After the destruction of Nibelheim at the hands of Sephiroth, Zack and Cloud are on the run from Shinra Inc. As they make their way back to Midgar, they recall the horrible events that happened at Nibelheim, as well as fight for survival against Shinra.
Let me begin with saying that if you are reading this review, you probably have played Final Fantasy VII or at least know the basic story of the game as Last Order is not a show that you will randomly watch. You really need to know the story behind the game in order to fully appreciate what the people at Square-Enix did with Last Order.
Last Order basically gives the gamer what they have wondered since seeing the flashback in the basement of the Nibelheim Mansion - what exactly is the history behind Zack and how does he fit into the grand scheme of things.
If you paid attention to all of the minute details in the game, you can get a decent idea of who Zack exactly is and what his role is. Last Order tells us that story and Zack's relationship with Cloud and Sephiroth and how Cloud ended up with Zack's buster sword.
The animation is flawless when you consider that they needed to convert all of the Final Fantasy VII world into an animation. It's a completely different project that what Advent Children was about because that was computer graphics, not anime. Cloud, Zack, Sephiroth and the members of ShinRa are all drawn very well, pretty much to perfection.
The music is done very well and the voice actors they gave to each of the main characters seem to fit them quite well. My only qualm with it is the music selection. Don't get me wrong, the music was great. But I feel they should have used some of the music from the game to capture the real essence of FFVII.
Because its approximately only a 30-minute show, its hard to judge anything about character development. BUT, it does do a great job showing the relationship between Zack and Cloud and exactly the closeness of their friendship. The show also does well in portraying how the ShinRa wanted to capture Zack and Cloud at all costs.
Overall, this 30-minute show will answer many questions and leave viewers with a satisfied feeling as they witness the background story of Zack and his relationship with everyone. The big battle scene between Zack and Sephiroth is amazing and showcases Zack's skills very well. This is especially the case when Zack and Cloud are on the run and its Zack vs. the entire ShinRa soldiers at one point.
Definitely a 10/10 worthy show and if you've played Final Fantasy VII and liked the game, chances are you probably already seen this because most avid Final Fantasy gamers are simply on top of everything that is Final Fantasy. Ah, what the heck. It's a nice way to spend 30 minutes or your day. ^_^
Manga or Anime or Both?: Anime alone, as far as I'm aware, released with the Collector's Edition in the US, and the Ultimate Edition in Japan.
Story: Last Order cuts between flashbacks to the Nibelheim Incident, Zack's escape from the lab with Cloud five years later, and ShinRa and the Turks' pursuit of the former.
Story Critique: ...Honestly, it's not what I was expecting. I knew that it covered the Nibelheim Incident and it's aftermath, but still. They didn't even cover anything before Sephiroth goes crazy and burns down/slaughters Nibelheim. I was really looking forward to that.
(pouts) Decent rehash of things already covered in the game, for the most part. As for the Zack/Cloud escape... for the most part, it's gratuitous action scenes, peppered with Zack conversing with a comatose Cloud. The only part I really liked about that part of the plot was the last five minutes, and anything to do with the Turks. Tseng was mostly used as a plot device in that he prefaced all the flashbacks with a mini-monologue about it. That was about the best transitioning that they did; for the most part, the transitions are abrupt, and disorienting.
Art Style: Studio Madhouse did the animation for Last Order; I'm not sure what other series they've done. EDIT: Madhouse's credits include Paranoia Agent and, as of late, Death Note. All in all, I'm happy with the art style for this. Beautiful 2D animation, and decent CG. The CG seems awkward when it's in the same scene as 2D, though; it has to be either one or the other.
Music: Your typical rock soundtrack, with some techno and strings thrown in the background. Not all that impressed.
Voice Seiyuu: I was too lazy to check the credits, but, from what I heard, I'm pretty sure that any voices that S-E's used in previous VII titles (Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, possibly Before Crisis) were used in this title as well.
Voice Actors: N/A
Length: Last Order clocks in at just under a half-hour, including credits; about the length of your typical anime episode. I'm not all that satisfied with it; I was expecting something a little... I don't know, longer than this. Fourty-five minutes at the least, maybe closer to an hour.
Overall: Beautiful animation, excellent seiyuu. They still need work on the story, music, and run time though. It's worth a watch on YouTube; I wouldn't go and buy the Japanese special edition of AC just to get this, though.
Let me start off by saying: If you've played Final Fantasy VII extensively, or have just taken in all necessary information from playing it through once then this will have a drastic effect on your opinion of this anime. I'll explain what I mean by this and review it in full:
First off I have given this anime a 5 due to it being (for the most part) a recap of a portion of the FFVII storyline. Just to reiterate: if you have played FFVII and remember all information relating to the whole 5 years ago incidents at Nibelheim then I think you will agree with
me when I say this anime is (to an extent) Square Enix's attempt at milking FFVII.
Now I am huge fan of the Final Fantasy games having played them all through numerous times, VII included, but in all honesty all the new content you get from this anime is a couple of new scenes of Zack slicing through some members of Shinra, then get injured himself, you will also see Cloud get stabbed once more than I remember in the game, otherwise you will have already have got all of this anime has to offer by playing FFVII on the Playstation.
Story: Yes the story originally was excellent in FFVII, but I'll say again, this is more or less just a recap, hardly anything new other than some action scenes, it's not worth more than the 5 average rating I have given it.
Art: This anime looked nice enough, but in all honesty I have seen better and have come to expect something a little more from Square Enix. Just take a look at FFVII - AC, it came out the same year and the art and animation are MUCH better.
Sound: There's a few of Uematsu Nobuo's classics thrown in which, if you're a fan of the original game like me you'll find leave you with a slight feeling of nostalgia, prompting you to remember the awesome game. Other than the Uematsu stuff, the music isn't anything special but it's good enough.
Character: The anime's heavily focused on Zack, who yeah, if you like him could be an entertaining enough character, but we don't really get enough time to really develop any connection to the characters here. The appearance of Tifa and Cloud along with Tifa's mentor/ master will again leave you with that nostaligic feeling, but - here I go again - have you played FFVII you'll have seen this all before, so you know what to expect, the characters themselves are great but with so little time nothing has any real chance to develop.
Enjoyment: Average because I'd seen it all before.
In short: This is one for the fans, and even then it's not anything to scream and shout about. If you like action, want something quick to watch (20 mins without the credits) then go for, but don't expect too much.
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: this OVA along with Advent Children is nothing more than fan service for people who've played through and enjoyed Final Fantasy VII. As a standalone OVA, Last Order is rubbish for a lot of reasons. To be quite frank, I don't give a shit about that fact. I'll admit to being a Final Fantasy fanboy in general but in all honesty, I'm more appalled by the fact that Square Enix commissioned Madhouse to make the one OVA to be released alongside Advent Children but didn't want to go the extra mile and adapt the entire game as a
bloody TV series. Furthermore, this OVA is rendered pointless by the fact that they made a game covering the same events the OVA does in much greater detail two years later in the form of Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII.
Even though a lot of people can't be fucked to play a game like Crisis Core or even the original game, you might as well go ahead and download an emulator or play the games on a hacked PSP or something. This OVA does absolutely nothing in terms of storytelling whatsoever. It takes place during a major event from the game and has virtually nothing when it comes down to exposition or anything else of the sort. If you lack any sort of familiarity with the Final Fantasy VII universe, this OVA will make less sense than the entirety of FLCL. I won't deny that I enjoyed watching it to some small degree, but Advent Children completely surpasses this OVA in terms of brainless entertainment.
The animation is about what you'd expect from mid-2000s Madhouse (in other words, it's pretty damn good). Plus, it's an OVA so they had a lot more budget to put into this project. On another note, I just love seeing Zach, Cloud, Sephiroth, Tifa, and everyone else in proper anime form as opposed to seeing them in CG like in Advent Children. The OST, not so much there to speak of beyond remixed tracks from the game from what I can gather and that's fairly understandable to say the least since it's a 1-episode OVA. Still, Square Enix was the one who financed this project in the first place from what I can gather. I'm pretty sure they could've spared some extra cash to spice up the OST but whatever, that's none of my business.
What else is there to say about Last Order? Well... not much. Aside from the novelty of seeing your favourite Final Fantasy VII characters in two dimensions, this OVA's been rendered obsolete by Crisis Core's very existence. If you can't be fucked to play through the game, just do yourself a favour and watch either a playthrough of the game or some of the cutscenes and the FMVs on YouTube. Plus, Crisis Core is actually dubbed (and quite well at that!) so hey, you don't need to read subtittles! Anyway, that's all for now. Feedback is always welcome and wtih that, I'm out. Peace :)
Here are a few links to a few of my favourite tracks from the CCFFVII OST, if you're curious: