Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 08 Jun 2006
The darker alternate version of Vision of Escaflowne.
Hitomi Kanzaki has given up on life. She’s quit the track team, and can’t stand herself or her friends anymore, and just wants to end it all. This feeling of intense despair resonates on another world called Gaea, from which Hitomi is summoned as the Wing Goddess who will resurrect the Dragon Armor known as Escaflowne that is destined to destroy Gaea. Meanwhile on Gaea, Van of Adom, last of the Dragon Clan kings, is in pursuit of the Escaflowne to fulfill his own ambitions.
Movies that take the ‘alternate telling’ route are a tricky lot. Familiarity and liking of a television series can easily affect how the alternate world is viewed. The Escaflowne movie is very different from its television counterpart, but takes the same overall concept and builds an entirely new story around it. This movie manages to avoid most of the traps of this kind of undertaking, though it still lacks the grandness of its television counterpart. Gone are the undertones of altering fate. Also gone is Hitomi’s Tarot deck, clairvoyance, and fortune telling ability. What isn’t gone is a great score by Yoko Kanno and Hajime Mizoguchi, and what is gained is a wonderful ending theme sung by Maaya Sakamoto.
Not only is this a new story, but the characters have all gotten a new look as well. For the theatrical version of Escaflowne, the characters all look more ‘real’. The change is a little unnerving at first, but it doesn’t take long to get used to it. The characters that appear in this movie from the TV series aren’t quite the same as before, but their roles here work with the new story. Hitomi’s extreme isolationism, which is very different from her personality in the television series, comes into play in a way that almost mirrors similar events from the series despite occuring under different circumstances.
Escaflowne: A Girl In Gaea is a very good movie. Only if you find yourself comparing it directly to the Escaflowne TV series will you find something to complain about, and I believe that is where many of the negative opinions of the movie you see stem from. Watch it as a separate entity from the series, and you’ll see a fantasy adventure that has a good story, is well animated, and has a memorable soundtrack to back it. No, it doesn’t have the same grand scope that the series does, but a 90 minute movie can’t compete with a 624 minute television series in that respect. Don’t expect it to be the television series, or you’ll surely be disappointed. It may not be an instant classic like its TV counterpart, but the Escaflowne movie is definitely recommended for fans of the series who are open to a different telling.