Do you remember Biggs, Wedge, and Jesse? They were apart of AVALANCHE, the eco-terrorist organization led by Barret. You meet them at the beginning of the game. Of course, you meet Aerith first. But you don’t know who this flower girl is until she introduces herself to you. Biggs, Wedge, and Jesse introduce themselves to you within the first 10 minutes of the game.
They’re all from the same game, the original Final Fantasy VII. So then, why do we only remember Aerith’s death? Or rather, why is her death more memorable than those who suffered in the attack on Sector 7?
Aerith’s death comes after Biggs, Wedge and Jesse. Wouldn’t her death would actually lose impact on us, the player? But instead, it becomes one of the most shocking scenes in gaming history, despite this. It’s written about in several articles, such as here and here.
But why? What makes Aerith’s so special?
Maybe it’s because we spend more time with Aerith, getting to know who she is as a person? “Aerith is upbeat and joyful, and several times in Final Fantasy VII attempts to cheer up her fellow party members” while expressing “a carefree and naive nature”. When something bad happens to someone as agreeable as her, we can’t help but get angry. And perhaps we have more sympathy for relatively peace-loving hippie flower girls, than eco-terrorists?
Maybe we’re more protective over her? We don’t play as Biggs, Wedge or Jesse. Nor do we check their stats, give them Materia, or change their weapons or armor. We never directly control them. They’re NPCs. Who knows if they’ll be playable in the remake, but they aren’t in the original.
We did control and build up Aerith’s character. She received some of the best Materia, checked her stats, updated her weapons and armor. We took time to improve her limit breaks. So when something as uncontrollable as her death happens, and we lose everything, I’m sure we’re all notably angry.
For an eco-terrorist, we can assume that death was near inevitable, maybe even expected. For a hippie with dreams of covering the world in flowers, her death is unjust. Aerith didn’t deserve her fate, and we remember that.