Flowers, Flower Petals and Cherry Blossoms are recurring symbols used throughout the Final Fantasy series.
Especially the cherry blossom holds much symbolism within Japan. According to the Buddhist tradition, the brief beauty of the blossoms symbolizes the transient nature of life. Cherry blossom is also tied with the samurai culture, representing the fleeting nature of the samurai's life and symbolic of drops of blood.
The transience of the blossoms, the beauty and quick death, has often been associated with mortality; the death theme is represented in the Final Fantasy series with the use of animated cherry blossoms in strong attacks. After only a week of blossoming the peak is over and the cherry blossoms fall to the ground; this imagery is shown throughout the series as falling flower petals, although the flowers themselves are not always cherry blossoms.
A wild rose is the symbol of the Wild Rose Rebellion, which Firion, Maria and Guy become a part of relatively early in the game. Princess Hilda explains that the wild rose symbolizes a future in which beauty and strength can flourish undisturbed.
A bouquet of flowers is a significant prop in the Opera that Celes Chere partakes in in the Opera House, which she is meant to dramatically part with, symbolic of Maria parting with her love for Draco. It is also this act which reveals Locke's growing feelings for Celes. Cyan Garamonde crafts his own bouquets of flowers in the World of Ruin to send to Lola, instead of her deceased boyfriend. He is visibly embarrassed when the party arrive, and attempts to hide them from view.
Flowers are associated mainly with Aerith Gainsborough. In Final Fantasy VII she is first seen selling flowers on the streets of Midgar, and it is later revealed the only places in Midgar where flowers bloom are in the Sector 5 Church and Aerith's house.
In Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children the flowers still bloom in the church and a spring of Lifestream is revealed to be under the flowerbed. In Advent Children Complete, after the end credits, the cliff where Zack Fair died is shown covered in flowers. Denzel asks Cloud if the cliff is where someone died, but Cloud corrects him and says "it's where a hero began his journey", and the Buster Sword has been restored and placed in the church among the flowers. In the very last shot two yellow flowers are shown placed on Cloud's desk in front of photographs of him with his friends.
As the world of Final Fantasy VII, and especially the areas around Midgar, are depicted as polluted, the flowers symbolize nature and the Lifestream. How the flowers in Final Fantasy VII universe represent Lifestream is especially obvious in Advent Children, where whenever Cloud has an encounter with Aerith he is shown standing on a field of flowers with her.
The flowers make an appearance as a Trade Accessory called Midgar Flower in Dissidia 012. It is obtainable only by completing the Prologus Expert Accomplishment in Dissidia 012 Prologus Final Fantasy.
Flower petals are seen in the game's opening and ending, with Rinoa standing on the flower field waiting for Squall to turn up. She catches a single petal from the air, turning it into a feather. In the game's ending Rinoa and Squall enter the flower field from the Time Compressed world, with flower petals again swirling in the air. Rinoa looks down at Squall and the camera turns away to show the sky, where all the flower petals are shown transforming into white feathers, before the scene changes to Seifer fishing at Balamb.
How the flower petals turn into feathers is likely to symbolize Squall's return, as whether he was still alive when Rinoa found him was left ambiguous until the very end of the game. Feathers are used throughout the game to symbolize angels and also resurrection with white feathers used in the game's reviving animations during battles. Also of interest is that even if the pink flower petals on the field after Rinoa has saved Squall turn into white feathers, the very last scene of the game before the credits shows Laguna on Raine's grave, pink flower petals again swirling in the air.
Although the flower petals in Final Fantasy VIII are not cherry blossoms, the imagery of falling pink petals is likely not a coincidence. Falling cherry blossoms symbolize either love or mortality, both themes which fit the scenes the falling flower petals are seen.
Julia Heartilly is also shown associated with flowers, especially roses. Her hotel room is full of flower vases and in the scene where she plays the piano in the lounge there is a vase full of red roses in the background. The theme that plays during Julia and Laguna's conversation in her hotel room is called "Roses and Wine". Red roses are often used to symbolize passion.
The other woman in Laguna Loire's life, Raine, is also associated with flowers, although with a different kind than Julia. Raine was known of growing white flowers in Winhill, and the player is able to see her ghost in the Winhill pub upon touching the white flowers in the room.
In actual gameplay, flowers are seen in Selphie's Limit Break The End, where the opponent is sent to a flower field with white petals flying in the air. The words The End appear and the enemy dies instantly.
Freya Crescent has an attack called Cherry Blossom, which deals magic damage to all opponents. During the attack animation, pink flower petals swirl in the air. Zidane Tribal has a skill called Sacrifice, in which he gives up all of his HP and MP and distributes it to any living party members. Red rose petals scatter from him as he sacrifices his life to help his party members. Queen Brahne's motif appears to be the red rose, with the symbol recurring in the design of Alexandria Castle, such as in the carpet in the room where the party takes Garnet after having saved her from Zorn and Thorn. Queen Brahne's airship is also called the Red Rose.
Cherry blossoms are seen in Yojimbo's summon animation. The camera shows the night sky upon which flower petals swirl. Yuna is shown next to a tree in full bloom and Yojimbo emerges from behind it, the petals from the tree falling all around him and Yuna. The flower petals appear again if Yojimbo performs Zanmato and instantly kills the opponent.
Unlike in most depictions of the cherry tree, the blossoms in Yojimbo's animation are blue rather than pink, and the flower petals swirling in the air are white. How Yojimbo emerges from behind a blossoming tree is likely allusion to the legend of how samurai soldiers used to meditate under cherry trees.
Yuna's dress is adorned with flowers. The word "yuna" is the Japanese name of the Sea Hibiscus, the flower on her obi and her skirt. In Final Fantasy X-2 Yuna's Special Dressphere is Floral Fallal, also designed after the sea hibiscus.
Galbana Lilies symbolize Vaan's relationship with his late brother Reks. Galbana Lilies are rare flowers that bloom on the desert, and are said to have been Reks's favorites. Vaan finds a Galbana Lily when he is out to vanquish his first mark, but it gets trampled on by the imperials' chocobo. Later in a flashback/dream sequence Vaan is shown in a hospital tending to Reks, who sits in the middle of the room completely unresponsive. Vaan places the Galbana Lilies on Reks's lap, but Reks fades away leaving only the flowers behind.
Galbana Lilies make an appearance as Trade Accessories in Dissidia 012. They are used in the creation of Vaan's Level 100 Exclusive weapon.
Pink roses are associated with Lightning, her Eidolith taking the form of a pink rose. As opposed to red roses that signify passion, pink roses symbolize grace, and the game developers have said Lightning is associated with roses to signify her high class.
Pink flower petals are also part of Odin's summon animations, and Lightning's finishing blow in Gestalt Mode, Zantetsuken. As falling cherry blossoms are associated with mortality, the pink rose petals take the form of same kind of imagery, as Zantetsuken has a chance of inflicting instant death.
Cherry Blossom is Cloud's ultimate Limit command, even stronger than Omnislash. Its attack animation involves the swirl of pink cherry blossoms. Also, in Chapter IV, it is possible to buy a flower for one gil from Aerith. This is essential for the many sidequests.
In Dissidia 012, Lightning is again associated with roses: there are swirling pink flower petals appearing during her Razor Gale, Crushing Blow, and Flourish of Steel HP attacks, her EX Burst, Zantetsuken, as well as when she attacks Garland in the game's opening FMV.
Non-Final Fantasy AppearancesEdit
Once the party recruits Auron, most of his physical attacks involve him leaving a trail of cherry blossoms behind.