Final Fantasy VII Last Order is a prequel that takes place shortly before the events of Final Fantasy 7. The movie was a collaboration between the developers Square Enix and the publishers, prominent anime studio Madhouse. Much of the team involved in the production of Final Fantasy 7 was involved in this prequel. Tetsuya Nomura provided the art and character designs, and both the series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi, and the series writer Kazushgie Nojima were also involved in the production.
The film focuses on minor character Zack Fair, a former “Soldier”, and his close friend and Final Fantasy 7 protagonist Cloud Strife. The story is based on the incidents that occurred in the past leading up to the main events of Final Fantasy 7. Cloud and Zack’s escape to Midgar as they are on the run from the Shinra Electric Company, a business that owns the majority of the planet Gaia they are on. Shinra Electric Company is the main antagonists of the story.
Another event is the Nibelhelm incident where Sephiroth, massacred an entire village in order to awaken Jenova, an alien like creature. Jenova is supremely powerful and if awaken she would be an extremely dangerous threat to the entire planet Gaia. The Nibelhelm incident is what led to Zack and Cloud escaping back to Midgar. Other characters from Final Fantasy 7 appearing in this movie include the scientist Hojo and Tifa, a supporting character.
It also shows the perspective of in game character who works as a Turk agent, Tseng, who does most of the film’s narration. Turks are black ops agents who work in sabotage, assassination, and covering up the crimes for which Shinra Electric is responsible. The film shows two different sides of the conflict and it cuts often back and forth between both perspectives.
Zack wants freedom and is willing to fight for it. He used to be a “soldier” 1st class meaning he is one of the best soldiers for the Shinra organization. Tseng questions the morality and goals of his work as an agent for Turk. There is very subtle but small character development as bit by bit, his feelings for the organization changes. It also shows what made Cloud decide to stop the Shinra organization because of the Nibelhelm incident and how Tifa ended up fighting against Shinra in Final Fantasy 7.
Both sides had very intriguing character dynamics and unique relationships from start to finish. The way each perspective was transitioned was seamless and not intrusive. The story and characters are generally faithful to their original selves. It contains some of the themes that many Final Fantasy stories have, such as heroism, struggle, greed and morality. The Planet Gaia is being exploited by the Shinra organization and because of this, it is slowly the planet. The major source of the power comes from the Crystals supposedly.
Tetsuya Nomura’s art style in an anime format worked exceptionally well. I liked the shadowy and dark visuals and it goes well with the overall dark atmosphere of the movie. The character designs were very distinct from each other and looked very much like the original game design. The world design of Gaia also accurately captures details and feel original game. Cloud Strife’s trademark sword looks highly impressive and a lot like the original game version. The animation is very smooth and seamless even though there was some CGI, it blended in quite well with the film.
The movie is fast paced from start to end so there is no room for any filler or padding. Action scenes are quick but effective. I found the fight between Cloud and Sephiroth near the end of the film to be enthralling and exciting and it was one of the best action scenes of the film. The musical score of the film was created by one of the series composers and there are some of the songs originally from Final Fantasy 7. The voice actors in the Japanese dub reprise their respective roles. It is in Japanese only but there are english subtitles.
Characters are already established so you are supposed to know who is who and it would help if you to play the game before hand. Some characters are just introduced without any explanations like the other agents of Turk. The film is pretty short so consequently, characters personalities and lore are not going to be fully fleshed. As it focuses mainly on Zack, Tseng’s perspective takes a back seat in the film. However, the film does its best to fit in as much of the story as possible and give emphasis to each side.
There are many discrepancies in the story that does sort of stray away from the overall main plot of Final Fantasy 7. If you played Final Fantasy 7, you would already know about the events, but for a newcomer, it could provide context to the previous events. For a short film it does a decent job and it is something to keep Final Fantasy fans entertained.
The film gets about 4 stars.
If Final Fantasy 7 was a full fledged anime adaptation, it would have worked a lot better but it is still very entertaining.
I do look forward to the remake of Final Fantasy 7 and Kingdom Hearts 3 one day.