Tentacle-Free Anime: "Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV" (2016)
- by Kazekun, 19 December 2016
Last review I discussed the film Kingsglaive, which is a prequel to the game Final Fantasy XV, the newest title, recently released, set in the vast lore of the FF canon. But Kingsglaive isn't the only prequel to the game, there is another that focuses on the actual protagonists of the story before the events that happen in the game. This is a short, little anime titled Brotherhood and that's what we're here to discuss today.
Set in the time during the end credits of Kingsglaive, this series takes place just after the destruction of Lucis and just before the end credits scene in the film that sees the four boys' – Noctis, Ignis, Gladiolus, and Prompto – car to break down (which is where the game begins, funny enough). This series is designed to let you get to know our kooky quartet before they find themselves in the most epic journey of their lives.
The middle three, episodes two-four, are designed to give backstory to Noctis' relationship with the other members of his party. Episode two focuses on Prompto and shows how the young man when from a overweight, out of shape kid who simply loved kids to being motivated to lose all that weight and get in shape so that he can feel like he's worthy of being around Noctis.
It's important to note that Noctis never purposely says anything to Prompto to make him feel like less of a person. At one point, when they're young, Prompro falls over and is having some trouble getting up. When the young prince helps him up, he inadvertently says “You're Heavy” and this opens Prompto's eyes. But never is Noctis an asshole to Prompto.
It's also important to note that the episode also focuses on Prompto's love for animals, in which he helps a couple of young dogs who he sees are hurt. One in the present day, and one in the flashback which happens to belong to -then- Princess Lunafreya.
Episode three focuses on Gladiolus, who is Noctis' weapons and martial arts trainer, as well as a bodyguard when he's young. The two definitely have a brotherly relationship going on, but Gladiolus is also an actual big brother himself and part of the episode focuses on him trying to keep his little sister out of the castle as she continually makes an attempt to go there and meet the Prince, who's not much older than her.
The two do end up meeting when she ends up sneaking into the gardens to find a cat and ends up getting lost only for Noctis to come to her rescue. Given the proposed seriousness of the situation, however, when King Regis questions everyone about it Noctis ends up covering for the girl and getting himself grounded in the process. It's a touching moment and gives a lot of depth to our hero even as a young boy.
Episode four then focuses on Ignis, who serves a more motherly role for Noctis once he's older and convinced the King to let him live outside of the castle in an apartment while he goes to high school. Ignis takes notes for him during the King's council meetings, cooks for him, cleans his apartment, drives him around, and basically keeps on top of his responsibilities. He's a butler, yes, but he's no slouch and to my surprise Noctis treats Ignis as his equal.
I liked that about the two and their story comes to a great peak when Ignis finds out Noctis tried to cook on his own that he may lessen a bit of Ignis' burden. This culminates in a scene where the two of them end up eating old fashioned cup ramen instead of some lavish home cooked meal. It's great.
What Brotherhood does really, really well is let our characters grow and go through full story arcs. Even with the looming 50+ hour game that is Final Fantasy XV, you don't really get any of that “to be continued...” vibe that many of the characters held at the end of their arcs in Kingsglaive. In fact, even Noctis gets a story arc, even though he's the main character of the game. In episode one and interspersed throughout scenes in episodes two-four you never get the sense that he's truly upset about his Kingdom dying and his father having died.
Now it's easy to imagine that the modern day scenes happen post a breakdown, but it's simply that the truth hasn't hit him yet. We get one more flashback in episode five that sees the Demon kill his mom when he's young and then his Dad shows up to rescue him. It's a bittersweet moment that comes full circle for Noctis when he and his friends finally kill the demon.
Not only does Noctis get revenge for his mother after all these years but, he's reminded of a distinct memory of his father, the hero who loved him dearly, and finally at the end of it all Noctis breaks down and cries. His family, his home, is gone. Man this series was really good.
If I had to give any opinions as to what I didn't like about it is that for the longest time – thanks to all the time skipping – I was very confused as to how the flashbacks with Noctis tied-in with the young Noctis we see at the beginning of Kingsglaive, the one that's in a wheelchair. I get it now but this series could have done a much better job at working around that.
And also I still find it hard to stomach how simply modern everything is and looks compared to the obviously gothic victorian settings of the castle and any other royal-looking areas we see within this world. Prompto and Noctis attend a public school that looks like a modern day school, and the apartment Noctis lives in looks like a modern day apartment. I get that it's possible that while the castle stayed the same everything else around it became more modern it's still hitting that uncanny valley effect that – as someone not used to this from Final Fantasy games – has a bit of trouble wrapping his head around it.
Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV is a fine little mini-series and even though it may not wow you in the same way Kingsglaive did the story of it is far more appreciated for its willingness to give these characters' actual story. It does a fine job at making me care for this “boy band” of bro's ahead of playing the game that features them so heavily. And for that, I give this story two thumbs up. It's real good.
And if you're wondering why I didn't touch upon why Noctis was even away from Lucis when the kingdom fell, well it's because this series doesn't touch upon it. That's an answer for the game and I looking forward to finding out what it is.
Final Score: 4 Boy Band Bros out of 5
Have you checked out Brotherhood, yet? Has it made you excited fore the new entry in the video game series? Let us know in the comments!