Final Fantasy

FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRIT WITHIN
(FAINARU FANTAJI) 2001

Directors: Hironobu Sakaguchi & Motonori Sakakibara

Reviewed by Paghat the Ratgirl



Anime skillfully voiced in the American release by such actors as Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscami, Ming-Na Wen, Ving Rhames, James Woods, Donald Sutherland, & so on, so the vocal acting is fine. Sometimes it is unnerving to hear familiar voices coming from the almost-realistic faces of animated characters that in no way resemble who we hear speaking.

These are not the usual Japanese "cartoon" figures with eyes as big as their feet, but rotoscoped or computer-altered actors, hence more appealing to adult viewers & with better range of visual expression. It is visually much more advanced than the series of Final Fantasy episodes based on the video game.

A complex story is not exactly intelligent, but neither is it a pack of the same hoary cliches. It's quite imaginative, & it works visually even if it sounds moronic as a plot outline: A planetary collision has released the angry ghosts of an alien world onto the earth, including the ghost of that other world itself. This puts even the living spirit of our own world is at risk. Little can live on the face of the Earth except what few cities were able to construct protective domes impenetrable to the alien ghosts.

A young woman is infected by the alien spirits but an aging physician is keeping her alive by an experimental method. If the scientist can construct a complete antidote to the spirit-infection from eight special spirits (the specialness of which we just have to take for granted), not only the young woman but also the whole world might be cured. But the military establishment thinks it is a better idea to just lay waist to what little remains of the world.

Think about the story too long & it gets increasingly retarded rather than metaphoric or symbolic let alone sensible. It does carry an ecological message, but its strength is in its very ornateness & its visual conviction. And having a plot ornately absurd is better than the usual simpleminded video game cartoon such as tend to be strictly about explosions, which of course punctuate this complicated version too.

copyright by Paghat the Ratgirl



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