It has been two years since the defeat of Sephiroth and his evil scheme to extinguish life. Cloud Strife and his friends have been trying to live a life of peace by helping to restore the planet. Three men come to Midgar in hopes of finding Jenova, and with them they bring trouble. Now Cloud has to pick up his sword once again and put away the ghosts of the past for good.
summary by Ender
Highs: Logic-defying action sequences; beautiful art direction
Lows: Need to be a fan to fully enjoy; lazy writing
Known throughout the world as “the game that sold the Playstation,” I should have realized that Final Fantasy VII wasn’t going to end when I got to the end of last disc. Though not entirely what was expected, Square Enix has finally given the fans a sequel. I’m not too sure what it says for the rest of the anime world, though.
Anyone can see that most of the time spent on this production went straight into its looks. The computer animation in this is more polished and much more contained. Gone is the experimental style seen in The Animatrix; this film utilizes the same level of craftsmanship that made the original game such a milestone. Nomura Tetsuya (character designer for Final Fantasy VII, VIII and X) shows that he could just as easily blend the camera from a video game cinematic with the aesthetic quality of an anime and make it work. This is showcased in the motion picture’s various action sequences. Characters not so much jump as they do fly. It reminded me of some of the better action sequences from Appleseed. I recommend watching on the biggest screen you can find just so you can give yourself the pleasure of being blown away.
The action does fit right into that Final Fantasy mold, and for the most part so does the story. Yet, the whole thing just feels too contrived and does not allot itself enough to time to be truly fleshed out. Most of this anime tends to rely too much on the mythology created by the game; though it may be fun to re-visit a classic, it doesn’t work so well here. At its worst, Advent Children is to Final Fantasy what Endless Waltz was to Gundam Wing. Ultimately, it will be the fans who will get the most out of it. This does turn away that demographic of people who have never played Final Fantasy from watching this.
This is a tough one to grade; there is a lot to like with Advent Children, though most of it has to do with its connection to the classic game. If you’ve played Final Fantasy VII, then this anime is a logical viewing. If you haven’t, then you can tune out the banter and concentrate on the visuals. It may not be the next best epic, but it’s still a good action flick for both the anime and video game fan.
Highs: Gorgeous animation and action scenes; a Final Fantasy fan’s dream come true
Lows: Very specific target audience; plot a bit lacking
When Square Enix first announced a movie continuation to Final Fantasy VII, fans around the world began eagerly anticipating Advent Children. After two years of waiting, this movie was finally released, but was the wait worth it? For fans of the series, this OVA delivers just about everything they could have hoped for. However, it is definitely aimed at the hardcore Final Fantasy fans, and while other audiences will no doubt find some enjoyable aspects to the film, it really requires a substantial familiarity with the original game to truly get the most enjoyment from it.
It’s impossible to talk about Advent Children without mentioning the overall presentation. The CGI graphics are stunning with gorgeous environments and characters. The characters are all extremely well animated, and the quality of the animation is highlighted by some truly jaw-dropping action sequences. The lush visual detail and overall quality of these over-the-top fights are a testament to the time Square Enix invested in the production. These moments are some of the most impressively animated and well choreographed fight scenes, and they alone make this OVA worth watching. In addition to the impressive visuals, the music stands up to the high standard set by the series featuring music by series composer, Uematsu Nobuo.
While the production values are topnotch, it is unfortunate that the same cannot be said for its plot. The plot is by no means bad, but in the end it feels rushed and is overshadowed by the action sequences. This anime would have benefited from a bit more time spent further developing and explaining the story. Viewers unfamiliar with the game will no doubt be left scratching their heads because the anime makes no attempt to cater to the uninitiated, as there is no explanation of the previous story or characters. Many characters appear without any introduction, and it seems like they were merely included to satisfy fans by letting them see their favorites in action. However, considering that this is a film is aimed squarely at these fans, this is not a major detractor.
I grew up playing Final Fantasy games, so I was eagerly anticipating Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children. For the fans, it definitely is a really enjoyable anime to watch because it features all of their favorite characters, great music and some excellent references to the games. The plot and lack of significant character development might disappoint some, but despite this, it is still very entertaining.
Highs: Stunning looks
Lows: More Matrix Reloaded, less Matrix; inconsequential dialogue and drama
With the dubious history of video-game-to-anime conversions riding its coattails, Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children was handed the rather unenviable task of having nothing to live up to as an anime and everything to live up to as an extension of the venerable Final Fantasy franchise. So then does Square Enix placate fans of the video game by staying true to what made it a success (groundbreaking visuals and complex characters) or make concessions and the necessary changes to adapt the material into a decent story suited for a movie format?
See, the former sells tickets and the latter earns points in reviews, so it’s not hard to guess which route Square Enix took from a business standpoint. That’s not to say that Advent Children fails to serve as respectable entertainment. This anime represents the best in CGI I’ve seen to date. No expense was spared, no frame lacked the very minute of details. The action scenes, which comprise just about the entire running time, are brimming with kinetic energy and leave no camera angle unexplored.
With so much splendid action on tap, several other elements key to a good movie fall by the wayside, be them an interesting plot or convincing characters. Despite the fact that I was already intimately familiar with the characters from playing Final Fantasy VII, the personalities displayed on-screen seemed very wooden, which is an unfortunate downfall of most early CGI attempts. Facial expressions are often not emotive enough to balance with the surprisingly solid voice acting. Likewise, the story itself was uninteresting and devoid of any legitimate drama, often too content to rest on its laurels and rely heavily on the action to plug any gaping wounds in the plot.
But if you’ve been clamoring for more from perhaps the most popular roleplaying video game ever, Advent Children serves as an adequate after-dinner mint: tasty enough to keep the taste buds occupied but not strong enough to mask the bitter aftertaste.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.