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volume 3 issue 7

In This Issue

Contents 2
Features 3
Chasing Otakuism 7
Anime Briefs 8
Reviews 9
Web Showcase 24
Release Dates 25
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9 home / july 2002 / reviews Turn Page BackwardBack to HomeTurn Page Forward

INFO FILE
Title:
Escaflowne: The Movie Ultimate Edition DVD
Format:
Bilingual DVD
96 minute movie
70 minutes of extras
60 minute soundtrack
Production:
Bandai Entertainment
Sunrise
Hajime Yatate
Shoji Kawamori
Bones
Comments:
One seriously awesome box set.
Overall Rating:
94%

Animefringe Reviews:
Escaflowne: The Movie Ultimate Edition DVD
By Adam Arnold

After Escaflowne wrapped up it's run on Japanese TV, there didn't seem to be a possibility of anything based on Escaflowne ever being made again. Then, shockingly, production of a feature length film version of this quasi-shoujo series about love triangles, fantasy lands, and giant robots was put on the Bandai's front burner.

The revised story begins in the land of Gaea, with Lord Van descending upon a fleet of air ships controlled by the Black Dragon. In a brutal battle reminiscent of classic samurai films, Van races through the ship with his sword slicing through whoever gets in his way until he finds what he is looking for, the white dragon armor Escaflowne.

Meanwhile, on Earth, a girl named Hitomi is in the midst of a terrible depression and wants nothing but to disappear. Her wish is answered by a strange voice that snatches her away from the Mystic Moon known as Earth, and transports her to the land of Gaea where she awakens inside of the white dragon armor in front of Van.

Now Hitomi must deal with not only her depression, but also her new life in this strange far-off land of Gaea. To make matters worse, Hitomi may just be the key that could lead to the destruction of the entire world.

Escaflowne: The Movie, also known as Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea, is not a 90 minute sequel to the original series, but rather a complete retelling of the story. Where the original series was primarily European in design, the movie has a definite Asian flair. Also, all the characters are more realistic-looking in some cases. In fact, the first thing fans of the series will notice is the fact that the characters don't have pointed noises any more.

The biggest difference to the story is the lack of a love triangle between Hitomi, Allen, and Van. By completely circumventing this portion of the story and just making Hitomi and Van a couple, the movie is free to focus on new story elements such as Hitomi's depression.

Something that has been explained a bit more in the movie is the connection that pilots share with their Guymelefs (giant dragon battle suits). The simple act of Van getting into Escaflowne is a downright painful process that requires his blood to function properly. In fact, this time the Guymelefs are not machines, but actual living dragons made of pulsating flesh and tissue. It's a change that makes more sense in terms of the movie's plot and adds grit to the show.

Overall, the movie's story is equally fleshed out and is a worthwhile experience for both fans and first-time watchers alike. Even though the main cast of characters are equally fleshed out, it does require some knowledge of the series to recognize the supporting cast. One such supporting character that has been totally changed is Millerna, who is now part of Allen's crew. As any fan of the series knows, she was originally a princess that had some connection with Allen.

Much like Jin-Roh: The Wolf Brigade's release, Escaflowne: The Movie has been given the royal two edition treatment. The standard edition is simply one disc with the movie and some cut and dry trailers, but the ultimate edition is a full-fledged box that contains three DVD cases and a 20-page book. The blue box sports the famous picture of Hitomi asleep on top of the skeleton of a dragon, accented with slick plastic. The box itself is a few centimeters bigger on all sides than the cases it holds and it opens up from the top like a book.

In terms of extras, the most important extra included with this box set isn't the soundtrack or even an awesome extras disc, but rather a 20 page "Escaflowne: The Movie Memorial Book." This book chronicles the 10-year history of Escaflowne from a strange sci-fi concept known as "Aerial Knights" to the release of the movie. Since there isn't a documentary about the making of the movie included, this is the closest fans will come to finding out about what all was involved with the series.

Now onto the extras disc, which has over 70 minutes of stuff to cycle through. The first stop for most people will be the staff and cast interviews. These include an all-staff interview that is known as the "Escaflowne Theatrical Version Special Program" as well as a set of three fun roundtable interviews with the voice actors. The special program is set-up like a short TV special and is the closest thing to a featurette that this disc has. It does hit on several of the points mentioned in the "Memorial Book," but ends up showing a lot more about what exactly changed with the movie. The roundtable interviews are a lot lighter in tone and are set-up similar to the Café Escaflowne segments on the TV series DVDs. So fans that enjoyed those, will definitely get a kick out of these.

Other extras include some rather slow interviews from the Korean/Japanese Roadshow Advance Premiere. These filmed interviews seem a little too forced and formal when compared to the earlier set of interviews. Yet, what makes up for this is a very cool duet performance of the movie's ending theme song "The Ring" sung by Maaya Sakamoto and Kim Su Jin with Yoko Kanno on the piano.

The last major extra is some footage from the North American premiere at Anime Expo 2000 that shows the wait for the movie, a pre-movie introduction, and then the beginning of the panel afterwards. Rounding out the disc are also some trailers, a movie poster gallery, and a production art gallery.

The soundtrack included in the set is a full 26 track Yoko Kanno musical extravaganza that includes all the heart-warming and armor smashing tracks from the movie. If you are even a remote Escaflowne fan, this soundtrack is a must since it makes for some perfect atmospheric music reminiscent of tracks found in recent RPGs. Interestingly, the DVD case includes an insert that has the Japanese and English lyrics for "Yubiwa (The Ring)," the English version of "The Ring," and the lyrics for native Gaean song "Sora."

Interestingly enough, the box for the CD only lists the track titles for the first 25 tracks, which makes the 26th track seem like an added bonus. For the curious, that last track is a vocal song called "Call Your Name" and has a bit of background noise making it sound like a song that wasn't fully produced. All in all, the CD is downright awesome and two of my personal favorites from the CD include the off-the-wall "What'cha Gonna Do???" and the heart-pounding "Dance of Curse II" that includes the familiar Escaflowne chanting.

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