An Animated Film Review: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children
By Sean Taylor
Good morning, day and evening readers. Now to begin my first animated film review, I would like to present one word to you; anime.
Anime. What does the word mean? What does it embody? What is it associated with?
Now, I know what you're thinking. Anime refers to the person sitting by themselves in the corner with a rather erratic hairstyle and wearing rather dark clothes doing some rather vigorous sketching. Anime refers to that type of cartoon many find rather strange, as it appears to be populated by girls with rather high voices and boys with rather clumpy, spiky hair. Often in rather unnatural colours (which everyone seems to be fine with). Oh, and everyone's eyes are rather big.
Don't get me wrong. I have nothing against anime or the consumers of anime (as I am one myself). Nor do I find problems with the style of anime; high-octane, unrealistic fighting scenes are actually a favourite of mine.
The word 'anime' is of Japanese origin, referring to a style of animation (cartoon, if you like) which is also of Japanese origin. Most anime is derived from a 'manga', a form of comic book usually read from right to left in the traditional style. The images are drawn using the classic calligraphy 'wedge-pens' to give it that stylised look some of you may be familiar with.
I do not watch a wide range nor a vast amount of anime (I am no 'otaku'... look it up). These days I seldom have time. However, a few years ago I was introduced to a CGI movie based on a series of much-loved computer games that I enjoyed immensely. This movie stood out because, while it was animated using 3-D computer rendering, it had all the virtues of an anime.
Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children follows the life of an ex-mercenary named Cloud who, alongside his childhood friend Tifa, looks after two kids. Cloud, as is noted in most of his appearances through the media, is rather forlorn. I would imagine, after being a mercenary, the dullness of a delivery job seems boring and off-piste. After the short prologue, we are immediately thrust into the action as Cloud is attacked by a mysterious trio. Soon after, he learns of a disease dubbed 'Geostigma' infecting the citizens of Edge. The story then unfolds beautifully from the outset.
Throughout the story we meet a series of loveable, animated (no pun intended) and (to those who have played the games) familiar characters, each with their own part to play. The quality of the animation is breathtaking: the Japanese have long had a lead in animation in every aspect of media. The battle scenes are also wonderfully intense and thought out, especially at the film's climax when Cloud has to deal with the threat of his old enemy, Sephiroth.
The score of the movie (and the games in fact) is just an awe-inspiring epic; Nobuo Uematsu did a sterling job, and I, being a musician myself, bow to Uematsu—sensei's skill (I am still trying to learn 'One-Winged Angel' for piano!). Also, those of you who are fans of My Chemical Romance are in for a treat if you get the Japanese blu-ray edition; Gerard Way combines forces with Kyosuke Himuro to provide a scintillatingly star performance of their own devising, 'Safe and Sound'!
However, I feel that the original film could have benefited from the deleted scenes added in the director's cut, and that the director's cut itself should have been available on DVD. And Loz seemed too, oh I don't know... built and reckless compared to the other two villains; he just doesn't fit in, despite his comic relief (I'm not crying!).
To conclude then; an epic film, but the cuts and the characters needed (just a little) reviewing. Despite that, I believe we have found a true gem in the rough of animation. I believe we have found our first 'CGanime'.