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  Directed by
    None Listed
  Starring
  Specs
  • Full Frame
  • Dual Layer ( )
  Languages
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • Japanese: Dolby Digital Stereo
  Subtitles
    English
  Extras
  • 4 Theatrical trailer
  • Audio commentary - Episode One only
  • 3 Photo gallery
  • Film highlights - Creditless opening and closing
  • DVD Text

Final Fantasy: Unlimited 1

Madman Cinema/AV Channel . R4 . COLOR . 91 mins . PG . PAL

  Feature
Contract

Expecting some future hybrid from the incredible animation of the feature film release I enthusiastically stuck my hand in the air to work this review. Boy, could I have been more wrong? I doubt it. This is an animated childrenís show based on the worlds of the Final Fantasy video game.

It immediately struck me as a very simple, very basic series and one that bears little, if any, resemblance to the feature release. While there are abstract moments of computer rendering and 3D animation, itís a very simplistic and bare bones application. Bearing in mind this was made just last year in 2003, the 3D animation is almost student quality in its basicness and one of the real lowlights of the series. Another lowlight lies in some of the animation and character design. The episode entitled Makenshi: The White Etude brings some of the most amateurish animation Iíve ever witnessed to the screen. Seriously, I couldnít believe how lamely one particular character had been drawn and animated and it wholly resembled a student feature. Unbelievable really, particularly as the majority of other characters are all pretty good.

As a series though, it eventually grew on me. Itís a simple premise, yet there is a sense of childlike wonder impressed into almost every frame of these first four episodes and I felt myself warming to the show, even if some of the execution was not quite up to scratch. That being said, there are still a swag of cheesy lines, re-used animation and just plain confusing moments. Still, itís aimed at children, I would say, as I doubt an adult fanbase would find much to revel in. To this end it contains a lot of those things kids enjoy in animation; bright colours, strange characters and situations and adults doing funny things.

Four episodes of I donít know how many are included here and they run thus:

  • Episode One: Wonderland Ė Journey Into the Darkness. 22:46
    A pillar of darkness appears while two enormous monsters emerge and fight in our world. 12 years later the pillar is rumoured to be a path to mythical Wonderland. Yu and Ai, brother and sister, go searching for their parents who took a train to the pillar and disappeared. The kids catch this same mysterious train into Wonderland and meet Lisa, a strange passenger who seems to be following them. Once arriving in Wonderland, they meet a strange fellow with no name and a variety of weird creatures inhabiting it.
  • Episode Two: Magun Ė The Man of the Black Wind. 22:47
    The kids continue their search for their parents with Lisaís help. They again meet the strange man, who Yu names Kaze. He protects them from another crystal bomb with the Magun; a weapon that fires magic soil bullets to destroy a foe.
  • Episode Three: Fruit Ė The Town of Sweet Scent. 22:47
    Having boarded the Ghost Train again, the group arrive in Fruit, a strange town where Ai has her bag stolen, but meets the guide Fabula and is given a poshepocket. This is a weird handbag-like animal that can make any wish a reality. Finally, after another confrontation, the group must hurry to catch the departing Ghost Train.
  • Episode Four: Makenshi Ė The White Etude. 22:46
    The travellers miss the Ghost Train and meet up with some people from The Underground Ė a resistance movement against the Boy King. Cid, a technical whiz, joins them as they realise they can still board the train by getting ahead of it. Kaze, their sometime protector, meets his match against the White Etude, a fellow with similar powers.
  • Episode Five: Cid Ė The Adventure of the Underground Waterway. This is just a preview for the next disc in the set and lasts maybe a minute.

  Video
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Made for television, we have a 4:3 aspect ratio here. Thatís okay, it works well enough. The picture is nice and clear, which is to be expected for animation made so recently with scanned artwork. The digital work looks good, but is too basically rendered using some very simple light effects and such as well. This just makes it look amateurish, unfortunately. The backgrounds have all been hand-rendered, but sometimes look a little too washed out next to the crystal clear animation. There are also many, many moments of re-used animation when characters use the same moves before battle or whatever which gets a little tiresome.

Overall though, a pretty sharp picture with limited film artefacts, if any. There are some very, very rare moments of aliasing, but this isnít really a problem of any merit.

  Audio
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In a bizarre twist, this has actually been delivered in Dolby Digital 5.1 surround, which is pretty much unheard of for a television show. While it is in eternal use, it grants mainly music in the surrounds while the subwoofer has a practically constant depth going on. The sound effects are all fairly child-like in their silliness, with comical sproings and boings littering the soundscape. The music also gets a silliness enema, being mostly comical or silly or just over-dramatic during action sequences. However, it does sound good, if not to my tastes, so thatís always a plus.

The dialogue has been delivered in both Japanese and English and watching the two gives two very different viewpoints to the story. Mainly in delivery or what is actually being said, the two both sound fine anyway.

  Extras
Contract

At first glance, there seems to be a fair old whack of stuff here, but upon investigation, there isnít much of any real value.

First up are creditless opening and closing sequences which are in all practicality, worthless. However, production sketches promises more. Some widely variegated works are on display here running as a montage film for 3:31. Some of this work is very raw indeed and some not even worth putting in.

The same deal applies to the key production backgrounds that follow. These again run in montage for 3:27 and contain many aspects of background production from sketches right through to finished art. Another of these follows with the preliminary Final Fantasy: Unlimited illustrations. These run for 4:30 and have some very rough design work, but some very pretty and experimental stuff as well. This one is my highlight of the art folios and the extras overall.

Thereís then some advance preview trailers. Numbering four, they are Angelic Layer: Battle Doll, King of Bandit Jing, Martian Successor: Nadesico Ė The Prince of Darkness and Chance Pop Sessions which looks like the first series ever made about karaoke. Woo!

  Overall  
Contract

Well, like I said, it seems to be firmly lodged in aiming at kids. Thatís okay, Iím sure the kids will get a kick out of it. I couldnít help but feel something for it by the end, and while Iím not about to rush out and buy the next series of discs, I found it fairly tolerable. My only real qualm lies in the amateurish animation which I found quite shocking, to be honest. While most of itís okay, this last episode features some very weak transient characters that makes me wonder if some disgruntled employee slipped them in as a joke.

While a far cry from the film of the same name, this is quirky enough that the kids may enjoy it, but adults, I dunno. I doubt it.


  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=3600
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      And I quote...
    "Anyone wanting a continuation of the animated feature film will be well advised to step away here. This is a kidís show made for TV."
    - Jules Faber
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Teac DVD-990
    • TV:
          Sony 51cm
    • Speakers:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Centre Speaker:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Surrounds:
          Teac PLS-60 Home Theatre System
    • Subwoofer:
          Akai
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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