The anime is an adaptation of the Final Fantasy video game series. There are many themes borrowed from the games from the power of crystals, heroic struggles, and self sacrifice. While the concept was good and the stories were interesting, the overall work lacked the execution necessary to do justice to the Final Fantasy franchise. The anime sets up its own story and lore like many Final Fantasy games. It is self-contained so it is not necessary to play the games beforehand to follow the adaptation.
Overall story is very cheesy and lighthearted and not in a good way. The themes from the games were underutilized and minimally explored. It seems as if the serious nature of the concepts were deliberately toned down in order to cater to a younger audience and this was a bit disappointing.
In the anime version, 12 year old twins Ai and Yu Hayaka go searching for their missing parents who along with their scientists colleagues, were attacked by unknown assailants. They board a train that leads them into a bizarre world called Wonderland. In this strange place, everything seems out of order. Normal rules do not apply here, as you can steal from anything from anyone without any consequences. During their search for their parents, they meet up with many other inhabitants of Wonderland and learn about a massive threat that will come.
The musical score is decent and fitting for the anime. The art style and character models were serviceable without being memorable while the creature designs for the Chocobo, Moogle and Cactuar looks generally like the games. The animation looks dated and appears sluggish and stiff at times. It seems recycled in every episode. Even the plot is recycled and follows the same formula in every episode. Most of the episodes are just filler and padding and the twins are not really focused on finding their lost parents.
The villains are unstoppable as they appear in the episodes one after the other even though they were supposed to be defeated in the previous one. The villains are based off Alice In Wonderland characters like the Queen of Hearts. In the anime, they are known as the four lords of Guardum. The main villain was really no different to Ciel Phantomhive in Black Butler which was another Square Enix produced anime. The villains in general are evil for the sake of being evil which is a massive contrast to many of the Final Fantasy series villains from Kefka, Arydn and Sephroth.
The pacing was uneven as some scenes can move way to fast or drag out for a while. The voice acting was also really terrible with Ai’s voice being grating and irritating due to how high pitched it is. The voice of Kaze’s tries way too hard to imitate the more serious and brooding characters of the games like Squall Leonhart, Vincent Valentine and others. The script and dialogue were also poor and the humor was kind of cheesy and not very funny. They balanced it out with its serious moments this focuses heavily on humor to the point it can get really annoying and stale fast.
There really is not that much in terms of character development. The kids and the characters often make dangerous and ridiculous decisions and then run away instead of facing problems head on and finding some solutions.
Ai Hayaka can be very bratty and whiny and her curiosity, while common for a child, sets off disastrous events which put everyone in danger. Her brother Yu is supposedly meant to be the mature one but he can be just as fearful and runs away from situations like his sister. Their relationship was not really different from Yuri and Chelinka’s in Final Fantasy Crystal Chronicles Rings Of Fate and they also are not that different from them in terms of character. They just run around trying to dodge enemy attacks, hide then run away until Kaze randomly shows up out of nowhere to diffuse the situation.
Lisa Pacfist can be naïve and ditzy. As the guardian of the twins, she does whatever she can to keep them safe, but she ends up running like the kids from time to time. She really has no purpose in the story as her true goals are not exactly clear. Lisa appears have her own agenda and she is not honest about who she is. Her powers are very weak and her barrier powers can hardly hold up from the more powerful attacks.
The action was underwhelming and all it takes for a monster to be defeated is for Kaze to use his summons and that’s just about it. Enemies are easily dispatched and they do not pose much of a threat. Kaze was really a carbon copy of the dark and brooding characters Tetsuya Nomura creates for his works. Many characters and stories were not properly developed and their personalities felt hollow. Many of the concepts and lore of this show was either half explained or just left unexplained leaving the viewer in the dark. Kaze has a mysterious past and something seems to drive him for vengeance but it is never really elaborated. Nothing is known about Lisa Pacifist and her organization C2, who they are and what their objectives are. The ending was abrupt leaving many loose ends.
One of the reasons this anime was cancelled was allegedly due to how Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within flopped critically and financially. There were supposed to be 50 episodes and eventually, an audio cd drama and a manga were released to help explain some of the storylines for this adaptation.
With lame dialogue and poor voice actors, recycled villains and senseless storylines, this anime adaptation did little justice to a storied franchise. It felt more like an entirely separate show rather than an anime based off the Final Fantasy franchise.
It gets 2 stars out of 5.
You are better off buying other Square Enix merchandise and video games instead of buying a copy of this on DVD.