This is an observation that was made quite some time ago by YagamiKyo. However, due to lack of time on his part, I’ve chosen to post it on here for him, since it’s too good (and important) of an observation to not include on this website.
Please note, there are major endgame spoilers for Ao no Kiseki in this observation, which will spoil all of the Crossbell duology. Thus it has been tagged with both Zero and Ao no Kiseki.
An important point of Ao no Kiseki is during the lead up to the game’s penultimate battle in the core of the tree. Here is when the SSS all learn of the ‘time that never was’ regarding Crossbell, and its ‘reset.’ Here, you learn that Crossbell has had its time reset thanks to KeA’s power, and many things that happened in the past may have happened again, or may have been changed, or directed in certain ways.
The image of Rufina that’s showing up there- and is the very first image in the entire batch. The images are in filename order, with the exception of the image of the Aion and Wazy, and the last one of KeA, they all have four smaller images inside of them. These images, in particular, were found under textures directory, itp files all named eftx1000, eftx1001, eftx1002, eftx1003 (Aion and Wazy), and eftx1004 (KeA).
One of the most used arguments against this observation is that Falcom needed to fill in a blank of the images that wasn’t already even.
However, I don’t think this is the case. There are some images that seem to come from animations then others that are still images that were used in other parts of the game. So if they needed to fill in the gap, they could have easily pulled in another image from either game of the Crossbell duology. The fact that they pulled an image from 3rd to fill this spot in stands out to me immensely.
I, personally, think this is a tiny detail that Falcom has dropped into the game to seed in something else related to Rufina. What can it mean? Who knows. It’s hard to figure out the direction it can go in, but I think this observation means that whatever Rufina’s done, or her involvement in things- especially regarding Crossbell- hasn’t been fully covered yet.