Anime Spotlight: Final Fantasy Unlimited

Final Fantasy Unlimited is a 25-episode television anime series based on the Final Fantasy role-playing game franchise. The series was produced by Gonzo, and was directed by Mahiro Maeda. The series aired on Japanese television from October 2, 2001-March 26, 2002.

ADV Films held the North American distribution license for Final Fantasy Unlimited.

The series opens with Joe and Marie Hayakawa investigating a mysterious tower that suddenly appeared; as they investigate, the two of them disappear. Their children, Ai and Yu Hayakawa, go out in search of their missing parents. Ai is an energetic 12-year-old girl who is intensely curious. Yu is her twin brother, who tends act more like an adult during their travels; however, he does have an innocent, childish side.

The children board a mysterious subway, trying to head to a place called Wonderland. Their parents had gone there once before, but had returned. In fact, their father is a leading researcher in the field of Wonderland physics, and published a book called “Day of Conjunction,” about his experiences there. The twins refer to this book often in the first episode. While their parents returned after their first trip into Wonderland, their whereabouts this time are unknown.

While on the subway, they are surprised to find a woman named Lisa Pacifist on board. She is able to manipulate spirits that are found in nature through the Kigen Arts. She decides to join the twins on their quest to find their missing parents, and use her abilities to protect them from the various monsters in Wonderland. However, it is unknown why she decided to come to Wonderland in the first place. The three of them encounter a bird of happiness named Chobi.

As they explore Wonderland, they find a mysterious figure who has no memory of who he is. When Ai, Yu, and Lisa are attacked by a mysterious creature, this person suddenly appears, and he has a “Magun” in his right arm. It summons various kinds of fire, which he uses to defeat the mysterious creature.

The main villain in Final Fantasy Unlimited is Earl Tyrant, the child-like ruler of Wonderland whose ultimate goal is to become a god; he kills anyone who gets in his way. Earl Tyrant is aided by his Four Lords of Gaudium: Oscha, Fungus, Herba, and Pist Shaz XI. There is also a character named Fabula, who refers to herself as a guide; she serves as a narrator for the series.

As I watched the series, I thought it had at least some potential when it first started. However, as the episodes went on, it became clear that the series followed a rather predictable formula in the episodes, and that the character of Kaze was definitely a “deus ex machina.” When I finished the series, I ended up being rather disappointed in how it turned out.

Final Fantasy Unlimited combines traditional animation with 3D computer graphics. While the combination of the two animation styles isn’t as jarring as it is with some other anime shows, the viewer can still see a noticeable difference between the elements animated with traditional animation and the elements that rely on 3D computer graphics.

Unfortunately, the animation isn’t able to make up for the writing issues that are prevalent in Final Fantasy Unlimited. While I’m glad to say that I at least saw it once in my life, I’m definitely in no rush to watch this series again anytime soon.

If you’re a fan of the Final Fantasy franchise, you might find some enjoyment in Final Fantasy Unlimited. However, I would say that if you aren’t a Final Fantasy fan but enjoy anime with fantasy themes, I would recommend steering clear of Final Fantasy Unlimited and finding something else in the fantasy genre to watch instead.

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