A look at Final Fantasy Advent Children Complete
Everything except the Final Fantasy XIII demo.
Once I'd had my fill of the Final Fantasy XIII demo, I was greatly surprised to find that there's a second disc included in the package. The second disc features an HD (well, almost HD) version of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children along with some bonus video clips recapping the FFVII series as a whole.
Here are some quick impressions:
Advent Children Complete
Prior to this viewing, I'd only seen Final Fantasy VII Advent Children once: on the big screen at the Roppongi Hills premier way back in 2005. I remember being utterly baffled by the movie. And it had nothing to do with the fact that I was in the front row (perfect for taking pictures of Tetsuya Nomura and his tennis shoes, but not so perfect for watching a movie). I just found the movie to be confusing, both for its story and its over-the-top action sequences.
The Blu-ray version adds 30 minutes extra footage, bringing the total running time to an amazing two hours and six minutes, along with cuts and reedits in some one thousand places. I don't recall the original enough to know what's old and what's new, so for me this was pretty much like experiencing the movie anew.
I still find some of the action sequences to be just plain silly. As a specific example, there's the ridiculous scene of all the characters tossing Cloud up into the sky. Yes, I get the point -- Cloud is getting support from all his friends. But the scene makes me laugh, and I don't think that was the intention.
The story struck me as being less confusing, perhaps as a combination of three things: the new footage may help flesh things out a bit; I was able to watch in passable English this time as opposed to the Japanese of the premier; and I'd reviewed the Final Fantasy VII chronology in advance this time. Of course, any talk of story is only relevant for the first forty or fifty minutes, as after that the characters might as well have just stopped talking.
Advent Children had gorgeous CG back at its debut, and looking strictly at CG quality, it's still beautiful. But the Blu-ray transfer is not beautiful. The quality fluctuates from brilliant to dull, making me wonder if Square Enix just upscaled some parts.
Maybe they can be a bit more consistent when they release Advent Children Complete Perfect Edition? And please get rid of the Cloud-tossing sequence.
Turbulence of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children
This six minute bonus feature provides a brief narrated introduction to Advent Children. It starts with a quick recap of the FF series as a whole, showing scenes from all the games. Turning specifically to Final Fantasy VII, it refers to this particular entry as the game that represents the series as a whole. The feature then moves on to a recap of the Compilation, with a focus on the hype behind Advent Children, including the various film festival showings.
I found it a bit difficult to watch this due to the enthusiasm expressed by the narrator at the Compilation products, despite most of them being of questionable quality.
Reminescence of Final Fantasy VII
A 24 minute look at Final Fantasy VII, starting with the CG opening, and continuing with a mix of in-game and CG sequences basically taking you through the entire story through all key moments. There's no voice here, except for a couple of brief intermissions. That's a shame, as some narration might have been nice. Also, the video quality is poor, although Square Enix probably couldn't have done anything about this considering how low res the game is.
The best part about watching this was realizing just how bad FFVII's CG looks nowadays.
Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII Compilation
This thirty minute feature recaps most of the Final Fantasy VII Compilation products. But it does so in chronological story order, jumping between games. It starts off with Final Fantasy VII footage showing a scene of young Cloud discussing with Tifa how he wants to be a first class soldier like Sephiroth. It then jumps between Crisis Core, Before Crisis, FFVII, Advent Children, and finally Dirge of Cerberus, intermixing scenes as they cross in the chronology. The feature shows pretty much everything, key story sequences and all, in digest form. It skips over the main FFVII game and Advent Children, though, presumably because these can be experienced elsewhere on the Blu-ray.
This feature should be interesting not just for those who've played all the games, but also for those who have been unable to play some of them. Before Crisis, probably the most difficult of the games to get your hands on, ends up taking up a good amount of the feature. Bring that sucka to DSi Ware, Square Enix!
Actually, cancel that. What Square Enix should really do is wait until PlayStation 4 and release Final Fantasy VII Complete, following the events of the franchise from Crisis Core through Dirge of Cerberus, all in one engine. That includes Before Crisis, playable Advent Children, and maybe even a few fan fiction pieces as dream sequences. It would take a full year of playing the game at twelve hours a day in order to pass it. Make it happen, Square Enix!
On the Way to Smile: Episode Denzel
This thirty minute anime shows an episode from the On the Way to a Smile novela, detailing Denzel, a character who first appeared in Advent Children. The story jumps between past and present times as Denzel details his tortured past to former Shinra employee Reeve Tuesti. Some scenes overlap with Advent Children, allowing us to see an animated version of Denzel in the dump speaking with Tifa and then meeting Cloud.
The animation is high quality, but I didn't really see the point of this. Denzel doesn't seem like that major a character in the series, and I didn't find his story all that interesting.
The Final Fantasy VII Advent Children Complete Blu-ray is 4,900 yen on its own or 5,900 yen with the Final Fantasy XIII demo. That's a whole lot of money, and Square Enix really should have ensured top notch visual quality for Advent Children in exchange. The bonus features are also, disappointingly, in 480p.
Due primarily to the low visual quality of the movie, I wouldn't recommend buying the Blu-ray. Of course, I suppose if you really want the Final Fantasy XIII demo, you have no choice. A little patience will helpe here. I imagine there being a lot of sell backs once people have finished the demo, so it may be possible to get the set used for a lot cheaper shortly.