While most of the gaming world waits for that video-game expo taking place next week (E something?), there's a Blu-ray coming out on June 2 that should interest millions of American gamers -- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete. An updated version of Square-Enix's direct-to-DVD movie, the American release includes a bunch of shorts: "On the Way to a Smile--Episode: Denzel", "Reminiscence of Final Fantasy VII", "Legacy of Final Fantasy VII", and some footage of the highly anticipated Final Fantasy XIII. As for the movie itself, this version has 26 minutes of additional footage and more than 1,000 enhanced scenes. Since I'm TheFeed's biggest Advent Children fan, I've been nominated to go over the differences between Advent Children Complete and the original. I watched the Blu-ray twice (once in Japanese with English subtitles and once in English) to fill you in on this version's enhancements.
The new scenes also add a bunch of depth and back story. Some of my favorite new additions were simple conversations between two characters. There's a great chat between Reno and Rude that makes the pair more than comic relief that get their asses handed to them throughout the movie. The chat touches on their actions in FFVII and how they've shaped their current motivations in Advent Children. There are several scenes between Kadaj and Shinra's leader; these help explain a great deal of what's going on and why the bad guys are doing what they do. There are also several flashbacks that help explain who Denzel is and how he ended up with Cloud...which is good, because for a while I thought Cloud and Tifa just picked up an orphan boy so that Marlene could have a playmate.
A few of the added scenes were pulled from the excellent Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII. Zack, the protagonist in Crisis Core, plays a much larger role in this version of the Advent Children. There's one scene in particular that will make Crisis Core fans and Zack fans totally mark out -- I guarantee it!
While Advent Children Complete's press release claims that more than 1,000 scenes have been enhanced for the Blu-ray release, I only noticed a few worth mentioning. They were mostly characters using their "limit break" powers in a way that was much, much cooler than the original. I'm sure there are tons of little visual additions that I missed, but I was mostly floored at watching this gorgeous movie on Blu-ray. Perhaps being excited by the overall visuals made me miss some of new enhancements.
People that prefer to watch anime in its original Japanese language with English subtitles will be pleased to learn that Advent Children Complete's subtitles are superior to the originals. It's a lot of little changes, but it adds up to a much smoother read. Sadly, that wretched "dilly dally shilly shally" translation remains.
Okay, here come the spoilers. The following is a list of differences I noticed in my two viewings. The bulleted list, in chronological order (roughly), will be followed by my closing thoughts on Advent Children Complete.
- More scenes from the North Crater, with more dialogue from Tseng, Elena, and Reno
- A conversation between Rufus Shinra and Kadaj that helps explain the relationship between Shinra and the "remnants"
- A scene from everyday life in Midgar showing kids that are freaked out by a geostigma victim
- A radio playing at 7th Heaven (Tifa's bar); the radio clip gives more specifics on what geostigma is
- Tseng and Elena encountering the Kadaj, Loz, and Yazoo
- A closeup of a photo with Cloud, Denzel, and Marlene is shown
- Reno and Rude have a conversation where they talk about the damage Shinra did to the planet; they seem repentant and obligated to make things right
- Denzel has a flashback that shows how he met Cloud and ended up a part of Cloud's "family"
- Denzel encounters the sick girl with the moogle doll; first she is trying to help her brother and yells at Denzel
- The sick girl apologizes to Denzel and reveals that her brother died
- Scenes from Crisis Core, featuring Zack and Cloud, are spliced in
- Cloud has an extended conversation with Marlene, admitting that Tifa, Marlene, and Denzel are the ones that take car of him
- Marlene does a pretty hilarious impersonation of Barret (even mimicking his gun appendage) as she talks to Cloud
- Rufus and Kadaj have another extended conversation, revealing how it's possible that Sephiroth can be reincarnated
- Denzel has an action-packed run back to 7th Heaven, he defeats a monster through the clever use of a fire hydrant
- More footage of Tseng and Elena is shown as they save Rufus from a big fall
- The motorcycle chase is given a prequel fight where Reno and Rude fight Loz and Yazoo; this takes place before the remnants fight Cloud in the tunnel
- The fight between Cloud and Sephiroth is extended and enhanced; it's more brutal and much bloodier
- After getting his ass kicked, Cloud has a "conversation" with Zack that gives him the strength to fight on; Crisis Core fans will love this
- Cloud's "Omnislash" limit break is given cooler effects; it looks pretty amazing
- The Turks are shown with Rufus, as the geostigma leaves his body
- Phones are ringing throughout Midgar, instructing kids to run to Aerith's church
- Dozens of kids are shown running to the church
- The Moogle girl (I think) talks to Cloud as he wakes up in the church