-up later in another novella about Aerith, Case of Lifestream: White, which was written by Kazushige Nojima himself.
The bottom line is this: Last Order is mentioned quite often, although it was confirmed as not being a part of the Compilation and it's canonicity is highly questionable. So, why would the amount of times something is mentioned matter at all in trying to determine whether something is canon or not?
So??? Is Maiden canon or not???
Now that I have proved that all of the CloTi "reasons" for Maiden being not canon are completely bogus, let's focus on why it definitely should be considered canon. It's quite simple- Maiden of the Planet was published in the Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega.
As I've stated before, all of the Ultimanias are considered canon. They may or may not make it into the list of being a part of the Compilation of FFVII, but they are canon nonetheless. The Final Fantasy VII Ultimania Omega, however, is not only canon but it is considered a part of the Compilation of FFVII. In fact, it is referred to as "the literal edition of 'The Compilation of FF7'" within its own pages (p.3). Since Maiden is contained within the FFVII: UO itself, then it is safe to say that, not only is it canon, it is considered a part of the Compilation of FFVII.
What is so amusing is that some CloTis believe all of the Ultimanias are canon except for this one, even when it has been made painfully obvious that is, indeed, canon. Others believe it is canon, but not the story published within it. It's hard for them to accept the truth when Maiden is so brutally ClAeris-slanted, but there it is. If the UO is canon, which it undoubtedly is, then everything within it should be taken as canon, including Maiden.