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Last Order: Final Fantasy VII
Directed by Morio Asaka
Produced by Masao Maruyama
Jungo Murata
Akio Ōfuji
Written by Screenplay:
Kazuhiko Inukai
Kazushige Nojima
Original story:
Hironobu Sakaguchi
Kazushige Nojima
Starring Kenichi Suzumura
Music by Takeharu Ishimoto
Cinematography Yukihiro Masumoto
Editing by Kashiko Kimura
Studio Madhouse
Square Enix
Distributed by Square Enix
Release date(s) September 14, 2005 (Japan)
February 20, 2007 (North America)
Running time 25 minutes
Language Japanese

Last Order: Final Fantasy VII (ラストオーダー -ファイナルファンタジーVII- Rasuto Ōdā -Fainaru Fantajī Sebun- ?), also abbreviated as Last Order or LO, is a 2005 original video animation produced by Madhouse and originally released in Japan by Square Enix. It was released in Japan with Advent Pieces: Limited, a special edition release of Final Fantasy VII Advent Children, and is an addition to the United States limited edition release of Advent Children. The OVA was never given an English dub, but is subtitled in the English release. The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, a series of prequels and sequels to the original game, Final Fantasy VII, includes the games Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, Dirge of Cerberus Lost Episode: Final Fantasy VII, and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, as well as the film Final Fantasy VII Advent Children. Though not part of the Compilation or canon within it, Last Order is nonetheless associated with it in official guidebooks. The OVA's soundtrack was released with the music of Before Crisis, and select songs were remixed for Crisis Core. Last Order was created due to the success of promotional commercials for Before Crisis. Production lasted 6 months, and the crew faced several challenges during the time period.

Last Order details two events that happened before Final Fantasy VII. One event revolves around the Nibelheim scenario that focused on Zack Fair, Cloud Strife, Sephiroth and Tifa Lockhart. The other involves Zack and Cloud on the run from Shinra. The OVA cuts back and forth between these two flashbacks, linked by the Turk leader Tseng's reflection on the Nibelheim events. Originally meant to focus on Zack, Last Order also highlighted Tseng's feelings and position in the Shinra company, as well as his moral values.

77,777 copies of Advent Pieces: Limited were released in Japan, and had been sold out months in advance before being officially released. Last Order received a negative fan response due to changes in content and presentation from the original Final Fantasy VII. Because of this, with Crisis Core, a prequel to Final Fantasy VII, the crew avoided recreating the scenes of Last Order. OverClocked ReMix created a Final Fantasy VII tribute album entitled Voices of the Lifestream, which included a disc themed after Last Order and entitled Order.

Contents

Background

The world of Final Fantasy VII, called Gaia or simply the Planet, relies on the Lifestream, a green flow of spirit energy belonging to living creatures that had died in the past, for survival. As such, the Lifestream is known as the lifeblood and spirit of the Planet itself. Previously, the Planet had been inhabited by the Cetra, but they were almost completely destroyed, partly due to Jenova, an extraterrestrial entity that crashed onto the Planet and began infecting the Cetra. The Cetra believed in the Promised Land, a place where one felt truly happy and complete. For the Cetra, the Promised Land was when they "returned to the Planet;" to die and have their spirit join the Lifestream. The Planet becomes threatened by the megacorporation Shinra Electric Power Company, which extracts the Lifestream to use as a source of energy and to manipulate the strength and abilities of their paramilitary. The Lifestream is extracted through Mako reactors, which are placed in several locations on the Planet. Those who are infused with Mako make up the military unit known as "SOLDIER". Members of SOLDIER are known to be stronger than normal humans and have eyes bearing a distinctive glow. Sephiroth, considered the strongest member of SOLDIER and admired by many, is sent to investigate a Mako reactor in a secluded town called Nibelheim. He is accompanied by Zack (another SOLDIER) and two grunts, one of which is Cloud, whose hometown is Nibelheim. Whilst there, Sephiroth spends most of his time reading in the Shinra Mansion, which had previously been used by the Shinra scientist Hojo to conduct his experiments. Through Hojo's log books, Sephiroth comes to learn of his past, in which he was injected with Jenova's cells during the fetal stage. However, the scientists who unearthed Jenova mistakenly thought it was a Cetra, causing Sephiroth to believe he was the last one.

Plot

Narrated by Tseng, Last Order switches between the past Nibelheim incident and Zack's escape to Midgar with his unconscious friend, Cloud Strife. During the Nibelheim event, Sephiroth, insane after discovering his origins, sets fire to the village of Nibelheim. After killing many villagers, he proceeds to the Nibelheim reactor, where Jenova had been encased. Soon after he arrives, Tifa, a resident of Nibelheim angry at Sephiroth for killing her father, attempts to kill him. He quickly knocks her away and continues to Jenova's body, preserved in a large glass tank filled with liquid. Zack follows Sephiroth into the reactor and fights him, but is eventually disarmed and injured too severely to attack further. Sephiroth returns to Jenova's body, but does not hear the military grunt Cloud approaching.

Zack as he appears in Last Order

Cloud immediately impales Sephiroth with his sword, cracking Jenova's glass tank. He returns to Tifa and the two converse, while Sephiroth, still alive after receiving the injury, cuts off Jenova's head. He carries her head with him towards Cloud and they engage in battle. Cloud is quickly impaled through the stomach and hung over the reactor's core, but in a feat of strength, he grabs Sephiroth's sword and moves himself down the blade to solid ground, and hurls Sephiroth aside. Instead of continuing the fight, Sephiroth, with Jenova's head, jumps into the reactor core in an attempt to reach the "Promised Land". Though Zack and Cloud survive the ordeal, they are taken by Hojo to the Shinra Mansion for experimentation.

The other event detailed in Last Order illustrates Zack and Cloud's escape from Shinra. During their experimentation, Cloud had succumbed to Mako poisoning, caused by a surge of memories flooding through one's mind to the extent that they can no longer perceive who they are. Due to this, Cloud remains in an unconscious, non-reactant state. Zack escapes with Cloud from the Shinra Mansion with the intention of returning to Midgar, the headquarters of Shinra. However, Shinra orders their elite espionage and assassination division known as the Turks and their paramilitary to find and the two escapees. Tseng, leader of the Turks, decides to capture them alive while Shinra's army is sent out to eliminate the two.

On a bluff overlooking Zack and Cloud, who had hitched a ride on a truck, Shinra operatives decide to ignore orders to wait for the Turks. One takes aim on the incapacitated Cloud and Zack, noticing, jumps in front of Cloud, yelling at him to escape.

Cast

  • Kenichi Suzumura voices Zack Fair,[1] a 1st class SOLDIER who faces Sephiroth and is brutally defeated. After being experimented on by Hojo, Zack attempts to escape Shinra with his friend, Cloud. The production crew used Last Order as an opportunity "to portray Zack properly" as light-hearted and young.[2] Suzumura described that Zack seemed much more alive in Last Order than in Advent Children.[3]
  • Takahiro Sakurai voices Cloud Strife,[1] a Shinra guard who fights against Sephiroth after seeing his friends, Zack and Tifa, hurt and the town destroyed. Nearly dead due to wounds he sustained, Cloud is experimented on by Hojo and lapses into an unresponsive state. Zack escapes with him and protects him from members of the Shinra military unit. While riding in a truck, a Shinra snipers aims at Cloud, and Zack jumps in front of him.
  • Toshiyuki Morikawa voices Sephiroth,[1] a 1st class SOLDIER and a past friend of Zack. After discovering his origin, Sephiroth goes insane and "betray[s] those who had believed in him."[2] He attempts to bring his "mother", Jenova, and himself to the Promised Land. After engaging in battle with both Zack and Cloud, Sephiroth jumps into the Lifestream with Jenova's head.
  • Junichi Suwabe voices Tseng,[1] the leader of the Turks who narrates the OVA. Originally, the OVA was intended to focus on Zack, but Tseng became the "real highlight." Last Order details Tseng's changing feelings and position towards his job, as well as where he places his moral values.[2]
  • Ayumi Ito voices Tifa Lockhart,[1] a resident of Nibelheim and a childhood friend of Cloud. In a fit of rage, Tifa tries to kill Sephiroth, but he easily blocks her attacks and badly wounds her.
  • Hiroshi Fujioka voices Zangan,[1] Tifa's martial arts instructor. After Tifa is injured by Sephiroth at the mako reactor, Zangan retrieves her and carries her to safety.
  • Keiji Fujiwara voices Reno and Taiten Kusunoki voices Rude.[1] They are both members of the Turks under Tseng's command and operate as partners.
  • Nachi Nozawa voices Professor Hojo,[1] the head of Shinra's science department. Hojo takes Zack and Cloud for experimenting, instantly dismissing Tseng's feelings about using them.
  • Daisuke Namikawa voices Turk (Rod), Ginpei Satō voices Turk (Two Guns), Hōchū Ōtsuka voices Turk (Martial Arts), Mayuko Aoki voices Turk (Shotgun), and Megumi Toyoguchi voices Turk (Gun), all of which are Turks under Tseng's command that originally appeared in Before Crisis.[1]

Other roles include Keiji Okuda, Atsushi Imaruoka, Ryūji Mizuno, and Daisuke Kirii as members of Shinra's military units who attempt to apprehend Cloud and Zack. Yōhei Tadano and Katsuhisa Hōki voice villagers at Nibelheim.[1]

Production and release

Last Order: Final Fantasy VII was produced and scripted by Madhouse[2] and directed by Morio Asaka.[4] Production lasted six months and Madhouse was chosen to produce it, partly because of previous success with a Before Crisis commercial and that the president of the company was very enthusiastic about the project.[2] However, the main reason for choosing Madhouse was that the company "understood the significance" of making a Final Fantasy VII animation, as it was a large responsibility to animate "the most popular game in the FF [Final Fantasy] series".[2]

Nomura, who had designed the characters of the previous Compilation of Final Fantasy VII installments as well as the original game, acted as the supervising director.[2] He had the ability to reject or accept drawings created for guidelines and as a result, so many images had to be redrawn that "the entire production was in jeopardy" at one point.[2]

The decision to create Last Order spawned from the positive reaction towards a popular promotional commercial made for Before Crisis. The most challenging part the production crew faced was how to make "Nomura's drawings move on screen".[2] Due to Last Order being hand-drawn, the crew faced difficulties with the size and sickness, as well as simplification, of lines. Another issues was the overall feel of each scene; original drawings were done by several artists, which left scenes with different feels.[2] However, Akio Ofuji, a producer of Last Order,[1][2] explained that they "wanted to make sure that the final product was of very high quality, so [they] worked with the production company day and night, straight through the deadline."[2] Nomura and Ofuji agreed that many scenes showing important events and feelings in Final Fantasy VII had been fragmented and disjointed, and so they decided that those scenes would be the subject of Last Order, giving the audience of Advent Children (the film it was released with) a "more enjoyable understanding".[2] They also wanted to portray Zack "properly" as a "handsome, light-hearted man [who] was in everyone's memory."[2]

Last Order was originally released with the "Ultimate Edition" of the Advent Children movie, Advent Pieces: Limited, in Japan by Square Enix on September 14, 2005.[5] The collector's set was released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in the United States on February 20, 2007.[6] There is currently no English dub and the OVA is subtitled.[1] Last Order is not part of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII and is considered an outside work.[7] However, it has been continued to be associated with the series since its creation,[8] and is mentioned alongside official installments in official guidebooks and Ultimanias.[7][2]

Music

The music of Last Order was combined with music from Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII and on a single soundtrack released December 19, 2007,[9] which was later made available in North America.[10] The music is contained in tracks 13 through 27 on the disc, while tracks 1 through 12 contains music from Before Crisis.[9] Takeharu Ishimoto composed, arranged, and produced the music, including the ending theme entitled Last Order.[1] The soundtrack of Crisis Core, a PlayStation Portable game within the Compilation, also features remixes of music from the OVA.[11]

Response and cultural impact

Only 77,777 copies of Advent Pieces: Limited were produced in Japan, and they are no longer available, having been sold out months in advance.[12] They retailed for 29,500 yen, or 300 United States dollars, each[12] while the North American collectors edition retailed for $49.95.[13]

Overall, Last Order garned mixed to positive feedback. Chris Carle of IGN noted that Last Order was "the true meat of the new extras [in the Advent Children collector's set]… a traditionally animated chapter for FF [Final Fantasy] fans that centers on the story of Zack and Cloud" and that "it adds even more dimension to the story [of Final Fantasy VII]".[14] However, Hideki Imaizumi, the producer of Crisis Core, stated that they had received "considerable negative feedback" from fans, who were displeased with changes made to the Nibelheim event in Last Order. Due to this, the scene was redone for Crisis Core, and the production crew was careful to avoid making the same decisions.[15]

Voices of the Lifestream, a tribute album spanning four discs released by OverClocked ReMix, has a disc entitled Order. The name was chosen to coincide with Last Order, and the music is themed after it.[16]

References

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m Last Order: Final Fantasy VII. [DVD]. Square Enix. 2009-04-10. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0489134/. Retrieved March 10, 2009.  
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o SoftBank, ed (2006) (in Japanese/English). Final Fantasy VII Advent Children: Reunion Files. Square Enix. pp. 94–95. ISBN 4-7973-3498-3.  
  3. ^ SoftBank, ed (2006) (in Japanese/English). Final Fantasy VII Advent Children: Reunion Files. Square Enix. p. 59. ISBN 4-7973-3498-3.  
  4. ^ "Otakon Hosts Nana, Chobits Director Morio Asaka". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2007-06-13/otakon-hosts-nana-chobits-director-morio-asaka. Retrieved August 24, 2008.  
  5. ^ "Advent Children Delayed". Anime News Network. http://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2005-08-25/advent-children-delayed. Retrieved July 3, 2008.  
  6. ^ "Final Fantasy VII - Advent Children (Limited Edition Collector's Set) (2005)". Amazon.com. http://www.amazon.com/Final-Fantasy-VII-Children-Collectors/dp/B000K4WLXA/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&s=dvd&qid=1239382346&sr=8-1. Retrieved March 4, 2009.  
  7. ^ a b Studio BentStuff, ed (2008) (in Japanese). Final Fantasy 20th Anniversary Ultimania File 2: Scenario. Square Enix. pp. 226. ISBN 978-4-7575-2251-0.  
  8. ^ McLaughlin, Rus. "The History of Final Fantasy VII". IGN. http://retro.ign.com/articles/870/870770p9.html. Retrieved December 3, 2009.  
  9. ^ a b "Before Crisis -Final Fantasy VII- & Last Order -Final Fantasy VII- OST". RPGFan. http://www.rpgfan.com/soundtracks/ff7bc/index.html. Retrieved March 18, 2008.  
  10. ^ "BEFORE CRISIS -FINAL FANTASY VII- & LAST ORDER -FINAL FANTASY VII- Original Soundtrack". Square Enix. http://store.na.square-enix.com/store/sqenixus/en_US/pd/productID.128768400. Retrieved December 4th, 2009.  
  11. ^ "Crisis Core -Final Fantasy VII- OST". RPGFan. http://www.rpgfan.com/soundtracks/ff7cc/index.html. Retrieved August 24, 2008.  
  12. ^ a b Crocker, Janet; Smith, Lesley; Henderson, Tim; Arnold, Adam. "The Legacy of Final Fantasy VII". AnimeFringe. http://www.animefringe.com/magazine/2005/12/feature/01-3.php. Retrieved Sugust 5, 2008.  
  13. ^ "Sony Double Dips With 'FF VII: Advent Children'". ICv2. 2006-12-19. http://www.icv2.com/articles/news/9784.html. Retrieved August 5, 2008.  
  14. ^ Carle, Chris (2007-02-16). "Double Dip Digest: Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children (Limited Edition Collector's Set)". IGN. http://dvd.ign.com/articles/765/765583p1.html. Retrieved August 5, 2008.  
  15. ^ McCarthy, Dave. "Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII UK Interview". IGN. http://psp.ign.com/articles/869/869858p1.html. Retrieved March 8, 2009.  
  16. ^ "Tracks: Voices of the Lifesteam". OverClocked ReMix. http://ff7.ocremix.org/tracks/. Retrieved March 10, 2009.  

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