ADV Films // 2001 // 100 Minutes // Not Rated
Reviewed by Judge David Gutierrez (Retired) // September 16th, 2004
"Soil is my power." -- Kaze
There's no better way to describe the adventures of young Yu and Ai (get it?) in Wonderland in Final Fantasy: Unlimited -- Phase 2 than this: simultaneously fascinating, banal, hypnotic and repetitive. I can't wrap my head around this series. Is it something that I'm not getting on the first go, or something just plain silly?
Ai and Yu are aided by martial artist Lisa Pacifist on their quest to find their parents. Unfortunately, the floral child Earl Tyrant and his plantlike allies threaten their every move. The mechanical whiz-kid Cid, Lupus the wolf-girl, and the mysterious gunslinger Kaze drift in and out of Yu and Ai's travels to aid them where necessary (and where it's convenient).
The four episodes included in this DVD are (spoilers follow):
"Cid -- The Adventure of the Underground Waterway"
Cid helps Ai and Yu escape death from a plant guy with pipe. In the end, it's up to Kaze to turn the tide and save everyone. This episode establishes the pattern that all the episodes follow: Ai and Yu are in danger, Lisa tries to help them but is overwhelmed, and Kaze saves the day.
"Kigen Arts -- The Savior of the Soul"
It wouldn't be anime without a flashback. Lisa Pacifist, the martial artist, recounts a valuable lesson in balance when she and the kids are trapped. If this episode feels similar to the one that ran before...get used to that feeling.
"Subway -- Enemy of the Dimensional Tunnel"
The kids and Lisa ride the Megatrain and encounter Lupus, the wolf-girl. Luckily, her name is derived from the Latin meaning of the word and not because she's got a disease. The kids face a third enemy sent by the Earl Tyrant and defeat him -- just like in the first two episodes. Next stop: Sucktown.
"Soil -- The Hear of the Magun"
It makes me happy when villains learn. Pist the plant-man discovers a way around Kaze's power and plans to exploit it. At last, someone discovered the best time to attack a man is when he's standing around naming his bullets while loading his gun.
The reason behind the disappearance of Ai and Yu's parents is a mystery. They're obviously away somewhere and the children want a reunion. Looking back, it's clear nothing has changed or happened during the course of four episodes. The kids meet Lupus, Lisa has a flashback and we learn more about Kaze and his gun and the Early Tyrant throws a tantrum.
When I first noticed the artwork in Final Fantasy: Unlimited -- Phase 2 I thought, "Finally. I'm so glad I've found a series based upon Patrick Nagel's artwork." While I like the simplified line work used for the series, the animation tends to drift between thriftiness and sloppy. Less convincing is the failed merging of 2-D and computer animation. During these instances, the 2-D work looks terrible and out of place, taking the viewer out of the story.
Why is it that children are portrayed as the most annoying creatures on any planet? The Earl Tyrant is grating -- in both English and Japanese, no less. The rest of the cast did as good as they could considering the material they were given.
The DVD has one of the nicest cases I've come across in a long time. ADV Films was nice enough to provide a reversible cover and an insert with character names and information.
Along with a great package, the DVD contains a few special features. The fourth episode contains a commentary by two of the actors. It's actually more of a question and answer that adds some insight to how the actors approach the characters they play. Also included are production sketches and a style guide for the series.
The four-episode DVD receives the full-frame treatment. The colors are appropriately vibrant. The only flaws in the picture occur when the series adopts a darker palette. Occasionally, the colors would get a bit muted and muddied. The sound was consistently good.
My ignorance to the video game world of "Final Fantasy" may have a hand in my confusion at this series. However, I know poor storytelling when I see it, and Final Fantasy: Unlimited -- Phase 2 has that in spades. There's no complexity to the series, but I find that the ideas are somewhat interesting. It's unfortunate the ideas never go farther than their surface. Don't hop on board this train, friends. Wait for the next one.
Final Fantasy: Unlimited -- Phase 2 is sentenced to life without parole.
Review content copyright © 2004 David Gutierrez; Site layout and review format copyright © 1998 - 2013 HipClick Designs LLC
Scales of Justice
Studio: ADV Films
* Full Frame
* Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround (English)
* Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (Japanese)
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Release Year: 2001
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
* Audio Commentary
* Production Sketches
* Style Guide
* DVD Verdict review of Final Fantasy: Unlimited -- Phase 1
* Official Site
* DVD Verdict review of Final Fantasy -- The Spirits Within