Please note there are spoilers in this review. If you don’t mind, please proceed. The …
The folks at Square Enix must have felt that their next release was going to be just as big as their seventh installment, which is considered one of the best RPGs of all time and spawned not only a full length animated feature years after it’s release, but a spin off game, and a remake, which is scheduled to release later this year. The fifteenth installment of the game franchise was released in November 2016, with a full length film (Kingsglaive) and a five episode anime short (Brotherhood) not too long after. One of the seven games in the Fabula Nova Crystallis saga, Final Fantasy XV exists as it’s own story within this universe with it’s own mythos. Brotherhood stands as a substory within FF XV, not touching upon any of the other titles within the Fabula Nova Crystallis universe.
It’s rare that Square Enix would dedicate this much time and money on a project, but with the positive reviews of the game pouring in, it’s understandable why Square Enix decided to get ahead of itself by producing two animated pieces.
Although Kingsglaive, despite being voiced over by the likes of Lena Headey and Sean Bean from Game of Thrones, and Aaron Paul of Breaking Bad, it didn’t get as strong of a review as the actual game, but Brotherhood was an entirely different story.
Originally released in March 2016, Brotherhood stands as a five episodic prequel to the actual game, introducing you to the main characters and the history behind each one. We follow Noctis, Prompto, Ignis, and Gladiolus on their road trip to meet up with Noct’s fiancee, Lunafreya, after the fall of the Caelum empire, while Noct is being hunted by soldiers and a demon who seek to kill the remaining heir of the Caelum family.
If you’re not familiar with the Final Fantasy franchise, their characters run the gamut between chibis (large headed, cute characters) to ultra realistic. Due to their rendering, their digital animation technique makes their characters so lifelike, that at times it’s hard to wrap your head around it not being real. Although the game and Kingsglaive were both rendered in that fashion, Brotherhood kept to the traditional drawn anime, focusing more on story rather than life like anime.
The story line is held together loosely through their road trip, but Brotherhood was never meant to be a stand alone, only a precursor to the game to wet the fans appetite before the actual game release. Despite the different anime style, Brotherhood is still visually beautiful and easy enough to follow. Without the context, the characters aren’t immediately likable, however, with the backstory, the audience is allotted a better understanding of who these four guys are and why we’d want to care. I found myself wanting other episodes, after the 5th, but then understanding it would require me to play the game. In other words, this long form teaser did exactly what it was supposed to do: make you want more.
Currently all five episodes are available free to stream on YouTube and for members on Crunchyroll.