Thanks to Scott Baird of ScreentRants.com for the inspiration!
12. THE PLEASANT PLANET
Final Fantasy VII is an allegory for environmentalism. All life on the planet returns to the world upon death and is reborn as something new. The Shinra Corporation has discovered a way to refine this energy into a fuel source, which is used by people all over the world. This means that they are literally turning the souls of the dead into electricity.
Final Fantasy VII starts out in the city of Midgar. It is here that we see the after-effects of Shinra’s work, as the air is polluted and plants won’t grow within the boundaries of the city. Midgar is a living testament to the damage that Shinra is doing to the environment.
The next location you visit after Midgar is the town of Kalm, which shows no effect of pollution. Almost all of the other towns in the game are generic fantasy locations and look nothing like Midgar. The Final Fantasy VII remake needs to give the player an idea of how much damage the Shinra Corporation has done to the world; this means that the other cities need to be strongly affected by the declining environment.
Final Fantasy XV has much of the same problem. Most of the world is under the dominion of an evil empire. Yet, we see a lot of peaceful places and resort areas. Same with Final Fantasy VI; wealthy places abound. And in Final Fantasy VII? We have a resort area Costa del Sol with beautiful beaches, sunny skies and, most likely, clean air.
Yes, it would be nice to see a bit more smog. Maybe a little more rust on the buildings in Kalm, a city nearby Midgar, would be more believable. I’m not sure what Scott wants to cut. I think he wants to add the grimy effects of Materia pollution, to show the harmful effects of Shinra.
But consider how much smog is in New York City, the inspiration for Midgar. The surrounding cities are mostly clear. It’s like a representation of our world. Same as Final Fantasy XV and VI. Even when two countries are at war, we fight on a battlefield away from the civilians. Not always, but in many cases.
And Gaia wasn’t exactly completely pleasant. X7Strife points out.
Gongaga is destroyed, Corel was destroyed, Fort Condor is constantly battling with Shinra, the Nibelheim incident had to be covered up and Wutai was made into a tourist location, the village under Junon is heavily polluted. So, wherever there is a mako reactor there is a conflict with nature … he should pay little more attention (and it’s not like Shinra would control the ENTIRE world)
But is the real threat Shinra to the planet? No, it’s meteor, and that’s when we see the real effect on the world. It turns into a bleak, nightmarish alternate reality of doom. Shinra is responsible for being the catalyst to this awful reality. And we see just how their effects lead to disaster if left unchecked.
Final Fantasy VII is an allegory for environmentalism. We get it. Just look at how run down the Slums in Sector 5 are. The people are really greedy in Sector 8. And the corruption and bleak the city of Midgar, draining the life from the planet, is just depressing.
But leaving Midgar raises the stakes, and shows us, especially Aerith, just how bad the planet needs healing. She’ll finally get to see flowers bloom everywhere, and not just in a small patch in the church. This is all we need to let us know how bad of a corporation Midgar is.