A few years after watching the the amazing anime series that is The Vision of Escaflowne, I learned that a movie was going to be made of it and waited with baited breath until I was able to see it. When I finally saw it, I was taken aback by the completely redesigned look and story at first, but then as I watched, I came to accept its re-telling of the series as an alternate version that I still found myself enjoying. So now here we are fourteen years later after the Bandai DVD release with Funimation’s Blu-ray of Escaflowne: The Movie. Those who have seen the series will want to brace themselves for the initial revision shock at first, but will soon find themselves enjoying their return to Gaea once again.
In this tale, our usually happy and high-spirited heroine Hitomi Kanzaki is a sullen, depressed young lady who keeps to herself most of the time while wishing she never existed (told ya it was different). This time instead of Van meeting her first, she is met by his brother Folken, who takes her away to Gaea in hopes of using her to awaken the magical armor called Escaflowne that he wishes to use for his own dark purposes. It isn’t long before Van shows up with a ragtag bunch of allies who seek to take down Folken and his evil empire with Escaflowne and Hitomi’s help who joins Van reluctantly. Soon she comes to like helping him in his quest, but their feelings of sadness and anger as they press on through each fight will either save both of their worlds or destroy them.
While the darker, more serious tone threw me off at first, I did enjoy watching the film as it went on. Some who view it might make the transition as I did, but those who give it a chance (or two) are sure to accept the changes. In some ways I’m glad the movie is a little darker and edgy this time around, as it has that look where you know it has a higher budget as opposed to the series. I really loved seeing this in high definition as well, as the beautiful artwork and fluid animation come alive here like never before, as though I were watching the film again for the first time. Of course the audio is just as amazing with Yoko Kanno’s wonderful score playing against the action packed and intense drama scenes throughout. I liked how she uses a Native American / Brazilian-like tone that fits this movie perfectly. There’s not much in the way of extras outside of trailers and promo videos, but the feature itself should be more than enough for viewers.
It took a little while to get used to the changes, but once you accept Escaflowne: The Movie for what it is, a dark revision of the series, you’re sure to find yourself holding on tight as you soar with Van and Hitomi on an action and drama packed ride you’ll want to experience over and over.