sunnuntai 17. lokakuuta 2010

MOVIE REVIEW - Last Order - Final Fantasy VII (2005)

Kenichi Suzumura : Zack Fair
Toshiyuki Morikawa : Sephiroth
Takahiro Sakurai : Cloud Strife
Ayumi Ito : Tifa Lockheart
Keiji Fujawara : Reno
Taiten Kusunoki : Rude
Nachi Nozawa : Professor Hojo
Hiroshi Fujioka : Zangan
Youhei Tadano : Villager

Directed by Morio Asaka

As said before, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children was originally scripted to be a 20-minute CGI clip inspired by Original Video Animation, really hot shit in Japan; it's basically anime, but usually a 20- to 30-minute stand-alone clip, a short movie that goes straight to video. There's not really a true purpose to this phenomenon. As Tetsuya Nomura was finishing up work on Advent Children, he approached a small studio by the name of Studio MadHouse - who had worked on the promotional material of the mobile game Before Crisis - Final Fantasy VII - and asked them to make a 25-minute OVA of a certain point in Final Fantasy VII's storyline, to be released in conjunction with Advent Children. MadHouse finished Last Order in six months, under Nomura's supervision. Contrary to popular belief, Last Order is not an official part of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, it's more like promotional material for Advent Children's benefit. At least that's what it was. Two years later, a game, an extensive prequel to Final Fantasy VII was released on the PSP, entitled Crisis Core and partly influenced by this brief anime flick. Now that makes Last Order a tad more curious on my account.

Shinra soldiers are on the hunt for Zack and Cloud, who've escaped the genetic research facility located in Nibelheim. Back in Midgar, Tseng of the Turks is reflecting on his personal ethics, which are in conflict with his orders, and reminiscing certain events that took place five years ago.

The true hero of the burning Nibelheim gets a
facelift impressive enough for him to have
his very own game...
As also said before, I fuckin' loathe anime. In many ways, the visuals and the voiceover work of Last Order remind me why, but then again, the subject is very dear to me, and seeing this clip only lasts for 25 minutes, it really isn't that painful to watch. A couple of sandwiches and a tall glass of milk, and I'm ready to go!

Last Order is split into two different halves of about the same length, and the clip cuts back and forth between them. The other half's about the Nibelheim incident five years before the events of the game, while the other one's about Cloud and Zack's escape and final journey together. It should be noted that even under Nomura's supervision, MadHouse took a LOT of liberties with several sort of plot details. Tseng knows Cloud, all the way from Nibelheim, which is definitely not the case in the original game. Cloud is obviously Mako-drunk while fending off Sephiroth's fatal attack, even before taking one dip in that crap. During this same confrontation, Cloud just gets his ass handed to him by Sephiroth, after which Sephiroth jumps into the reactor core himself, instead of getting killed by Cloud. Some stupidities from the original game remain, like Tifa being so damn happy that her hero came for her, while all "her hero" does is carry her a couple of feet away from her original spot, to lie around somewhere else. And oh yeah, this part of the clip really bugs me for another reason. Cloud and Tifa converse, with Tifa being perfectly conscious and the unmasked Cloud being friendly towards her, not ashamed of himself at all. This contradicts about a half of the original game's plot, as Tifa had no idea Cloud even was in Nibelheim when the incident occurred!

Be all these fuck-ups intentionally rewritten parts or not, I have to say Last Order is an entertaining little piece of anime; I'm not much of an expert but I like it. It's a good intro or warm-up to my second round of Crisis Core, which may have shuffled the plot of the compilation even further but at least it has offered some explanations and new threads of storyline as well, instead of being just a simple, good but somewhat meaningless and enigmatic recreation like Last Order.

...All the while OUR hero gets downgraded to an
incompetent Shinra marine with a tendency to
get his ass kicked up to his throat.
One or two of Uematsu's classic tracks show up almost subliminally, while most of the background music is new material by Takeharu Ishimoto; it's of the quite typical anime fare, with heavy guitars, simple chords and moderate tempo. It's interesting to note that Square Enix liked Ishimoto's work so much that most of the soundtrack was carried over to Crisis Core, and he was hired to write the rest of the game's soundtrack as well.

I'm moving on to Crisis Core completely pumped. The last time I played the game, I hadn't even seen Last Order yet, I hadn't played the original game in a long time and I hadn't watched Advent Children in a few years. I didn't quite feel it. Now there's so much Final Fantasy VII in my head that I'll surely enjoy the game even more. However, this newly sharpened memory of Final Fantasy VII worked against my second viewing of Last Order; it's definitely the best traditional anime clip I've ever watched, but it takes too much liberties with the plot to be a true, flawless Final Fantasy VII fanboy novelty in my opinion.

(Last Order is NOT included in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete. It can only be found on the Collector's Edition DVD, released in North America and Europe in 2007.)

RATING : 6.7

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