Final Fantasy Unlimited Vol. #5 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: C-

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A-
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B+
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 13 & 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

Final Fantasy Unlimited Vol. #5

By Chris Beveridge     April 05, 2004
Release Date: April 13, 2004


Final Fantasy Unlimited Vol. #5
© ADV Films


What They Say
Navigating through the ocean puzzle is no piece of cake. When Cid is turned into a frog, he finds his piloting skill?not to mention his credibility with the crew?has severely dropped. And Oscar's meddling leads to the resurrection of a long-dead foe. Will the challenges never end?

But nothing so far has prepared the group for Ai's sudden disappearance in the Sea of Wonderland. Whisked away to a realm where the ocean floats above the sky, she meets a mysterious boy clothed in garments made from Flying Water. Who is he? And why is the Earl so desperate to capture him?

Ai, Yu, Lisa, and their allies will have their courage?and patience?tested as they push through, but hope and perseverance keep them afloat. You won't want to miss a minute of the fantastic action and stirring drama in Final Fantasy: Unlimited!


The Review!
The ocean cube puzzle continues to be frustrating the group and the crew in general but all that starts to pale as a larger threat suddenly looms.

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:
With an olive green backdrop, Madoushi looks very prominent with the amount of red in his design, though the artwork for him here makes him look much more effeminate than he does in the actual show. 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 strange shot of Kaze in the background with Makenshi in front of him covering his face. The color scheme used and the style sets it out of place from what other reverse side covers have looked like to be sure. The back cover lists the episode numbers and titles set against a greenish-white backdrop. 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 almost black and white but more accurately silver 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 a series of key animation backgrounds that run for about three minutes. For dub fans, episode fourteen on this release has a third audio track where Evan Slack & Samantha Inoue Harte provide a commentary on the show.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Final Fantasy Unlimited started showing some progress in the last volume by moving forward into some of the more puzzle-oriented areas of Wonderland and getting a lot of the various cast back together to deal with them. With their large sea-going craft and a full crew with them now, Lisa, Kaze and the kids are moving forward in their journey to find the kids parents, though Kaze's just sort of tagging along.

While things have seemingly started to get more serious, the first episode here puts it back into a very comical mode as they enter a new area in the ocean cube maze. This one is full of mud and the ship starts to slowly sink right away. Cid's all set to deal with this until an old brown frog appears before him and tells him that he has to face a challenge in time before the ship sinks so far it'll fall into the black void and be lost forever. The challenge is to return back to normal, as the elder frog turns Cid into a very cute green frog that nobody can understand. And nobody sees him change either, so it's like Cid has suddenly disappeared at the worst time. Cid tries all sorts of methods to get turned back to normal, including an amusing teleportation trip to the Chocobo place, before he manages to discover the trick to his problem. All told, the episode is good in some respects in seeing how Cid views the various women in the crew and the way the crew reacts to the existence of frogs, but it's just filler for the most part.

The darker side to the plot in these episodes kicks off with the remaining two. While Pist has been handling much of the fun with the crew in his ocean cube puzzle, Oscha has asked for permission to do something about the problem. Going into some secret dark hidden depth, Oscha brings about the resurrection of Madoushi, the brother of Makenshi. His arrival on the ocean cube, in a cloud section where people can walk on them, causes all sorts of surprise at first since they think it's Makenshi. But when he starts using his fog power to freeze everyone and Kaze's weapon appears to have no affect on him, Makenshi finally arrives having felt the presence of someone he never thought he'd see again.

Makenshi's arrival brings a lot of new facts to light about the pair and their pasts and what really drives them. All of it seems interesting and their fight sequences based on their past histories is very nicely done and provides some excitement. But all of this is done just to wrap up its own little loose end before moving onto the next phase in the last episode that brings us back to the little kids being the center point again. With this volume having only three episodes, it goes by fast and with much of it not affecting the overall plot, it doesn't feel like we got anywhere for a lot of it. What's even worse is that the next volume is the last volume and that only has three episodes on it. While I've seen a lot of series manage to masterfully finish things out in three episodes or less, this is one series I doubt that that will happen with.

In Summary:
If this series had run its original length, I could see enjoying the ocean cube arc a bit more since it's done a good job of showing various aspects of Wonderland and what makes it up in addition to letting the supporting cast get a bit more screen time. But since the show is about to end, it really all feels for naught and ends up not really capturing the imagination since the end has little chance of being satisfying.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Voice actor/actress commentary with Evan Slack (Yu) & Samantha Inoue Harte (Chobbi),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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