Tag Archives: Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy: Unlimited- I’ve chosen the review score for the likes of you

Final Fantasy: Unlimited began airing towards the end of 2001. It was one of Gonzo’s early anime projects. Yes, the same studio behind Gantz, Solty Rei, Strike Witches & Gankutsuo. Gonzo is one of those studios that seems to have something really bad for every good series they put out. The Sunabouzu to balance out the Bakuretsu Tenshi, if you will. They’ve also had quite a few middling titles. Where does this one fit? Let’s take a look.

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Story:

We open with a scene in our everyday world where two dragons are facing off as onlookers take bets and wonder when Godzilla is going to get involved. Or, maybe it’ll be Gamera. I hear he’s really neat and full of meat. We cut to much later when the existence of the other world has become old hat. Twins Ai & Yu are heading to a magical subway to journey to the Inner World in search of their parents who went there to do science. On the subway they encounter Lisa Pacifist, a young woman going to the Inner World for reasons of her own. Which may be related to them having really good tacos, but probably isn’t. We follow the travellers as they go through different, strange locales of the Inner World and encounter all kinds of trouble. Fortunately for them, a mysterious bloke with a magic gun always seems to be in the same areas to help them.

By far the biggest issue with this series is just that it’s under-developed. There are quite a few things that had the potential to be interesting. The revelation involving the soil that Kaze uses in his magic gun could have been interesting and led to some really compelling stuff in turn. The revelation about Ai & Yu had potential as well. But in both of these cases the revelations come at the very end and there’s really nothing to even strongly hint at them beforehand. So, they end up as pretty close to nothing. There’s also the evil death lord characters. It’s hinted throughout that one of them, Oscha, is plotting something. And there’s a lot of build up and then it all leads up to nothing. The series also suffers a bit from being overly repetitive. Yeah, the characters travel to a variety of strange locations but, ultimately, most of it culminates in some big bad attacking, Kaze’s magic gun moving, him shooting a summoned creature and the FF victory music playing. Incidentally, you know how a good magical girl series will start abridging its stock footage so that you aren’t watching the same thing in every bloody episode? Well, Unlimited takes the other route. They never abridge Kaze’s magic gun sequence and most episodes use it. I guess they were really happy with the animation. Or they didn’t want to bother writing a little extra content.

There are some parts to the series that are kind of dumb too. For example, there’s a point where our characters are in an advanced submarines and its weapons work by having a bunch of men blow into tubes like they’re trying to audition for pornographic yaoi. You can make a really advanced submarine but you can’t build a more effective firing mechanism? You really have to take the giant blowgun route? This version of Cid is an idiot. There’s also the whole magic gun thing. This thing doesn’t just require specific combinations to work, it requires super specific combinations. There are at least three different versions of white. With that many kinds of Soil, how exactly does Kaze know which ones work? A lot of trial and error? Considering the soil’s secret, that would be unfortunate. Did he look it up on the Internet? Does he have a strategy guide with all two hundred varieties of soil and exactly which summoning recipes each one is used for? Did he scour the bookshelves, chests and back alleys of the Inner World until he found all the secreted away books with summon recipes in them? Inquiring minds demand answers.

With that out of the way, I do have to say that most of its problems aren’t all that bad. And it is kind of interesting to watch them go through the strange locations. Some of the set ups they find themselves facing are quite intricate and it can be interesting to experience how they function. The series also has some pretty nice comedic moments here and there. It never quite reaches the point where it’s a slog to get through.

Characters:

The characters in this can best be described as mediocre. With the main cast, you occasionally get glimpses that indicate that the writers are going for something better but they never take the time to really focus on any of the characters enough to elevate them above average. Take Kaze for example. For most of the series, he acts as a “mysterious” figure who seems to care more for his vendetta than for the people around him. We then start getting hints that he has some tragic past that drives him. Towards the end of the series, we learn basically what that tragedy was but it comes across more as a blanket justification for his behaviour as opposed to a new facet for the character. His attitude and behaviour remain completely stagnant.

Art:

The art is pretty mixed. On the negative side, the character designs look kind of lazy. There’s also some awkward CG in places. To top it all off, the stock footage stuff gets boring very quickly. On the positive side, the summoned creatures do look pretty interesting. There are also some visually surreal locations they go through that look good.

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Sound:

There are some superb actors in this. Takehito Koyasu, Imai Yuka, Canna Nobutoshi & Ishida Akira among them. We also get a surprisingly good performance from Inoue Kikuko who only gets to say variations of “kukururu” but manages to show a lot of emotion anyway. Her character has moments where she sounds shocked, uncertain, sad & frightened. All while speaking gibberish. None of them are giving their best performances ever here, but they’re all good. The music is very Final Fantasy. We’ve got some classics by Uematsu Nobuo. We’ve also got some from Hamaguchi Shiro (who also has a decorated background in FF music) & Tada Akifumi. The music is, by far, the strongest element in the series.

Ho-yay:

The closest thing we get to ho-yay in this series is Lisa blushing furiously when she finds out she’ll be sharing a room with Mireth, and Mireth winking at her when imparting that information. There might be payapaya happening on this submarine.

Final Thoughts:

There are certainly things to like about Final Fantasy: Unlimited. The music and acting are both strong. The summons and diverse, strange worlds look good. The story keeps your interest with its strange set ups & locales. It manages to get some laughs. Unfortunately, it’s also a series that never reaches its full potential. The story has a lot that’s under-developed and under-utilised. The characters are just mediocre and the boring, uncut stock footage attack is a constant. I would still say the series is okay but it’s not good. My final rating is going to be a 6/10. Next week I’ll talk about Trinity Blood.

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Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children- The Angel’s Return

Final Fantasy VII might just be the most influential instalment in the entire FF franchise. It’s not my personal favourite and the polygonal graphics certainly don’t hold up well compared to most of the other instalments, but it did have an epic story with a grand scale and some fantastic characters. Naturally, Square-Enix decided to take advantage of the game’s legacy with a prequel game, a sequel game and some film/OVA adaptations. Most of which were not good. This brings us to Advent Children, quite possibly the best received of all of those tie-ins. The film came out in 2005 with a slightly longer, complete version coming out in 2009. We’ll be looking at the complete version and asking a simple question. Does it hold up?

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Story:

Two years after the events of VII, a strange disease called Geostigma is decimating the populace. With that to be concerned about, Rufus Shinra, who wasn’t quite dead, is approached by three silver-haired pretty boys clad in leather and looking for their mother. These are Kadaj, Loz & Yazoo, they call themselves remnants and are after Jenova. Obvious conclusion is obvious. With things starting to move elsewhere Cloud has gone missing due to his own Geostigma affliction.

The biggest issue with this film is just the ending. Everything wraps up far too nicely and easily where the narrative would have really benefited from a more bitter-sweet conclusion. It’s like they’re afraid to take some risks which is strange given that the source material had plenty of sad and downright depressing moments that added to its gravitas.

That being said, there are plenty of strong moments to Advent Children. The build up and pacing are both fantastic. What the story is building up to is pretty obvious, but it’s also compelling enough that you want to see the whole thing unfold. I will also give it credit for holding up pretty well as a sequel. It uses those elements that were already a part of the story and expands on them.

Characters:

The main cast of VII returns, including Aerith & Zack who make their appearances in spirit form. They don’t have the same level of development as they did in VII, since that was a three disc game and this is a film that runs for less than two hours. That being said, they’re all recognisable and there are some strong character arcs. I will also give them credit for using Cait Sith just enough to get his character across but not enough for him to get to be a nuisance. Cloud in particular has an arc that centres around him learning to rely on his compatriots instead of trying to shoulder everything. The culmination of the whole thing comes up during an action sequence, but it actually works really well. The minor problem with the characters comes in the form of a group of small children. They show up, they have Geostigma and we’re supposed to feel sorry for them. Which doesn’t really work. I don’t know anything about these kids nor am I ever given a compelling reason to care. That being said, there are some strong character moments involving Marlene. So, you can’t say that having the children was a complete waste. 

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Art:

The animation in this is absolutely fantastic. The character designs are nicely upgraded. The action sequences are amazing. The game’s world comes across as lively and vivid, with large crowds and sprawling landscapes.

Sound:

It had to be quite the challenge to take characters this iconic and choose just the right actors for them. Fortunately, Square Enix did a pretty stellar job in that department. Sakurai Takahiro, the voice of Rockman X & Kururugi Suzaku, is fantastic as Cloud Strife. Morikawa Toshiyuki gives a strong performance as the One-winged angel himself. Really, there are no bad performances in this. The music is superb, including an excellent rendition of the one-winged angel theme.

Ho-yay:

There isn’t any in this.

Final Thoughts:

Advent Children holds up remarkably well, actually. That being said, it’s really for fans of the game. Especially since the character investment relies heavily on you already knowing Cloud, Tifa and the others. You can get the gist of the characters and understand what’s happening without having played the game, but there’s not much reason to be invested in it. For FF VII fans, it’s an opportunity to see the characters you know and love in a new adventure with a compelling story in its own right. As well as possessing music, voice acting and artwork that are all top-notch. My final rating is going to stand at an 8/10. Tomorrow I’ll forge ahead with film festival week with a review of Love Live: The School Idol film.

Reviews of yesteryear: Final Fantasy Legend of the Crystals

Before I begin, let me start with a quick disclaimer. I like the Final Fantasy games, for the most part. If I poke fun at the franchise a bit during the course of this review it’s not because I just don’t like the series, it’s because the series has a lot of goofy aspects. I’ve looked at a few anime adaptations of video games in the past. I’ve looked at bad ones, Ninja Gaiden being the obvious example. Average ones, Nightstalkers and ones that were pretty good, Tales of Phantasia. This week I’m going to be looking at a selection from one of my favourite game companies, Square and our old friends at Madhouse with their widely varying quality. This is Final Fantasy, Legend of the Crystals.

Legend of the Crystals takes place several centuries after the events of Final Fantasy V. Linaly, a descendant of Bartz, is going to the temple of the wind to safeguard the crystal. She’s followed by a young man named Prettz. The two find the crystal, which decides to hide itself in Linaly’s body, which causes her bum to glow for some reason. The two find out that the other crystals have been stolen and find themselves targeted by mechanical beings who are trying to get the last one. They even build a Proctologist robot for that very purpose. Not really, but that would’ve been moderately less stupid than what actually happens. The actual story is pretty minimal and very cliche. The plot element of Linaly’s firefly bottom mostly serves as an excuse for fan-service shots, on a character who looks to be all of twelve, classy. The final battle scene is quite anti-climactic and a lot of the events in the plot happen by virtue of plot contrivance instead of as a part of any kind of cohesive whole.

The characters in this are dreadful. You have Linaly, who spends most of her time either getting kidnapped or acting as a compass. She brings great shame on Bartz’s name, and he’s not even one of the good FF protagonists. He’s okay though, which still makes him far too good of a character to be associated with this helpless twerp. Prettz is only slightly better, being an annoying moron. Then you have Rouge, a character who does absolutely nothing plot relevant. The other major characters are Mid, a ghost who basically serves as a guide for the majority of the OVA, Valkus, a muscle-head with all of one personality trait, and Ra Devil, the antagonist who makes Exdeath look like the best developed character ever by comparison.

The art in this is largely just lazy. With shading being used almost never. The facial expressions used for the characters tend to range from blank to dull surprise with very little variation. A lot of scenes are also repeated pretty much verbatim. To give an example, there’s an action scene in which a large woman tries to slice our protagonists with a sword, only to have them duck. Then it happens two more times and it’s pretty much the same every single time. The chocobos in this look terrible. They don’t have their traditional yellow feathers, looking more like plucked ostriches, their beaks and eyes are also off. Then we have the fan-service. There are a lot of panty shots of our twelve year old heroine, because Madhouse decided to put their grossest people on this project. Linaly, put on some proper pants. Your shorts are far too short. Especially given that your ass keeps glowing. Rouge’s outfit is just terrible. She looks like she’s wearing bondage straps. Lady, most people can’t pull bondage gear off as an outfit for action. You certainly aren’t Sephiroth. Valkus just looks like a badly drawn 90s comic hero with a head that’s too small for his overly muscled body.

Madhouse did get some really good voice actors for this. Particularly Ogata Kenichi, Yamazaki Wakana and Minaguchi Yoko. However, they don’t give their best performances. In fact, their performances are kind of mediocre. The music is the best part of the OVA. It’s the only aspect of the OVA that actually feels like a Final Fantasy game.

The yuri factor is a 1/10. The female characters barely even interact.

that was Legend of the Crystals, and it is bad. To be fair, the story is only the fifth worst I’ve seen in conjunction with the Final Fantasy title, but that isn’t saying a whole lot. The franchise may have some great stories and characters, but it also has some really bad ones. It’s not the worst video game adaptation I’ve reviewed either, but it’s down there. My final rating is a 2.4/10.