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 blossoms are also tied with samurai culture, representing the fleeting nature of the samurai's life, symbolic of drops of blood and to the dignity of falling with grace.
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. 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.
As the world, and especially the areas around Midgar, are depicted as polluted, the flowers symbolize nature and the Lifestream.
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.
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 depicted flowers appear to be loosestrifes.
Flower petals are seen in the opening and the 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 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 transform into white feathers, before the scene changes to Seifer fishing at Balamb.
The flower petals turning into feathers likely symbolizes 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 appearing in the reviving animations during battles. 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 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 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'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 can see her ghost in the Winhill pub upon touching the white flowers in the room.
In 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 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 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.
Queen Brahne's motif is 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 appear in Yojimbo's summon animation. Flower petals swirl in the night sky when Yuna is 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 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.
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 after he vanquished his first mark, but it gets trampled on by the imperials' chocobo. Later in a flashback/dream sequence Vaan is 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.
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 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 similar imagery, as Zantetsuken has a chance of inflicting instant death.
An incarnation of Paddra Nsu-Yeul is often seen carrying a daisy. This Yeul's fondness for flowers illustrates that even if the Yeuls have the same soul, they have different hearts and are thus unique. Daisies symbolize purity and innocence: Yeul was "pure and innocent" in her heart and she wanted to keep the timeline "pure", even though she sometimes had to oppose the law of the Farseers. This makes her the opposite of her partner, Caius.
Yeul's flowers grow about the Wildlands and accelerate Angel of Valhalla's recovery. They cannot be picked up and bloom once a day. They represent Yeul's lingering presence in Nova Chrysalia, and their healing powers may relate to Yeul's mystical powers.
The Yggdrasil blooms when Lightning gives it Eradia. Each bloom prolongs the life the world has by one day. In Norse mythology, Yggdrasil is a mythical tree that connects the nine worlds in Norse cosmology. The world tree is a motif present in several religions and mythologies, represented as a colossal tree that connects the heavens, the terrestrial world, and, the underworld. In Lightning Returns Yggdrasil is the tree of life.
When Lightning performs physical attacks using the Gagnrad, Odin's dual blade, flower petals similar to those seen in Final Fantasy XIII during execution of Zantetsuken appear.
Sylleblossoms are blue flowers that Lunafreya Nox Fleuret likes. They remind her of the homeland of Tenebrae where flowers grow in vast blue fields. Luna pressed a sylleblossom in the Lovers' Notebook when she was young. Luna and Prince Noctis use the notebook to keep in secret correspondence. The flowers resemble the real-world Gentiana flowers, as well as cornflowers. Gentiana is a Messenger of the gods in Final Fantasy XV who often stays by Luna's side.
When Luna dies, her spirit appears to Noctis on a field of sylleblossoms. As she sinks into the abyss, she sends out a sylleblossom bloom to Noctis that holds the Ring of the Lucii, the heirloom of the Lucian line of kings that will let Noctis fulfill his destiny as the True King. When Noctis awakens days later, he learns he has a message from Luna in the notebook. When he opens the book, he only finds a pressed sylleblossom. When he hallucinates Luna's spirit on a train later, she appears to be amid floating sylleblossom petals. After Noctis fulfills the prophecy, his and Luna's spirits appear on the throne of Lucis with sylleblossom blooms and soul crystals floating in the air.
The sylleblossoms represent Luna and her connection to Noctis. The flower preserved in the notebook could represent Luna's spirit always watching over him. Their falling petals appearing in the ending serves a similar role as the symbolism of falling cherry blossoms in Japanese culture. The young Luna also told Noctis the flowers are used to weave the Tenebraean royal family's crowns. She likewise told him the Crystal's calling is to crown the True King. Luna giving Noctis a pressed sylleblossom, a flower supposedly for a king's crown, could thus allude to her role as the Oracle who helps the True King fulfill the prophecy.
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 the last seconds of the title intro cherry blossoms retain their color among a black and white backdrop. During the days of the early Showa era, cherry blossoms were given the myth of being the souls of the Imperial Japanese who passed on during their service in the war.
After the Clash on Big Bridge the cadets visit the Akademeia cemetery and vow to honor the dead even if they can't remember them. As they decide to look on to the future, pink petals resembling cherry blossoms are swept up into the sky by the wind.
In the end of the HD version credits, the animation used for flashing soul crystal fly past the screen, but colored pink, giving them the look of falling cherry blossoms.
A Trade Accessory called Midgar Flower appears based on the flowers seen in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. It is obtainable only by completing the Prologus Expert Accomplishment in Dissidia 012 Prologus Final Fantasy.
Galbana Lilies make an appearance as Trade Accessories and are used in the creation of Vaan's level 100 exclusive weapon.
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.
Pink flower petals appears on Lightning's Zantetsuken card.
Two flower fields appear during Field Music Sequences.
The flower field from Final Fantasy VIII appears during the FMS for "Ending Theme", with the flower petals appearing during the beginning of the sequence.
The second is Aerith's flower field from the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, appear as the FMS for several of the series themes:
- Cloud Smiles*from Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
- A Flower Blooming in the Slums*from Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII
Squall, at first believing that he lives for nothing but battle and has nothing to go back to following the conflict in Grymoire, eventually decides that he wishes to plant flowers throughout the world because they help relax people and make things peaceful. In Final Fantasy VIII, when Squall is tortured in the D-District Prison, if the player chooses to have him lie, he will state to the guard that the secret mission of SeeD is spread flowers throughout the world to make people docile, allowing them to invade. Following the battle with the Cogna alongside Shelke, Squall states that his flowers idea was "the only thing I could come up with."
Non-Final Fantasy guest appearancesEdit
Once the party recruits Auron, most of his physical attacks involve him leaving a trail of cherry blossoms behind.