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We all know this guy.
Ernest, Oscar, whatever his RTP name is, we all know him. I recently made a Loose Leaf version of him for one of my characters. I like how it turned out. Loose Leaf allows you to really get in there and cook up alternate outfits and such. This is a bonus for me because I am all about characters.
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They didn't forget in Advent children, it's who he is, lol. They nailed him in that movie.
You have to remember that when you play the game, you get to do a lot of the imaginative work. He wasn't as characterized in his speech as let's say Cid or Barret. You only get to read text. There isn't much emotive animations in the sprites, virtually no facial expression offered outside of cut scenes. Cloud was a character that was overtly bland by design. I don't think there is a single person among us who doesn't understand his story. He had very little personality because he didn't know who he was.
Cloud is also very much a character of his time. It's what Square was aiming for. They wanted to reach every angsty, edgy teenage boy who wished they were like Cloud. Arrogant, strong, care-free, and seemingly robotic in terms of emotion. And guess what? Evidently it worked to absolute perfection. He's the best known video game character, right after Mario.
To say they forgot his personality in Advent Children is a perfect example of how human nature forces its own reality onto the truth. We'd sooner assume Squaresoft doesn't know their own character, than admit to ourselves that maybe we don't understand him as much as we thought.
If you think there aren't really enough details to read into much of anything for Cloud because of only reading text and not having expressive animations or sprites, you might say the same for just about any video game character up to that point. But yeah, he didn't have much personality at first because, like you said, he didn't know who he was. But after he did figure out who he was he kinda did end up breaking out of his shell a bit, and actually had character development. Maybe it wasn't that noticable, but it was there. That's what kind of annoys me about people dissing Cloud. Because yeah he was a little wanna be edgelord, but I always felt he moved on from that by the end of the game.
It just seems like when he shows up in cameos and extended universe stuff like Advent Children he seems to revert to his more edgelord self, and I think that does a disservice to the character. Though to be fair, the way Cloud acted in Advent Children did make a degree of sense given how he was in a kind of depressive funk, I just don't think they really did enough with his character to really justify or explain it. I kinda find the whole movie baddy written to be honest. Really I find all the extended universe stuff kinda bad with the exception of Crisis Core.
Oh there are details. How we read into them will vary, as you've proven.
Advent Children nailed Cloud, to a T. Socially awkward, quiet badboy. If this disappointed you, chances are you forced a lot of your own interpretation on him whilst playing VII.
Also, you're probably not giving proper consideration to how the events of VII impacted him.
Midgar being destroyed was a huge deal for the entire world. All of those people dead. The majority of which having nothing to do with Shinra. But even more-so than that, the death of Aerith. So many people believe that she was really alive when he laid her to rest in the lake. This is simply not true. Cloud blamed himself for her death because he wasn't there to protect her. Because time after time, Sephiroth was able to control and manipulate his mind. Cloud is all about strength, and these moments of absolute powerlessness really got to him. He blames himself for Aerith's death because in his mind, he wasn't strong enough. He'll always beat himself up, because he'll always think he could have been doing more.
I mean Advent Children establishes that he's been living as a recluse, and most of his story arc is about Aerith trying to give him closure.
The movie nailed him to a T, but it also played up the fact that he has never been "okay" when it comes to anything, and the writers knew he shouldn't be in a good place after everything that happened. He tries to take responsibility for everything that happens.
"It just seems like when he shows up in cameos and extended universe stuff like Advent Children he seems to revert to his more edgelord self." -Kayzee
Because he is an edgelord, rofl. Do the math, it's who he is. Shinra did one hell of a number on him, before the events of the game, even.
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