Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals
Final Fantasy is based off the highly acclaimed RPG video-game console series by Square.
Planet R's peaceful existence is maintained by four elemental crystals of Earth, Fire, Wind, and Water. Long ago, an evil force attempted to wrest control of these crystals for his own use. Fortunately, a small band of valiant heroes resisted this attempt, and the evil force was banished from the realm.
Two hundred years have passed, and the forces of evil have restored themselves once more. Without the heroes to stop them, three crystals quickly fell into the possession of the forces of evil. Now only the Crystal of Wind remains, and Linaly and Pretz, descendants of the legendary heroes, are all that stand between it and those who would use it to conquer the world. Of course, there are others who would like to have the crystal for their own as well...
I remember a couple of years ago while browsing through alt.games.final-fantasy reading an interesting thread: how a movie based on Final Fantasy should be made. In the end, one person commented, "Forget live-action, man! If it's ever done, it should be done in anime style, or nothing." I thought that was the smartest thing that had ever been said about the subject. I mean, a Final Fantasy anime -- sugoi!
Until I actually sat down and watched this thing. Final Fantasy, to be blunt, is a cruel mockery of all Final Fantasy stands for. In the words of Stanley Goodspeed in The Rock, "It's one of those things we wish we could uninvent." Of course, Goodspeed was talking about lethal nerve gas at the time, but I think that given the choice between that and watching this title, I think I'd take the nerve gas. So what went wrong in an idea that had so much potential for greatness?
First off, Final Fantasy is based off Final Fantasy V, the game with the weakest story line out of the whole series. Of course, even the game storyline would have been an improvement over what we got in the anime version. Events in each episode do _not_ logically follow one another, and any sense of tension or even interest all but vanishes some three minutes into the first episode. It's kinda like that game where you take a bunch of photographs, shuffle them together, and then try to connect them with a story. At best, it simply insults your intelligence; at worst, it's simply incoherent. Of course, it didn't help one bit that the dubbing dialogue sounded like it was done (and written) by the cast of Saved By the Bell, truly a paragon of great dramatic acting.
Okay, so what about the other cool aspects of Final Fantasy? What about those cool spells, or elemental monsters, or neat-o characters? The spells and monsters must have been tabled until Volume 2 (which these reviewers have not yet seen), because they were nowhere to be found in either episode of Volume 1. As for the characters, the producers of this fine series had the brilliant idea of revamping the characters' personalities so that everyone was magically transformed into flaming idiots. Also, the character design and artwork are some of the worst I've ever seen. These reviewers found themselves having to constantly avert their gazes in an attempt to gain respite from the void.
How to sum up this anime? Imagine a _badly_ written Dragonball Z episode cast using the crew of transvestite aliens from Project A-ko. It's that bad. Really. Granted, I've only seen half of the series so far, but in the first volume alone, Final Fantasy utterly fails in every aspect to live up to its name. I wouldn't be surprised to hear that Square is suing any day now.
Addendum: Well, Raph and Sam never screened the second tape (lucky sons-of-grumble-grumble), so here we'll continue with our discussion of this series, up to its bitter conclusion. Warning, though, slight spoilers here.
Guess what. Final Fantasy's second tape degrades even further in quality from the first. How? First off, the coolest spell launched in the whole show is Linaly letting loose a flock of glowing chocobos. (Summon Chocobop!) Yes, this is how she wins the game - er, saves the day. Talk about lame.
The frightening thing about this series is that Final Fantasy: Legends of the Crystals actually has one of the most faithful dubs ever presented in the English language. That's right. The Japanese language track is just as bad, and probably a tad worse, due to the ridiculously high-pitched characters. At least one of the Saved By The Bell actors (Elizabeth Berkley) turned out to be decent at voiceovers after all. These folks should really reconsider their day jobs (or fire their agents).
The real litmus test of a Final Fantasy game or series is the villain. FF6 has Kefka. FF7 has Sephiroth. What do we get for this anime? Deathgyunos. (Ooh, scary.) Who appears to have been designed as a lame attempt to recreate the Overfiend using random materials scavenged from a junkyard. AGH! I swear, a stiff wind would've blown this "end boss" to shreds, much less Chocobop. This was the epitome of anticlimax.
What's even worse is the ending. I think Balkus traipsing off to join Rouge's merry band of wackoes was bad enough, but we could've been spared him dressed like her!
If you want Final Fantasy V that badly, go play the Final Fantasy Anthology. Leaving this series on the shelf won't take a bit of effort, and you'll be a better fan for it.
Raph, Sam, you didn't miss anything.
Recommended Audience: The audience gets treated to a more-than-healthy number of panty shots of li'l Linnaly, though, not to mention the rather questionable "alarm bell" in Rouge's hideout. Probably okay for the Dragonball crowd (actually, probably perfect for the Dragonball crowd, but I'm not going to go there right now). Also, while this isn't really about the anime itself, I think it must be mentioned that the trailers at the beginning of the video were probably the most graphically violent trailers I've ever seen. I mean, why?
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub; VHS, Japanese with English subtitles.
Review Status: Full (4/4)
Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals © 1994 Square / NTT Publishing Co Ltd
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