Last Order: Final Fantasy VII
|Last Order: Final Fantasy VII|
Last Order logo and promotional artwork featuring Zack (front), Sephiroth (middle), and Jenova (back)
(Rasuto Ōdā -Fainaru Fantajī Sebun-)
|Genre||Fantasy, action, Science fiction, cyberpunk|
|Original video animation|
|Directed by||Morio Asaka|
|Produced by||Masao Maruyama
|Music by||Takeharu Ishimoto|
|Licensed by||Sony Pictures Home Entertainment|
|Released||September 14, 2005 (Japan)
February 20, 2007 (North America)
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 Japanese anime original video animation (OVA) produced by Madhouse and released by Square Enix. It was directed by Morio Asaka and produced by Masao Maruyama, Jungo Maruta, and Akio Ofuji. Tetsuya Nomura acted as the supervising director. The OVA is an alternate rendition of two flashbacks found within the 1997 video game Final Fantasy VII. Last Order was released in Japan with Advent Pieces: Limited, a special edition release of the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and as a bonus feature in the North American "Limited Edition Collector's Set" release of Advent Children.
Last Order is associated with the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII, a series of prequels and sequels to the original Final Fantasy VII. Although not an official Compilation installment or canon within it, the OVA has nonetheless been included in official guidebooks. The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII includes the games Before Crisis: Final Fantasy VII, Dirge of Cerberus: Final Fantasy VII, and Crisis Core: Final Fantasy VII, as well as the film Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children and the collection of short stories On the Way to a Smile. Last Order's soundtrack was released with the music of Before Crisis, and select songs were later remixed for Crisis Core. The OVA was created due to the success of promotional commercials for Before Crisis, with production lasting six months.
The plot of Last Order encompasses two events that occurred before the main events of Final Fantasy VII. One storyline revolves around the Nibelheim scenario that focuses on Zack Fair, Cloud Strife, Sephiroth and Tifa Lockhart. The other event follows Zack and Cloud as they run from the megacorporation Shinra. The OVA cuts back and forth between these two flashbacks, linked by the narration of Turk leader Tseng and his reflections on the Nibelheim event. Originally meant to focus on Zack, Last Order highlighted Tseng's feelings and position in the Shinra company, as well as his moral values.
Although the 77,777 copies of Advent Pieces: Limited that were released in Japan sold out months in advance of the official release date, Last Order received a negative fan response due to changes in content and presentation from the original Final Fantasy VII game, and because of this, the crew working on Crisis Core avoided recreating certain scenes from Last Order.
Last Order explores situations shown and referenced within Final Fantasy VII and other Compilation titles. The world of Final Fantasy VII, referred to as "the Planet", is dependent for its survival on a flow of spirit energy called the Lifestream. The megacorporation Shinra eventually rises to power and begins extracting the Lifestream through Mako reactors, killing the Planet. Shinra uses the Mako as an energy source and to manipulate the strength and abilities of their paramilitary organization, SOLDIER. Sephiroth, considered the strongest member of SOLDIER, is sent to investigate a Mako reactor in the secluded town of Nibelheim and is accompanied by the SOLDIER Zack and two grunts, one of whom is Cloud. While there, Sephiroth spends most of his time reading in the Shinra Mansion, which had previously been used by the Shinra scientist Hojo to conduct experiments. Through Hojo's log books, Sephiroth comes to learn of his past, in which he was injected with Jenova's cells. The Planet had once been inhabited by the Cetra (or "Ancients"), who were almost completely destroyed by Jenova, an extraterrestrial lifeform that crashed onto the Planet 2,000 years previously, and began infecting the Cetra with a virus. When Jenova was unearthed by a Shinra science team, it was mistakenly identified as a Cetra. This caused Sephiroth to believe he was also a Cetra, and that humans had betrayed his ancestors.
Narrated by Tseng, leader of the elite espionage and assassination division known as the Turks, Last Order switches between the Nibelheim incident and Zack Fair'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 has been encased. Tifa, a resident of Nibelheim, attacks him soon after he arrives. Sephiroth knocks her aside and continues to Jenova's body, preserved in a large glass tank filled with liquid. Zack follows Sephiroth into the reactor and they engage in combat, but Sephiroth is able to disarm and incapacitate him. Sephiroth returns to Jenova's body, but does not notice Cloud approaching.
Cloud immediately impales Sephiroth with his sword, cracking Jenova's glass tank. He returns to Tifa and the two converse, while Sephiroth cuts off Jenova's head. He carries the head with him towards Cloud and they engage in battle. During the fight, Cloud is impaled through the stomach and hung over the reactor's core. In a feat of strength, he grabs Sephiroth's sword and moves himself down the blade to solid ground and hurls Sephiroth aside. Sephiroth abandons the battle and jumps into the reactor core with Jenova's head in an attempt to reach the "Promised Land". Although Zack and Cloud survive the ordeal, they are taken to the Shinra Mansion by Hojo for experimentation.
The other event detailed in Last Order illustrates Zack and Cloud's escape from Shinra. While at the Shinra Mansion, Cloud had succumbed to Mako poisoning caused by a surge of memories flooding through his mind, rendering him in an unconscious, non-reactant state. Zack escapes with Cloud from the Mansion with the intention of returning to Midgar, the headquarters of Shinra. However, Shinra orders their paramilitary and the Turks to find and eliminate the two escapees. Tseng decides to capture them alive.
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 at the incapacitated Cloud. Zack jumps in front of Cloud, yelling at him to escape.
- Kenichi Suzumura voices Zack Fair, 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 "to portray Zack properly" as light-hearted and young. Suzumura noted that Zack felt more "alive" in Last Order in comparison to his appearance in Advent Children.
- Takahiro Sakurai voices Cloud Strife, a Shinra grunt who fights against Sephiroth after seeing his friends, Zack and Tifa hurt, and Nibelheim destroyed. Nearly dead due to his wounds, Cloud is experimented on by Hojo and lapses into an unresponsive state.
- Toshiyuki Morikawa voices Sephiroth, a 1st class SOLDIER and a past friend of Zack. After discovering his origins, Sephiroth goes insane and "betray[s] those who had believed in him." He attempts to bring Jenova (his "mother") and himself to the "Promised Land".
- Junichi Suwabe voices Tseng, 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 elaborates on Tseng's changing feelings towards his job, as well as where he places his moral values.
- Ayumi Ito voices Tifa Lockhart, a resident of Nibelheim and a childhood friend of Cloud. In a fit of rage, Tifa tries to kill Sephiroth, but he blocks her attack and wounds her.
- Hiroshi Fujioka voices Zangan, 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. They are both members of the Turks under Tseng's command and operate as partners.
- Nachi Nozawa voices Professor Hojo, the head of Shinra's science department. Hojo takes Zack and Cloud for experimentation, instantly dismissing Tseng's discontent about using them.
- Daisuke Namikawa voices Turk (Rod), Ginpei Sato voices Turk (Two Guns), Hōchū Ōtsuka voices Turk (Martial Arts), Mayuko Aoki voices Turk (Shotgun), and Megumi Toyoguchi voices Turk (Gun). These characters are all Turks under Tseng's command that originally appeared in Before Crisis.
Other roles include Keiji Okuda, Atsushi Imaruoka, Ryūji Mizuno, and Daisuke Kirii as members of Shinra's military unit who attempt to apprehend Cloud and Zack. Yōhei Tadano and Katsuhisa Hōki voice villagers at Nibelheim.
Production and release
Last Order: Final Fantasy VII was produced and scripted by Madhouse and directed by Morio Asaka. The decision to create Last Order arose from the positive reaction towards a popular promotional clip created by Madhouse for the game Before Crisis. Madhouse was chosen to produce the OVA partly because of their success with the clip and because the president of Madhouse was very enthusiastic about the project. However, the main reason for choosing Madhouse was that the company "understood the significance" of making a Final Fantasy VII animation, as it was considered a large responsibility to animate "the most popular game in the FF [Final Fantasy] series." Tetsuya Nomura, the character designer for the Final Fantasy VII series and co-director of Advent Children, acted as the supervising director. He had the right to reject or accept concept drawings for Last Order. As a result, Nomura had a large quantity of images redrawn, to the extent that "the entire production was in jeopardy."
Production lasted six months. The production crew considered the most challenging part of creating the OVA to be making "Nomura's drawings move on screen." Because Last Order was hand-drawn, the crew faced difficulties creating uniform lines. Another issue was the overall feel of each scene; original drawings were done by several artists, resulting in various scenes having different styles. Producer Akio Ofuji explained that they "wanted to make sure the final product was of very high quality, so [they] worked with the production company day and night, straight through to the deadline." Nomura and Ofuji agreed that many scenes showing important events and feelings in Final Fantasy VII had been fragmented and disjointed, and so they had decided that those scenes would be the subject of Last Order, giving the audience of Advent Children (the film Last Order was released with) a "more enjoyable understanding." They used the film as an opportunity to portray Zack "properly" as a "handsome, light-hearted man [who] was in everyone's memory". Last Order also details Tseng's growth and his feelings towards his both job and events depicted, wherein he attempts to "get his own ideas of justice heard" but later abandons his moral values "in order to carry out a cruel mission." Ofuji commented that "those are the kind of scenes we wanted people to be more aware of."
Last Order was originally released in Japan with the "Ultimate Edition" of the Advent Children movie, Advent Pieces: Limited, on September 14, 2005. The OVA was included in the North American "Limited Edition Collector's Set" of Advent Children, released by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on February 20, 2007. The North America release did not come with an English dub and the OVA is subtitled. Last Order was not included in the release of Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children Complete, a 2009 director's cut of Advent Children with extra footage.
The Compilation of Final Fantasy VII is a series of prequels and sequels to the original Final Fantasy VII game. Last Order is not part of the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII and is considered an outside work. However, it has been associated with the Final Fantasy VII series since its creation, and is mentioned alongside official installments in official guidebooks and Ultimanias. Compilation titles include the film Advent Children and games Before Crisis (mobile phone), Dirge of Cerberus (PS2), and Crisis Core (PSP). Like Last Order, Dirge of Cerberus Lost Episode: Final Fantasy VII (a mobile phone spin-off of Dirge of Cerberus) is an outside work associated with the Compilation.
Last Order's score was composed, arranged, and produced by Takeharu Ishimoto, including the ending theme entitled "Last Order". The music was combined with the music from Before Crisis on a single soundtrack and released in Japan on December 19, 2007. The soundtrack was later made available in North America by Square Enix. Tracks 13 through 27 on the disc contain the score from Last Order, while tracks 1 through 12 contain music from Before Crisis. Select tracks on the soundtrack of Crisis Core contain music and remixes of music from the OVA.
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 of its release. They retailed for ¥29,500, or US$300, each while the North American collector's edition retailed for $49.95.
Overall, Last Order garnered positive feedback from Western critics. 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]." Todd Douglass Jr. from DVD Talk called Last Order "the real reason to check out the Limited Edition release for Advent Children" and commented that as "a long-time anime fan and lover of Final Fantasy," he "was enthralled by every minute to be had in Last Order." 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.
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- Bugenhagen: "Lifestream... In other words, a path of energy of the souls roaming the Planet. 'Spirit Energy' is a word that you should never forget."(Final Fantasy VII)
- Cloud: "If the Spirit energy is lost, our Planet is destroyed..."(Final Fantasy VII)
- Bugenhagen: "Ho Ho Hoooo. Spirit energy is efficient BECAUSE it exists within nature. When Spirit energy is forcefully extracted, and manufactured, it can't accomplish its true purpose."/Cloud: "You're talking about Mako energy, right?"/Bugenhagen: "Every day Mako reactors suck up Spirit energy, diminishing it. Spirit energy gets compressed in the reactors and processed into Mako energy. All living things are being used up and thrown away. In other words, Mako energy will only destroy the Planet..."(Final Fantasy VII)
- Marlene: "The Shinra Electric Power Company discovered a way to use the Lifestream as an energy source."(Advent Children)
- Sephiroth: "Normal members of SOLDIER are humans that have been showered with Mako. You're different from the others, but still human."(Final Fantasy VII)
- Sephiroth: "Our mission is to investigate an old Mako reactor. There have been reports of it malfunctioning, and producing brutal creatures. First, we will dispose of those creatures. Then, we'll locate the problem and neutralize it."/Cloud: "Brutal creatures... Where?" /Sephiroth: "The Mako Reactor at Nibelheim."(Final Fantasy VII)
- Marlene: "Anyway, there was one SOLDIER named Sephiroth, who was better than the rest."(Advent Children)
- Ifalna: "That's when the one who injured the Planet... or the 'crisis from the sky', as we call him, came. He first approached as a friend, deceived them, and finally...... gave them the virus. The Cetra were attacked by the virus and went mad... transforming into monsters. Then, just as he had at the Knowlespole. He approached other Cetra clans...... infecting them with... the virus..."(Final Fantasy VII)
- Sephiroth: "...an organism that was apparently dead, was found in a 2000 year old geological stratum. Professor Gast named that organism, Jenova...X Year, X Month, X Day. Jenova confirmed to be an Ancient...X Year, X Month, X Day. Jenova Project approved. The use of Mako Reactor 1 approved for use..."(Final Fantasy VII)
- Sephiroth: "You ignorant traitor. I'll tell you. This Planet originally belonged to the Cetra. Cetra was a itinerant race. They would migrate in, settle the Planet, then move on...At the end of their harsh, hard journey, they would find the Promised Land and supreme happiness. But, those that disliked the journey appeared. Those who stopped their migrations built shelters and elected to lead an easier life. They took that which the Cetra and the planet had made without giving back one whit in return! Those are your ancestors."/Cloud: "Sephiroth..." /Sephiroth: "Long ago, disaster struck this planet. Your ancestors escaped... They survived because they hid. The Planet was saved by sacrificing the Cetra. After that, your ancestors continued to increase. Now all that's left of the Cetra is in these reports./Cloud: "What does that have to do with you?" / Sephiroth: "Don't you get it? An Ancient named Jenova was found in the geological stratum of 2000 years ago. The Jenova Project. The Jenova Project wanted to produce people with the powers of the Ancients...... no, the Cetra....I am the one that was produced."(Final Fantasy VII)
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