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Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea (2000)

Cast: Kelly Sheridan, Kelly Sheridan, Kirby Morrow, more...
Director: Kazuki Akane, Kazuki Akane
    see all cast/crew...
Studio: Bandai Entertainment, Bandai
Genre: Anime, Coming of Age , Anime Feature Films, Animation, Cel, Lost Worlds
Languages: English, Japanese
Subtitles: English
    see additional details...

This title is currently out of print.

In this animé feature based on the popular Japanese television series, Hitomi is a high school student who is trying to come to terms with a severe case of depression. When her spirits are at their lowest, Hitomi makes a psychic connection with Van, the young king of the nation of Gaia, located on another planet visible in the night sky of Earth. Gaia has been brought to the brink of war by the evil Black Dragon Clan, and, while the nearby nation of Abaharaki wishes to form an alliance with Gaia for their mutual protection, Van is a leader who prefers to act on his own. Hitomi finds herself transported to Gaia, where she becomes a valuable if unlikely ally to Van; as the Black Dragon Clan advances, Van discovers that Hitomi may hold the key to the magical dragon armor of Escaflowne, the weapon that would make Gaia invincible. Escaflowne (also advertised as Escaflowne the Movie: A Girl in Gaia) features Kelly Sheridan as the voice of Hitomi; the voice cast for the American release version also includes Kirby Morrow, Brian Drummond, and Paul Dobson. ~ Mark Deming, All Movie Guide

Disc cover synopsis: Hitomi Kanzaki is tired of life. Depressed and despondent, she wishes that she could just fade away, to make the pain of living stop hurting. Her pain resonates with another of the world of Gaea, and when her wish is granted, she finds herself in a strange land. She is greeted as the Wing Goddess, who possesses the power to summon the legendary Escaflowne. Hitomi's fate is intertwined with the brash young warrior King Van, who also feels that life has lost its meaning. Sworn to strike back at the Black Dragon Clan which destroyed his kingdom, he fights to exist, and he exists to fight. The arrival of the Wing Goddess marks the final turning point in Van's battle, as she holds an entire world's destiny in her heart. By summoning Escaflowne, the Wing Goddess will choose that path of Gaea's future. But is her heart's desire salvation... or destruction?

Note: The availability of this title is limited so please be patient while it's checked out.

GreenCine Member Ratings

Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea (2000)
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6.48 (156 votes)
Escaflowne: A Girl in Gaea (Bonus Disc) (2000)
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5.83 (35 votes)

GreenCine Member Reviews

Jung meets Mecha by kiume November 2, 2003 - 9:03 AM PST
3 out of 6 members found this review helpful
Of all the fantasy motifs, perhaps the most resonant is that of the protagonist who, discontent with the banality of the "real" world, stumbles across, or is pulled through, a doorway to another world. Through perseverance, bravery, and sacrifice (Joseph Campbell's twelve-step program for heroes), she achieves the knowledge and self-confidence necessary to save herself and her adopted kingdom.

Here, Hitomi, an angst-ridden Japanese high school senior, is transported to Gaea, a parallel world which, through a rent in the universe, shares a common sky with the Earth and the "dark side" of the Moon (adorned with a giant stone eye). She is the "Wing Goddess," disgorged as if born from the heart of the War Dragon Escaflowne, yet with no knowledge of how to call or control it.

Hitomi's is from the onset an almost existential presence. Her helplessness in organizing her own fate is of no small moment, for the control of Escaflowne will determine the victor in the apocalyptic war between Van and Folken, two brothers locked in an interminable internecine conflict that ecoes Jacob and Esau. Van's first impulse is to kill her for refusing to yield control Escaflowne to him, while Folken attempts to kidnap her to gain the same power, a power she does not believe she possesses.

Hitomi's role in the conflict finally becomes apparent as the showdown between Van and Folken reaches its inevitable fury. Her role is, in fact, simply to be. She is an existential talisman who, according to her own desires, will catalyze either the apotheosis of Van's abnegation or Folken's annihilation. She must choose between the rightful but dispossessed king, and the severe elder brother: the overman.

In Jungian terms, she is their anima, and they her animus. The heroic journey is one of the self through the long, dark night of the soul. Hitomi's once frivolous toying with thoughts of suicide suddenly sharpen to a point in the substance of Folken's Nietzschean offer of eternal peace and infinite atonement through total extinction, the promise to resolve all internal doubts in glorious self-destruction.

The alternative choice is that of forgiveness, of reconciliation. And so it is at that cathartic moment of abreaction when Van accepts himself, accepts Hitomi, accepts Folken as brother, that the war abruptly ends. And the moment in which Hitomi accepts Van, accepts Gaea in its totality, Gaea vanishes. She disappears from the reconciled world on silver wings, for she is, as we have been told, the Wing Goddess.

To be sure, the movie is perhaps served better in judgement of its theme and intent, than by the particulars of story and plot. The film is specifically titled Escalflowne: A Girl in Gaea, to distinguish it from the series. In the process of truncation gaps show up in the galloping plot, and characters that spring onto the stage with fully-developed vendettas and alliances that must be explained in a few lines of dialogue.

At any rate, the intricate complexity of the world, the wonderful matte art, the soundtrack (Yoko Kanno, who also composed for Cowboy Bebop) is magnificent. The screen spills over with that medieval postmodernism that Japanese anime art directors love so: soldiers in 16th century samurai garb flying around in massive dirigibles, firing cannon out portholes like tall ships. That is, when they're not whacking each other's heads off with swords.

As mentioned, the movie is a redacted retelling of the television series (in contrast to the Oh My Goddess movie, which sequels the series on an original story tangent). A good deal of Hitomi's backstory has been left out, along with the romantic sub-plots. Director Kazuki Akane's explanation is that the fan base for the series was overwhelmingly female, and he wanted to broaden the base for the movie version. Well, perhaps.

He also engineered a complete character redesign for the movie. These changes have outraged some fans. Having seen the movie before watching the series, I found I liked these editorial decisions. But despite the excisions from, and adaptations of, the original story, anybody familiar with fantasy should be able to fill in the blanks on their own. The real fun in practicing literary analysis is being able to ignore what the author might have actually meant in the first place.

Certainly different from the series. by jeffs September 27, 2003 - 10:14 PM PDT
3 out of 6 members found this review helpful
Let me first say that I didn't care for the original series. I couldn't stand the whole giant transforming-steam-robots powered by dead dragons. Come on, not every anime series needs to have mechs, does it? Not to mention that I found most of the characters were unbelievable, flat and annoying. This movie gives a taste of what the series could have been. I like the darker feel to the movie, and while they haven't removed the mechs from the series they at least fit with the plot better. I found the characters to be a bit more believeable as well, but I didn't like the way they were drawn. Can't put my finger on it, but it just didn't seem right after watching the series.

Anyway to try to keep this short, the movie is very different from a style and plot standpoint and is interesting to watch for that reason.

A very serious anime, but I liked it. by larbeck July 17, 2003 - 10:20 PM PDT
3 out of 5 members found this review helpful
This was my first exposure to the "Escaflowne" saga. I came with little preconceptions, except well, for some reason, I was expecting more of "magic girl" story and the whole theme of "neo-medieval-ninja-mecha-apocalypse" was a surprise but along with the great music and great animation, it is a nice but serious and dark tale. There is some CGI but it is so seamless in the mix, I was fooled into thinking it was all cel work. And thank the sweet goddess, Disney did not repopulate the English dub with Hollywood celebrites. It just plays with my suspension of belief when an anime character has a voice that I recognized from Hollywood films. The Japanese seiyuu are all people that I do not recognize and all did a great job.

Now, it is not my favorite and I would never show it to someone who is new to anime and it simply does not represent the best that is out there. There is a spirit here but it is tortured under the warfare and the violence and the metal. But I do disagree with those who would count it as a waste of time.

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