I’ve come to admire how Final Fantasy has really branched out to this point. It covers numerous genres, characters, and elements with its themes, music, and usually that certain “Final Fantasy feel” that link it all together. The diversity is good business, but for every product that a monumental hit like Final Fantasy 7, there’s always something that falls by the wayside. Such was the fate of Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals.

Most of us have seen The Spirits Within and Advent Children and both of those had some degree of commercial backing to work with, but this plucky little Final Fantasy OVA didn’t have the best of foundations for success when it made its way to the US in 1997, 3 years after its release in Japan. The story is broken into 4 chapters and takes place 200 years after the events of Final Fantasy 5, a game that had no US release until 1999, and even then, as part of a 3-game compilation with FF 4 and FF 6. That’s a whole lotta numbers. Though even with the Final Fantasy name to back it up, Legend of the Crystals may be more miss than hit.

You know what would be pretty freakin’ sweet is a really good Final Fantasy film script combined with Studio Ghibli at the helm in collaboration with Yoshitaka Amano.

HA! – yeah, right. That’s about as plausible as Reggie Fils-Aime not disappointing Nintendo fans every time he open his mouth.

To its credit, Legend of the Crystals starts with classic Final Fantasy music and has a great cast of voice actors, many of whom have worked on other Final Fantasy projects. The canon and vibe is very much Final Fantasy as well, and it jumps right into the story and action pretty quickly.

Speaking of story (spoilers) …We return to Planet R from the first game, but as mentioned earlier, it’s 200 years removed from the events of Final Fantasy 5. In true Final Fantasy tradition, there are all-powerful crystals getting snatched up by a villainous force and need retrieving. Our “hero” is a blue-haired tool named Prettz who has a pretty sweet motorcycle and carries a nodachi, but his good points end there. Hot-headed and a bit of a spaz, Prettz is your token anime loud mouth character. He’s also crushing on Linally, a summoner close to his age from his town that lives with her grandfather. Linally’s rocking the blue hair as well. The latter two are off on a quest to protect the last unstolen crystal, the Wind Crystal, though the grandfather takes a tumble, kicks back to recover, and sends Linally off to save the world with Prettz tagging along as the muscle. Pretty soon they run into Rouge, a sort of dominatrix pirate in a pink airship.

…OITNB fan fiction?

Prettz and Linally brush off Rouge and arrive at the Wind Shrine which is refreshingly void of Garland, Fiends, or looping time paradoxes.

With little challenge, Prettz and Linally retrieve the Wind Crystal which then absorbs itself into Linally’s chest. This carries the peculiar side effect of causing her butt to have a pulsating glow similar to a car’s emergency lights.

Whole lotta LSD going around the writers room, no doubt.

Shortly after leaving the shrine, an airship named The Iron Wing and its crew enter the story as does their leader, Valkus, a large guy with what’s either a mustache or untamed nose hair. He demands the crystal for its own safety but all hell breaks loose when Rouge strikes to get it instead, neither one realizing it’s within Linally. Rouge wins the battle, captures and imprisons Prettz, Linally, and Valkus (the latter forming an immediate infatuation with Rouge, for some reason). While in their cell, Linally’s chest sort of “gives birth” to a ghost named Mid (…you just do whatever you want, Legend of the Crystals). Mid is the grandson of Final Fantasy token character Cid from 200 years prior. During that time, the villainous Ra Devil had stolen Cid’s brain, as it holds the key to awakening the power of the crystals for evil, and he also slew Mid who’s been left to wander as a ghost until avenging Cid. Back to the present, Mid was residing inside the crystal for whatever reason, but now he’s out and immediately develops a crush on Linally, the girl who’s chest just gave birth to him a few minutes prior.

Chaos ensues as the forces of the evil Ra Devil attack and all parties flee together, now bound by a common enemy. They regroup and meet up with a “Princess Exposition” that send our heroes on a quest to find “The Plot Convenience Dragon” that will bring everybody to the dark moon where Ra Devil is hiding out and has already succeeded in turning into Deathgyunos, his enhanced form. Mid finds Cid’s now-giant brain and they chat for a bit. Mid then fights against Deathgyunos and distracts him long enough to allow the heroes time to use the power of the Wind Crystal to permanently defeat him.

Final verdict? It’s pretty dang weird! I’ll admit it has Final Fantasy tropes that are always a welcome and familiar sites – Chocobos, for example..

er.. what passes for chocobos anyway.

.. 90’s raver accessories? …

…. a ghost kid hugging a giant brain …

uh ……. explosive laser diarrhea? …..

………………….. whatever this is.

Okay, let’s upgrade that to “really freakin’ weird.” Taking liberties is one thing, but random incoherent creative choices just make you spend most of the viewing wondering just what the writers and animators were on. As far as the 200 year gap between the game’s storyline and the events of this film is concerned – and for me personally, I’ve never cared for when developers set sequels way ahead into the future (Chrono Cross or Breath of Fire 2 come to mind). Granted, a direct sequel doesn’t necessarily mean “good,” but if I’ve already bonded with a particular cast of characters in their world and in their era, I’d rather revisit that than go on a quest with their descendants.

Legend of the Crystals – I wouldn’t say it’s terrible, but unless you’re a diehard FF fan, one viewing may be all you’ll want.

Rouge and Valkus, giving twisted new meaning to “Final Fantasy.” Yikes.

Michael A. Jones     nerdsintheburbs@gmail.com     www.nerdsintheburbs.com

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