Appellate Judge Dave Ryan, for reasons known only to himself, is perfectly willing to accept the concept of a race of anthropomorphic cacti.
Just in case you didn't pay attention during the last five discs—or if you're merely a bit brain damaged—Ai, Yu, Lisa Pacifist, the dirt fetishist Kaze, Cid and the Comodeen gang, and Chobi the Flying Chocobo are back for three more episodes of fun in Wonderland.
(As always, spoilers for the prior Phases follow. Read on at your own risk if you plan to watch the whole series…)
When last we left the crew of Final Fantasy: Unlimited, things were really starting to pick up. In fact, it seems as if the first 13 episodes don't really count anymore; the series really started in Episode 14. It's either that, or they finally figured out that the story arc is the most important part of a 25-episode anime series. Whatever it was that happened over there in Tokyo, the episodes on the Phase 4 and Phase 5 discs were progressively better in quality as the show went along.
Well, all good things must come to an end…
Phase 6 backtracks a bit, providing three okay episodes that just kind of meander along within the overall arc of the series. It feels like those time-killer X-Files episodes that used to be thrown in toward the end of the season because they couldn't overkill the alien/conspiracy stuff before the season-ending cliffhanger: okay, but decidedly unthrilling.
Your three episodes contained herein are:
• Episode 20: "Yu—The Secret of Gaudium"
• Episode 21: "Cactus—The Wandering Sea"
• Episode 21: "Moogle—Long Lost Memories"
So that's what you get in this three-episode set. Here's what you don't get: any real mention of Omega or Chaos, any substantive action from the Lords of Gaudium (save for Pist, who's operating the Ocean Puzzle), or any advancement of the whole "Earl Tyrant wants to take over the world" plotline. That's why this set was a bit disappointing. After solidly building those storylines brick by brick in the last few episodes, the show quits and breaks for lunch.
I just don't understand the method and madness behind this show anymore. It's so across-the-board in its storytelling that it's profoundly frustrating in the end. It's really a shame, too—the animation is very well done, and the seeds of a very solid, very interesting story are there. But every time I watch it, I wind up wishing it had been Cowboy Bebop. Well, there's one more Phase to go—maybe it will pull out a miracle finish. We'll see.
Video and audio are identical to past offerings. You have your choice of a solid ADV-mixed 5.1 Dolby Surround dubbed English mix, or the original Japanese 2.0 stereo mix. Colors are vibrant and well-balanced, and picture quality is quite good. A collection of extras basically similar to past offerings' extras are included with this set, but they're a bit skimpier this time. The printed character booklet is a two-page booklet; with all the prior discs, it was a tri-fold booklet. The production gallery doesn't have many stills that are specific to these episodes. The "FF:U Style Guide" is really just a series of color reference charts for certain characters, used by the cel shaders to keep the animation consistent.
On the other hand, the commentary track with two of the voice actors is the best yet. This time, our guest commentators are Robert Newell, who voices Cid, and J. Hudson Brownlee, the voice of Moogle. They're pretty witty and entertaining in their commentary—although as before, they don't really have anything to say about the show itself. They're only involved with the packaging and reformatting of the show for American audiences, not with the original production.
Six down, one to go, and this series is still kind of a mess. I really expected better from SquareEnix; this is their franchise property, after all. This disc was the kidney-punch, though. The show had just about sucked me in, but watching this meandering trio of episodes was like watching an alcoholic fall of the wagon—but just a little bit. Not a full-on clean-the-bar-out bender; just a couple of inappropriate glasses of wine.
The cactuars are pretty cute, though. They should get their own show.
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