Fafner: Heaven and Earth Movie (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)

November 8, 2012 by  

“Fafner: Heaven and Earth Movie” looks absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray!  A mecha anime series that focuses on character relationships and action, fans of the original animated TV series will definitely want to give this movie a try!

Images courtesy of ©2012 FUNimation. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Fafner: Heaven and Earth Movie

DURATION: 95 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:33:1 Anamorphic Widescreen), Dolby Digital, Audio: English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 2.0, Subtitles: English

RATED: 14+


RELEASE DATE: October 30, 2012

Directed by Toshimasa Suzuki

Screenplay by Tow Ubukata

Music by Tsuneyoshi Saito

Character Designer: Hisashi Hirai

Sound Director: Masafumi Mima

Producer: Gou Nakanishi

Anime Production: Xebec

Featuring the voices of:

Kohei Kiyasu/Josh Grelle as Soushi Minashiro

Makoto Ishii/Micah Solusod as Kazuki Makabe

Ryohei Kimura/Joel McDonald as Misao Kurusu

Marika Matsumoto/Jennifer Sekiguchi as Maya Toomi

Minoru Shiraishi/Austin Tindle as Kenji Kondou

Misato Fukuen/Jad Saxton as Seri Tatekami

Nozomu Sasaki/Chris Burnett as Hiroto Douma

Ryoko Shiraishi/Jamie Marchi as Rina Nishio

Sanae Kobayashi/Morgan Garrett as Canon Hazama

Satomi Arai/Leah Clark as Sakura Kaname

Tamaki Nakanishi/Kristi Kang as Tsubaki Minashiro

Years have passed since Kazuki led a team of young pilots to terminate the alien’s home base. Tatsumiya Island is close to recovery, but the scars of war and loss remain with the survivors, and peace remains a distant dream. With Soshi still in its clutches, the enemy attacks using human’s own military tactics against them.

A mysterious messenger offers an ultimatum for co-existence like a backhanded olive branch: surrender the island’s core for assimilation or die. Determined to save his best friend and their only home, Kazuki risks the loss of both body and mind in an explosive battle over the fate of humankind.

The people of Tatsumiyajima Island must prepare for a new attack as the conclusion of “Fafner” comes full circle in the animated film “Fafner: Heave and Earth Movie”.

With a storyline that takes place two years later, the Festum returns and this time the inhabitants of the island are given an ultimatum, surrender the island’s core for assimilation or die.

And of course, there is no way Kazuki and friends are going down without a fight.

The long battle ends here with “Fafner: Heaven and Earth Movie” available on Blu-ray and DVD courtesy of FUNimation.

What is “Fafner”?

Originally created back in 2004, “Fafner” received a lot of hype because the anime series featured artwork by character designer Hisashi Hirai (known for his work on “Gundam Seed”, “Infinite Ryvius” and “s-CRY-ed” and a screenplay by Tow Ubukata (“Le Chevalier D’Eon”, “Mardock Scramble”, “Heroic Age”).

But also because it’s an anime series that captures the despair of humankind against its alien antagonist.

“Fafner in the Azure” would also be released in a TV special in 2005 and a theatrical animated film titled “HEAVEN AND EARTH” in 2010. The mecha from the animated series would be featured in the popular “Super Robot Taisen K” video game for the Nintendo DS and an RP for the Sony PSP.

While the series was released originally on DVD by Geneon, Funimation now owns the license to distribute the anime series and all episodes from the TV series will be included in the Blu-ray and DVD combo-pack.

“Fafner” is set in the remote island of Tatsumiyajima. It’s also an island that is host to major weaponry and has been undetected due its cloaking shield. But while everyone lives their peaceful lives, the adults in the island have kept a major secret from the children.

The fact is that Japan and other countries have been destroyed by an unknown alien entity known as the Festum. Unaware of this, one young man has returned to the island. His name is Soushi Minashiro and he has come to look for his friend Kazuki Makabe.

Immediately, the Alvis Base on Tatsumiyajima Island has detected a Sphinx Type Festum above the island. As the pilots think that defeating the Festum would be an easy task, all of them, many men who are the fathers of children on the island, are killed.

The Festum which keeps asking the question “Are You There?”, has the ability to read the minds of humans and thus lose the battle.

In order to fight the Festum, the island has one powerful mecha and it is the Fafner Mark Elf. Soushi meets with his childhood friend Kazuki and tells him that he is Earth last hope and he must pilot the Fafner Mark Elf, while he is linked with the Siefried System and can help guide Kazuki during battle.

With the island losing many of their pilots, Fumihiko and Dr. Chizuru Tomi have selected a few children who have been been born with an ability for it to communicate and pilot a Fafner and were raised primarily for this occasion if the island is ever attacked.

Meanwhile as the military on the island have their hands full with training the children and ramping up the production of more Fafner units, The Neo United Nations wants full control of the island’s mecha to fight against the Festum and that means fighting against the humans on the island to get what they want.

What is “Fafner: Heaven and Earth Movie” about?

The film takes place two years after the fight against the Festum.  The people of Tatsumiyajima Island have thought of everything to be safe while Kazuki can barely see and knowing that his battles with the Festum two years earlier has left his body slow deteriorating and soon making him crippled.

He still believes and holds out hope that the most important person in his life, Soushi, will return back to the island.

One day, the island detects an unmanned submarine floating into Tatsumiyajima Bay and immediately, Kazuki hopes it is Soushi but instead, it’s a boy named Misao Kurusu, not human and somehow comes with a message that he was sent to the island by Soushi.

Not long after Misao arrives, the island is attacked by the Festum and as the island reacts with fear and chaos once again returning back to the island, Misao manages to stop the Festum temporarily.

He tells the people of Tatsumiya Bay that the Festum is giving them a choice, abandon the island’s core for assimilation or be killed by the Festum.

This doesn’t set well with the Human Army and thus a war between humanity and the Festum is restarted.  But Kazuki senses that this time, things are much different with the Festum.  Not only are they listening but somehow, they may be conscious about humanity’s emotions.

Can this war be averted?


“Fafner: Heaven and Earth Movie” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  It’s important to note that the recent TV series released on Blu-ray is an upconvert of the 2005 series, so picture quality was not exactly the greatest when it comes to other native Blu-ray releases but looks much better than its DVD counterpart.  With “Fafner: Heaven and Earth Movie”, the situation is much more different as this is a more modern anime series, it’s also a film and not a TV series, so it has a bigger budget and better CGI implementation.

With that being said, the art for this film is fantastic.  Scenery is well-detailed, clouds are gorgeous, CGI use for mechanical designs were well-implemented and the film looks great on Blu-ray!   Colors are vibrant, black levels are nice and deep and for the most part, “Fafner” fans will definitely enjoy the improved look of the characters and the overall scenery of the island on Blu-ray!


“Fafner: Heaven and Earth Movie” is presented in English and Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1.  As one can expect from a film with mecha action, there are moments where the lossless soundtrack kicks into full gear and you are treated with an immersive soundscape, especially good use of LFE.  But this is also a film with a lot of dialogue.  Dialogue is crystal clear and voice work for both the Japanese and English tracks are well-done.

Subtitles are in English.


“Fafner: Heaven and Earth Movie” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by ADR director Joel McDonald and voice actor Mica Solusod (Kazuki).  Both talk about the challenge of finding the right talent for the English dub and trying to find the original voice talent of the TV series.  Both men talk about their acting experience and how they became a voice actor and also discuss their work and preparation for the film.
  • Promotional Videos – (2:35) The Japanese promotional videos for “Sokyuu no Fafner”.
  • Commercial Collection – (1:05) The original Japanese commercial for the animated film.
  • Theatrical Trailer

“Fafner: Heaven and Earth” was a film that was well-received in Japan by mecha fans.   Praised for its use of CG and animation but also how the film utilized its young characters in battle.

When it comes to mecha anime series, fans are hardcore.  Not only is Japan treated with special screenings, video games and merchandise, it adds to the series efficacy because people can own the special collector’s books, the mecha models and so forth.  And from mecha series from “Mobile Suit Gundam” to “Macross” to “Code Geass” to “Super Robot Wars”, the marketing and merchandise that surrounds these releases are phenomenal and give incentive for fans of the genre to appreciate the characters and the voice talent, as well as the mecha design and technological aspect of the mecha robots.

So, with that being said, unfortunately when you take that away, here in America, the series revolves around its storyline and presentation, no video games, no models, no hoopla.  You take the series and the film for what is.

“Fafner: Heaven and Earth Movie” is a film that definitely looks much better than the previous TV series as expected from an animated film, but its storyline is probably going to be hit and miss with a Western audience.

For one, it is a film that helps if you have watched the original series which goes into the battle with festum but also this ambiguous relationship between Kazuki and Soushi.  With the TV series, the girls who liked Kazuki realize they can never get close to him because his heart belongs to someone else.

But with this film, the film focuses a lot on relationships.  while the film doesn’t delve into a gay relationship (I have received e-mail from viewers if the two male protagonists of the original series were lovers), the film does give viewers an idea that Kazuki’s hope relies on the return of Soushi and while its open to interpretation, it’s a relationship that relies on hope and possibly love.

Meanwhile, we see other characters from the series who have matured quite a bit and of course, are now experienced with their Fafner mecha units.  We see these characters who have bonded in their relationship with their significant other to those who have gotten better over time and are willing to lay their life on the line to protect Tatsumiyajima.

And so, it’s one of those films that can be best appreciated by those who watched the original TV series.  Can anyone watch it and understand what’s going on?  Somewhat.  But truthfully, I recommend watching the TV series as the original series had a complex storyline to begin with.

As for the Blu-ray, the animation by Xebec is absolutely stunning.  From its well-detailed scenery, gorgeous clouds and use of CG for mechanical designs have really made the world of “Fafner” so much more captivating visually.  As for the special features, the main primary feature involves the challenge of creating the English dub because the contract was that the original actors would have to be used for the film version.  Unfortunately, most of them were unavailable or couldn’t be contacted, so FUNimation had to find the talent who matched with the original voices.  And in my opinion, the voice acting is much better in this film.

Overall, I do recommend this film for those who watched the original TV series and enjoyed it.  I don’t recommend it for those who have not seen the series yet because you may be confused by its storyline and the relationships of the characters.  So, watch the series first, then watch this film.

“Fafner: Heaven and Earth Movie” looks absolutely gorgeous on Blu-ray!  A mecha anime series that focuses on character relationships and action, fans of the original animated TV series will definitely want to give this movie a try!

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