Stunning production values, multi-faceted characters, specta
Jonathon Turner | Highland Park, NJ USA | 10/18/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"Produced in 1996, ESCAFLOWNE begins in modern-day Japan where we are introduced to Hitomi Kanzaki, an insecure, lovestruck student who has a special gift for telling fortunes using cards. She has eyes for the handsome captain of the boy's track team, but before she can confess her feelings, Hitomi finds herself magically whisked away to a far-off planet known as Gaea. This strange new place is filled with luscious forests and kingdoms that look as though they could have been drawn from 18th Century France, and are inhabited not only by humans, but by talking humanoid animal creatures as well! Two young men--Van, a brash, hot-headed young prince, and Allen, a charismatically charming knight--vie for Hitomi's affections while their girlfriends, sassy cat-girl Merle and lovely Princess Millerna, become jealous of her. As if this isn't troublesome enough, the entire world of Gaea is at war with the Zaibach Empire, led by the brooding Chief Strategos Folken, sadistically bloodthirsty commander Dilandau, and the shadowy Emperor Dornkirk. What follows is an epic drama that unfolds in 26 episodes, as Hitomi deals with her feelings for Van and Allen and the kingdoms of Gaea band together to defeat the opposing Zaibachs.
It's no wonder that this ambitious Japanese Anime series has been highly acclaimed by both reviewers and fans. For a television-made serial, production values are spectacular. The colors are rich and vibrant with imagination, and there are even some impressive, but subtle use of computer generated effects in various episodes.
What makes ESCAFLOWNE compelling as a series, though, is its labyrinthine storyline. Every episode built my interests, inspiring me to keep on watching, even when it sometimes slows down to concentrate on character development. Speaking of which, the folks who inhabit this tale are psychologically complex, showcasing positive traits as well as inner demons. Hitomi is a very confused, sometimes fickle young woman who is attracted to many people yet cannot seem to decide who she truly loves. Van is a socially washed-up young man who has suffered traumatic experiences in childhood and as such maintains an aggressive exterior. Allen, meanwhile, is handsome, dashing, and instantly wins the hearts of every women around. While Van and Allen seem to respect each other at the forefront, their feelings for Hitomi threatens to cause tragic tension. Equally interesting are the scenes involving Folken and Dilandau. The former is calm and placid, while the latter is ever-ready to display aggressiveness.
The action sequences are skillfully choreographed, namely the ones where the titular mechanical giant--Escaflowne--an impressively customized suit of armor, squares off against similar mechas. Also worthy of note is Yoko Kanno's music, an ingeniously rich mixture of John Williams, classical music, and ethnic choral chanting. If anything, it was this soundtrack that captured my interests just as much as the characters and artistry. Kanno truly is a talented musician, and her works can easily hold their own against Joe Hisaishi's scores for Miyazaki's features.
All this, plus a whole lot more, makes ESCAFLOWNE an intriguing, creative series not only ideal for teenagers, but for a more mature audience as well. (Plus, it doesn't delve too much into excessive violence or mindnumbingly misplaced filler dreck, either.)
BANDAI Entertainment released this series on DVD several years ago, and now as part of this "perfect collector's edition", they've included not only all the episodes which comprise the eight discs, there is also an interesting bonus--a theatrical version of ESCAFLOWNE. For those of you who are wondering what it is, first off, this is not NADIA all over again (lumping about a third of the movie with footage from the series with a less than interesting plot); this is an interesting remake of the entire TV show. It's darker and heavier-handed; Hitomi, for example, is more suicidal, and Folken is a true villain, rather than a flawed yet benevolent commander. It tells a completely different story, using most of the same characters, but it also eschews the sometimes annoying love-triangle between Hitomi, Allen, and Van, and, unfortunately, some of the other elements that made the series so interesting in the first place. For instance, Merle, the cat-girl, is one of the most appealing characters in the show, stealing every scene she's in with glorious sassiness, but here she isn't nearly as well-defined. It's also a bit bloodier, too, hence the PG-13 rating. I wouldn't recommend the movie over the series, but rather as a unique alternate retelling, since that's exactly what it is.
The visual transfers on all of these discs are top-quality, showcasing the stunning production values of the series and the movie, and the audio tracks (both English and Japanese) are in clear, crystal Dolby Surround Sound. Some folks have issues with the dub, produced by Canada-based Ocean Studios; while this particular English track has its share of problems, notably occasional scripting mistakes in the TV series (Folken calling Van "brother" at a time when he's not supposed to, for one), and Andrew Francis' jarring portrayal of Dilandau (he plays him more like a spoiled brat rather than a maniac), it does benefit from some generally good voices. In particular, Kirby Morrow and Brian Drummond are superb as Van and Allen, Paul Dobson does an excellent job as Folken, but Jocelyn Loewyn takes the cake for the best performance overall as Merle. Mainly because she reminded me of Angora Deb's delightfully sassy Leaf in the LODOSS WAR TV series (and I like these kind of voices, too). Kelly Sheridan, meanwhile, makes a decent Hitomi, although there are some times when she doesn't emote as strongly as she should. But even after hearing bits and pieces of the (higher-caliber) Japanese language track, I don't consider this dub to be too unaffordable for folks who can't stand subtitles.
For Anime buffs demanding a complex story and a stunning soundtrack to steer it by, ESCAFLOWNE (both the series, and to a lesser extent, the movie) is a must-see."
Everything about Escaflowne in this Perfect Collection
A. J. H. Perez | Tenerife Island, Spain | 02/10/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"**This box has 9 disc with:
The COMPLETE UNCUT TV series with the original Japanese Audio track and also the English Dub ( Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo) and English subtitles.
The MOVIE UNCUT with the Japanese (DTS 5.1) and English Audio Track (Dolby Digital 5.1) and English subtitles.
**The episodes from the tv series are:
Episode 1: Fateful Confession
Episode 2: The Girl from the Mystic Moon
Episode 3: The Gallant Swordsman
Episode 4: The Diabolical Adonis
Episode 5: Seal of the Brothers
Episode 6: Capitol of Intrigue
Episode 7: Unexpected Partings
Episode 8: The Day the Angel Flew
Episode 9: Memories of a Feather
Episode 10: The Blue-Eyed Prince
Episode 11: Prophecy of Death
Episode 12: The Secret Door
Episode 13: Red Destiny
Episode 14: Dangerous Wounds
Episode 15: Lost Paradise
Episode 16: The Guided Ones
Episode 17: The Edge of the World
Episode 18: The Gravity of Destiny
Episode 19: Operation Golden Rule of Love
Episode 20: False Vows
Episode 21: Reaction of Fortune
Episode 22: The Black-Winged Angel
Episode 23: Storm Premonition
Episode 24: Fateful Decision
Episode 25: Zone of Absolute Fortune
Episode 26: Eternal Love
So, If you want to buy a good compilation of everything about Escaflowne for a cheap price, this is the best box without a doubt."
The Vision of Escaflowne
eau | USA | 05/15/2005
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This fantasy show follows the journey of Hitomi Kanzaki in the world of Gaea, a mythical realm ruled by sword and sorcery and immersed in blood and violence, making friends and foes along the way, and trusted into a battle over a legendary suit of dragon armor, Escaflowne.
The Perfection Collection is a digipak consisting of 8 volumes of the TV series and the movie DVD, arranged like a book with a slipcover. While the packaging is far more inferior than the now out-of-print Limited Edition that comes with a black Escaflowne action figure, it has both the whole TV series and the movie for a dirt cheap price."
It's a little flimsy, but it's better than nothing :)
Erin | Oregon | 08/27/2005
(4 out of 5 stars)
"I decided to buy this "perfect collection" because I don't want to spend my entire life hunting down the older, really awesome boxset, and I don't have tons of dollars to spend on it once I do. I just really wanted the series on DVD, and that's what I got :) The packaging is a little cheap, but overall, if you really love the show and really want it, I would get this. It has all the episodes of the show on 7 discs (I think it was 7, I'm too lazy to check), plus the Escaflowne movie. You're getting everything you want (except the really awesome box) for a price that's pretty reasonable :)"