Final Fantasy: Unlimited - One Wild Ride
By Adam "OMEGA" Arnold
In recent years, the Final Fantasy video games have become much more than mere games in a sense. You no longer just read the dialogue and push a button, but you actually watch the action unfold and hear the character's voices. The evolution has come as a mixed blessing. On one hand, you have a story that goes well beyond anything a movie could portray. On the other hand, the game loses its playability. So why not just focus on building a great story?
The past two attempts at removing Final Fantasy from its game environment have been anything but stellar. The four-episode original animation video series Final Fantasy: The Legend of the Crystals was simply a lackluster and drawn-out retelling of Final Fantasy V, with new characters that were descendants of the originals. The bank-breaking movie Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within did nothing but skew the franchise totally into the realm of sci-fi and ended up showing us nothing but some nice effects featuring characters that the viewer just didn't have enough time to really care about.
Well, Squaresoft is at it again - and this time, the anime masters at Avex have delivered one of the most original and bewildering versions of Final Fantasy ever seen. The TV series Final Fantasy: Unlimited premiered on October 2, 2001 and it's already receiving fansub treatment by Soldats (www.soldats.net).
The series begins with a mysterious event that occurred 12 years in the past that is known as the Day of Succession, in which a pillar of darkness suddenly appeared and brought confusion to the world. As the general population watched in awe, a group of scientists were struggling to record the events and conduct tests. Suddenly, a flash of light shot out and two giant winged beasts appeared and ended up blasting each other out of existence. Or so the rumors say.
Fast-forward to the present, where we meet Hayakawa Ai and Yu, two young kids who are searching for their missing parents. They sneak into the closed subway to see if the rumors are true of trains arriving from the Outer World at 0:13:13 at night... the rumors turn out to be true. The train departs and the children meet a suspicious lady on the train named Hatsufist Lisa, with whom they end up traveling.
Once the train stops, they exit to find a dark shaft with a spiral staircase leading upward. With nowhere to go but up, they soon surface in a city park which definitely isn't what it seems. The story of where they will go from here is about to unfold, because their journey has just begun.
Now that you've got a glimpse of the story, it's time to delve into the art of the series. The character designs spring from the overly simplistic style of drawing that has become all but the norm in recent anime. The characters share a lot of similarity in appearance to the characters from the series Digimon, in that the series sports a unique blend of children, adult, and animal characters throughout each episode.
There is one portion of the series that is overly reminiscent of shows like Digimon, and that is the use of computer graphics to dramatize spell casting, vehicles, and summoned beasts. The sequences, while being a far cry from those seen in the video games or even in The Spirits Within movie, are a unique blending of 2D animation and 3D CG. The only problem is that the same sequences get used over and over again and are as repetitive and long as the summons in Final Fantasy VIII.
Final Fantasy: Unlimited is pretty much a show for all ages, but at the same time it offers a story that is as epic as any of the games. The series throws a lot at the viewer during each half hour episode. The series starts out in the Outer World, which is similar to the Tokyo of today, and then shifts to the Inner World which is something right out of... well, that's hard to describe, because the Inner World embodies elements from every Final Fantasy game. Some of the more overt references are in line with remixed music cues such as the victory and chocobo themes. There are also more elusive things such as the altered appearance of Final Fantasy VIII's Ragnarok ship as one of the winged beasts and a subway train that looks like it was ripped straight from Final Fantasy VI. Each person will surely get something different from each episode, but it is clear that the creators definitely put in these references as a sort of Easter egg for fans of Final Fantasy.
|FINAL FANTASY: UNLIMITED - CHARACTER DOSSIER
Yu's loud-mouthed older twin sister. Ai constantly becomes the target of a chocobo's affections when her red hair gets mistaken for food. Together with her brother, she is on a quest to find their missing parents.
Ai's carefree younger twin brother. Yu becomes the first of the children to use any type of magic when he discovers a chocobo feather that can summon a chocobo when they are in danger.
The mysterious woman who Ai and Yu meet up with on the subway train. Lisa keeps to her self and always sidetracks questions about her true goals. Lisa often uses her wind-based Skill of Genesis when she is in trouble.
Kaze is a name that the children call the mysterious traveler they keep coming across. He is also known as the man of the Black Wind, and he carries a three-barreled Demon Gun that uses special bullets to summon creatures.
The young ruler of the Outer World with a feisty temper. He hates disorder in his kingdom, and since Kaze defected he has been sending his guardians to eliminate him and any other troublemakers from the Inner World.
|Hayakawa Joe & Marie
The missing parents of Ai and Yu. This pair of scientists once journeyed throughout the Inner World and returned to the Outer World once and wrote their findings in a book entitled "Day of Succession".
A masked sorcerer who can create puppets from his very being. Once he has spawned his puppets, he can control them from a distance - making them perfect for reconnaissance missions.
Also known as The Guiding One, Fabra is the omnipotent narrator who chronicles the events taking place in both the Inner and Outer World.