Anime Film Review: Escaflowne the Movie

Escaflowne the Movie is an anime film based on the anime series, The Vision of Escaflowne. The film was produced by Sunrise, animated by Studio BONES, and directed by Kazuki Akane. Escaflowne the Movie was released in Japan on June 24, 2000. Bandai Entertainment originally held the distribution rights for the film in North America. After Bandai Entertainment went out of business, FUNimation Entertainment acquired the license for the film.

Escaflowne The Movie
Directed by: Kazuki Akane
Written by: Ryota Yamaguchi
Starring: Maaya Sakamoto, Tomokazu Seki, Jōji Nakata, Mayumi Iizuka, Minami Takayama, Kōji Tsujitani, Shinichirô Miki, Ikue Ootani, and Kappei Yamaguchi
Run Time: 98 minutes
Rated: PG-13

In this remake film, the characters of Hitomi and Van are given very different personalities than their counterparts in the anime series. In the television series, Hitomi is a happy girl in love, while her movie counterpart is depressed and suicidal. With this portrayal, it’s hard to care about Hitomi, even though she’s supposed to be the main character. In the film, Van is lonely and more aggressive than this television series counterpart. Personally, I didn’t think these changes in their personalities really did anything to help the film.

The basic story of the film is that a depressed Hitomi is brought to Gaea as the legendary “Wing Goddess” and awakens Escaflowne, which disappears into a jewel that Hitomi keeps in her possession. Hitomi and Van must learn to work together in order to try to save Gaea from destruction; however, how the film depicts Van’s change in attitude toward Hitomi just feels forced. In the film, Van tries to attack Hitomi and doesn’t trust her; then, somewhere during the film, he suddenly starts becoming concerned for her and trying to save her, although there is nothing shown in the film as to why he has this sudden change of heart.

In the film, the role for the character of Dilandau was greatly diminished in comparison to the television series. With this reduction in the role, Dilandau felt more like a prop than an actual character.

But the biggest issue I had with this film was the lack of character development. I think the director, writers, and staff went into this project with the idea that the viewers watching the film would already have familiarity with the characters and the world through The Vision of Escaflowne television series. Unfortunately, the lack of character development made me not really care about any of the characters; and since I wasn’t finding myself caring about any of the characters, it made it very hard to find any enjoyment in the film. Instead, I found myself watching the clock to see how much time had gone by and how much time still remained in the movie. The only redeeming qualities that this film had for me are some of the visuals and the music score.

In the end, I was very disappointed in Escaflowne the Movie. Overall, I think The Vision of Escaflowne television series is a stronger product, and I would recommend watching the television series and ignoring the film completely.

When it comes to the DVD release of Escaflowne the Movie, you can watch the film with Japanese DTS 5.1, Japanese DD 5.1, English DD 5.1, or Isolated Score DD 5.1 audio.  For subtitles, you can choose between English, Storyboards, and None. For the “Storyboards” option, the corresponding storyboards for the scene appear in the subtitle track rather than text. Unfortunately, since the storyboard subtitles are only available in Japanese, you have to have some knowledge of the Japanese language in order to understand what’s going on.

For bonus features, there are DVD Credits and trailers for properties that Bandai Entertainment was promoting at the time this DVD was released.

I would only recommend this DVD to viewers who enjoy the film or to viewers who are fans of The Vision of Escaflowne and want to have all the Escaflowne related material in their DVD collection.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Escaflowne the Movie that my husband and I purchased.

Additional posts about Escaflowne:

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