It is never stated exactly what Red XIII is. It is known that his species is long-lived, he had two parents who perished, and he is one of the last of his kind. He appears feline, somewhat similar to a lion, and official sources refer to him as a feline. Reno states in Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- that Red XIII “looks like a lion”, and in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Red XIII can be heard roaring like one. However, his overall movement along with his howling and relation to the moon appear canine, and at another point in Advent Children, Red XIII yelps like a canine as he hits the ground after Bahamut SIN shakes him off. At one point in the original Final Fantasy VII he is referred to as a dog by a little girl in Costa del Sol the first time the party gets there.
Official sources says Red XIII is feline, but he “yelps” like a dog. The two couldn’t be more different, so which is it?
Tetsuya Nomura probably took inspiration from both the cat and the dog to make his character. Perhaps there’s extra lore hidden underneath the surface…
Whatever Red XIII is, he’s a hybrid of both a canine and feline species, yet neither. Cats exists (i.e. Wutai), as do dogs (i.e. Rufus’ pet) in Final Fantasy VII. For whatever reason, Red XIII can talk, yet the other cats/dogs cannot. Perhaps Red XIII, as inter-species, has the intelligence of both and learned speech (with the ability to learn magic).
But does this mean that cats and dogs can reproduce in this world? Maybe Red XIII’s race is actually an ancient common ancestor of both the cat AND the dog. If so, he could potentially mate with either of them. Of course, this isn’t real science, but this is fantasy, after all. And TheDapperChangeling has a new take on Red XIII, along with his race:
Through-out the span of three games, multiple books, OVA’s, and a movie, we’ve been told of nearly everything in this world…EXCEPT for the name of the race of a prominent character. Doesn’t this seem weird? I think that Square had told us, and none of us caught it!
Let’s take a look at what we know about Red XIII, or Nanaki’s (I will be using the two names interchangeably ahead) race:
*They are an incredibly long lived race, ageing roughly one year for every three of ours, as Bugenhagen had told us.
Bugenhagen "Ho Ho Hoooo. I hear that you looked after Nanaki a bit." "Nanaki is still a child you see." Red XIII "Please stop, grandfather. I'm 48." Bugenhagen "Ho Ho Hoooo. Nanaki's tribe has incredible longevity." "So you see his 48 years would only be equivalent to say that of
a 15 or 16 year old in human reckoning.“
Cloud "15 or 16!?"
*His race was connected to the planet, as evidenced in FF Before Crisis, where he and another of his race, Denah, are in the process of doing a ceremony to “appease the planet” that is held every fifty years, that requires a male and female of his species. From this, we can infer that his species has been responsible for this for quite awhile, and that the race has a connection with the planet, a thought that is strengthened by Bugenhagen himself being able to hear and understand the Planet, as well as being able to read the language of the Ancients.
*His race is intelligent, at least to the level of humanity.
*Hojo attempted to breed Red XIII with Aerith with the intent to create a child that would live long enough to allow Shin-Ra to experiment with to find the Promised land.
President Shinra "How long will the research take?" Hojo "Probably 120 years. It's probably impossible to finish in our lifetime. Or in the lifetime of the specimen too, for that matter." (Hojo turns away from the table.) Hojo "That's why we're thinking of breeding her. Then we could create one that would withstand our research for a long time." President Shinra "What about the Promised Land? Won't it hinder our plans?"
*A prominent site near Nanaki’s home-town, Comso Canyon, is the Ancient Forest, and while Ancient could simply refer to it being old, what is another Ancient we hear of regularly?
I believe that Red XIII is a Cetra.
This sounds insane, after all, we see two Cetra in the game (Aerith and ilfana), and neither of them have any dog or feline-like features. So, let’s look a little more into the Cetra.
*The Cetra are a race similar to humanity, sharing our language and our intelligence.
*The Cetra are deeply connected with the planet, able to communicate with the planet.
*The Cetra were deeply spiritual.
Do these sound familiar? These sound a lot like our friend Nanaki, as well as the denizens of Cosmo Canyon. But none of these answer the question I posed:
If Nanaki IS a member of the Cetra, why does he look like he does? To answer this question we need to go to the Ilfana herself. In Icicle inn, you can find recordings Aerith’s parents, professor Gast and Ilfana. During one of which, she says the following:
"That's when it appeared!" "It looked like... our... our dead mothers... and our dead brothers. Showing us spectres of their past." "Who is the person that appeared at the North Cave? I haven't any idea." "That's when the one who injured the Planet... or the 'crisis from the sky', as we call him, came." (She covers her face with her hands.) "He first approached as a friend, deceived them, and finally...... gave them the virus." (She looks up again.) "The Cetra were attacked by the virus and went mad... transforming into monsters."
(She sinks to the floor. The scientist runs over to her)
"Then, just as he had at the Knowlespole." "He approached other Cetra clans...... infecting them with... the virus..."
Now, from this, we learn that the Cetra were infected by Jenova cells, went mad, and became monsters, in a similar way that we see can happen to humans, such as Hojo and the various numbered hooded NPCS that wander the world. However, we also know there are multiple beings who were infected with Jenova cells who mutated, but did not go mad, namely SOLDIERs three golden boys: Angeal, Genesis, and Sephiroth. As well as the bosses in Dirge of Cerberus, who were injected with Genesis’ genes, and at least one of them, Azul the Cerulean, was able to mutate, though he kept his mind intact.
This is to say nothing of SOLDIER, all of it’s members being injected with Jenova cells, and yet, none of them are monstrous. All of these cases are done via artificial means, so it leaves one to wonder what direct exposure to the cells would do.
More evidence comes from the creepy scientist everyone loves to hate, Hojo. And to me, this is perhaps the most decisive evidence. When Cloud and the crew goes to rescue Aerith, they interrupt Hojo attempting to forcibly breed the two. Why would Hojo be doing this? The common answer is a joke, saying that Hojo is just creepy like that. While this MAY be true, President Shinra himself is not. President Shinra is a greedy, corrupt official, who’s the biggest concern of murdering thousands of his own citizens is how much gil that will take out of his pocket. This doesn’t seem like the type of man who would give his precious gil to a crazy scientist for no reason, especially given how implausible breeding these two seems. This implies that President Shinra believed this was possible, leading me to believe Hojo had given proof that the breeding was possible, likely through DNA or blood samples.
But if TheDapperChangeling’s theory has merit, Red XIII would be genetically related to Aerith. But Jenova cells would also be Red XIII acquired the means to speak. Aerith would be an animal herself, and distantly related to both the cat and the dog. Perhaps both Aerith and Red XIII have a common ancestor born from the Lifestream, making breeding possible?
…it’s probably just as crazy as Hojo’s bestiality fetish.
What do you think?