Cloud had a huge number of fans (moreso than haters).
Lightning does not. Her fans are just weird and few in numbers to say the least.
Lightning is popular in Japan. :u And I don't think the hate for her is that bad here to be honest. I've only see a few very vocal haters. Most seem indifferent, or weirdly infatuated by her.
But I do remember Cloud getting hated on A LOT, along with FF VII in general. o.o People didn't like how much attention it was getting. Which is similar to the XIII situation now that I think of it...
Well this is the Lightning returns board. Everywhere else she gets sha* on. Actually a while ago on 4-chan they were bashing her.
FFVII and Cloud were MASSIVELY popular, the hate is inevetible. The hate was basically non-existent around the time it was released, at least on FF boards anyway. --- FFVII=FFVI>FFX>FFIX>FFIV>FFVIII XIII= S***
That didn't come until a few years later though (and it was mostly because of people feeling jealous their game/character isn't as iconic or easily recognizable).
As for Lightning, there was a time when character arcs where finished in one game, and not ever a span of three games that I'd argue weren't even planned from the beginning.
That's the disgusting part. Not to mention, Toriyama having the nerve to call Lightning the first female protagonist.
I was neutral till now about Lightning and the game, and I even wanted to get it of course. Now I'm just disgusted.
That doesn't really bother me. Sometimes sequels aren't planned. People just get the chance to make them and they write them in. Nothing wrong with that imo. And Toriyama is tooting his own horn a bit calling Lightning the first female protag, when she only could be considered that because of a technicality.
None of this stuff compares to what they did to poor, sweet Cloud in advent children though. They completely reversed all of his development in the later half of FF VII so that they could make a movie about his nonexistent angst.. They even admitted to it. That's just wrong. :u --- http://bln.gs/b/24i7sw
I like Lightning, but I wouldn't want her to be a poster girl for the series because that's just plain dumb. All characters that were born from their own world/title need to stay in that world (unless it's Kingdom Hearts/Dissidia) as that's how it makes them unique. Putting Lightning in every game as a hint would be very upsetting.
Gilgamesh was already in multiple games and is similar to chocobos, so that's okay with me. As for Chocolina, I don't know what I would feel about her if she appeared in other titles. A part of me wants to say that she should stay in the XIII universe, but at the same time, it would be interesting if she became a recurring element in future titles.
Lightning actually does become a series mascot in the future. In future games, there are many easter eggs where lightnjng appears. In one game she eventakes chocolina'w role and sells you stuff. In another, you have to chocobo race against her, and she's even the final boss in on e game.