| Escaflowne Movie: A Girl in Gaea
review: A different take on the popular fantasy series.
July 13, 2000
If you were fortunate enough to attend Anime Expo 2000 this past weekend, then you had the opportunity to catch the premiere showing of the movie Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea. This movie, based on the 26-episode 1995 TV series The Vision of Escaflowne, was apparently finished only ten days before the convention, with subtitles for it being added only a few days earlier. Talk about a new release!
The Escaflowne movie has been in the making for a long time. I remember hearing about it back in early 1997. When you watch the movie, you can see the result of the long years of work. The animation in the movie is fluid and wonderful. The action and fighting scenes (and there are plenty) are a visual delight. The musical score is by Yoko Kanno, and is absolutely stunning (of course!). But if you go into this movie expecting to see more of the TV series, you may be in for a surprise.
Instead of continuing where the TV series left off (darn), the movie is an retelling of the TV series story. Most of the original characters return (including almost all the same voice actors, yay!), but their roles and personalities have been changed and redesigned. Van looks scruffy, Allen is not quite the frilly noble knight he used to be, and Millerna is now a scantily clad redhead. Well, at least Merle looks pretty much the same and Dilandau is still wonderfully psychotic. New characters include Sora, a sort of beast/cat woman who attends Folken, and the Dragonslaying warrior Ryuon.
The story has been considerably compressed (naturally enough) and some of the old main characters (Allen and Merle) have been shoved to the side as supporting characters. This movie belongs to Van and Hitomi.
On Gaea, Van, the leader of the White Dragon Clan, has just recaptured the mecha "Escaflowne" from his enemies (in a very violent but cool fight scene). He is involved in a war against the evil Folken, and plans to use the Escaflowne to aid his cause. Meanwhile on Earth, High School girl Hitomi is severely depressed and is contemplating death. But before she can give in to her depression, she is transported to Gaea and literally falls into Van's arms (lucky girl). She is hailed as the "Tsubasa no Kami", or "Wing Goddess", the person Van is sworn to fight for. Pretty good deal, if you ask me. Hitomi is swept up in Van's battle against Folken, who wants to capture Hitomi for himself and use the Escaflowne armor to destroy the world. What follows is a fast-paced fight across Gaea between Folken and Van, with lots of bonding between Van and Hitomi, and some nice wing shots thrown in for good measure (thank you!).
For those who haven't seen the TV series, this movie will knock your socks off. The combination of the music and visuals is impressive. But because of the short movie format, the detailed world of Gaea that we discovered in the TV series is neglected. The relationships between the characters aren't as fleshed out, and some of the changes I am just not that satisfied with. But don't get me wrong, I don't hate this movie, it is really very cool, and I would recommend it with enthusiasm. I was just hoping for a little bit more from it. I do plan on getting the film whenever Bandai decides to release it here, and you know that the soundtrack is already on my to-buy list!
The Escaflowne movie is scheduled to be shown again this August at the Otakon anime convention in Baltimore, Maryland. Check it out!
--Emily Snodgrass notes that Van has wings. Wings are good!
Reading this review and watching that 10min trailer
just increases my desire to watch the movie. The reviewer, Emily, seems
to adore Van's wings too. I love Van, and I wonder how much his wings
contributes to it!! Lucky Hitomi!!!