The Final Fantasy 7 Remake changes up some of the language used in the Cloud cross-dressing scene, allowing the classic JRPG to enter the twenty-first century with grace.
A famous sequence from the original title will see a revised version of the scene where Cloud cross-dresses as a woman in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake.
Tifa, following a lead on how to take down the insidious Shinra organization, has found herself in a bit of a pickle. She’s being held captive in a dungeon and is soon to be presented to a gruff mobster named Don. Tifa is doing so of her own volition, but nonetheless, she could use a bit of help.
Cloud and Aerith quickly realize that in order to help out Tifa, they’ll need to enter Don’s club. Cloud then goes on a fetch quest to obtain items like a silk dress, a diamond tiara, and a braided wig.
Speaking to the dressmaker, Aerith sways him into helping their cause by relating the following about Cloud. “He always said that just once, he’d like to dress up like a girl,” says Aerith to the dressmaker. With Cloud out of earshot, she states “So, that’s why I wanted a cute dress for him…”
“What!? A tough lookin’ guy like that?” exclaims the dressmaker. After Aerith requests the dress again, the dressmaker responds “…might be interesting. I was gettin’ a little bored just makin’ regular clothes.”
In this exchange, we learn of the culture in Midgar surrounding gender and how society accepts the notions surrounding non-cis individuals. The dressmaker states that Cloud is “tough lookin’,” and yet, when he is wearing the dress, Cloud presents female.
Sure, it’s all done in a bit of a slapstick, under-cover-to-save-the-damsel-in-distress sort of look, but for 1997, the exchange above hasn’t aged all too poorly. Aerith is able to sway the dressmaker with the fib that Cloud has always wanted to wear a dress, and only after a tiny debate, the dressmaker concedes to do so.
While it has yet to be seen how this exchange with the dressmaker will go down in the Final Fantasy 7 Remake‘s version of the cross-dressing sequence, we were given a bit of new dialogue during Cloud’s makeup and hair transformation scene.
“Y’know I got a friend that has the same taste as him. I’ll go talk to him,” says the dressmaker. The new scene that plays out was revealed in the latest trailer for the Final Fantasy 7 Remake, as a man helping Cloud put on his makeup and hair says the following lines (heard in the trailer below).
“Welcome to the Honey Bee Inn, Cloud. True beauty is an expression of the heart, a thing without shame to which notions of gender don’t apply. Perfection.”
This new dialogue is coupled with a very intimate sequence where Cloud is held closely by the man dressing the protagonist. The delivery of the word “perfection” is coupled with a lips-almost-touching gaze, and for what it’s worth, Ms. Cloud doesn’t seem to be shying away.
Cloud is already a beautiful man, and with makeup, a wig, and a dress, his beauty is exemplified all the more. Square Enix didn’t present this part of the trailer as any sort of joke. The tone of the video edit was serious. With a brilliant display of golden lights and dancers, Cloud’s transformation into Ms. Cloud is respected. He’s doing it to rescue Tifa, and for the most part, he doesn’t show hesitance.
What this all means is that Cloud, a cis male protagonist from one of the most recognizable video games of all time, is comfortable enough in his own gender identity that he doesn’t feel threatened or all too uncomfortable with the notion of dressing as a woman, as least with a specific purpose.
Further, there is a built-in subculture of cross-dressing men in Midgar. Big Brother’s squatting mini-game is a contest over a pretty wig. It’s not really lingered on; it’s a beat that comes and goes fairly naturally, and it isn’t judged.
As the undercover sequence plays out, Aerith and Cloud are eventually allowed into mobster Don’s club. Being assimilated as one of the “girls,” Cloud takes a quick moment to think, “I am one of the girls being referenced.” The dread in Cloud’s mind feels like it’s only a fear of the coming battle with Don, not the fact that he is passing believably as female.
He recognizes that he is included as a woman in this scene, and for once, he feels a bit vulnerable. Cloud has fully embraced the role of being a woman undercover, and it’s a bit of a scary thing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. Women are being auctioned off and treated like cattle in the Don’s club. Cloud’s cross-dressing sequence reveals to the cis man that there are dangers associated with being a woman that he would not have recognized otherwise.
The Don chooses Cloud, and calls him “healthy looking.” Note, there wasn’t a jab at anything of Cloud’s remaining masculine features here. Once again, for a game that released over 20 years ago, Square Enix saw the opportunity for a low jab at the “men that dress in women’s clothing is funny” gag, but instead, they had the dialogue simply read that Ms. Cloud was simply, “healthy.”
All of this is to say, that on top of the 1997 dialogue that still mostly holds, Square Enix is making an attempt at being even more inclusive and respectful with Cloud’s cross-dressing. It’s not a joke, and it’s not taken lightly. The act of cross-dressing takes hard work, and the process should be respected.
The Midgar section of the Final Fantasy 7 Remake will release on April 10, 2020.