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Vision of Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea

 

Review by Brian Shea

July 26, 2007

 

Summary

 

A large airship controlled by the Black Dragon Clan flies by some cliffs. Crew members report the airship's altitude is dropping due to their heavy cargo, the armor Escaflowne. A winged boy, Van, flies through the sky towards the airship. He lands on the ship's lookout tower and quickly kills the lookout. Inside, the 'crust' around Escaflowne cracks, revealing the energist. The pilots on board talk about how important it is to deliver Escaflowne to Lord Folken. However, Van rushes in and quickly slaughters the crew. The captain mentions the boy being the 'dragon' before Van decapitates him. Meanwhile, Escaflowne's heart starts beating and steam comes out from around it. Van stands before it and tells it to awaken. On an Earth subway station, a little girl named Hitomi stands there holding someone's hand when she notices a strange boy, 'Van' standing nearby. He vanishes soon after. In the present, Hitomi lays on the cement passed out. Her friend Yukari comes outside, walks up to her, and wakes her up. Hitomi tells Yukari of the dream, which she's had since she was a child. Yukari talks about getting a boyfriend or joining a club, but the depressed Hitomi refuses both. Yukari notices the envelope by her shoes. Hitomi tries to get her to not open it, but Yukari lifts it above her head and does. The letter is a badly written suicide note. Hitomi grabs it and tears it up. Hitomi and Yukari ride the subway home. Hitomi seems tired of the life she lives and wants to disappear. A train accident stops the subway cart, so they walk the rest of the way. Hitomi sees a bird in the sky and has a vision of a darkly cloaked man in a sports stadium. They sit on some nearby steps and Yukari asks why Hitomi's acting so weird lately. Hitomi says she hates her to get Yukari to leave. Hitomi, alone, says she wants to vanish. She sees the cloaked man, Folken again. He says to come to his land and that she's the 'chosen one,' the 'Goddess of Wings.' Folken vanishes and Hitomi sees the earth in front of her and water rises above her. The view switches back to the staircase, where we see that she has indeed disappeared.

 

On Gaea, the Mole Man, Allen and Millerna are on a base on a cliff, talking about the Mystic Moon. Hitomi finds herself transported into the water filled cockpit of Escaflowne. Van still standing in front of it, comments on the 'armor' coming back to life. The Water drains out of Escaflowne. Suddenly, the bindings around it crumble. Escaflowne transforms and spreads out its cloak. Back on the base, they await the arriving of the ship Van's on. Back on the ship, Van is grabbed by Escaflowne. The cannons on Allen's ship extend outward and they shoot the ship, blowing it out of the skies. Van jumps out of the chamber onto the side of the ship and rolls down the street once it crashes, avoiding the flames from the ship. Escaflowne walks out of the burning wreckage and kneels in front of Van. Escaflowne's cockpit opens and Hitomi falls out, on top of him. Hitomi remembers him as the one from her dreams, while Van thinks she's the Goddess of Wings. He says he's under her service, and will don Escaflowne to do her will. Suddenly, Escaflowne's energist glows and it turns into a glowing sphere, which soon vanishes itself. Hitomi looks at the sky, wondering where she is. A small crystal (the possible remnants of Escaflowne) falls from the sky into her hand. Van is mad over what happened, and draws his sword. He now thinks Hitomi's a member of the Black Dragon clan. Allen shows up and says to not kill her. Van attacks and they sword fight. Allen defeats him quickly and Gadess throws a dagger at him. Allen's group think that Hitomi is the Goddess of Wings as well. Merle arrives and kicks Gadess for throwing a knife at Van. Hitomi, scared, passes out.

 

Meanwhile, a man called Dune (Folken) tells his father that he will kill Van. Back in the present, Sora stands in a chamber, singing. Folken sits nearby. She says the Winged Goddess has made her way to the 'other dragon.' If Escaflowne and Hitomi are united, it will destroy all of Gaea. Folken wants this to occur however. The Black Dragon clan attacks another country, and the soldiers are ordered to kill everyone. Jajuka watches from afar, thinking it unfortunate. Hitomi awakens in a bed with Millerna in the room. Hitomi thinks she's dreaming, but Millerna slaps her to prove her that's not true. They talk for a while. Millerna explains things to her including the legend of Escaflowne, the Winged Goddess and that they're rebelling against the Black Dragon Clan. Hitomi denies being the Winged Goddess, and says she doesn't know anything. Paile, Kio and Teo comment while in the hallway and Hitomi walks by. Allen says they have to protect her and prevent the Black Dragon Clan from getting her. Van doesn't believe it. Hitomi wanders into a stable looking for water and meets Merle, who gives her some water. The Mole Man bursts out of a pile of hay. He talks about the stone she has and makes it into a necklace for her. Merle steps on his hand when he asks for payment. Merle tells Hitomi that Van's country was destroyed by the Black Dragon Clan. Everyone met on the battlefield.

 

The Dragonslayers watch from nearby as the cart with our heroes rides by. Dilandau wants to kill everyone in addition to capturing Hitomi. A group of Beastmen jump on to the ship and cause parts of it to be set aflame, which results in the vehicle crashing. The Dragonslayers quickly catch up due to this. Hitomi and Merle wander into the hallway where a beastman knocks them out. Another one is killed by Van and he finds Merle in the hallway, who tells her Hitomi was captured. Van heads out on a horseback to save her. He notices the beastman with Hitomi being chased by Van. Hitomi awakens on the horse with the beastman. Van catches up and draws his sword. Van and the beastman recognize each other. The beastman, Ruukusu, wants Van to let him have Hitomi so his people will be spared. Suddenly, Ruukusu is killed with an arrow shot by Dilandau. Van, angered, uses his magic powers to cause Dilandau's horse to explode. Van and Dilandau battle, and both are injured when Dilandau's sword shatters. The strength of Van's spell causes the ground to collapse from beneath them. Hitomi falls into the chasm but Van sprouts wings and grabs her. He lands nearby and collapses from his injury. Hitomi screams out for someone to come and help Van. Jajuka, holding Ruukusu's corpse arrives and says to let him die. Dilandau goes to Folken, who is upset that he was unable to get Hitomi. He uses his magic power to break Dilandau's fingers and knock him out. The only reason Folken doesn't kill Dilandau is because of the Dragon blood in his veins that enable him to use magic. Folken says he will give Dilandau new strength. Elsewhere, the Alseides armor is excavated. Allen, Millerna and Gadess comment on it. Hitomi meanwhile, has brought Van to the town of Adon to be healed. She goes to see him where the elders are watching over him. Later, she and all the beast people living there cheer as Van recovers. Later, in the woods Van tells Hitomi that Van was prophesied to be king, not him, so Folken destroyed the country and became part of the Black Dragon Clan. Van said the only purpose of his life till now was to kill Folken for what he had done. Hitomi sees herself in Van for they both had thought their lives as worthless.

 

A fleet of ships belonging to the Black Dragon Empire fly over Torushina and release their troops. Hitomi and Van say goodbye to everyone and leave Adon. Hitomi and Van sneak into the city. Van and Hitomi go to Dryden's bar, where Van says they'll be able to find the location of Allen. After finishing the music he was playing, Dryden walks up to the table where they sit and introduces himself. Everyone else had already entered the bar. Later, Dryden tells them that the Black Dragon Clan is trying to revive the other Armor. Hitomi says she will try to summon Escaflowne if she is indeed the Goddess of Wings. Dryden is skeptical, mentioning the part of the legend where Escaflowne destroys the world. Folken asks Sora to summon the Winged Goddess to him. Meanwhile, scientists experiment on Dilandau in order to revive the other armor they found. Van tells Merle they'll return to Adon when the war is over. Hitomi meanwhile can't stop thinking about what Dryden said. She notices a shattered piece of china and when she touches it she has a vision of Sora, who tells her to destroy the world and end the sadness that occurs in it. A few minutes later, Millerna informs Van that Hitomi has disappeared. She is wandering down the streets of the city toward the direction of Sora's singing. She encounters Folken, who says she is on Gaea in order to destroy it. Van arrives and Folken stops his illusion.

 

Suddenly, the city is set aflame as Dilandau heads out in the Alseides. He starts flying in the armor, but it is shot down. Hitomi's pendant glows and Escaflowne appears in front of them. Van gets into Escaflowne despite Hitomi's pleas not to. Dilandau flies over to where Escaflowne is and they start to battle. Dilandau's use of flame throwers causes him to remember when his country was destroyed. This gives Van the power to easily knock the Alseides to the ground and tear it to shreds. Van goes crazy with anger, saying he will kill Dilandau when suddenly Escaflowne turns pitch black. Everyone watches in shock at Escaflowne's 'true form.' Folken is glad that this will cause the destruction of the world, but Sora tells Folken that Hitomi's 'will' is trying to prevent that from occurring. Crowds of people watch the black Escaflowne make its way through the city. Hitomi heads off on her own towards it, despite the warnings of everyone else. Hitomi walks up to Escaflowne causing a strange reaction. Hitomi has a vision of Van underneath a tree. Van says he's alone and doesn't want to return. Hitomi says its the same with her and says they should be together. Escaflowne reverts to its normal color then transforms into a dragon and flies towards the fortress where Folken is. Sora tells this to Folken, who heads out to greet them. Escaflowne makes its way to the Fortress, and Folken stands nearby waiting for him. Folken attacks Van with his magic multiple times. Van says he won't fight back. Folken attacks once more, but this time Hitomi throws herself in the way. Unharmed, Hitomi talks to Folken, who was the cause of all Van's suffering. However, Jajuka, who was waiting from nearby attacks Folken and is killed, but not before stabbing Folken as well. Folken has a flashback of Van as a boy, then dies. The fortress starts to collapse around them and Escaflowne vanishes. Sora tells them to leave and that she will stay here with Folken. Everyone watches as the Fortress collapses. Van flies out of there with Hitomi in his arms. With the Black Dragon Clan collapsed, Dilandau and the three remaining Dragonslayers ride off. Days later, Hitomi and Van walk up the hill near Adon. Van says Hitomi can stay on Gaea until the Mystic Moon calls her back. Hitomi hears Sora's song. Wings appear on her back and she vanishes.

 

Commentary

 

The most important thing to keep in mind about the Escaflowne movie is not to compare it to the series. People tend to make the mistake of thinking it's a sequel/prequel or a movie version of the original story. Both are wrong. If you think that way you will be disappointed no matter how good the movie really is. At only 90 minutes long, the movie is only about one sixth the length of the TV series. It's simply impossible in my mind to compare them on equal terms. So what about the visuals? Everything is done in much, much more detail than in the series (which was pretty good in its own right). The characters look just like humans, easy enough. No long noses, or any of that stuff that fans of Escaflowne were familiar with from the series. Escaflowne is done in great detail, as is Dilandau's counterpart. The vehicles and levi ships are fascinating as well. The landscapes and various terrains are very realistic. The movie is extremely dark for the most part, which is unfortunate. As for the character designs? I was extremely disappointed when I originally saw pictures on the web years ago, but after watching the movie I can't say I feel the same way I did before. Folken looks horrible with that hair style, but outside of that no characters look too radically different. The guys are nowhere as attractive as before, of course that's a problem for the girls, not me. What about the music and voices? Great. Actually, they're pretty much identical in quality to the series which were already some of the best I had heard. Yoko Kanno returned and orchestrated a rather large soundtrack. All of the original voice actors return, except Millerna's has been replaced seeing as her original VA transferred over to the role of Sora. The dubbed version also ended up being quite good, in stark contrast to the mediocre one done for the TV series. The plot itself is much different from the series. The movie is basically about the Winged Goddess (whom the real identity of is never concretely said) and her connection to Escaflowne and Gaea. The plot moves pretty quick, and although almost devoid of plot twists, it's a nice fast-paced story that is extremely entertaining. Finally, the characters. If there's one fault with the movie, it's this. The series was so great in part because it had such interesting characters and involved so much development and romance between them. Unfortunately, the movie focuses almost exclusively on the relationship between Van and Hitomi, and nothing else. No longer is there a love triangle involving Allen, Millerna and Dryden, Hitomi no longer has a crush on Allen, Merle doesn't fight with Hitomi as in the original, and so on. The character's families, which had such a role in the series, are completely ignored. Character motivations are slighted in this when compared to the series. So, if you're looking for the movie to be similar to the series in this sense, you'll be disappointed. The characters work out fairly well if you don't look at it in that way, but when the series focused so much on them, its hard to think that the movie wouldn't do the same. Naturally, the short running time of the movie has caused a problem here. I would recommend this movie to not only any fan of Escaflowne, but also any anime fan as well. It's very entertaining, and does not require any previous knowledge about the show to watch. One of the best anime movies ever? No. As good as the series? Of course not. But it is a very entertaining piece of work that I think almost anyone can enjoy.

 

Overall Rating

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4.5 out of 5 stars
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