Escaflowne: The Movie Anime Review
For anyone who's seen the Escaflowne series and movie, I think anyone would agree that the series is far better than the movie. If you plan on getting either one of these, get the series. But the movie is good, too, just not in comparison to the series.
The art, for one, is not so great. It is very dusty-looking, much like an old mecha anime series. The characters have a very crude look to them, and they aren't as brightly-colored as one would expect from a fantasy anime. The colors are based on an earth tone, and any bright colors are startling and unwelcome. However, though the drawing isn't the best, the animation itself is quite good.
The reason that this movie did not turn out too well is most likely due to the fact that the creators were trying to jam 26 episodes worth of plot plus a bit about a "Wing Goddess" into an 80-minute session. The easiest way to force in more plot is to, of course, force out more characters.
I thought that one of the greatest aspects of Vision of Escaflowne, the series, was the characters and the intricate connections between them. In the beginning, the series spent a decent about of time developing the growing friendship between Van and Hitomi. Also, Hitomi's fascination with Allen Schezar caused somewhat of a tense, three-way-love-triangle that added to the girly, fanciful feeling of the anime. Hitomi was portrayed as a girl that cared deeply for Gaea, even if she had just been dropped in there out of the blue. Van was a caring fellow with an agenda, but not an agenda that he couldn't put aside for the sake of a good conversation with his friends. Allen was responsible but at the same time had mixed feelings about his willingness to devote himself entirely to one cause. Despite his involvement with many women, he was a "playa" as many might say, he was always courteous with them, never showing them any disrespect.
But, alas, all good developments must fall at the hands of one who is unwilling to put time into creating a concrete character. The Hitomi in the movie never had time to care very deeply about either Gaea or Van, or even Allen Schezar. She was more portrayed as a regular teenage girl who is feeling rather uncomfortable and out of place in a world where nothing really matches up with her set sense of logic. This made her seem almost selfish in a way. Van was far different in the movie, perhaps the biggest change of any of the characters. The opening scene in the movie is him mercilessly slaying many guards on a Zaibach ship. He is quiet and strong, and less willing to open up to Hitomi, even when she is suspected of being the Wing Goddess. Allen is, how can I put this... Well, he's RUDE. He never shows any particular respect towards anyone. He is more of a lost soul, less sure of his footing.
Along with the changes in character, there is a difference in the technicalities, too. Escaflowne itself is different. While the Guymelef in the series is always in a physical form somewhere, the Escaflowne in the movie disappears and then reappears when summoned. Also, while it took Van some time to "become" Escaflowne in the series, the movie Guymelef immediately requires Van's blood to move around and fight.
Thankfully, one great thing did not change: the voice acting. Now, when it comes to anime, the best part about it, too me, is listening to the voice actors. The best voice acting job I have ever heard is in Escaflowne, movie and series. The woman who does Dilandau, Minami Takayama, is bloody brilliant. No one can laugh evilly and shout "BURN, BURN!!!" quite as well as she can. Overall, all the voice actors pulled their weight and then some. They adapted well to the change in character, even after being so used to the way that they played them before. They alone make the movie worth watching, if not for just the mere merit of the movie.
I hardly think it necessary to go into an in-depth review of the music of the movie. It's composed by Yoko Kanno. I see no problem here.
To sum it all up, the movie was mediocre. It's best to be taken like microwave mashed potatoes: If you think of them as mashed potatoes, they are gross. But if you think of them as a food on their own, they're delicious. The movie was bad when thought of as Escaflowne, merely because the series was so good. But when you just watch the movie on its own and try not to think of it as Escaflowne, it's definitely worth watching.