- Zack – “Okay, I'll come visit. This is a promise.”
- Aerith – “I'll be waiting”
- — Crisis Core Chapter 013: I Promise
- 1 Canon
- 2 Moments
- 3 Quotes
- 4 Fanon
- 5 Fandom
- 6 Trivia
- 7 Gallery
- 8 References
- 9 Navigation
Both characters debuted in Final Fantasy VII. In the game, Aerith was a major character and a party member. Zack was a minor and hidden in the game. His story has since been expanded on in as sequels and prequels to FFVII have come out.
Zack Fair grew up in a backwater town, Gongaga. At a young age, he became endeared with SOLDIER, a superhuman organization and a branch of the military of the Shinra power company. He travels to the city of Midgar to apply and is accepted as SOLDIER. The talented young man quickly raises to 1st Class.
Aerith was the daughter of Ifalna, the last of the Cetra, and Gast Faremis, head of the Shinra science department. However, Gast was killed by Hojo and mortally Ifalna wounded. Ifalna entrusted Aerith's life to Elmyra Gainsborough who raised her as her daughter in Midgar. Growing up, Aerith took a liking to a local Church and spent time growing flowers there.
In April 0001, while on a mission form Shinra, Zack falls off the upper plate of the city, crashing through the roof of the church, startling Aerith. After the first impression, Aerith agrees to a date with Zack, he buys a perfume and a pink ribbon for her. But their date is interrupted as he gets a call to return to headquarter. Aerith asks if she would see him again and Zack replies her positively. But the next time he meets her in autumn, he is grieving of the loss of his mentor and she embraces him from behind.
The two spend a lot of time thereafter and become intimate with each other as lovers. Many people know their relationship: The Turks who guards Aerith obviously, Zack's best friend named Kunsel, the members of his Fanclub, and surprisingly also Sephiroth. Zack ever suggests she sell flowers at their first meeting and promised her to build a flower wagon. But time goes on and she demands it right before he leaves for his next mission. He fulfills it but as she isn't satisfied with the wagon, she then hands him a note of her 23 tiny wishes written on it. They sell flowers together later on at the playground in Sector 6 slum and relish the happiness of being together despite the short time since he has to go. Zack asks her to wear a pink dress for their next meeting when he comes back.
The mission happens on September 22, 0002 as Zack goes to Nibelheim with Sephiroth to investigate the reactor when things go from bad to worse and Shinra publicly announces they’re all killed in action. The Fanclub, and also Kunsel, check on her due to the sad news, but Aerith doesn’t believe Zack has died as she still waits for his return. She said the tire of the wagon broke so she continued to sell flowers with basket. Kunsel even offers himself to fix it but Aerith only wants Zack to do it. As he doesn’t come back, she writes letters to Zack hoping she could reach him and deliver it through Tseng, one of The Turks who is close to both her and Zack. After writing 88 letters in four years without any reply, she loses hope of ever seeing Zack again. So she writes the 89th letter as the final one and delivers it through Angeal Copy.
The truth is Zack, who is severely wounded from the Nibelheim incident, is experimented by Professor Hojo, Shinra’s mad scientist, until suddenly he is awake on December 19, 0006. Breaking the cell, he escapes with his comatose friend, Cloud Strife. Now as an enemy of Shinra, who is trying to coverup the truth of what happened in Nibelheim, Zack spends months on the run with the hope of reaching Midgar one day to fulfill Aerith’s 23 Wishes. When he finishes his confrontation against Genesis Rhapsodos in Banora, he received her 89th letter. He screams out to the sky due to his realization of four years passing and the mention that it’s her final letter; makes him so determined to return to her with all the risks. Few days later, he finally reaches the outskirt of the city but it's surrounded by a battalion of Shinra Army. Fighting for his freedom, he is gunned down by the three soldiers left. Aerith, tending her flowers in the church, senses his dying moment because of her Cetra blood. She prays for him and gasps to the sky, implying she knows he is beyond saving. It also turns out despite her final letter, she’s dressed in pink for the promise of their next meeting.
Zack takes his last breath after passing his Buster Sword onto Cloud who gains consciousness. This tragedy happens in late September 0007. Cloud then heads alone to Midgar.
On December 9, 0007, Aerith meets Cloud when she is selling flowers in Sector 8. Meeting again as Cloud falls to the church as Zack did, Aerith asks Cloud to be her bodyguard with one date payment mirroring Zack did to her. At the same playground where she first dated Zack and sold flowers with him in their last meeting, she asks Cloud if he knew her first love because both are in the same rank in SOLDIER, Aerith still doesn't get closure of what happened with Zack nor been aware that his death is part of the reason behind Cloud's fake persona she could sense as Cetra.
Aerith leaves Midgar with Cloud and the others, set on a journey to pursue and stop Sephiroth. They pass across Gongaga Town and unintentionally meet Zack’s parents. The parents ask the group if they knew where Zack had been since the last news they heard about him is from the letter he sent to them 6-7 years ago, that's the time when Aerith was dating Zack. In the letter, Zack mentioned that he had a girlfriend, and both Aerith and Tifa are asked if they were his girlfriend. But neither of them replies to his parents as they burst out of the house, implying both shocks.
In Gold Saucer amusement park, as Aerith is dating Cloud in the gondola, she confesses that he reminds her of Zack and that is part of the reason why she felt strongly attracted to him. But she also learns that things are different and wants to meet the real Cloud, indicating that she's ready to let go of Zack, and move on with her life.
Unfortunately, Aerith is slain by Sephiroth days later while trying to save the planet. This tragedy happens in late December 0007, just three months from Zack's death.
Suffering from terminal illness as his foster son and feeling he fails everyone, Cloud disappears from Tifa and the children. He starts to live in Aerith's church and keep visiting Zack's grave. At this time, three remnants of Sephiroth begins to attack.
Separately, Aerith and Zack’s spirit then appear in dream-sphere like to aid Cloud. Together, they send Cloud’s spirit back to the living world, joking as he’s too big to be adopted, which means it isn’t his time to die yet. Waking up at the church surrounded by his family and friends, Cloud sees Aerith and Zack smiling at him before going back to where they belong by walking to the light-filled doorway. He smiles back as he's no longer alone; returning to Tifa and the children.
At some times around the year 0009, Buster Sword, the sword Zack passes his legacy onto Cloud, is polished and moved from being Zack's grave marker at the hill to Aerith's church. Meanwhile, at the spot of Zack's death, yellow flowers symbolizing reunion are blooming naturally although it's a barren land.
The story of this game follows the events in Final Fantasy VII that takes place only in Midgar City with some differences, especially with the existence of Arbiter of Fate. Major change happens in the last chapter.
In Midgar expressway where the party confronts Sephiroth, Aerith gets a vision of Zack's final battle against Shinra Army. As the party defeats Arbiter of Fate later on, Zack didn't die in his last stand and continues to drag Cloud headed to Midgar, implying that his fate has changed.
When the party reaches the outskirt of the city as they leave to pursue and stop Sephiroth, Aerith and Cloud walk pass Zack with different Cloud which implies two different timelines. Here, Aerith stops walking for a while under the rain and gazes at the cloudy sky. What happened to Zack after that, and whether he reunited with Aerith alive, are still unknown.
Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
- Because Aerith looks wanting a ribbon in the market, Zack buys a pink ribbon for Aerith then puts it on top of her braid.
- At first date, they stare at each other's eyes closely and almost kiss if Aerith wasn't embarrassed.
- Aerith embraces and comforts Zack who comes to her church in sadness because of his mentor's death.
- Aerith gives Zack her note of 23 Tiny Wishes and they stare at each other as love birds.
- Aerith and Zack are selling flowers together.
- Zack receives a phone call from Aerith under the water tower in Nibelheim, he promises to come visit her.
- Zack reads Aerith's note of her 23 Wishes after break-free from mako tank.
- Zack receives Aerith's final letter and feels desperate to come back.
- His dying's last thought is full of memories of Aerith and ended up with her last voice when she called him in Nibelheim, "I'll be waiting."
- Aerith senses Zack's dying and prays
Final Fantasy VII: Remake
- Aerith talks with Cloud about Zack in a sad expression.
- Aerith senses Zack's last stand on highway.
- Aerith walks pass Zack in ending, her expression is sad while Zack turns smiling.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
- Aerith and Zack joked about adopting Cloud.
- Aerith and Zack walk to the light together.
- Zack – “Heaven?”
- Aerith – “Not quite. Church in the slum.”
- Zack – “Angel?”
- Aerith – “No. I'm Aerith. You fell from the sky, scaring me.”
- — Zack and Aerith's first meeting
- “I have 23 tiny wishes, but you probably don't remember them all. So, I put them together into one: I'd like to spend more time with you.”
- — Aerith to Zack
- “Are you doing well? Where are you? It’s been four years. This will be the 89th letter I’ve written, but I don't know where to send it anymore. I hope that this final letter gets to you.
Zack, the flowers are selling very well. It makes everyone happy. Thanks to you.”
- — Aerith's 89th letter to Zack
- “Four years? What do you mean final?! Aerith, wait for me...”
- — Zack scream out, after reading Aerith's final letter
Final Fantasy VII
- “Dear Dad and Mom,
How are you guys? Sorry for leaving town so suddenly. I just really wanted to become a SOLDIER. I bet you're worried now that I've told you... But now I'm fulfilling my lifelong dream, and I'll do my best in SOLDIER.
P.S. I have a girlfriend.”
- — Zack's letter to his parents
Final Fantasy VII: Remake
- “Do you know I used to sell flowers here? Weird, you were in the same rank as the first guy I ever loved.”
- — Aerith to Cloud about Zack, Chapter 9
- Aerith – “Again? Why everyone calls me 'Mother' lately?”
- Zack – “I think they must be fond of you.”
- Aerith – “But this one is too big to adopt.”
- Zack – “Tough luck, friend. Seems you have no place here.”
- — Aerith and Zack joked about adopting Cloud
Zerith is a popular ship in the Final Fantasy fandom. But the number of fans was never big until the release of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII (2007) as prequel game that shows their past relationship.
Zerith fans feel Zack and Aerith's personalities complement each other. Some are drawn to the tragedy of the ship and pictured being together in death. Both Zack and Aerith's deaths separately are considered to be among the saddest moments in the Final Fantasy franchise. Their tragic fate is contrasted with the perky energy of the pair exhibit. The two are optimists in a world of cynics.
Out of the ship's own fans, Zerith has supporters from the extremely popular Cloti ship and many Cloti fans ship Zerith since it does not conflict with Cloti. Many Clerith fans as rival pairing oppose the idea of Zerith being a serious and intimate relationship because Crisis Core, that comes out 10 years after the release of Final Fantasy VII, retcons what they imagine Zerith is like, as portrayed in "The Diary Entries" inserted in oldest guide book titled FFVII True Script Dissection The Complete (released in 1997) and in Maiden Who Travel The Planet novella inserted in FFVII Ultimania Omega (released in 2005). The canonicity of those materials is debatable since both were written by Benny Matsuyama from Studio Benstuff who also writes several Diary Entries and novellas for other Final Fantasy franchises despite never being involved in the development team. On the contrary, many Zerith fans accept the idea of Aerith developing a genuine feeling for Cloud during the time of her trying to move on from Zack's death as it's mentioned in On The Way To A Smile novella (2009) by a line "Cloud is her friend--more than a friend, for she had loved." This novella is canon because it's written by Kazushige Nojima, the scenario writer of Final Fantasy VII, Crisis Core (prequel), and Advent Children (sequel).
Since both of them have appeared in the Kingdom Hearts series, some fans of the ship have their KH counterparts meet one another, ship Zerith beside the KH version of Cloti or feature them in their KH/FF MMD fanwork. By using their KH, CCFFVII or Dissidia Final Fantasy model renders for it, along with using the child renders of Sora, Riku and Kairi to create child renders of the Zack and Aerith.
With the release of FFVII Remake (2020) that shows Zack's survival against his tragic fate, there is hope that Aerith would follow the survival pattern and both could reunite when they are alive. Despite the opportunity of Zack and Aerith able to live happily ever after, many believe that both still have to die for the plot's sake.
- Zerith is listed on Square Enix website as one of Great Final Fantasy Love Stories along with Noctluna, Tiduna, and Squinoa .
- Zack's Japanese voice actor, Suzumura Kenichi, is married to Aerith's Japanese voice actor, Sakamoto Maaya, on August 8. 2011. The two had dated since 2004 after voicing the last episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Destiny as Shin Asuka and Lunamaria (Shinnluna); which means they have been always voicing Zack and Aerith since FFVII Advent Children (2004) to FFVII Remake (2020-...) as a real couple. In FFVII 15th Anniversary Stage Event (held around 2012) , Cloud's Japanese voice actor, Takahiro Sakurai, teased Suzumura Kenichi that Zack and Aerith are eventually married, referencing Advent Children ending.
- From Nobuo Uematsu’s interview from Game Symphony Japan FF7 2014 concert pamphlet, it reveals that "Aerith's Theme" is composed of "a poor girl waiting for someone who doesn't come that every single day, she waits and waits" in mind.  Perhaps there was an early script in FFVII Original Game of Aerith waiting for Zack at the train station given to Uematsu for him taking inspiration the song from; but it was replaced with her foster mother, Elmyra, waiting for her husband as final result since the track is still played there.
- In FFVII Remake ending, Aerith said "The sky, I hate it." (EN localization: "I miss it, the steel sky"). The phrase is similar to one of her lines in her farewell monologue in FF 30th Anniversary Exhibition with the full sentence is "I hate the sky because it carries away everyone I love." Tetsuya Nomura mentioned it in FFVII Remake Ultimania Book, that it refers to Zack and her mother, Ifalna, as people dear to her taken away by the sky (metaphor of people die and go to heaven). This matches Crisis Core ending, as Zack is showed being picked up to the sky by Angeal, his deceased mentor.
- The developers revised FFVII: Advent Children with some adjustments of Crisis Core: FFVII become Advent Children Complete (2009). Zack's scene is added more to give Cloud's equal guilt as well as Aerith's death as described in ACC Post Card Book that both are his unforgivable sins and the people he could never forget. Aerith's appearance showing her watching Cloud riding motorbike is also removed in credit roll and two new scenes heavily implying Zack and Aerith's togetherness in death are added post-credit roll.
- Aerith's dialogue that mentions she and Zack weren't serious in Final Fantasy VII (1997) is removed in FFVII: Remake (2020). She also mentions Zack's name despite in a deep breath and wants to stare at Cloud's mako eyes that remind her of Zack's eyes. Those changes are following how Zack and Aerith's relationship is portrayed in FFVII: Crisis Core (2007).
- Zack and Aerith were mistranslated as "Zax" and "Aeris" in early material due to the direct romanization of their Japanese name in katakana "Zakkusu" and "Earisu".
|SHIPS||het||Clerith • CloLight • Cloti • Highspecs • HopuRai • Lightis • Noctluna • Raire • Squaerith • Squinoa • Snerah • SnowRai • Tiduna • Zerith|
|slash||Clack • Nocloud • Sefikura • Strifehart • Strifentine|
|femslash||Aerti • FLight • Lightifa • VanLight|
|CHARACTERS||m/f||Cloud Strife • Lightning Farron|