published in Empire No.71, Sydney
Coming after the popular TV series, Escaflowne – The Movie replays that story’s key moments: near-suicidal Hitomi is transported by dark Lord Folken to the alternative mystical dimension of Gaea, where she becomes the Wing Goddess – an instrumental element in the powering of the massive Dragon Armour. She becomes unwittingly then passionately involved in a clan battle, the outcomes of which will affect the karmic balance of all life on the planet.
While such a description befits the monumental scope of the story, Escaflowne – The Movie is equally centred on some beautifully rendered scenes describing Hitomi’s depressed and detached states. Like a floating flower, her ensnarement between both worlds is gorgeously animated, often with chilling effect as she is psychically summoned by Folken.
Of course plenty of action and explosive spectacles pepper the film, charging it with an epic substance so often lacking in movies that proclaim similar scope. Escaflownes’s distinction resides in it sophisticated characterization, revealing the many tribal tensions at the fringes of the mounting war, as well as the vainglorious emptiness which overcomes its warmongers. In the midst of such chaos, Hitomi finally realizes her depression is something that can be overcome, providing the film with a delicately uplifting message.