Skiba Rives (skibalovesya) wrote in ff7,
Skiba Rives

A small rant

I don't believe I saw anything in the rules against posting rants, so I thought I might post a little something I cooked up. There's no swearing, and it's all rational and polite. I just feel like sharing.

If not, just delete the entry; no harm, no foul.

One thing that's driven me nuts since I first joined this fandom is the insistent fanon practice of calling Sephiroth 'the General.' I've played Final Fantasy VII end to end (to what would be an established 100% completion), Crisis Core at least three times through, and watched an entire playthrough of Dirge of Cerberus. (In addition, I've seen Advent Children Complete about three times as well, have read most of the novellas, seen both OVAs, and essentially memorized the wiki—ask me anything, I'm serious. Only game I don't know well is Before Crisis.)

And in not a single piece of canon is Sephiroth ever referred to as such.

The thing that really gets my goat about it is that, well... the term is wrong. Not just because it isn't canon, but because according to every available rank in the current United States military—including the army, the navy, the marines, the air force, the coast guard, and the police force—the absolute highest rank is actually "General of the [Insert Branch Here]." ("Admiral" in the Navy and Coast Guard.) If we're going by U.S. Army standards (which I am assuming through this entire post because I need to make this simple), the rank is General of the Armies (created for General John J. Pershing, given in 1919—meaning such a standard has been around for almost a century). General does exist, yes, but it isn't the absolute highest.

Beyond Sephiroth, I've seen people attribute ranks to Zack, Genesis, and Angeal that have gone all over the place.

Zack's the worst offender, being called Lieutenant, Major, and even once Officer. These make me facepalm worse, because much of the time the establishment of his rank is Sephiroth's immediate inferior... which would actually make him Lieutenant General, by army standards. The word "lieutenant" in the army is not normally used by itself—there is Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant, Lieutenant Colonel, and finally Lieutenant General. The rank of lieutenant is present in the Navy and in the Coast Guard, both of which are separate branches... in which it isn't even the second-highest rank. (The highest in both is actually Admiral, and I'm fairly sure SOLDIER isn't a maritime militia.) Major, on the other hand, is not even close to a direct inferior to General. Officer is just the generic term for any member of a military force who holds a rank. It's... close... but it's not specific.

Both Genesis and Angeal I've seen referred to as Generals alongside Sephiroth—which is about appropriate if you have Sephiroth as "General of the Armies," with these two as Generals immediately inferior to him in rank. But... most of the time... they're called Commanders. Again, Commander is a rank in the Navy and Coast Guard, maritime military forces. Seeing it placed next to General is just weird and confusing, and the practice should be stopped.

What's further irritating about this is that people take the assumption that SOLDIER is 'the army.' Military forces around the world are so variable that from fic to fic, the understanding of rank can become rather confusing; the thing is SOLDIER isn't the army. It is a private militia, and not once in canon is any member referred to by a military rank. (The Shinra military, on the other hand—as in, the non-SOLDIER guys—are definitely referred to as such, at least by Crisis Core enemy names... bearing in mind that the game was created in Japan, and the translated names are not necessarily the same.)

If you want to get down to the nitty-gritty, let me pull the one piece of canon evidence that describes the existence of rank in SOLDIER beyond the simple First, Second, and Third Classes. During Crisis Core, in Chapter 4, you meet a SOLDIER Third who has just joined SOLDIER and is too nervous to do missions. Unlike the other SOLDIERs, when spoken to, his given name adds a "Level" designation that increases the more missions you do in his stead. He begins at Level 1 and ends at Level 8, leading me to believe that within each Class, there are a number of Levels that denote field prowess. And if Sephiroth is the absolute highest, then by this system, he is likely SOLDIER First Class, Level 9.

Bear also in mind the most official way he's referred to by an inferior officer is Kunsel calling him "Mr. Sephiroth."

Why, I ask, do people attribute this ranking to Sephiroth? As far as I could gather by those I asked, it seems that according to the booklet packaged with the game (which... when you think about it... isn't really all that canon) stated he's the highest-ranking officer in SOLDIER. Some say he just seems like one and was "given" the rank. Well, all right, I can kind-of-sort-of see this, but it doesn't explain why no one ever calls him such in canon. I appreciate fanon for helping to flesh out the world that is, it's just that if you're going to use military rankings... at least do the research and get them right.

(My compromise is having "the General" just be a nickname that other SOLDIERs gave Sephiroth, and is not an official rank.)

Hope this has been informative... it's just one thing that drives me up a wall and back down.

ADDENDUM: As xpaperplanex has brought to my attention, I should clarify that I'm not trying to say that using military terminology from a country other than America is wrong, per se. I used the U.S. in my example because, as I worked out in my head, the translation/localization for the English distribution of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII was done in America. In addition, I'm American and the U.S. military is what I'm most familiar with. Technically speaking, the most canon would be to use the Japanese terms—that would require a hefty amount of research, however. And I would further have to go into detail on other countries' militaries to cover every localization done.

This rant was specifically geared toward using American terminology correctly, not that it is the only correct way to use any terminology.

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