Final Fantasy VII‘s story is bonkers: A genetically engineered super-soldier overthrows the corporation that acts as a de facto world government and then, believing that he has a divine right to rule, summons a meteor to strike the planet so that he can merge with the energy of all living things, becoming a god. But a rag-tag team of mercenaries led by an amnesiac who’s been injected with alien blood and including a man with a gun for an arm, a flower merchant, an ancient wolf-beast who can talk and a remote controlled robotic cat that rides a giant stuffed animal fight off the aforementioned super-soldier to save the world from certain destruction, getting into various adventures and hijinks along the way. Like I said, bonkers.
That puts it in good company. Much of fiction, if boiled down to a basic summary like the one above, would read as being ridiculous. The timeline of One Hundred Years of Solitude is, illogically, a linear circle; the story of In Search of Lost Time is one of a man eating a cookie and then Inception-ing himself into his memories rather than his dreams; everything that Kafka ever wrote was wonderfully absurd. But cherry-picking those plot points ignores the greater thematic value of these works, just as it does for Final Fantasy VII which is really about coming to terms with the gap between who you are and you who imagine yourself to be or how there’s an inherent value in all life or how it’s important to have ideals that reach beyond the scope of your own personal sphere.
Am I, therefore, claiming that a video game featuring blocky character designs and murderous blades of grass is a work of art? You’re goddamn right I am. As a person smarter than me once said, “If you can observe the work of another and find in it personal connection, then art has been achieved.” I absolutely found personal connection in Final Fantasy VII and I wasn’t alone in that.
Over the course of his six-hour YouTube series Let’s Mosey: A Slow Translation of Final Fantasy VII, Kotaku’s Tim Rogers explores the differences between the game’s original Japanese script and the English translation and the value here isn’t nitpicking what was missed or botched in that translation, but rather in viewing a piece of art with nuance and depth and in connecting that art to personal experience, as Rogers often does with frequent anecdotes that are oftentimes humorous and occasionally deeply moving. It’s the type of analysis and inspection that art deserves and, odd as it may seem to some, Final Fantasy VII certainly qualifies for and deserves that kind of treatment.