Warning: This post is enormous. Put some time aside. (I posted this initially at the FF Net forums but that forum is pretty much dead so here goes)

I’ve watched Advent Children 3 times now. Anyways I found a number of things in the movie which I did not entirely understand and I’m willing to debate over theories behind the answers. Being FF7, the developers have decided to make things not entirely clear, which I don’t mind at all. It makes things much more interesting as we try to determine what actually happened, and the way it is presented doesn’t irritate, it makes me more thoughtful. With a few exceptions. Anyways, here goes.

1. Aeris’ role in the movie- Throughout AC, Aeris saves Cloud’s ass a number of times and also talks with him on a couple of occasions about his thoughts. A particularly memorable part where she just talks to him about his feelings would be when Cloud is riding his motorcycle to rescue the orphans at the Forgotten City. She addresses Cloud’s plea for forgiveness and helps him understand what it is exactly that he is so uncertain and guilty about. She also helps Cloud out many times throughout the movie, saving him from certain death quite a few times.

- When Cloud plunges into Bahamut’s plasma ball she helps him through.
- When Kadaj is about to blast Cloud to smithereens in the church Aeris summons her raincloud of anti-Jenova cells and scares him off. This also heals Cloud of the Geostigma.
- When Cloud begins his battle with Sephiroth, something Marlene says as the storm gathers brings up flashes of Aeris and I believe Aeris tries to help Cloud out in some way in that battle.
- Aeris helps guide Kadaj into the Lifestream by posing as his “mother” (Jenova) and then she proceeds to heal a whole lot of people with her anti-Jenova rain.
- When Cloud is killed or really messed up by Yazoo and Loz’s sacrificial explosion, Aeris resurrects him through the children.

Now my question about Aeris’ role in the movie is this: how can Aeris help Cloud? Aeris dies in the game and as far as I can remember does not help Cloud after she is gone. After all, she no longer exists within the game. Cloud is very upset by her death and believes he could have done more, but this is Aeris’ memory having an effect, not Aeris herself. It seems rather strange that after having gone through so much in the game, if Aeris was capable of helping Cloud as some sort of spirit, then why didn’t she? The way I see it is that Aeris is an Ancient, and thus has powers far beyond that of a normal human being in the FF7 world. Thus she is able to operate as a spirit in the movie by utilizing her powers. But then this brings up the question of what is a spirit in the FF7 world? We discover that in the game, Sephiroth is killed by Cloud very early in the game, but his extraordinary willpower allows him to ‘live on’ as a spirit and influence the game using powers of the mind. Sephiroth’s power is based on the mind and the fact that he was a very powerful badass before he physically died. For more details on that, I examined this essay all about Sephiroth [Hidden link. Register to see links.]
Sephiroth was able to use his immense willpower to “move around mentally in a physical state he fashioned for himself to retrieve the Black Materia and summon Meteor”. Now if Aeris is a spirit, then she should operate by the same rules, but in the movie Aeris does not take physical form to influence the course of events. Actually, I suppose she does become a rainstorm of sorts, but that’s a pretty pathetic physical manifestation if that even classifies as one. Aeris mainly utilizes visions or dreams that she sends to Cloud and helps add to Cloud’s willpower or address mental dilemmas that Cloud has throughout the movie. She is basically a voice in his head. And a rainstorm.
But then again maybe the rainstorm is a way that the world addresses the problem of Geostigma and Jenova’s cells within the Lifestream. As said here, [Hidden link. Register to see links.], Lifestream is the blood of the planet and rushes to heal any wounds the planet takes. The rainstorm could have been the world’s way of addressing and defeating the problem of the Geostigma. But then again, throughout the movie the raincloud is associated with Aeris in that it appears in her grove of flowers at the church and appears along with Aeris’ voice when she talks Kadaj into joining the Lifestream. Who knows? So to finalize this section: Is Aeris a spirit? What is a spirit within the FF7 world? If she is a spirit, why isn’t she like Sephiroth’s spirit? Is the raincloud Aeris or the planet healing a wound?

2. The wolf’s appearances – Now I’m sure you are thinking, “This has been asked before, there is a thread up right now,” but bear with me. This random wolf appears a number of times in the movie:

- Near the beginning the wolf stands next to Cloud’s old buster sword on a cliff overlooking Midgar.
- When Cloud and Tifa are passed out in the flowers within Aeris’ church.
- When we see the cell phone falling into the water at Ajit, the wolf is looking over the water for a brief moment (when the camera passes through the trees).
- When Cloud dies and we are brought into his mind (the white nothingness) the wolf walks up to Cloud’s unconscious form and then disappears.

There are a few theories regarding who/what the wolf is. First let me dismiss the silly ones. – The wolf is Zack. I don’t see how this works out; Zack is seen in the movie twice. Once when Cloud remembers failing him after planting the buster sword back into the ground. And again at the end of the movie when Aeris and Zack’s spirits (assuming they are spirits) walk out of the church and leave Cloud forever. Now why would Zack be represented as a wolf? The wolf disappears at the end. If the wolf was Zack then why would Zack show up as a wolf, disappear, and then show up again with Aeris, and again disappear? Kind of redundant. Same explanation goes for people who say that the wolf is Aeris. It just doesn’t match up. But the primary theory among these is the belief that the wolf symbolizes Cloud’s guilt over the deaths of Aeris and Zack. Personally, I disagree, although I can’t think up a better answer. Why would the wolf be standing next to his sword overlooking Midgar? Aeris did not die in Midgar. Zack did not die in Midgar. So why is his guilt associated with a city that nothing particularly heart-stopping occurs in within the game? Cloud does not fail anybody in Midgar, so why would he feel guilt over that aspect of his life? It would be more suitable for them to plant the sword on a cliff overlooking the Forgotten City and then put the wolf next to that if the wolf were to represent guilt. After all that is where Aeris is killed so it would be more appropriate. For the other three appearances of the wolf it makes more sense that the wolf is Cloud’s guilt, except Cloud feels guilty over never answering his phone? Kind of ridiculous. And by the way, it seems out of the ordinary to have a symbol like that show up multiple times within the movie that does not affect the plot or the characters whatsoever. Cloud never sees the wolf. In FF7 Aeris was a symbol in that she recognized Life, but she actually participated in the story and had a purpose. The wolf has no purpose except to appear as a symbol. Assuming that the wolf is supposed to symbolize guilt. It would actually be more suitable to have Cloud’s old sword represent his guilt by having it overlook the Forgotten City and for him to take it away after the story ends. After all, Cloud’s old sword partially represents all that happened within the game, so for him to get rid of it would mean he finally has overcome his problems with the past, which is the purpose of the FF7 movie. This is why I don’t think that the wolf is supposed to symbolize Cloud’s guilt. So to finalize this section: Why would the wolf appear in two parts of the movie (overlooking Midgar and the sinking cell-phone) where Cloud does not feel guilt? Is the wolf really Cloud’s guilt? Why use a wolf to represent Cloud’s guilt when his old sword could be much more relevant?

3. Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo’s Origin – Throughout the movie, where these guys came from is mysterious. They first influence the course of events when they show up within the Northern Crater to take Jenova’s head from Shinra. Shinra manage to escape with the head, and Kadaj and his gang give chase. Shinra has no idea who they are initially. But when Kadaj comes to talk with Rufus, Kadaj says “We’re spirits, after all. Until we find Mother and divide up her cells… We can’t be normal.” Kadaj then proceeds to show flickers of something… else… inside of him. In retrospect we find out that he is showing flickers of Sephiroth inside of him. So are these guys Sephiroth’s spirit come again? In the game you beat three versions of Sephiroth. The first is powerful enough to take on every single character you have all at once. The second is only powerful enough to take on a single party of three. And the last one is only strong enough to fight Cloud alone. Cloud consequently kills Sephiroth once and for all, and he is for all intents and purposes completely dead now. In mind and body. So how can Kadaj and his gang be Sephiroth’s spirit manifesting again? We gather that the movie occurs pretty much right after the game because Rufus says to Cloud that Shinra is still trying to rebuild. So that just doesn’t make sense in the overall story between game and movie. Considering how well they make the transition from game to movie I find it difficult that they would bring back Sephiroth just because he is a badass villain. FF7 and the movie had a lot of thought put into them and that is one huge flaw. Alternately, they could be the work of Jenova. I believe that they could be Jenova’s cells operating within the Lifestream. This is said in the movie, and Jenova is an extremely powerful alien being. And if the Lifestream creates everything, then the Lifestream could create its own being to serve its will. Jenova’s objective in this case is to bring back Sephiroth, a human (or actually, mutant) powerful enough to serve its original goal of destroying the Planet. Thus Sephiroth is the Chosen of Jenova and this theory is also backed by Kadaj’s indecision regarding who Jenova favors more, Kadaj or Sephiroth. Kadaj knows that the ultimate goal is to resurrect Sephiroth, but he does not know whether they are resurrecting him to use him as a tool (or weapon) or for Sephiroth to take over for them because they are undoubtedly weaker than him. When Kadaj absorbs Jenova’s head cells or whatever the hell that was into him to turn into Sephiroth, I believe that this is Kadaj’s last stand. This is him saying, “Well I can’t beat you but if I have to I’ll bring out Sephiroth to kill you, even though I don’t want him in charge, just to kill you’re sorry ass.” I think Kadaj and his gang planned on resurrecting Sephiroth in a different manner because then why would Kadaj take the dumb box cross-country on motorbike when all he had to do was absorb the cells to undergo that transformation? So to finalize this section: How can Kadaj and his gang be spirits of Sephiroth? Does my theory of Kadaj’s gang being creations of Jenova within the Lifestream make sense? Why would Kadaj absorb Jenova’s cells to become Sephiroth much later in the movie when he could have done so from the moment he got the box? Could Kadaj and his gang perhaps have had another plan in mind?

4. Sephiroth’s Goal – In the game, Sephiroth’s goal after he discovers that he is a genetic experiment freak is to search for what he thinks is his mother, Jenova. In reality, Sephiroth is son of the mad scientist Hojo and Lucretia, but he never realizes this. If I remember correctly Sephiroth finds Jenova and decides that his new goal is to become for all intents and purposes, a god. Sephiroth hopes to accomplish this by calling forth meteor to collide with the planet. The planet would then try to heal the wound with an enormous surge of the Lifestream and then Sephiroth would absorb all of that power into himself. That is glossing over a lot of detail, but is overall Sephiroth’s goal (for additional details, read the Sephiroth theory here again [Hidden link. Register to see links.]. In the movie, it would make sense for his goal to be the same, with the slight change of killing off Cloud and all of his friends before trying to summon Meteor. But this isn’t the case. In the movie Sephiroth says “What I hope for, Cloud, is to use the world as a ship to sail the darkness of space. As Mother did before me, you see. One day we will discover a new world. We will create our shining future on that ground.” Sounded rather ridiculous to me. Sephiroth does not supply any details as to how he plans to use the world as some sort of spaceship or what exactly his idea of a “shining future” is. Kind of difficult when all you can do is fly around like Neo and kick ass with a very, very long sword. But then I put it into context. Perhaps Sephiroth means that after he executes his original plan of absorbing all of the Lifestream, he would then become powerful enough to guide the lifeless hunk of rock that remained wherever he wanted. But to someone who just saw the movie, what Sephiroth says would sound absurd without previous knowledge from playing the game. So perhaps the goal is entirely separate from what we previously know about Sephiroth. Again, Sephiroth’s idea of a shining future has no previous reference in the game or movie, and is thus left to the viewer’s imagination. So to finalize this section: Why does Sephiroth change his goals between game and movie? Or does he change them? Is Sephiroth’s stated goals in the movie a continuation of his original objectives? Any other possible speculation?

5. Jenova’s Headshot – This is a short one and not really a theory, but I need a break from writing the long ones. Rufus shoots the box that contains Jenova’s head. We see liquid seep out (Jenova’s cells). Later, as the motorcycle chase from hell is coming to an end, Kadaj pulls to a stop in Aeris’ church of all places. Why he decided to go there is another question, but not exactly relevant. Anyways, Kadaj looks into the box, expecting to see Mother for the first time. But in the box he sees nothing. The hole created by Rufus has allowed all of Jenova’s cells to be lost. Kadaj cries out almost as in pain from losing his mother and then later fights Cloud in a rather pissed off manner suggesting that he realizes that his mother is lost. Kadaj, in the end, loses. As Kadaj hangs onto a ledge with only the box in hand, he hurls the box at Cloud. Cloud bats it away or slices it in half with his sword (happens too fast to really tell) and the top of the box comes off. And, what the hell, Jenova cells squirt out. Kadaj leaps to it, absorbs the cells, becomes Sephiroth, etc. But did I miss something? I thought all the cells were gone and Kadaj had failed. He cries over the loss of his mother and then the cells are magically back! Is this inconsistency or am I missing something here?

6. The Orphans’ Purpose – Throughout the movie we receive footage of orphans such as Denzel, Marlene, and the girl with the mog doll, along with hundreds of others. All of them (but Marlene for some reason) get the Geostigma virus (why is a separate question I will address later). All of them are then sought after by Kadaj and his gang… Why? Kadaj begins by convincing the orphans that the planet wants to hurt them and that Geostigma is a virus created by the planet to hurt the orphans. Kadaj continues by stating that all of the orphans and Kadaj are siblings: chosen ones who have “inherited Mother’s cells that were absorbed in the Lifestream.” Kadaj then says that the planet is trying to interfere and that together they can bring their “family’s power together and get back at the planet.” So Kadaj is trying to use the orphans as some sort of energy resource? Wow. It just hit me. Kadaj corrupts the orphans to his way of thinking by having them drink the Jenova-infected water. Kadaj then draws upon the combined power of the orphans along with his own in order to summon Bahamut. Yes, that sounds right. And the orphans along with Denzel come back to their senses after Bahamut arrives. But then again, they do not do so immediately. I specifically remember as the dragon comes swooping in, Reno tries to save one of the orphans (who memorably pushes him away by shoving fingers up his nose), but the orphan had not been released from Kadaj’s control yet. One could argue that when Kadaj is distracted by Rufus revealing and then hurling Jenova’s head out the side of the building, that distraction could have ended the control. But that occurs a while after Cloud’s crew arrives and attacks Bahamut. And Denzel regains his senses right before Cloud’s crew arrives (when Denzel suicidally charges Bahamut, Barret steps in his way and is the first of Cloud’s crew to engage the dragon). Hmm… I sense inconsistency. So to finalize: What is the purpose of the orphans within the movie? Is it to summon Bahamut? Or is it possibly just to deter people from interfering (such as when Cloud attacks at the Forgotten City or when random nameless people yell at Yazoo and Loz pulling down the monument of Meteor’s defeat)?