We can’t get enough of Tifa Lockhart. She’s been stealing hearts since the release of Final Fantasy 7 way back in 1997, but recent years have seen her experience a resurgence of almost untold magnitude. Whether she’s being railed in Italian parliament, having lewd statues produced of her legendary figure or going on dates with Aerith Gainsborough, it seems the JRPG heroine is an unstoppable force in the modern zeitgeist.
The arrival of Final Fantasy 7 Remake brought all of these characters back into the limelight, rebranding the likes of Tifa, Aerith, and Cloud into beloved icons that the wider community expressed a collective horniness for. We weren’t afraid to talk about polycules, sapphic pairings, or how Cloud is little more than an emotional support twink for his two fellow party members. There was something oddly wholesome about it all, and there still is, even as companies seek to abuse this new outlook with egregious merchandise that nobody can afford. I say that, but I bet some of you have already pre-ordered that figurine.
Despite how revered the entire cast is among fans, Tifa has seemingly taken on a life of her own. The traffic and discussion for any news story surrounding the character is absurd, and part of me wants to believe that goes beyond the absurd subject and readers purely hoping to see Tifa having her backdoors smashed in. It probably doesn’t, but I can keep dreaming. It’s much like Lady Dimitrescu, with Tifa’s character rising above the source material and becoming a cultural object of its own with supreme push and pull wherever she might emerge. It goes beyond sex selling, and at the centre sits a compelling character whose personality and design is so iconic that we can’t help but feel drawn to it.
Final Fantasy has always been capable of this, but a remake of its finest hour has allowed things to go supernova, cementing the patron of Seventh Heaven as a legend with little competition. It will show no signs of slowing either with various spin-off novels, merchandise, and the second part of the remake on the horizon. Square Enix clearly recognises the appeal of Tifa Lockhart, both in terms of personality and looks, and are keen to capitalise upon that popularity however it can. It’s easy to be cynical about such an obvious sellout, but fans have managed to reclaim this through their own creations and headcanons that take this fictional universe to places its creators would only dream off. I’d like to have a word to whoever signed off that statue though, were the detachable clothes really necessary?
I feel the current generation of gamers have a different relationship to female characters like Tifa Lockhart. When she first debuted in Final Fantasy 7 she was a sexual object for an audience of mostly male players, but today she has held dear by an audience of JRPG fans from all walks of life. We are able to engage with her from a purely horny perspective – as popular opinion clearly shows – but are also able to view Tifa as a worthwhile character with a beautiful personality that easily stands the test of time. We ship her with so many characters and seek to have her story stretch beyond established canon because the narrative nuggets held within have so much potential. Her relationship with Aerith will never become canon, but it’s real to me damn it, and it means so much to me because Tifa sits at the centre of it all and has the status to make it all possible.
We stan Tifa Lockhart. Forever and always. Get it, queen.
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