FF7 contradicts a popular trope.

I’ve noticed a lot of time in entertainment, especially Japanese, its often the little guy against the brute. Obviously, this is a mismatch and the brute represents strength and might used to push people around and general abuse of his strength (might makes right), where as the hero, being small and not so strong, has to use his skill and cunning to defeat that guy, using what he’s learned in whatever the story is that intelligence and cleverness is better to have than brute force.
FF7 seems to contradict that. Cloud his very muscular, but some might say ditzy or even vacant in terms of smarts. His sword only strengthens this fact - it is large, wide, heavy and strong. Whereas Sephiroth is his opposite. He has finesse and calmness in battle, never losing his cool. He attacks with skill and charm. His sword emphasizes this in that it is long and thin, meant for tactical strikes, only effective in the hands of someone who knows how to use this.
Isn’t interesting that FF7 makes the hero rather brutish and clumsy with a large sword vs. a clever man with a long sword. Discuss.

But Cloud is also good of heart whereas Sephiroth is a murdering psycho. I think that tips over any physical apperance advantage he might have had.

I personally would say Cloud is merely halfway-decent at heart, but the point still stands.

I say cloud and sephiroth are no different in terms of physical stature.

FF7 also had genetic modification involved. Plus the whole radiation-makes-people-stronger-and-not-dead plot device. Therefore, like the mutants from X-Men, they exhibit superhuman strength without the proportional body dimensions.

Well Cloud maybe strong physically, mentally he is weak. While Sephiroth is much stronger mentally and even uses that to push Cloud around.

So in terms of mental strength, it matches the tradition to the letter. After all there are only so many way you can show the little guy beating the bigger guy without it getting boring. This is just a new spin on the idea.

<i>Tactile telekinesis.</i>

Actually, I found Cloud to be a stronger person mentally than Sephiroth. Sure, he was more fucked up than an entire psychiatric ward, but he at least put his weaknesses aside long enough to do the job he had to do - kill Sephiroth. Sephy, however, went crazy over a heritage HE DIDN’T EVEN HAVE. I’d say Cloud wins there.

The point can be summed up by your own point that Cloud was stronger mentally, which made up for his lack of skill, cunning, size, etc. Sephiroth’s skill and control were part of his ‘big guy’ persona. I think the Cloud won through determination and because he had friends, not that he was more skillful or cunning than Sephiroth. Thats what it means when the ‘little guy’ wins. Also Cloud is in fact a lot physically smaller than Sephiroth - the manual puts his height at 5’7, I think.

I’d say that the average anime’s standard is that physical muscle level has no direct effect on the strength of a character.

points to DBZ with young gohan vs … well, any of the big brutes…

I think cloud is still the underdog in this situation because he isnt all there in the head. I say this in reference to his lack of knowledge over what is going on. Not his willpower. Since asthetics can be thrown out the window in anime due to any lack of real effect on the character in any meaningful way (save the big boobies), Cloud could have looked like a blob of pink jelly with a few yellow hairs sticking out of his butt and it’s still have the same effect.