In honor of Bill Withers. Thank you for helping all of us carry on.
Illustrating this playthrough with only the blurriest photos of my PSP screen.

(Written 3/14/20.)

My prior associations with Final Fantasy VII weren't positive: Hey, look! We're pimping out all our female characters! (I've realized only recently how much the horny teenage attitude of the 32-bit generation led to me getting out of then-current video games for a good while.) Fans seemed awed at the incorporation of sci-fi technology in an RPG setting, which was old news to me as a Phantasy Star fan. They were psyched at how "grown-up" the game was - look, look, you're playing as terrorists, and your little chibi avatars can say "damn" now! Above all, they were in love with Final Fantasy's new polygonal art style, which surely spelled the death of those kiddie pixels forever. (It also came from Sony, whose U.S. division was heavily invested in an "RPGs suck & aren't cool enough for our system" narrative at the time.) I know the main story beats by osmosis, but the whole enterprise seemed tryhard. I never actually played it.

At the seven-hour mark - just outside Midgar, at the party's first step into the larger world - I can say that the game embodies everything that was wrong, but a lot that was right, with the 32-bit era. It has been so long in my mind as the symbol of the former - the prizing of polygons over the optimal artistic choices; the obsession with a 12-year-old's idea of "maturity"; treating women like garbage - that I might not be able to engage with it fully. But I am enjoying it currently, and I can see, in some way, why everyone lost their minds about it a couple decades ago.

I don't recall how I ran across the cover to the 1987 Merchant-Ivory drama Maurice, but my instant association was with a certain Premier of Vheen  -  no, an earlier one.  Given Akari Funato's past references to gay lit & media in Vheen Hikuusen (she draws parallels between Lestat & Louis and Dain & Ghaleon, and the character based on Morris in her Victorian drama Under the Rose is an analogue for Oscar Wilde), it's not unfathomable that Morris's appearance might have been inspired by Hugh Grant, most notably in his distinctive wavy hairstyle. 
(I should note that Hugh Grant does not play the Maurice character, but the image is what's key.)



ETA: You know, I think I'll keep this up.