Escaflowne: The Movie Reviews
Some of the rag-tag band she befriends includes a kitty-cat girl with a somewhat annoying voice and Van, the last of his kind that can wield a special power that runs in his genes.
What I liked most about this movie were the action sequences, fighting over Hitomi and getting to see the dragon armor being used. When a person enters the armor, they have to give blood for it to work so they are pierced all over their body and blood drains from them. For me, I thought that was a pretty powerful way to make the inhabitants sacrifice something before they go running off with a suit that can bring about so much destruction. Having a high price to pay means not just anyone would jump in it.
Hitomi is clearly depressed throughout and I'm not sure if she ever really overcame that. She said enough nice things to keep Van motivated and alive when he was hurt but I have this feeling that if she goes home to her own world, her outlook will not have changed.
There was pretty music, the plot was occasionally confusing. I never felt emotionally involved or connected to any characters. Only when they were fighting did there seem to be something worth cheering for. It was ok for one watching, but not close to the best I've seen.
Years ago, when I first started seriously getting into film, I rented "Escaflowne", an adaptation of an anime series I never saw. However, due to my getting accustomed to late night viewings, like I usually did I fell asleep through half the movie. My memories of it weren't too great, but I decided to pick it up from Netflix for a full, fair trial.
The movie does not get to a good start. Opening with some babble on an airship, with unappealing character designs all the way through, deadly warrior Van breaks in and kills everyone in sight in an accurate representation of the film's battle sequences: incomprehensible, migraine-inducing, and erratic moving camera format. I'm not quite willing to call it "shakycam" even though that's exactly what it is.
Cut to the human world, Earth. Depressed schoolgirl Hitomi is on the balcony and her best friend is seeing what she claims to be a poorly-written suicide note. Last night I saw another notoriously bloody Japanese film, the live-action "Suicide Club", which should be indicator enough of how much I cared about Hitomi from the start of the film. She proclaims she's "too cowardly" to do it, and she walks around town until a very shady, evil figure declares she's some sort of goddess and raises water from the ground to submerge her completely.
Waking up on the other side, she is in Gaea, or more specifically, inside the "Dragon Armor", which is basically the giant robot archetype in organic denial. Don't get your hopes up; it takes a very long time before you see it in action, and it's just like the opening battle. Erratic and incomprehensible.
Basically in Gaea everyone is convinced Hitomi is some sort of goddess, which she, of course, does not believe. Although it does attempt to have some heart when Hitomi finally understands the value of her own life as she's taken with Van's own suffering (Van also being unhappy with being alive... getting the picture of how gloomy this flick would be if it wasn't so lifeless?).
You know your animated film is in trouble when your machines have to power from their pilots' blood and spray it from their valves, or some evil character has to employ magic to split someone's horse in half... complete with entrails. Enjoy these moments; the laughably excessive gore is of the few smile-inducing moments.
On the other end, with far too little screentime is the only bit of humor the deadly serious "Escaflowne" movie will allow, a sort of cat/human hybrid Merle. Watching her tail puff makes all her scenes enjoyable.
Oh yes, I did mention how the evil people and all the war in Gaea has made the bipedal forest creatures cautious and angry? Unlike "Princess Mononoke", the voice actors make no attempt to distinguish the animal voices from that of humans.
But that's just a production detail, something you'd linger over if the production in question actually made you give a shit.
MPAA: PG-13 (strong animated violence)
Runtime: 1 hour, 38 minutes (92 minutes of "real movie")