Vision of Escaflowne - A Girl in Gaeia
Reviewed by Margaret K.:
If you like seeing old favorite characters placed in different situations a la Tenchi Muyo, then you'll thoroghly enjoy Escaflowne: The Movie. Fans of the TV series may enjoy this refreshing, although somewhat dark look at how things could have happened. (Note: You'll probably want to see the TV series accompanying this film)
Hitomi Kanzaki is a teenager, suffering from depression. She skips class, has dropped out of her track team, and has even contemplated suicide. As she declares her desire to "Just fade away" she finds herself swept away to a phantom world called Gaia, where she is seen by the people to be the wing goddess, who can summon the legendary battle god, Escaflowne.
She also meets with the young warrior king, Van, who, after having his kingdom destroyed, also feels the desire to leave his meaningless life. After entering other original characters, the plot for the film unfolds, drawing more and more intrigue with every scene.
I have watched both subtitled and dubbed versions of the film with great ease, and the voice acting is good in either, so I have no complaints there. In addition, the animation is superb, and portrayed with great creativity, although some flashback sequences may seem confusing at first. It also had a lovely score that had me wanting to go out and buy the soundtrack before the credits rolled up.
Parent's Guide Rating:
yellow (parental guidance advised)
As far as Sex/Nudity goes, there is little if none, unless perhaps you count that Milerna has gotten a makeover, trading in her frilly princess gowns and golden tresses for more warrior-chic mid-thigh boots, shorts, and a cropped top with a red ponytail. Dilandau seems to be wearing underwear as he pilots his guymelef. Hitomi gets a few taunting cat-calls from a group of men. None of the gender issues of Dilandau are mentioned, but he is certainly no less insane.
There is very little cursing, subbed and dubbed version being about the same. Not really going beyond a brief "Damn" or "Bastard", usually in the heat of battle.
The major factor that should have parents worried is the violence. Overall, this is a violently themed movie. It is given a PG-13 rating by the MPAA, for which I fullheartedly agree. This is a PG-13, if not borderlining a higher rating. A great deal of swordfights and battles involving streams of blood, limbs and heads hacked off (Generally done at a distance, in shadow, etc.), and shots of dead or dying people.
The violence begins in the first scene, with van attacking a large group of men, and eventually slaying them all, some deaths resulting in bloody messes, such as a head being severed, or blood spraying against the window.
I viewed this movie with my 12 year old sister, who in response to some of the intense violence, would gasp or cover her eyes. After watching it once or twice more, she became accustomed, but still rather ruffled by the worst parts.
Some of the most intense instances, would be, for example, Dilandau's horse exploding, while he is still on it. Dilandau is unharmed, but pieces of horse flesh are seen flying briefly. We can hear Dilandau screaming while he is being forced to give blood to power a guymelef, and also, Folkon uses telekenetic powers to break Dilandau's fingers as a method of punishment. The whole concept of Van powering Escaflowne by his blood is a little creepy, because inside the cockpit, he is surrounded and restrained by various sharp tools and drills that go into his skin. (There is some blood). Same goes for Dilandau inside his Guymelef, though he is connected to vein-like tubes of sorts that pump like a heart, and could make some viewers cringe. In sort of a memory, during a battle, Van sees the decappitated head of his father speak to him very briefly. The whole bizzare-ness of that image may even bother some adults.
For discussion topics, you may want to have a conversation with your children about depression and suicide, particularly among teens. Lots of teenagers may feel a certain intrigue about Hitomi and her emotions, and some may feel that they are the same way.
A good conversation topic may also be what the exact motives were of the "Bad guys", as this was a confusing apect of the plot line.
The themes in general are very dark and depressing.
Overall, this is definitely a film for viewing by 12-13 year olds and above. You should know your kids well before letting them see it.
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