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Final Fantasy Unlimited - The Complete Collection

ADV Films // PG // August 23, 2005
List Price: $49.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted September 6, 2005 | E-mail the Author
The Show:

Final Fantasy is undoubtedly one of the most popular role-playing videogame series of all time. The tales of sword and magic change with each installment and though the twelfth game in the franchise is looming on the horizon, Final Fantasy has found itself used in other media. Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within released some years ago and was a full length CGI movie that was met with mixed reviews. Another full length feature is going to be coming out around the corner called Advent Children and is a spin on the widely popular Final Fantasy VII.

The game franchise has spilled over into the anime world as well and ADV has released a complete collection of the Final Fantasy Unlimited saga. Previously this show was available on six individual disc releases but now finds itself on five disc "thinpak". Like the games and feature films, the anime reinvents the series and takes a different spin on things. This is both a blessing and a curse, because while the show is fresh compared to the game franchise I was hoping for something slightly familiar.

At the very beginning of the show we see a strange magical happening in the real world that is called the Day of Conjunction. A pillar of darkness pierces the sea and two monsters emerge to fight it out before the eyes of humanity. Their battle and the rift from the pillar leave a gate between our world and one called Wonderland. Twelve years after that date a pair of siblings named Ai and Yu venture onto the Wonderland subway train in an effort to find their parents who they believe have gone to the mystical land.

Along the way they meet a mysterious woman named Lisa who is also searching for someone, but puts that aside in order to help the children reunite their family. The trio explores Wonderland and meets many of the residents and even some strange folk along the way. They are eventually joined by a cute chocobo that has a thing for chewing on hair and frequently bump into a stranger named Kaze who is also known as the Black Wind. Kaze carries a powerful golden gun called the Magun that has the ability to summon creatures into battle such as Ifrit and Shiva from the game franchise.

There is an air of mystery around the many worlds of Wonderland and no matter where our lead characters turn up there are always more questions than answers and a bad guy to beat. The main group of enemies in Unlimited is the Gaudium Lords which is a ragtag troop of evil monsters. I suppose no version of Final Fantasy would be complete without some kooky bad guy to take down, but truly I couldn't find myself liking any of these villains. Not that you're really supposed to "like" the evil guys, but they're such an irritating cast of characters I found myself wishing they'd die for good. The only one that holds any interest is Mikenshi who is Kaze's nemesis though you'll learn more about them as the show continues.

The show seems to go through different phases and bounces between being intriguing and downright strange. There is very little continuity between episodes as the main characters travel from one world to the next. You'll be hard pressed to see the same locations twice during the run of the show though that's not necessarily a bad thing. The episodes in Final Fantasy Unlimited are really hit or miss in terms of quality and there are several that add nothing to the story or series.

Pacing seems to be one of the show's weak points when watching the complete run back to back. I would propose that the series is better in short doses as it was original aired in Japan back in 2001, but even so several facets started to grate on my nerves after a while. While I love Final Fantasy and have gone through just about every incarnation of the franchise, Unlimited has by far one of the weakest plots this side of Spirits Within.

As if the pacing and plot weren't bad enough the show looks like it had a fairly low budget and repeats a ton of animation. There are a lot of tacky CGI effects used at parts and they don't look anywhere near as good as what Square is capable of. Each episode has the intro theme, a recap of events from the previous episode and over a minute worth of repeated CGI scenes. In the end the episodes are then cut from twenty five minutes to probably eighteen to nineteen of new material.

The very nature of the show is aimed towards a young audience with cute artwork, repetitive animation and mind numbingly simplistic story telling. Final Fantasy Unlimited succeeds on a few levels for fans of the game franchise or of fantasy anime in general. It just doesn't find success on enough levels to be worth $50 or 625 minutes of a serious otaku's time.

The DVD:


Final Fantasy Unlimited is presented in the original airing ratio of 1.33:1 full frame. The image is very sharp, colorful and the art style works well with the fantasy setting. While there is a little bit of grain in some scenes and some noticeable aliasing in others, the video looks pretty good for having been produced in 2001.

While I didn't particularly care for the CGI that was used here, it is effective at getting its point across. The only problem is that it's so glaringly different from the actual art of the show that it comes off as an eyesore in comparison. Some staples like the chocobo and cactuar see faithful representation here but the rest of the design is very different from the game franchise.


For the audio treatment of Final Fantasy Unlimited there are a couple of options to play around with. Depending on your personal preferences you can pick between 5.1 Dolby Digital surround English or 2.0 Dolby Digital Japanese with optional English subtitles. The sound quality is very good with either selection but if you want more a channel mix with decent use of directionality then the English track is the way to go. I personally prefer the original language tracks for my anime though but both options here fare pretty well.

Fans of the game franchise will recognize a lot of the music used during the course of the show. From the opening logo introduction to the chocobo theme song or even the end of battle victory music there is quite a bit borrowed from the Final Fantasy name. Just like much of the animation a lot of the songs are used repeatedly and in often circumstance more than their own good.


While the individual disc releases offered some notable extras like commentaries and production sketches, the thinpak collection here is barebones aside from a few ADV previews. I suppose that's what happens when a series is condensed onto a smaller amount of discs. In other words if you're the type of viewer that likes watching bonus material for the anime you see then you'll be sadly disappointed with this collection.

Final Thoughts:

Overall I was torn on a few different aspects of Final Fantasy Unlimited. I'm a long time fan of Final Fantasy in general but Unlimited's take on the franchise left something of a bad taste in my mouth. That could have had a lot to do with the tacky looking CGI, repetitive animations and minimally interesting story. Those of you familiar with the game series will recognize several names and creatures, not to mention a fair amount of the music (the theme was even handled by the famous Nobuo Uematsu).

Unfortunately the feels like it's more geared towards children and the plot drags for a very long time during the course of the show. The wandering from one world to another gets old pretty quickly, but there are a few nifty tidbits tossed in a long the way. If you aren't familiar with the games then chances are you'll want to skip this one. I'll offer up a rent it recommendation for those of you that are like me and are a sucker for anything Final Fantasy though.

Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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