Final Fantasy Unlimited Vol. #6 (of 7) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Saturday, May 15, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, May 25, 2004
What They Say
n what seems to be a freak accident, Pist's machinations deposit Jane within a stone's throw of Gaudium. While Cid and the crew try to bring the submarine up to full operation, Chobi and Yu infiltrate the massive floating fortress. It seems the Earl has been waiting for them, and he has something to show Yu...
The trials are far from over, though. The group again finds itself brought to another cube, a desert planet, where the locals face a towering tsunami of terror. A trip down Memory Lane brings with it a new ally, but it won't do the twins any good if they can't extract themselves from the temptations of the past.
Apparently in the last volume I thought this was the final volume of the series as I had forgotten this one was slated for seven volumes. Apparently that was a subconscious bit of wishful thinking as this volume gives us? Cactaur.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The series features a rather good stereo mix that has a number of well-done moments of directionality across the forward soundstage. Dialogue is crisp and clear throughout it and we had no issues with dropouts or distortion during regular playback. The English track is done in a 5.1 remix which from what we heard was done more for vocal separation than anything else.
Originally airing in 2001 and with the production values of Gonzo behind it, this is a sterling looking transfer. Colors are lush and fantastically vivid at times, particularly during many of the various CG sequences. A number of areas have various instances of fog or pollen floating throughout the air but there isn't even a hint of break-up during it. Aliasing appears to be minimal if at all noticeable while there doesn't appear to be any cross coloration at all.
Continuing with the distinctive color coding of each volume, this one goes with a pleasant shade of purple for the cloudy backdrop while we get full color shots of Makenshi and Kaze on top of that. Well, mostly black and white colors for them since they're not exactly colorful. This cover looks pretty decent for just being a couple of pasted character shots but nothing to write home about. The back cover is a full page of range with a couple of paragraphs worth of summary along the top. The lower half provides a strip with shots from the show and a list of the discs features while the bottom half focuses more on production information and some more artwork. The reverse cover has a color inverted image of the Tyrant playing with a puzzle globe while various shots from the show are behind him. The opposite panel has an image of the water filled cube prison from the last couple of volumes with a listing of the episode numbers and titles. The insert continues the character studies, this time hitting people like the Tyrant as well as Knave and those damned Cactaur while also providing a simple height guide as well..
The menu uses the purple from the cover artwork this time with a rotating background of imagery while the FFU logo swirls in the middle to the music. Providing a bit of a light tone though is various colored Chocobo's from the end sequence that run across the screen at times. All of this is set to a rather somber and eerie piece of instrumental music from the show. Submenus load quickly and access times are nice and fast.
With the extras for this release, there's a good mix but dub fans continue to make out better. The opening and closing sequences are presented in their textless form, which does let you check out the animation much better. There's a series of production sketches done in a video gallery as well as the second installment of the style guide. For dub fans, episode twenty-two on this release has a third audio track where Robert Newell and J. Hudson Brownlee provide a commentary on the show. The two do introduce themselves on this volume which is a plus over some other commentaries we've heard recently, but strangely unless my ears are deceiving me, it's Robert Newell and Bill Wise.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The further I get into Final Fantasy Unlimited, the more thankful I am that I'm not really a fan of the games. As this show continues to push itself so far away from what you can consider the original source material in being the games, the more it feels like a stab in the back to the franchise to have this kind of show associated with it. Will they ever realize that one of the best things they can ever do is just to animate one of the game stories?
This volume continues, once more, the group traveling along in Cid's ship named Jane through the ocean puzzle that Pist has placed them in for the Tyrant's amusement. In an effort to speed things up along the journey though, the ship falls through into a new cube and lands smack dab right in front of Gaudium and just outside of its defense window, allowing them to manage safely without being shot up quickly. There's some panic about what to do since the defenses are pretty strong, but before anyone can react, everyone's favorite Chocobo senses Dead Peppers nearby and does his transformation sequence. Yu tries to stop him but only ends up being carried along into the belly of Gaudium and dropped off at the first convenient moment. Never get between a Chocobo and its Dead Peppers.
Yu tries to find him and wanders around a bit only to come across the Tyrant, though he doesn't realize that's who it is. The two talk a bit as Yu looks for the Chocobo and the conversation turns to what Yu is really looking for. When he reveals that it's his parents he's looking for, Tyrant casually points him to a room where they're working for him. Of course, there's zero recognition on the parents part as they're basically brainwashed or controlled at this point, so their lack of reaction to him only sets Yu into a panic as he tries to figure it all out. That's also about the best time for the Chocobo to come flying in and retrieve his friend to take back to the station. This all really shakes Yu to his core but the darned kid still doesn't tell anyone that he's found his parents.
Luck steps in again and the crew of the Jane manage to once more get away in the nick of time and end up in another part of the ocean puzzle cube. This one goes completely weird as it has them on some sort of really dead desert world but it all starts with Ai getting her munchi-oriented pocketbook out and seeing a small humanoid cactus come flying out of it and attacking everyone on the ship who tries to go after it. It turns out that this critter is actually called a Cactaur and is part of a sizeable race of them on this world that had been nearly wiped out recently by the Wandering Wave, a giant tsunami that travels the world looking for things to kill. And it turns out that this same wave is the key to moving on to the next realm as well.
In a world of bad ideas, the Cactaur has to be one of the worst. These little green guys are hustling all over the place with their simple little dot faces painted on. Their movement looks like one of the animators learned about the blur feature and applied to them. Watching hundreds of these little green guys cower, party, go to the beach and then form a military unit is practically unbearable. Thinking back on it gives me a headache.
The last episode does little to redeem things. The latest world they land on is pretty nice to look at, something like a mix of European and asian styles for small houses across a countryside along the sea. As everyone gets out to explore, they end up thinking back to their oldest favorite memories and then reliving them. So you've got Cid playing with his toys or Lisa thinking back to her early training with her mother and how much that meant to her. Ai and Yu are seemingly unaffected since they have less memories to deal with and Kaze's memories aren't exactly pleasant. Kaze also gets to deal with some cat-like character from his past who apparently used to fight alongside him. He's also something of a master of Soil and is key to getting Kaze going on his last journey.
While I thought the previous volume was nearing the end, this one makes me dread the end even more. Nothing here really redeems it in any way. It's just more ocean puzzle episodes with a few hints of going to do something big. It's all so self-involved with each episode instead of looking at the bigger picture and getting things going there. If this show had been its original length, I can't imagine it being much better since there'd just be more of this ocean puzzle that slowly teases out small bits of information necessary for the bigger storyline. This is one of those journey shows where the journey itself is pretty bad.
My eyes are in pain from rolling them so much during the Cactaur episode itself. The early episodes of the series had some interesting ideas to it and you can see how it could have been really interesting, but with it being so child-oriented with the leads and then so episodic with this puzzle, I'm having a hard time figuring out who the real target audience is for this. It's lost me completely at this point.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Voice actor commentary,Production sketches,Style Guide,Clean opening and closing animation
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.
Mania Grade: D+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: B+
Age Rating: 12 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: ADV Films
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Final Fantasy Unlimited