Final Fantasy Unlimited Vol. #7 (of 7) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, August 05, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, July 06, 2004



What They Say
No one knows the full extent of Earl Tyrant's plans. The threads of secrecy quickly unravel, and the true natures of Chaos, Soil and the twins are laid bare. Wonderland, the Outside Worlds?everything is at stake in the stunning conclusion to this spectacular series.



The Review!
Coming to a close far earlier than expected, Final Fantasy Unlimited plays out normally then crashes and burns with style, pleasing the sadistic in me.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
While not as strongly colored as past volumes due to the character art being so large, the blue backdrop frames the Kaze and Makenshi characters nicely as their weapons cross between them. 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 pair of really good illustrations. One of them is Fabula and the opposite panel has an image of the Gun Dragon with a listing of the episode numbers and titles. The insert continues the character studies, this time hitting people like the Fabula and characters specific to these last episodes as well as a look at the various mists used for Summons.

Menu:
The menu uses the blue 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.

Extras:
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-five on this release has a third audio track with the voice actors for Kaze and Makenshi talking about their roles and the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the last volume of the show, I was in a weird way definitely looking forward to seeing the show end. I wasn't exactly looking forward to seeing more of the show itself, especially with the history of how it all ended, but I was looking forward to finishing it all off and putting it behind me.

With the last three episodes, there's a distinct change that occurs about halfway through. The first episode and a half play out much as we've seen with Cid and the gang traveling through the ocean cube from adventure to adventure. Their latest adventure took them out of the water area of it and actually hit some land. It's actually to their advantage since their arrival has placed them close to where the flying water that they require is. Their plan to use it on their ship and equipment to help launch a raid on the Tyrants headquarters doesn't exactly make too much sense to me, but at least they have something of a plan. Of course, their plans rarely go as planned especially with Pist and his lovely overdramatic style seems to continually come into play. It doesn't take long for it all to get very messy when Pist brings out a weapon that can suck up Kaze's Soil and effectively puts them in a losing situation.

Then the show does what I always wish shows would do, especially ones of this ones original planned length. Throughout the show we've had these relatively mild but interesting fights between Kaze and Makenshi as their histories push them towards conflict. With Makenshi being the big powerful guy on the bad guys side, he's the one you know that will keep doing this until the very end when the big fight will happen. But what if much earlier in the series the big bad guy simply drops in, pissed off, and starts taking down people left and right. Instead of being held in reserve, he comes in and kicks ass early on. You know, like anyone would realistically do instead of letting them plod on and grow strong, defeat your enemies.

Makenshi in a sense does this as he drops in and lays waste to a lot of what's going on but the entire situation just collapses as the Tyrant and his Chaos make their move. With most of the cast indicated as being dead, only a few survive at the Tyrants leisure in his floating fortress as he explains away just how well everyone has been used throughout the show so far. In its own way, the game that the Tyrant has played is brilliant and amusing as he's laid deception upon deception upon them so they don't know what's what anymore. Are Ai and Yu really the kids we've know or are they something more? The revelations of what Clear really is, the Tyrants end plans for the Chaos and the ultimate forms of Soil are all revealed here and it's probably one of the best episodes of the series and one of the better animated ones. Dropping just about all of the silly secondary characters and focusing on the core group, it's a fast moving and entertaining episode that just completely screws with the characters. I even loved the way the final frames of it played out as it just does what it did to the characters and does it to the audience.

At the end, Final Fantasy Unlimited showed some balls and played hard. Too bad it should have started off that way.

In Summary:
While I doubt I'll ever go back and re-watch the series in total, the last volume is one that I can see myself pulling out and going through again just to see how much fun they had in playing a mental screw to things. Whether this is anywhere near close to what was originally planned is pretty moot, but they did do a surprisingly good job of tying things up and bringing some amount of closure but still holding out some form of hope. There were some interesting bits to the show overall but the world they created just didn't fit the Final Fantasy universe that people were expecting. Some day they'll realize how to make a real Final Fantasy anime by either using one of the games and simply animating that or taking one of the unused game plotlines and going from there. Until then, the Final Fantasy franchise continues to only succeed in the game world.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Voice actor commentary,Production sketches,Key animation backgrounds

Review Equipment
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: C
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
MSRP: 24.98
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Final Fantasy Unlimited