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Fafner: Heaven and Earth

 

Review by Peter Laliberte

February 20, 2013

 

Summary

 

In the year 2148, Neo UN forces launch a nuclear strike on the Festum stronghold. A single Sphinx type Festum protects a human shaped figure encased in crystal. Tatsumiya Island is enjoying a period of peace. At the café owned by Kyosuke Mizoguchi, Maya Toomi works as a waitress and Kazuki Makabe works as the cook. Kazuki’s sight is failing him so he relies on his sense of touch. Canon Hazama, Hiroto Douma, and Rina and Akira Nishino enter the café, with Maya noting the absence of Kenji Kondo. Kenji is helping out at the place of Tamotsu Kodate, who has become a drunk after losing his wife and son. At Alvis HQ, Ikumi Nishino notes how Tamotsu has done nothing but drink since he fixed the Fafners. Fumihiko Makabe sees a ghostly image of Tsubaki Minashiro who tells him there must be a path other than hated and asks that Fumihiko show that to the island’s new core. Chizuru Toomi reports that the new core will focus resources to its own growth, which will affect life on the island. Yoko Hazama wonders how the Festum are still active after they destroyed their Mir and Ikumi suggests it changed forms like how the island’s Mir is the air. Seri Tatekami shows some bugs to the new core and tells Tsubaki they’re all waiting for her. Kazuki sends Maya home and he gets a message from Soushi Minashiro. Soushi tells Kazuki was their last resort is and promises to return to him. Kazuki says he’ll always wait for him. At the Toomi household, two year old Miwa Hino shows Maya some draws she did, which her mother, Yumiko Toomi, isn’t pleased with. Yumiko sees Tsubaki and begs her not to take Miwa. Rina tries to get Akira to go to the festival with her, but he remains silent and she storms out. Canon returns home and Kenji goes to get a now recovered Sakura Kaname. The island’s inhabitants float lanterns marked with the names of the dead out into the water. Suddenly a ship appears and crashes into the island. Kazuki hears Soushi’s voice and goes after it. He jumps onboard with Maya and Canon going after him. Inside Kazuki finds a body in a crystal, thinking it’s Soushi. He remembers Soushi’s words from earlier and runs off again. Mizoguchi and his team secure the ship and find data saying the figure in the crystal is called Misao Kurusu. Kazuki heads to Alvis while the island’s defences activate. A Festum appears above the island.

The shields fail and Fumihiko wonders if the Festum are deliberately attacking during the core’s growth phase. The Festum attacks and Kazuki launches in the Fafner Mark Sein. Kazumi demands to know why the Festum showed up and not Soushi before attacking. Kazuki impales the Festum but it evolves into a more powerful Eurus type Festum. Kazuki experiences symptoms of assimilation and the Festum attacks by morphing its arm into a human weapon. Fumihiko orders reinforcements sent but then coughs up blood. Maya, Kenji, and Canon arrive in their Fafners and save Kazuki, who manages to deliver the finishing blow. Kazuki wakes up in the infirmary with Maya at his side. She tells him they’re moving the island. During the move Maya and Kenji train Hiroto, Seri, Rina, and Akira in their Fafners. Akira starts talking to Maya, much to Rina’s surprise. Sakura is cleared for pilot duty again so Canon is given a new Fafner. After an examination, Chizuru determines that Kazuki has been in constant crossing with someone which places further burden on the Mark Sein. She says they can’t let Kazuki pilot anymore. Fumihiko asks about the crashed ship and is told that Misao is a Sphinx type, essentially a replica human. The ship also had data on the Eurus type and a recommendation that they disclose high level intel with an unknown craft. Akira tells Rina that he wants to pilot the Fafner their parents went missing piloting, the Zero Fafner, but Rina tells him to resign because he’d get in her way. Sakura tells Kenji that what happened to her and Mamoru Kodate wasn’t his fault and to let her share the burden. Kenji makes her promise she won’t die. Fumihiko figures his failing heath is a result of radiation sickness and Chizuru explains that the island’s Mir had been suppressing it until now. A large group of Festum attack the island using human tactics. All the Fafners launch and engage the Festum. The rookies struggle, but the veterans help them out.

 

When Seri heavily wounds a Festum, she notices it gaining a human face and saying something. Kazuki watches the battle until Soushi tells him Misao is going to wake up. Misao does wake up, grabs a uniform, and makes his way to the surface. Kazuki finds him and Misao says it’s sad while crying. Misao asks the other Festum to leave so he can talk, and the Festum oblige. Misao tells Kazuki they should surrender. Seri wonders what the Festum were saying and Rina says they were probably going on about how much they hate them or something. Canon says she’ll give the rookies a talking to for getting so worked up, but Sakura suggests complimenting them instead. Fumihiko talks with Misao and broadcasts it to the entire island. Fumihiko asks if ‘Misao’ is the name of the human he assimilated, but Misao says that he picked a name in order to communicate with the humans. Misao explains that Soushi wants to tell them something and his message is on the boat. Misao says Soushi can’t come himself due to the nuclear strike, which left the other Festum in pain and made their Mir not want to be reborn. He explains that the Mir split into pieces and not all of it disappeared. Misao asks if Fumihiko thinks the sky is beautiful and when Fumihiko answers yes, Misao is sure he can understand the humans. Misao says he wants peace and asks if he can assimilate with the core so the two Mirs can assimilate without fighting. He wants to team up with them to fight the Neo UN and other groups of Festum, but gives Fumihiko time to decide as a group. Misao warns that the other Festum will return eventually and their core will die. Later at home, Kazuki confronts Fumihiko about his sickness. Kazuki suggests leaving everything to him so Fumihiko can settle down with Chizuru, but Fumihiko laughs it off. He says all he wants is for their home to always be a place Kazuki can return to. Fumihiko asks about Misao, and Kazuki says he can feel that Soushi is gambling on him. Fumihiko suggest Kazuki go talk to him. The Festum attack again, this time using a substance that kills plant life. While the Fafners intercept, Kazuki shows Misao Soushi’s room. Kazuki asks where Soushi is and Misao says he’s within the nothingness. Misao suggests listening to his demands if Kazuki wants the suffering to stop, but Kazuki asks him to stop the Festum Mir. Misao says he doesn’t have the power, revealing that the Mir is on a ship. Kazuki says he’ll attack the ship to protect the island but Misao asks if that’s what Soushi wants. Misao says he can’t hear Soushi anymore and Kazuki experiences visions of the nuclear strike. He realizes Misao protected Soushi during it.

 

The last of the Festum are destroyed and Tsubaki appears to Fumihiko again. She asks Fumihiko to let "her" talk to "him" but Fumihiko and several other adults collapse. Chizuru gives Fumihiko medicine meant for Fafner pilots and admits she thinks they should just do what the Festum says if it means he can live. Yumiko and Miwa prepare to move to Alvis, Yumiko taking a gun with her. Kazuki asks why Misao saved Soushi and Misao explains he was looking for another existence who thought the sky was beautiful. Kazuki says he can’t see the sky anymore and says he thinks Soushi wanted Misao to convince his Mir not to run away. He asks Misao if he’s there. Another battle occurs and Seri realizes that the Festum are saying “It hurts. Help me.” Misao says all his information is going directly to his Mir so there’s not much else to tell it. Kazuki insists, but Misao says Mir is like his god. Both of them declare that if they did what the other wanted, they wouldn’t be themselves anymore. Seri makes grave markers for the Festum, which Fumihiko says he’s never heard of before. He has a request for Seri, and she agrees to become a substitute core to relieve some strain off the core. She becomes one with the island and sees Tsubaki again. The Alvis leaders detect a large army of Festum heading their way and Ikumi says they have no choice but to attack the enemy Mir. Ian Camp and Cheremy Lee Mercy propose a plan similar to the L Project where they take the R Boat and detonate it to take out the enemy ship. Ian and Cheremy want to use only former Neo UN personnel since it was the Neo UN’s fault in the first place. Fumihiko approves of the use of the R Boat but says they’re going to go and seek dialogue instead. Fumihiko tells Yumiko that as the first natural birth, Miwa is in constant crossing with the island’s Mir. Miwa says she wants to talk to them. The army of Festum arrive at the island and another battle begins. Misao begs Kazuki to surrender, saying that the Mir wouldn’t listen if he asked it to stop. Kazuki reminds Misao that he thought the sky was beautiful all on his own and to teach that to his god. Miwa is brought into the room and Misao realizes she can understand the Festum’s language. Soushi speaks through Misao and says that Miwa is their hope. The battle rages on with Rina ejecting from her Fafner and Sakura getting shot down. Akira is dragged into the water and a Festum releases tentacles that invade Alvis and start assimilating the Mark Sein. Soushi says that Miwa can talk to the enemy Mir in their own language. Misao wonders if they choose to suffer because their Mir tells them to, but Kazuki asks if Misao protected Soushi on Mir’s orders. Misao says his Mir is calling him and teleports in front of the Mark Sein. He is absorbed by a black mass that turns into the Mark Nicht and Misao realizes that’s why he had a human form. Miwa says she can talk more but Yumiko pulls a gun on Fumihiko. She says she won’t let them take Miwa away and fires. Kazuki boards the Mark Sein and stops Misao from stealing the core. Kenji hands Rina’s escape pod to Hiroto before sending him away. While being assimilated, Canon’s Fafner prompts her to activate Fenrir but she refuses. Maya chases after Akira, who begins to get assimilated. He activates Fenrir but he’s saved by another Fafner. That Fafner also saves Sakura, who recognizes it as the Fafner Mark Vier, the unit formally piloted by Koyo Kasugai.

 

Fumihiko, now with a wounded arm, takes Miwa outside to talk to the Festum. Kazuki and Misao’s fight heads outside, where Kazuki saves Canon at the cost of beginning his own assimilation. Kazuki pushes Misao away from the island and the rest of the Festum follow. Kazuki tells Misao that he could have stopped the fighting and both Fafners disappear. Misao alone appears on the Festum ship and he teleports inside where notes that no new life is being born. Akane Makabe is being held there and she says keeping her won’t make any new possibilities. Misao wishes he could shoulder everyone’s pain and Akane wonders what he will bless the world with. She explains that Misao is the first Festum to desire existence while the Mir was gone and asks why he’s there. He says he just wanted to see the sky but now existence is unbearable. Akira wakes up in the infirmary and tells Rina he saw the Festum’s nothingness just like their parents did. The mechanics look over the Mark Vier and see that it has a core when it shouldn’t. Fumihiko says that Koyo himself became the core. Miwa tells Chizuru how the Festum are in pain while Fumihiko forgives Yumiko for shooting him, saying it’s what any mother would have done. Yumiko says that Miwa told her that Kazuki can still return and Fumihiko believes it. Later at a meeting they wonder if Miwa really sent all the Festum away. They devise an operation to use the R Boat to get close to the Festum Mir so Miwa can talk to it. Tamotsu and Ikumi look over the Zero Fafner, Ikumi relating how she ran away from it after it took her daughter and son-in-law. Rina and Akira will be piloting it together and Ikumi is sure it will protect them for her. After one last mission briefing, the Festum launch their assault. The R-Boat departs and the battle begins. The R-Boat doesn’t see anything at their destination, but Fumihiko orders an attack. The attack reveals that the Festum ship has both camouflage and shields. Rina and Akira launch from the R-Boat and break through the shields. Sakura launches after them and engages the Festum there. The Zero Fafner climbs aboard the ship and attacks while Kenji launches as well. Kenji breaks inside the ship and causes the Mir to try and escape. Misao senses the attack on the ship and crashes. He begs his Mir to not make him carry that burden and begins attacking indiscriminately. Canon attacks him but he beats her and takes her weapon. Hiroto protects her until Koyo arrives. Koyo grabs Misao and tries to assimilate him.

 

The Festum Mir arrives on the island as Tsubaki and Seri watch on. Hiroto uses his Fafner’s shields to prevent the Mir from landing but it begins to overpower him. Misao destroys the Mark Vier, but Koyo’s core teleports away in time. Maya attacks Misao next and manages to stab the Mark Nicht before her Fafner is disabled. Miwa says she wants to go outside so she can talk, so Fumihiko orders the R-Boat to surface. Kenji’s attack frees Akane, who teleports to the core room on Tatsumiya. Akane merges with the core in order to save it. Sakura is shot down and the R-Boat surfaces. Fumihiko, Miwa, and Yumiko go out onto the deck. Kazuki escapes from the knife wound on the Mark Nicht and powers up Hiroto’s shield to repel the Mir. On the other end, Rina and Akira destroy the pillar and are engulfed in the explosion. Kazuki pushes Misao into the sky where they do battle. Kazuki asks why Misao gave up and he blames the nuclear strike. Kazuki says they can change again, but Misao doubts it after what he’s done. Kazuki says he’s hurt Soushi before but Soushi still believed in him. Kazuki removes Misao’s assimilation and tells him not to give up changing as he’s engulfed in crystals. Misao tells Kazuki not to go and shouts to his Mir that he doesn’t want to fight. Kazuki is freed and the Festum stop. The clouds part and Miwa tells the Mir how pretty the sky is. A Neo UN bomber force appears and launches another nuclear missile. The Festum Mir goes crazy and Miwa is covered in crystals. The Festum and Kazuki move to stop the missile, Misao ejecting from the Mark Nicht in his true form to take the blast. The Mark Nicht moves Kazuki away and Misao tells the Mir they should be reborn together. Tsubaki bids a final farewell to Seri and the core puts up the island’s shield to stop the blast. Miwa is released and all the Festum fall from the sky. Chizuru sees that the core has finished its growth period and mourns for Akane. The island’s functions return to normal and Fumihiko’s pain goes away. The Festum ship sails away and Yumiko wonders if a new enemy has been born. Fumihiko says that’s one option, but he is certain that the Earth has become the Festum’s homeland. Inside the ship, a new fetus like core now resides. Kazuki’s cockpit block lies on the beach and a person approaches him. He hears Misao’s voice saying he wanted to erase the thing preventing Kazuki from seeing the sky. Kazuki’s vision returns and he sees Soushi standing over him. Soushi thanks Kazuki for protecting the island and Kazuki welcomes him home.

 

Commentary

 

Five years after the release of Right of Left, Fafner returns in a fairly glorious fashion. Fafner never seemed all that popular to me on either sides of the Pacific so the announcement of this movie came as quite a surprise. Not that I’m complaining; it was great returning to this series. Picking up two years after the TV series, quite a bit has changed (though none of the characters look much older). Kazuki is going blind, Kenji is a better leader, Canon is completely open and cheerful, and Sakura has recovered. Life is good until Misao shows up. The Festum have survived and want to take over the island in an attempt to alleviate the pain they now know. Because the core is still young, the people of Tatsumiya can’t really afford to take constant attacks and are put in quite the bind. After many extremely well animated battles, Misao, the first Festum to become self aware on his own, and Miwa, an extremely highly functional two year old, convince the Festum Mir to accept a more peaceful solution. Overall this movie is very good, but it does have some problems. There’s a lot that happens in the film so not everything gets its fair shake. Stuff happens that you kind of just have to accept happened with little explanation. Where the heck did this Zero Fafner come from? If it was a Titan model that’d be one thing (it was cool they included other nods to RoL) but it came out of nowhere. Also, I totally didn’t pick up on Rina and Akira being siblings until 3/4 into the film. I thought she was crushing on him until then. Speaking of those two, what happened to Rina, Akira, Kenji, and Sakura? They might have died (I wouldn’t put it past this series) but I don’t think so. If they did bite it I think there’d have been some confirmation to that effect. But of course the most important event of this movie is the return of Soushi. I never gave it much thought when I first watched the series, mostly because I felt it obvious they both had a thing for Maya, but seeing fan reactions to it made me think that yeah, maybe there’s something between Kazuki and Soushi. The movie certainly doesn’t do anything to debunk this idea. If anything, it strengthens it. While this is a good sequel, its purpose seemed like less of a continuation and more of a setup for things to come. Fafner Exodus is on the way and I can’t wait to see where the series goes from here.

 

Overall Rating

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4 out of 5 stars
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Fafner: Heaven and Earth Fafner: Heaven and Earth

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