Final Fantasy XV: Brotherhood

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I’m back from a week-long vacation with a review of another piece of Final Fantasy XV media. Alongside the Kingsglaive motion picture, Square Enix has also released a serial anime that ties into the events of the upcoming Final Fantasy XV game. Over the last few months, SE has trickled out a total of five short anime episodes called Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV. A special sixth episode will be available on a blu-ray included with the Deluxe Special Edition of Final Fantasy XV.

Brotherhood focuses on Noctis, the lead character of the upcoming game and his friends as they make the trek to his wedding amidst the dangers of Imperial occupation. Each episode focuses mainly on a specific character, providing a little backstory and setting up the events leading up to the game.

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I’ve mentioned on this blog before that I generally have a difficult time getting into anime. But I found this series to be very enjoyable. Everything from the art to the writing/storyline had me hooked. Once the series was over, I was left wanting more and for me, that’s unusual for me when it comes to anime.

I really liked the way the characters were presented and I feel like I’ll have a better appreciation for them going into the game as result of watching these episodes. Brotherhood does an excellent job of illustrating the bond between Prince Noctis and his companions. Getting to see them in situations that range from combat to just bantering in a car like friends on a roadtrip is interesting and refreshing. Again, I feel like Square Enix really hit a home run with these serials.

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Currently, Brotherhood is available to watch for free on YouTube. The episodes are also included with retail copies of the Kingsglaive Blu-Ray. I would recommend this anime to anyone who is eagerly awaiting the upcoming release of Final Fantasy XV. In fact, I personally found this series to be more enjoyable than the Kingsglaive film.

Overall Opinion:  Vivid art and animation. A mature, slow paced storyline that’s often insightful and inspiring. Final Fantasy XV Brotherhood is a great companion to the upcoming game. I was surprisingly impressed and I recommend it to any Final Fantasy or anime fan.

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Other Reviews In This Series:

IIIIIIIVVVI VIIVIIIIXXX2XIXII XIIIXIII 2XIII Lightning Returns XIV – XV 

IV: After YearsVII: Dirge of CerberusVII: Crisis CoreVII: Advent Children (Movie)XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s TaleXV: Brotherhood (Anime)XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia – Dissidia 012

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Dimensions – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight 

Final Fantasy XV: Kingsglaive

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The release of Final Fantasy XV is little more than a month away and Square Enix is full steam ahead with their multi-faceted blitz for the title. In stores now, is the full-length feature film, and companion to the game: Kingsglaive. I’ve finally had a chance to sit down and sink my teeth into this movie, so I will share my thoughts.

I have to confess up front, I didn’t have high hopes for this film. To date, none of the previous Final Fantasy motion pictures have done much for me. I didn’t care for Spirits Within at all, and Advent Children was…. meh. I’m happy to announce that Kingsglaive is the exception. I enjoyed this film much more than I anticipated.

The movie serves as a great introduction to the Final Fantasy XV universe.  The world of Final Fantasy XV is called Eos. Eos is a realm that has found itself under constant conflict. In recent decades, the nations of Eos have fallen to might of The Empire of Niflheim. To date, only one kingdom has managed to resist the Imperial grip, this is the nation of Lucis. Lucis stays protected from harm by the power of a magical crystal. King Regis of Lucis, who resides in the capital city of Insomnia, uses the power of his nation’s crystal to erect a magical barrier that keeps his kingdom safe from harm. However, as time goes by, the strength of his power is slowly diminishing. He fears that before long, he will no longer be able to keep the forces of Niflheim at bay.

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The plot of film focuses largely on a treaty that is proposed by Niflheim to King Regis. In exchange for surrendering the Kingdom of Lucis to Imperial Control, The Empire will allow the capital of Insomnia to keep it’s independence. The empire also sets a condition that King Regis’ son, Prince Noctis be wed to Princess Lunafreya of Tenebrae (an area under Imperial control).  While this sounds like a good deal for the citizens of Insomnia, naturally this proposal is very unpopular with the residents of Lucis that reside outside of the capital city.

The film focuses mostly on the events surrounding the treaty and the subterfuge and “long game” that is being played out on the sidelines. The “Kingsglaive” is the name of an elite force that serves King Regis directly, and one member in particular, Nyx manages to unravel the mystery behind Niflheim’s proposal. A majority of the film is focused on Nyx and the details surrounding his discovery.

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The events of the Kingsglaive film run concurrent with the events that will take place in Final Fantasy XV. How everything fits together still remains to be seen.

Like all other Final Fantasy films, this one is animated with photorealistic 3D rendering. The movie itself is simply gorgeous. It’s certainly the best looking one yet. In fact, on more than one occasion, I forgot that I was watching an animated movie. The voice acting is also very well done and features some fairly big names. (Sean Bean, Lena Heady).

The film itself is available now on DVD and Blu-Ray, the Blu-Ray version of the film will also be included with the Deluxe Edition of Final Fantasy XV. A limited edition steel-book release is also available that not only includes the Kingsglaive film, but also includes an extended edition of the complete Final Fantasy XV Brotherhood anime series.

Overall Opinion:  Wonderful visuals, compelling story, excellent voice acting. This is the best FF film to date. I definitely recommend this to fans interested in playing the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. Casual fans of the series may also find some enjoyment here, but general audiences may not “get it”.

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Other Reviews In This Series:

IIIIIIIVVVI VIIVIIIIXXX2XIXII XIIIXIII 2XIII Lightning Returns XIV – XV 

IV: After YearsVII: Dirge of CerberusVII: Crisis CoreVII: Advent Children (Movie)XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s TaleXV: Brotherhood (Anime)XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia – Dissidia 012

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Dimensions – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight 

Star Wars: Episode 7 Teaser and Rebels

If you’re a Star Wars fan like me, you’ve no doubt seen this already. But here it is, the first teaser trailer for the upcoming Star Wars movie.

Now, I’m not going to go over the contents of the teaser, picking apart every second of it frame-by-frame. If that’s what you’re interested in, there’s plenty of other sites just for that. I’m just posting the link and sharing my excitement. December 2015 is going to be epic.

To hold us over until then, we have Star Wars Rebels. This is the new animated series airing on Disney XD. It’s created by the same individuals that brought us The Clone Wars. Set a few years before Episode IV, this series follows a band on unlikely heroes as they lash against the oppression of the Empire. Currently, the series is on hiatus, as we’ve reached the mid-season but it will be back with new episodes after the holidays.

Now is a great time to catch up if you’ve not had the pleasure.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

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Having completed Crisis Core, I was in a Final Fantasy VII sort of mood, so I decided to check out the continuation to the original VII story. Interestingly enough, the sequel to Final Fantasy VII comes not in the form of a game, but rather as a motion picture.

Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children is the name of the film in question. Now, I should preface this by saying I saw this movie on DVD years ago when it was released and I was not very impressed with what I saw. For today’s viewing, I decided to put all that aside and watch the new definitive version of the film: Advent Children COMPLETE. This new version is available on Blu-Ray in full HD and feature re-done special effects and contains an extra 30 minutes of content. But sadly, the new additions were not enough to change my opinion of the film.

FAIR WARNING: If you have not played the original game, the rest of this post will probably make no sense whatsoever as it discusses details about the original game.

The main plot of the film focuses on a mysterious sickness called Geostigma that has began to affect the population shortly after the events of the first game. It is suspected that the illness is the result of exposure to the Lifestream during the climax of the original Final Fantasy VII. Meanwhile, amongst all this, three strange individuals are on the hunt for the remaining JENOVA cells in hopes to bring about the resurrection of Sephiroth. Naturally, it is up to Cloud and his companions to save the day.

Throughout the film we see cameos by a number of characters from the original game. For this most part this works well, but a few of them do seem a be a bit shoe-horned in. Cloud seems to be a moody mess and very unlike the Cloud we know the original game. Plotwise, the movie is quite frankly a jumble of nonense. At least it felt that way to me. There is really no clean set up for the events of the movie and I spent a large part of it in total confusion. Only through my own personal knowledge of VII lore was I able to piece together what the hell was going on. I imagine that someone who is not a fan would have a very difficult time taking anything meaningful away from this film. The highlight of the picture are the fight-scenes at the very end of the film. I found those to be action packed and very entertaining when compared to the rest of the movie. This movie fan-service in its truest form.

Gripes about the plotline aside, the film is amazingly beautiful. The computer animation ranks right up there anything I’ve seen from Disney or Pixar. In my own personal opinion, the visuals are the main reason to watch this film. It’s nothing short of awe inspiring. In fact, the whole HD experience is quite well done here. I watched this on my home theater with 5.1 surround and was really impressed with the entire presentation.

The Blu-Ray also features a few short featurettes that can help bring viewers up to speed with the background storyline. It shows footage from both FFVII and Crisis Core. It also includes footage from the Japanese-only mobile game Before Crisis. This was a really nice touch.

In a nutshell, I feel like Advent Children makes for a pretty weak sequel to the original game. If you’re a huge fan of both Final Fantasy VII and anime, this might be the film for you. If not, you might be a bit disappointed.  But I can safely say, despite my complaints, I did enjoy this a heck of a lot more than the other “Final Fantasy” motion picture Square released back in the early 2000’s.

Overall Opinion:  Beautiful film visually, but overall it falls flat.

Other Reviews In This Series:

IIIIIIIVVVI VIIVIIIIXXX2XIXII XIIIXIII 2XIII Lightning Returns XIV – XV 

IV: After YearsVII: Dirge of CerberusVII: Crisis CoreVII: Advent Children (Movie)XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s TaleXV: Brotherhood (Anime)XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia – Dissidia 012

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Dimensions – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight 

Star Wars: The Official Canon

A few months back, I wrote a short entry regarding the state of the Star Wars canon. Disney made the announcement that they were “rebooting” the Star Wars timeline so to speak. This meant that all of the comic books, novels, and other story properties were no longer “official” in any way shape or form. However, they did announce that all future publications were now going to 100% official canon.

Before I continue, let’s spend a moment talk about what is and what was “canonical” in the Star Wars Universe. As of the time of this writing, only the following are considered 100% official Star Wars stories. (Meaning, they are a true and undisputed account of Star Wars history):

Film/TV:

The original six Star Wars films: Episode 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6.

The Clone Wars animated series; Seasons 1-5, and the Lost Episodes

Comic Books:

Darkhorse Publications: Darth Maul – The Son of Dathomir

Literature:

Short stories published in the official Star Wars Insider Magazine, starting with issue 149

Prior to this announcement from Disney, there were literally hundreds of miscellaneous comics, novels and short stories. The previous canon was divided into different levels of validity. First, we had the feature films, and other motion picture/television productions that George Lucas had a direct hand in creating. Next, up were novels and comic books. These remained “canon” as long there was nothing in them that was contradicted by George Lucas himself. The final tier were video games and other playable type of media. For the most part, this system worked fairly well. Authors and publishers did a pretty decent job of making sure that they didn’t trample over each other’s works. However, as you might expect over the years, there were more than a few really questionable entries added to the mix. Plus, with new movies on the horizon, it was about to become near impossible to avoid some major storyline conflicts in the post-ROTJ era.

In many ways, the whole Expanded Universe really did need to be flushed out. But naturally there are a few really amazing stories that many of us are reluctant to let go of. So, I still maintain what I call my “Personal Canon”. For me, this is a collection of old EU novels, that I feel will unlikely be overwritten by any future work and contain stories have been backed up in some way or another by the existing “Official Canon”.  For the curious, these are:

The Darth Bane trilogy, Darth Plagueis, Cloak of Deception, The Approaching Storm, The four Clone Wars novels, Labyrinth of Evil, Dark Lord, Kenobi, Honor Among Thieves, Razor’s Edge, and Shadows of the Empire.

Many of these are direct prequels or sequels of individual Star Wars films, or are sandboxed stories and do not contain anything that is likely to be overruled by future content. Of course, there are many more wonderful stories out there that are not on this list. For example, I’m a HUGE fan of the Han Solo Trilogy. But there are rumors of a future spin-off film that may cover Han Solo’s origins, so until I know for sure that Solo’s history will be left alone, I’m leaving it off of my Personal Canon list.

So that brings us to today. What’s next for the official Star Wars canon? Well, in just a few days the first full-length novel in the new official storyline will be released: A New Dawn. This book takes place between episodes 3 and 4, and actually sets up the background for the upcoming Star Wars Rebels animated series.

So right away, we have A New Dawn, followed by the launch of Rebels. Sounds like we’re off to a good start. So what’s coming next? Well here’s the schedule for the near future:

9/2/14 – A New Dawn – John Jackson Miller
11/4/14 – Tarkin – James Luceno
2/17/14 – Heir to the Empire – Kevin Hearne
4/21/14 – Lords of the Sith
Summer/15 – Untitled Asajj Ventress Novel

It’s safe to say that there won’t be any lack of reading in the near future. Naturally, I plan to read and review each novel. Also, keep in mind that each issue of the official Star Wars magazine all features short stories that are now 100% official. But wait there’s more! Starting next year, Marvel comics becomes the exclusive publisher of Star Wars material. Three new comic titles have been announced by Marvel:

Star Wars – ongoing series
Darth Vader – ongoing series
Princess Leia – 5 issue mini series

The future is bright for Star Wars fans. I’m counting the hours until I can am able to go down to my local bookstore and get a copy of A New Dawn tomorrow.