This scene is one that I absolutely adore because of how subtle yet significant it is.
Anyone that knows of Seifer, regardless of their feelings towards him, knows that he is not one to be forced into doing what he does not desire. He shows the Garden, the player and his peers this very thing time and time again. Keeping that in mind, it’s clear that he doesn’t have to do what he does in this scene. Seifer doesn’t need to await the emergence of the new SeeDs, he doesn’t need to stand there and clap for them, either. Everyone’s views of Seifer are already perfectly transparent: he’s nothing but a troublemaker. With that, I ask, what’s there to gain?
Yet, he does. Seifer chooses to stand there, front and centre, and clap for Squall, Zell, Selphie and Niida. He chooses to stand there and clap for his once-fellow cadets, his once squad-mates.
To those that deny the importance of this moment, the importance in the addition of this scene…well, I honestly haven’t a clue as to what to say. I’ll allow that the significance of it is easy to miss, but to deny its very notability thereafter? To that, I give an ever so imperceptible shake of my head.
There’s a great deal of meaning in the scenario writers, the director, and the entire Final Fantasy VIII team clearly wanting the inclusion of this scene. The mere seconds-long scene, in which there is no exchanging of words or relevance to the plot otherwise, would be wholly unnecessary…were it not included for the specific purpose of showing the player that there is more than meets the eye in regards to Seifer. I feel that, with the inclusion of this scene, there’s a particular meaning and significance that the team wanted conveyed, an additional notch to Seifer’s already complicated characterization, if you will, to show that Seifer is clearly not as cut-and-dried as some may assume.
Another note-worthy aspect of this scene is that they chose to do it in a manner that is clearly the opposite of Seifer: subtle, silent and subdued.