Final Fantasy: Unlimited — Phase 6 Review
Early in this volume Yu becomes the first to confront the Earl, who rather coyly reveals his true identity as Tyrant before – yet again - unveiling his plans to the audience and finally giving Yu a glimpse of his parents. A dark air certainly surrounds the young Earl, with his methods both quietly withdrawn and utterly despicable leaving the usually euphoric Yu a former shadow of himself as the angelic visage he once held of his parents is swept from under his feet leaving him shaken to his very core. Beyond the confirmation that the Earl is using the twins' parents for his own evil gains and some solidarity given to the concept behind the Lords of Gaudium (Gaudium being identified as the Earl's floating fortress) there is little of note in terms of story development for this volume. Something which is quite shocking in many ways given how close we now are to the finale...
Instead the episodes on this volume once again concentrate on the heroes efforts in conjunction with the Comodeen as they traverse the ocean puzzle laid before them by Pist, who reveals to the audience there is actually no escape, instead the participants in his little game are merely being used to fuel the ultimate beast Chaos, who draws energy from the very presence of disorder throughout the world. Within the many squares found in the ocean puzzle our travellers come across two familiar faces from the videogame series, most prominently in the form of Cactuars, a familiar enemy found in virtually every Final Fantasy game past, present and no doubt future. The animators have done a fine job bringing these cheeky critters to the screen, a virtually static race with speedy attributes and obvious attack forms which are put to good comedic value. Unusually they are a victim rather than enemy, with the children deciding to help the spiked creatures from imminent extinction.
The other character type to make the transition is Moogle, a cute white creature reminiscent of a small bear that has been present over the course of the videogame series in numerous incarnations, playing a fairly pivotal role in Final Fantasy VI in which Mog was a central playable character. Here the Moogle we meet shares a connection with Kaze, hailing from the same home world of Windaria he is not only able to repair Kaze's Magun but appears to have been the Black Wind's partner in crime who helps the audience draw back the curtains shrouding Kaze's past to learn who the woman in his flashbacks is.
Episode 20: Yu - The Secret of Gaudium
Crash-landing on one of the four satellites which form the defence system surrounding Gaudium, home of the Earl, Cid must act quickly to restore some form of control to his vessel Jane, which is not equipped to operate outside of its underwater home. Meanwhile Yu is whisked off by a freaked Chobi into the very heart of what is - unbeknownst to him - the enemy's lair, where he is not only confronted by the Earl but finally locates his parents before a crushing blow is delivered by Makenshi.
Episode 21: Cactus - The Wandering Sea
The next destination in the Ocean Puzzle tests the abilities of Cid's underwater vessel to the max, it being an arid desert wasteland in which Lisa senses all life has been faded away by an unknown force. When Ai pulls a Cactuar from Poshepocket she and her brother wreak havoc chasing it around the ship, before discovering the desert houses hundreds of the little critters who live in fear of the "Wandering Sea", a collection of departed souls who wash over the living like crushing waves.
Episode 22: Moogle - Long Lost Memories
Arriving in a pleasant village reminiscent of rural Japan the Comodeen and our heroes take some time out to relax. Unfortunately a strange aura is present in the air which sees everyone revert back to a childlike state as they begin to relive their memories, leaving only the children and Kaze to track down the source with a little help from Moogle, a strange creature they find in the town who shares some relationship with the Black Wind.
Kaze and Makenshi adorn the front cover, looking rather cool as always and helped by a purple haze in the background. The reversible cover features a particularly nice abstract interpretation of the Earl with a wicked snarl creasing up his face, while the back side of the reverse cover features a fairly dull cube representing the Ocean Puzzle.
The four-page colour insert features more character biographies, a summon file and a nifty little height comparison chart for the major players of the series.
Picture and Sound
In a rough draft of an earlier volume I noted the use of "as per the previous volume" in a dozen or more instances, a phrase that tends to crop up when you are writing about multiple volumes that maintain a level of quality over the course. A compliment to ADV Films quality control and indeed my own for making sure that phrase isn't used too often, the Full Frame presentation on display here again looks superb offering detail levels to match the original animation with deep satisfying colour gradients and little in the way of compression issues. At best you'll have no complaints whatsoever and at worst you may notice some minor edge enhancement and even less noticeable blocking in the deep background hues of the Gaudium fortress of Episode 20.
Audio quality remains consistent also with a strong Japanese Stereo mix being my track of choice while the English dub offers a slightly more engaging sonic experience with its spatial 5.1 mix. Optional English subtitles are presented in a clear yellow font with no obvious spelling or grammatical mistakes on display.
The audio commentary for this volume is found on episode 22, not that it really matters as like previous efforts this track focuses on the English dub voice artists rather than the episode content, exploring their personal and professional biographies detailing shows they've worked on to their favourite music. In the booth are Robert Newell (Cid) and Bill Wise (Moogle) who manage to entertain through their constant jokes and light-hearted approach, but ultimately fail to appeal to viewers interested in the series as opposed to the dubbing efforts.
Elsewhere the disc contains the obligatory clean opening and closing animation sequences, along with the consistently high quality artwork sections which comprise of Production Sketches (3:54) and FF:U Style Guide Part 2 (3:04). Set to the wonderful compositions featured in the series the former is heavily focused on the Earl and his Gaudium fortress with some detailed black and white sketches, while the latter segment picks up from Part 1 found on Volume 2 with more colour coded design models for the animation and painting teams to follow. ADV Previews for a number of series are also included.
With just three episodes remaining it would appear as though Volume 7 of Final Fantasy: Unlimited is going to be quite the action packed affair, as despite offering some minor revelations including an emotional encounter with the twins’ parents this volume continues down the well trodden path of fantasy adventuring for those in an insubstantial mood. That’s not to say it doesn’t entertain, but then neither has the series opened a great many doors at this stage, so three episodes should be enough to tie up all remaining loose ends.
Last updated: 19/04/2018 10:01:39