Reviews @ Archen's Anime Page
Escaflowne: The Movie
Hitomi is a high school student transported to another world. She's apparently a central figure in a prophecy destined to revive something called Escaflowne. Hitomi finds herself coming closer with Van, a faction leader fighting for the future of the world of Gia, against his own brother. The odds are overwhelming but people believe she will change everything.
These days Vision of Escaflowne is fondly remembered as an anime classic, but little is said about the movie. I remember many didn't like it, but why? The TV series didn't have anything wrong with it, aside from the messy slightly unfulfilling ending. While I'm personally rather indifferent about the TV series, it's strong enough to say it doesn't require fixing. Which is good because the movie doesn't fix it, nor retell the TV series at all. It takes a few basic concepts from the franchise, but is otherwise a completely different anime.
How could they adapt the characters to the story in such a short period of time? They don't. The characters are similar, but changed so they can barely develop as far as needed for the movie. That also means they're not particularly deep. Hitomi is especially melancholy compared to her TV personality. This allows her story to be coherent, but turns her into a very different girl.
The story changes too, making it far darker than the TV series. This serious tone works well, but could be very off putting to Escaflowne fans. On its own merits, the story is fair considering movie time constraints. The plot works, but the relationship between Van and Hitomi suffers a lot, and they don't mesh well. Considering everything revolves around them, that's a pretty big deal.
A very cool DVD feature is a subtitle option showing the storyboard sketch for each scene next to the actual animated scene. Seeing how sketches became the actual scene is a fascinating thing to watch and I really love this feature!
Escaflowne The Movie is okay for an anime film. It's does well with visuals, and the incredible soundtrack with compositions by Yohko Kanno. It reworks pieces of Escaflowne in a completely new way, resulting in a film which has few of the features that made the TV series so popular: the romance, the many characters, the story development, and whatever passed for comedy. The result is another "the move" anime, where a popular franchise gets a huge budget dumped into a compact version that doesn't hold up well. Probably better to skip. You're better off watching the TV series if you haven't seen anything in the franchise, but if you're an Escaflowne fan you'll probably be disappointed by the movie.
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