Friday, March 29, 2002 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Movie Review

Anime fans will be drawn to beautiful 'Escaflowne'

Seattle Times staff reporter


Written and directed by Kazuki Akane from an animated series idea by Shoji Kawamori. 96 minutes. Rated PG-13 for animated violence and gore. Pacific Place.
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What if Dorothy Gale's amazing adventures in Oz were instigated by a death wish instead of a twister? Anime director Kazuki Akane explores this possibility with "Escaflowne," the story of a lonely, suicidal teenager named Hitomi and her unexpected voyage to Gaia, a futuristic yet medieval world torn apart by war.

On Gaia, Hitomi is heralded as the Wing Goddess, the only one who can summon a gigantic suit of mystical armor called Escaflowne. Vying for its power is Folken, the oblivion-seeking ruler of the Black Dragon clan, and his deposed brother Van, a heroic loner who wants Escaflowne to save his people.

Based on a TV series that aired here briefly on Fox's Saturday morning lineup, "Escaflowne" is a samurai-flavored dungeon-and-dragons adventure, conjured in the United States to capitalize on "Lord of the Rings" mania. And that's just fine. Aren't you hungry for a little sword and sorcery to hold you over until December?

The number of characters introduced at the outset may prove confusing, and there isn't much depth to the majority who are introduced, but by the end you won't care. Romantic, riveting and handsomely animated, "Escaflowne" is a tale meant to satisfy both occasional anime fans and connoisseurs, exciting from beginning to end.

Melanie McFarland:


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