Final Fantasy Unlimited Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 24.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Final Fantasy Unlimited

Final Fantasy Unlimited Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     January 17, 2004
Release Date: January 20, 2004


Final Fantasy Unlimited Vol. #3
© ADV Films


What They Say
Hidden throughout the vast landscape of Wonderland lie the crystalline pieces of an entity called Omega, which once consumed whole worlds, but was shattered and scattered over land and sea. Now, Earl Tyrant has sent his minions out to gather the crystals in hopes of reuniting Omega. With its collected energy under his command, the conniving Earl will become the supreme ruler of the universe!



The Review!
Yu and Ai continue their search for their parents but only seem to turn up more and more enemies as they plod along.

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:
Heavy on the orange color, Lisa takes the main piece here with the wind blowing her hair as she looks outward. Kaze sneaks into the background which is also heavy in the orange, from both the ground and the hot blazing sun image behind him. 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 fantastic shot of Lisa preparing her spell that’s done in some really interesting shades and colors; the back cover lists the episode numbers and titles set against a white and blue image of the subway in action. The insert has four panels worth of character artwork and background information ranging from the good guys to the bad guys.

Menu:
The menu is heavy on the red 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 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 a series of key animation backgrounds that run for about three minutes. For dub fans, episode twelve on this release has a third audio track where Grant James and Lainie Frasier provide a commentary on the show and being voice actors in general.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Final Fantasy Unlimited continues to be one strange series with something about it that I’m simply unable to pin down. Taking in these four episodes, the series continues to emphasize its Burton-esque nature while playing with a very simple storyline of children searching for their parents. With a cast of secondary characters who step in for an episode or two and then back out, Final Fantasy Unlimited seems to take on more and more of a fairy tale feel as it progresses deeper into Wonderland through the subway.

With it moving this way, each episode tends to shift to a new domain where something is different about it than the others. A little time is spent there trying to figure out, some sort of enemy is dealt with and they move on to the next adventure. There are some changes though, as Kaze has now started traveling with them, at least for a few episodes. His presence on the subway has had an affect, particularly after his defeat of the Omega claw previously. Lou has taken a serious liking to him and almost seems like she’s praying at his feet constantly as she tells him about herself. Her doing this has the interesting side affect of causing Lisa to realize that she does have some form of interest in this mysterious man, something she hadn’t consciously realized before.

The realms we get introduced in this round are definitely interesting. The opening one has an almost Chinese style workshop where all the workers, each looking identical in their outfits and hooded masks, continually build and then takes apart their project. Their survival mechanism is in their ability to produce work, and by taking it apart afterwards and then rebuilding it, they’ve managed to create one strange life cycle. Another episode has the group landing in the world where Fungus apparently comes from and everything is seemingly literally made up of him, allowing him to do almost what he pleases.

One of the things that continually appeals to me in these episodes, and I know it’s just repeated animation from various episodes, but the moments when Kaze loads up his gun, picking the materials and then firing them into the merge form are just really appealing. But much of Final Fantasy Unlimited is made up of repeated segments, from Fabula repeating the key elements of the previous disc to the Kaze moments and more. At least with the Omega becoming more critical to the survival of Wonderland in these episodes, it’s bringing something new into the show that can’t be repeated over and over.

The best thing about this volume though, depending on your nature, is the heavy focus on one episode on the entire Chocobo race as we get to see them in herds and a multitude of colors and types. There’s just a lot of very cute moments with this, especially with how all of the Chocobo’s seem to love playing catch with Yu and chomping on her hair. But if you have Chocobo’s, then this episode will be sheer torture for you. These little critters continue to be a huge draw to my three year old who has watched this entire series with me now, so taking part of the show through her eyes has definitely adjusted how I’ve perceived it as well, which has led more into the fairy tale nature of the story.

In Summary:
With the heavy focus still on the search for their parents, the series doesn’t seem like it’s really making any progress from episode to episode. There are minor hurdles that are overcome and a few more hints given to the backgrounds of the adult characters, but with “leads” as young as Yu and Ai are, there isn’t much for them to change over the course of the journey. At most, they become more the eyes and ears for the viewer in the story and simply pass on the experience as opposed to being truly active participants.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,Voice actor/actress commentary,Production sketches,Key animation backgrounds,Clean opening and closing animation

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.

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