Escaflowne is a sprawling adventure saga that infuses sword-and-sorcery and mecha elements into the popular "magical girl" anime genre. The girl is Hitomi Kanzaki (voice by Kelly Sheridan), a withdrawn teenager who wishes ... more »she could just leave everything behind and vanish. When she's magically transported to the alternate world of Gaia, she gets her wish--in spades. The dashing Van (Kirby Morrow) of the White Dragon Clan is pitted against his twisted brother Folken (Paul Dobson), the leader of the Black Dragon Clan, in a succession war that threatens the very existence of Gaia. Hitomi is hailed as the long-awaited "Wing Goddess," and her power over the invincible dragon-mecha suit Escaflowne confirms her status. Although the tangled story line has been pared down, the feature remains a reworking of the 26-part TV series The Vision of Escaflowne, which aired briefly on Fox Kids and is available on DVD. Fans of the television series will find that many of the familiar characters have been redesigned and reduced to minor roles, among them Allen, Princess Millerna, Dryden, Merle, Naria, and Eriya. Some of the story's more outrÚ elements have been dropped, but there are still more prophecies, conflicts, and relationships than the filmmakers can resolve satisfactorily in 96 minutes, despite a pat happy ending. Escaflowne boasts some impressive action sequences, which Kazuki Akane directs with panache. The film opens with a spectacular sword fight, as Van single-handedly dispatches the guards on an enemy airship to capture Escaflowne. MPAA rating: PG-13. Contains considerable violence. --Charles Solomon« less
"I noticed an interesting trend in the negative reviews this Movie was getting. By and large, people who found this movie slow or boring did not watch the original series. Well folks...that explains it.
Unlike most Anime movie tie-ins, I.E. Cowboy Bebop or Blue Gender, the Escaflowne movie is really a re-imagination of its progenitor. While in the series the Escaflowne armor was a royal heirloom, in this it is the embodiment of destiny and a living being. And while Hitomi was painfully innocent and upbeat in the series, here she is dark, lonely and suicidal. Best of all, Van is equally dark and has lost the heroic stoicism for apathy and a-moralism. All these things are so different from the series its like watching Alice in Wonderland then playing American Magee's Alice (which, if you haven't seen or played, you should).
I will admit that when I first bought this DVD I too was disappointed. The action was neat and all but the story dealt too much with ethereal Fate and Destiny, thing I really could care less about. But then I watched the series, which brings in these subjects a little less jarringly and I found the whole idea much more edible. And, while I was initially disgusted with the characters of this DVD, namely Hitomi and the cat girl, when I understood the origins of these characters, I loved the change. The basic story you can get from the other reviews, I hate to give stuff away. But while the series focused on Van's travel and growth into a warrior, the Movie focuses on the dark prophecy to which he is chained.
But if you really want an endorsement from me, here it is. Escaflowne the Movie is an awesome experience for the initiate to the series. Escaflowne the Movie is a sub par experience for those who are bereft of the Series. But above all else, Escaflowne the Movie is worth watching for the absolutely amazing music, which really steals the show. If nothing else, then rent this DVD and stick in a system with surround sound. Then turn off the TV and crank the volume...you will not be disappointed. "
A stunning re-telling
Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | 05/11/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)
"The best advice to give anyone seeing this movie who is a die-hard fan of the series is to let the series go for an hour and 40 minutes. For those of you who are not familiar with the movie, it is not a sequel or a prequel. It is more of an alternate telling of the Escaflowne story. The story cannot possibly maintain all of the plot lines of the series (which is about 13 hours in total). However the themes remain the same: lonliness, friendship, honor, love, family, and redemption are all integral parts of both the movie and series. Some of the key characters had to be omitted for brevity's sake and it is my opinion that this was a wise decision. It stripped down the plot and concentrated on the development of Van and Hitomi's relationship (for details read the amazon.com editorial review). Now, I haven't seen the American DVD release but I do own the Japanese limited edition DVD. I also saw it both dubbed and subbed in the theater. The dub (both translation and voice acting) is a bit of a dissapointment. Although the voice acting is improved from the series dub it still pales in comparison to the Japanese cast and I just didn't feel that the intensity of the on screen situations was conveyed well. The animation is superb, some of the best I've ever seen in an animated feature film (that's all animation not just anime). To top it all off, Yoko Kanno does another breathtaking job with the score. So please, when watching this movie, sit back, relax, and enjoy one of the best films I've seen in recent years - and by all means watch it in Japanese!"
Blu-ray: If you enjoyed the film and have the original DVD..
Dennis A. Amith (kndy) | California | 10/20/2009
(4 out of 5 stars)
"In 1996, the Sunrise Studios anime television series "The Vision of Escaflowne" aired on television and although not a tremendous hit in Japan, when the series was released on DVD in America, it became a big hit. Not just in the US but worldwide.
Despite being released on Saturday morning television on Fox Kids (albeit heavily edited), the series would receive appreciation and a lot of love by fans for the Escaflowne's characters, it's beautiful artwork and character designs, its story but most of all, it's enchanting music.
With the fanfare strong worldwide, in 2000, Sunrise and Studio BONES began on a reimagining the television series through a 95-minute film titled "Escaflowne: The Movie". The film version is very different from the television series as the film is much more darker and the protagonist, the happy and chirpy Hitomi is anything but that. In fact, she's a person who is depressed and contemplates suicide. While the character of Van, is more reserved and willing to slash and kill anyone in his way.
Needless to say, the film is quite different as it focuses on these two main characters but most importantly, the film is for those who are and aren't familiar with the television series and can enjoy it in the theaters. The film received mixed reviews with diehard fans who had a hard time seeing a different version of their characters and of course, knowing that there is only so much story from the 26-episode anime series that is going to get covered in a 95 minute film.
The film begins with Hitomi, sad and depressed, you learn that she is a person who wants to kill herself and is prepared to say goodbye to her best friend via a letter. Fortunately, her friend discovers her and the letter and tries to convince her that suicide is not a good way to go. But no matter how much she tries to cheer up Hitomi, Hitomi is resigned with herself and with life.
The film then switches to the character of Van. We see Van, who is violently slashing through many soldiers in order to find the behemoth known as Escaflowne and the Winged Goddess which he wants to use towards defeating his brother Lord Folken and his army.
Meanwhile, while Hitomi is alone and wanting to end her life, she sees an image of Lord Folken who calls her the Winged Goddess and wants her to join him. Confused and not sure what is going on, blackness starts to envelop the area and Hitomi is immediately sucked up into darkness and not knowing what is happening, by the time Hitomi awakes, she emerges out of Escaflowne and encounters Prince Van.
Van believes her to be the Winged Goddess but immediately Escaflowne disappears and then believes that she may be a spy and a fake. Because of her more modern school girl clothing, many of Van's friends believe she is the true Winged Goddess despite Van not believing in her and almost wanting to kill her.
On the other side of the battle, we learn that Lord Folken and the Black Dragons are preparing their attack Van's crew and capture Hitomi for his goal to use the power of the Winged Goddess to destroy the world.
Because of the increased attacks and attempts to capture Hitomi, Van is ordered to protect Hitomi at all costs.
VIDEO & AUDIO:
"Escaflowne: The Movie" is presented in 1080p High Definition. It's important to note that the film was created in late 1999 and then released in theaters in 2000. Also, the film was produced by Sunrise but animated by Studio BONES and for the most part, a few talented animators took part in the action sequences as well as new character designs for the film. With that being said, when I first reviewed this film when it was first released on DVD, I commented on how gorgeous the film looked. It's very detailed backgrounds but also the film's awesome animation.
Here we are in 2009 and the film now making its HD debut and I still stand by that. The film looks great and although it may not look as digital and clean like today's modern anime, the film still looks incredible for an anime film nearly a decade old. But what is the primary difference between the picture quality from the DVD versus the Blu-ray? There are several segments in the film that I tested out and that was the outdoor sequence (50-54 minutes into the film) and on Blu-ray, the first thing you will notice is how vibrant the outdoor scenes look. The green and blues just pop out, especially during sunset with the red of the sun also popping out. Needless to say, the film looks quite vibrant during the outdoor scenes.
The print is not 100% clear of dust which I think I may have seen a few specs but overall, I didn't see a whole lot, nor did I see any major compression problems throughout the film. Blacks are nice and dark and there is grain present. Again, I'm a person who supports film grain and not supportive of excessive DNR (Digital Noise Reduction), so overall...I was pretty pleased with the picture quality for a film nearly 10 years old.
As for the audio, this is where "Escaflowne: The Movie" shines. One thing that I noticed quickly is how immersive the soundtrack was in utilizing the soundscape of each channel. The film's dialogue is front and center channel driven but sound effects from the whisping as Van flies in the air, the clanging of the swords during battle, the blasts that are being shot and the destruction in the city is well-captured on your surround channels, especially via LFE. I definitely enjoy when anime uses the subwoofer quite a bit, so it was great to hear that LFE usage. And of course, one thing that the film is noted for is the music and the music comes out nice and clear through your system.
I did notice one thing with the audio though. The Japanese lossless Dolby TrueHD 5.1 sounds awesome but the English DolbyTrue HD 5.1 soundtrack seems a tad lower with the English dialogue. In fact, through the beginning of the film while watching it with the English lossless soundtrack, I felt that I had to increase the volume a little in order to hear the dialogue clearly and when I switched to the Japanese soundtrack, the dialogue was consistent and much louder. By no means are the two lossless soundtracks like night and day (like FUNimation Entertainment's Blu-ray release of "Origin") but overall, sound effects seem to be consistent on both soundtracks. But overall, "Escaflowne: The Movie" does have a wonderful and immersive soundtrack.
Subtitles are in English only.
"Escaflowne: The Movie" comes with the following special features (in 480i Standard Definition):
* Trailers: The Girl Who Leaped Through Time and Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex Solid State Society * Staff Interviews: (23:00) Featuring staff interviews which include: Director Kazuki Akane/Composer Yoko Anno, Kazuki Akane and Kelly Sheridan (Voice actress for Hitomi), Masahiko Minami (Producer/BONES), Maaya Sakamoto (Voice Actress/Singer), Masuo Ueda (Producer/Sunrise) and a performance by Yoko Kanno, Maaya Sakamoto, Kim Su Jin perform "The Ring"(Escaflowne Ending Song, Special Duet Version). * Original 2000 Premiere: (7:20) Featuring the following segments: The line at Anime Expo 2000 in Anaheim, CA for the screening of "Escaflowne: The Movie", Minoru Takanashi (Producer/Bandai Visual) speaking to the audience before the movie and the Post-Movie Panel Highlights at Anime Expo 2000.
When it comes to "Escaflowne: The Movie", the film has received different results from fans when it first came out. Diehard fans who were not used to the change, of course, complained. And for those who treated the movie separately from the anime TV series found the film to be enjoyable, creative and musically wonderful. Needless to say, I'm part of the latter. The fact is that many anime series that get a theatrical treatment usually has a story that is not part of the TV series timeline. And there have been quite a few anime films that have been released that either try to take parts from a long series and condense it down to two hours or try to come up with something different.
With "Escaflowne: The Movie", you get something different and it's a reimagining that I was open to and at the time, I was very impressed with the results. The animation was stellar and the music, Yoko Kanno's music and the ending theme by Maaya Sakamoto was just fantastic.
So, needless to say... I was excited to hear that "Escaflowne: The Movie: was receiving its HD treatment and for the most part, I was more curious to see how a film that was created in the late 90's would look on Blu-ray. Already, Bandai Entertainment has proved to us that they can make it happen as evident with the release of "Akira" earlier this year. So, I had no doubt in my mind that Bandai Entertainment was going to release a solid product. What I was more concerned about was the lossless soundtrack. And fortunately, the soundtrack for the most part was immersive and great to hear via lossless.
If you are a fan who owns the Ultimate Edition of the DVD, you may be wondering if it's worth the double dip? Well, for one, you don't want to get rid of that "Ultimate Edition" because you get the awesome CD soundtrack and also there are special features such as the galleries that are not included on the Blu-ray. But to answer the question, yes...it's worth the double dip. This is the best looking and sounding version of the film yet. So, if you loved the film, you will definitely want to pick up this Blu-ray.
Overall, "Escaflowne: The Movie" is a solid Blu-ray release and for those who want to add to their anime on Blu-ray collection, this title is definitely recommended!"
A Great Anime
Blade | New York | 08/03/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"I purchased the Escaflowne Movie (Ultimate Edition), three years ago. The first-edition packaging of this set included a relatively large, and sturdy 6 x 8 x 3 inch folding box. Stored in this box were three disks (two DVDs and one CD), and a miniature art booklet. The outside of the collectors box was a beauty to behold, as the artwork on the back and front sides were done in a glossy finish. Only 10,000 units of the first edition were ever made.
The upcoming second-edition release of this set, will include everything as the original release (except the collectors box). All three disks will be stored in a standard plastic casing.
As for the content of the disks, they are quite enjoyable. There are two DVDs, one containing the movie, and the other containing extras (music videos, cast interviews, etc.). The music CD contains a whopping 25 tracks, and includes some beautiful vocal performances from Maaya Sakamoto, and Shanti Snyder.
The Escaflowne Movie sets a much darker tone, and takes place in an alternate-universe to the TV series. For those who are new to Escaflowne, you will feel welcomed, as the movie is stand-alone from the rest of the series. All in all, the movie is an awesome experience, and I highly recommend it for anyone's anime collection.
The 3-Disc Ultimate Edition repackaged
eau | USA | 07/25/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is Escaflowne: The Movie - Anime Legends edition. The Anime Legends is a line of anime from Bandai Entertainment that is used to re-release older anime in a cheaper package. With this edition, you supposedly get the same 3 discs from the original, more expansive Ultimate Edition but without the fancy collector's packaging. The 3 discs are the movie DVD, an extras DVD and the movie soundtrack CD.
If you don't already have the Ultimate Edition, go ahead and get this one. If you are on the fence about the movie, give this edition a try. At least you get an excellent soundtrack in the event that you don't like the movie."