Final Fantasy VII has always had popular female characters in the form of Tifa, Aerith and Yuffie from the playable cast, as well as Scarlet and Elena from the extended cast of NPCs.
But I remember being intrigued by Jessie back in the original PlayStation release… and it seems I wasn’t alone, as judging by reactions on social media a lot of people are absolutely thrilled with the much more substantial role she has in Final Fantasy VII Remake.
With that in mind, then, let’s take a closer look at this thoroughly charming character that we finally have the chance to get to know a bit better.
In the original Final Fantasy VII, Jessie was introduced as one of the members of Avalanche, an eco-terrorism group run by Barret. Protagonist Cloud Strife becomes involved with the organisation after he is hired to support them on the mako reactor bombing mission that marks the opening of the game; despite protestations that he is only in it for the money, he develops something of an attachment to the group.
Jessie always seemed to show a clear interest in Cloud. In the original PlayStation release of the game, she takes any opportunity to make physical contact she can — such as wiping some dirt off his face — and even gets the whole group into trouble when she makes Cloud’s ID for a subsequent mission a little too “special”, drawing unintentional attention to them all. While Barret remains skeptical of Cloud’s true nature and intentions until later in the story, Jessie — along with her compatriots Biggs and Wedge — appears convinced that Cloud has a good heart, and wants to do the right thing.
In Final Fantasy VII Remake, Jessie’s interest in Cloud persists, and manifests itself in quite a few ways. The most notable addition to the original game’s story is a sequence where she privately hires Cloud to help her out on a mission to steal some slightly less powerful explosives than she used in the opening mission; she feels a great amount of guilt over the number of people who were injured or killed in the initial blast, even though it was actually villainous organisation Shinra that caused the majority of the devastation.
This chapter of the game opens with Cloud riding a motorcycle and fending off enemies. Jessie is riding pillion and comments on his driving skills; the sequence can conclude in a few different ways according to how much damage Cloud took by the end of the battles, but all of the possible outcomes are rather flirtatious to varying degrees. Following this, she trusts Cloud to rob her comatose father of his Shinra ID card while she, Biggs and Wedge enjoy her mother’s famous pizza, and subsequently counts on him to provide a noisy distraction while she infiltrates the nearby warehouse where the explosives are stored.
It’s during the robbery sequence that we find out a few pieces of new information about Jessie. A discarded letter lying on the floor of her father’s room shows that Jessie had, at one point, managed to fulfil her dream of being a lead actor; she had scored the leading role in a play at the Gold Saucer, an amusement park far away from the city of Midgar. However, as Biggs subsequently explains, she abandoned that dream when her father was taken ill after an accident in the mako reactor in which he worked; this, naturally, caused Jessie to feel a certain amount of distrust towards mako energy, drawn from the planet’s Lifestream, and this led her to join Avalanche to try and make a difference.
As you might expect, her mother knows nothing of the truth behind Jessie’s activities, and believes that she is still working in the theatre — albeit as a stagehand rather than an actor now. While she’s disappointed that her daughter seemingly missed her opportunity to shine on the stage, she remains proud of her, grateful that she put family first, and keen to support both her and her friends — even if she doesn’t know the true purpose that brought them together.
Jessie hasn’t abandoned the theatrics completely, however; her overblown shows of affection and flirtatiousness towards Cloud in particular are evidence of that. In fact, during one sequence, Wedge specifically warns Cloud against taking Jessie too seriously; as he puts it, “life’s a stage and love’s the play”. Cloud himself has shown little obvious interest in Jessie by this point, but it’s a fair bet that a significant proportion of players will have done.
It’s a little hard to know how right Wedge is in this regard, because his explanation is plausible, but it’s also obvious that Jessie acts differently towards Cloud than she does towards Biggs and Wedge. Perhaps it’s down to the fact that she knows Biggs and Wedge better at the outset of the story, and is thus more comfortable giving them some light-hearted, friendly ribbing — and an almighty smack on the bare ass in Wedge’s case — or perhaps it’s an attempt to draw the rather taciturn Cloud out of his shell. Or perhaps she genuinely does feel attraction towards him; sadly, as those of us who have played both Final Fantasy VII and Final Fantasy VII Remake will know, fate has its own ideas that prevent that particular possibility from being explored too far.
But then a core theme of Final Fantasy VII Remake specifically is standing up to fate and destiny and defying them both… so who knows what the coming days really hold for Ms. Rasberry? The future, after all, is a blank page, and at the time of writing, we have no idea what will end up written there!
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