~Tenkuu no Escaflowne~

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~Escaflowne the Series~

Title: Tenkuu no Escaflowne

Translated: Vision of Escaflowne

Form of Anime: Series

Released in the U.S.: Yes

Note: There is also an Escaflowne manga, although it is completely different in art style, plot, theme, and character development (i.e. the characters look nothing like they should).  It also gears more towards male readers in it's themes.

Released on FOX Kids TV, but cut (at a MAJOR cliffhanger, I might add), due to low ratings. I donít recommend watching this dub, or any dubs for that matter, but after watching it in Japanese, it is really painful to hear this dub. They used Genki's voice from "Monster Ranchers" for Dilandau! Oh the humanity!

Ok, this review will of course be biased because of my intense liking for this anime. Iíve seen the whole series and own it all on DVD. Lesse, I wonít reveal any spoilers, but itís obvious that this is a fantasy genre anime involving mechas and winged people (yay!) It is pretty serious, but has its happy moments, most humor is brought by the cheerful and ever irritating Meruru (Merle), donít get me wrong, I love this cat girl, sheís so cute!

This anime stars Hitomi Kanzaki, a normal teenage girl who loves tarot and track. Sheís crushing on another track star at her school, Amano, but one day, while running, she slams right into some random guy who appears out of thin air. This is Van Fanel, your typical macho guy. Thereís a fight with a dragon, stuff happens, and in the end, Hitomi is magically transported back to Vanís world Gaia (Gaea) with Van. In the sky hangs the moon and our Earth, known to Gaians as ĎMaboroshi no Tsukií (Mystical Moon). Ok, that sums up the first episode. The story follows Hitomiís struggle to get back to earth, her blossoming emotions for Allen and later, Van, and of course, a battle between the good people of Gaia and the evil forces of Zaibach. Hitomi discovers she is a clairvoyant using her tarot cards, and this uncovers secrets, problems, and mischief.

Of course, one canít forget that this is a mecha anime, with fat ugly mechas called guymelefs, or just melefs. Escaflowne is a very special guymelef, belonging to Van. Anyway, this anime is full of twists and turns, awesome characters, and a fascinating plot line. Some history background in the series is a little dragging, but it is rare and also often crucial to the plot. As for the animation, ehh, itís ok, but a lot of people have deals with the noses. Escaflowne noses are the longest and pointiest youíll ever see in anime. Kurai even joked that theyíd poke their eyes out when kissing. Oh brother. Well, try to get past this; the plot and bizarre and creative plot twists will take your mind off it.

There is violence and blood, but not so much gore. There are no explicit scenes, so Iíd say the Japanese version is fine for ages 12 and up. The cut is supposed to be good for ages 7 and up, or something, although I donít know how a 7 year old could follow a plot that thick. There is definitely a character for everyone in this show, from the kind-hearted and sympathetic Hitomi, suave and debonair Allen Schezar, hyper and loving Meruru, psycho pyromaniac Dilandau Albatou (I heart him), mysterious and sad Folken, and even the ugly and freaky Pile (AKA the Mole man). There are cat girls galore, romance, fighting, this anime has it all. The ending, however, is a mixed bag. All Iíll say, is it isnít all sugar and spice. Secret pasts, devious secrets, and a psychic girl with hot guys fighting in mechas. What more could you want??

Music: 5 stars out of 5 (awesome!)

Animation: 3.75 stars out of 5 (weird faces at times)

Plot: 5 stars out of 5 (engaging!)

Character Development: 5 stars out of 5 (well-explained and interesting!)

Overall: 5 stars out of 5 (go see it!)


~Escaflowne the Movie~

Title: A Girl in Gaea

Translated: N/A

Form of Anime: Movie

Released in the U.S.: Yes

I had the wonderful opportunity to view this movie at a theatre nearby. Viewing of this movie on a big screen was very limited here, so I was fortunate.

This is a self-contained movie. Whatever you remember from the series, forget it. If you havenít seen the series, it is ok to see this; there arenít any real spoilers for the show. As long as you go into watching the movie with an open mind, you will enjoy it. This movie has a much darker, more serious theme. It is much more violent, but very powerful as well.  While I like to classify the series as "shoujo" (more geared towards girls) because of the relationship themes, the movie is more for boys.  There is less a love theme and more fighting etc.

The movie centers around the idea that Hitomi is the 'Tsubasa no Kami' or 'Wing Goddess' that will make or break the fate of Gaia. Most of the characters appearances remain the same, with the exception of Millerna (Wow! See pic of Tarot at right, she's the bottom center), but all their personalities are slightly or very different. And there are also some new characters, like the mysterious Sora (Sora means Sky). The movie is well made, but at times difficult to follow. I recommend watching it more than once and paying close attention, or youíll miss something. The animation for this movie is stunning! It is a HUGE improvement from the series, the characters are flowing, smooth, and gorgeous, even more bishounen than in the series (you KNOW who Iím talking about!)

The plot seemed a bit thin for me, because of the loose ends that were never tied up in the end, but it is a very interpretive movie, you never learn exactly WHO the ĎWing Goddessí is. Maybe it's Hitomi, maybe not. Anyway, the awesome battle scenes make up for any confusion. The music is also fantastic! Brought to you by the same woman who did the spectacular music for the Escaflowne series, Macross, and Cowboy Bebop, Yoko Kanno, the music brings the movie alive. The ending song, ĎYubiwaí (Ring), is also beautiful, sung by Hitomiís seiyuu, the marvelous Maaya Sakamoto. This movie is really good. Just donít expect anything based on the series, and vise versa. Highly Recommended.

Music: 5 stars out of 5 (awesome, get the soundtrack!)

Animation: 5 stars out of 5 (MUCH improved!)

Plot: 4 stars out of 5 (pretty good, but at times confusing)

Character Development: 3.5 stars out of 5 (not so much background for all the chars as there could have been)

Overall: 4.5 stars out of 5 (really great!)