Posted by psgels on 5 December 2007 with categories: Anime Reviews

Visions of Escaflowne is one of my favourite series ever. I watched it even before starting this blog (hence the lack of a review for it), and after a decent first half, the second half of the series stole my heart. I’ve never really had the chance to watch the movie, though, but now I’ve finally managed to check it out. Like expected, the creators got a bit too ambitions, and the movie doesn’t live up to the series.

Transferring a series that takes up twenty-six episodes into a ninety-minute movie has never been easy, seeing as how a lot of scenes have to be cut. One of the few anime who did it right was Utena: the first half of the movie was basically a crude summary of the series, after which the second half embarked on a totally original and crazy idea, and while it still wasn’t as good as the series itself, it worked. The key was how the Utena-movie stayed so wonderfully away from the mainstream.

You guessed it, Escaflowne the Movie goes way too far into the direction of mainstream, and screws up. Both the story and characters have turned into mere clichés, and the creators basically dropped all of the traits that made them interesting in the series. Folken has been promoted to the main bad guy, the old man is nowhere to be found, and neither is the machine that foresees destiny. Van has also turned into an overpowered action-hero, and Hitomi has turned even more annoying than she was in the series. The little bit of character-development that survived the transition doesn’t make any sense at all. One moment, Hitomi and Van are incredibly cold to each other, and the next moment they’re hopelessly in love without any reason whatsoever.

The movie at least tries to include some substance by asking some philosophical questions. The unfortunate thing is, however, that it refuses to answer them, and when things get too difficult, it just quickly changes the subject. Whenever Van is against a tough opponent that he doesn’t want to kill, a third guy conveniently shows up and stabs the guy, so that Van doesn’t have to worry about him.

Still, despite this I enjoyed a Girl in Gaea. The plot and characters may be dull, but the screenplay is terrific. This has been the first time where I’ve been amazed by the action-scenes of an anime, despite a weak story. Even for a movie, the animation stands out, and while the story itself has its problem, the storytelling is quite decent, and keeps the movie from dragging on and getting boring. And let’s not forget that Yoko Kanno composed the music for this one.

This isn’t really a movie that you need to have seen, though, as it ruins a lot of things that made the series great. If you’ve seen the series, then you might want to check this one out if you’re a real fan. If you’ve not seen the series, then this is a decent action-movie with a rather dull plot. If you’ve seen the movie, but haven’t seen the series, then watch the series NOW!!!

6 Responses

  1. Avatar kiryuu says:

    I just rewatched the series this weekend ^^

    I’m hoping the blu-ray version of the movie will make it over to the US though.

    Escaflowne was probably my first love as far as anime series go.

  2. Avatar L.A says:

    I can’t hardly remember anything about the story of Escaflowne now….except that the basic story line was outrageous and the fact that I really hated the that main girl, Hitomi.
    I guess this series was too far beyond my taste…
    Nontheless it was worthwhile to see, cause the animation quality and music were really good.

  3. Avatar Mike says:

    Yeah, this is a mediocrity compared to the wonderful TV series–but it has, for my money, the best of the soundtracks. In fact the first time I saw the movie I was emotionally overwhelmed almost purely by the soundtrack. It’s beautiful, among Kanno/Mizoguchi’s best orchestral work.

  4. Avatar Senna says:

    The Escaflowne series is my favorite anime, but I share the same feelings about the movie. However, like you said, the animation is absolutely gorgeous, and, hey, the Dilandau vs. Van fight is probably my favorite action scene ever. (To be honest, I think Dilandau is the best part of the movie, because even though his role was severely reduced, he still was awesome ^^) … Now I really want to watch the movie again ^^;

  5. Avatar Chris says:

    Escaflowne was one of my first anime, it was very powerful and moving, considering I was also very little. I disliked the movie but I did enjoy the atmosphere it was able to create. The soundtrack is also one of the best ever made. Yoko Kanno did both the series and the movie and I’ll say she did a fantastic job.

  6. Avatar Me says:

    Ahhh, what a terrible movie this was. I remember seeing the premiere way back at AX years ago and thinking that finally they were going to fix the horrible injustice done at the end of the tv series. Sadly I was mistaken, for it ended just as badly. It’s too bad though, because the original series would be on my list of top 10 if the ending had been at all believable.

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