Because I am a huge Professor Layton fan, one day instead of sleeping early, I decided to watch Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva. It was an awful idea, though not because the movie was awful, but because I couldn’t wake up the next day (haha). The movie was actually very good, of course, but I’m speaking as a fan. In this review I’ll try to box up my fangirling as much as possible and look at the movie from a neutral standpoint. So, just how good was the Eternal Diva? Without further ado, let’s dig in! Itadakimasu~
The premise of this movie is centered around the existence of an ancient civilization called Ambrosia, and more importantly, the legend that the people of Ambrosia had discovered an elixir of immortality. Now, I’ll keep as few spoilers as I can in this review, so I’ll be going over as few details as possible as well.
First off, this movie is one of Luke’s flashbacks from after the third Professor Layton game, so in truth the Eternal Diva is a prequel to all the Professor Layton games. A main player in the movie is one of Layton’s past pupils, Janice Quatlane, who had earned herself quite a name as an opera singer. Janice sends Layton and Luke tickets to an opera in which she stars, and that is where the mystery starts. The opera is about the Ambrosian kingdom, but in truth everyone attending the opera were actually there for the after-party: an all-or-nothing game, where the (single) winner receives eternal life and the losers (everyone else) lose their life.
The game eventually takes Layton & co. to a deserted island that is supposedly where Ambrosia used to be. Through solving puzzles and the such, Layton gets to the bottom of things as always. And of course, there will be a fight on top of a large robotic castle, just like in the Unwound Future/Last Time Travel game. However, unlike in the game, the movie ending was infinitely more cheesy and less relevant to anything at all.
So let’s get to the rating breakdowns, starting with the characters. There’s actually not much to say about this category. The professor and Luke are already established characters if you’ve played the game before. If not, their archetypes are simple enough to understand almost immediately: the professor is an all-knowing gentleman and Luke is his overly enthusiastic lackey. Most of everyone else are either good guys (one of which literally kicks butt!), bad guys or opportunists, save one character who flip-flops a bit (you’ll figure out who the person is soon after their introduction). But a pro was that the characters were very distinct, and most of them were endearing.
Next is what… plot? Well I don’t want to reveal the plot too much so… I’ll just say I was not impressed by the ending. As I’ve mentioned, it was very cheesy and kind of like a cop out. There were a good amount of plotholes here and there that I feel like would have been taken account of if this movie were actually a game. Otherwise, the basic premise was pretty interesting although also pretty predictable, and for the most part the movie simulated very well the game and puzzle aspects of Layton.
Onwards. Art and animation. Um, it’s styled like how the game is, so it was like watching one of those clips that happened in the game… clearer on a nicer screen with cleaner and more fluid animation (you know how the DS gets kinda pixelly when the frames go by). The art is pretty simple, I’d say it’s pretty hard for professional animators to actually mess up those character designs. Surprisingly the animation for the few action and fight scenes were pretty good too. If anything, Layton’s got these two covered.
And finally, the music. If there was ever a reason needed to watch this movie aside from being a fan of the game, it would be for the music. There were the nostalgic themes (including the puzzle-solving melody) that got used as timely background music, and then there were the new songs. Janice (that character I mentioned in the beginning) is an opera singer, so obviously we hear her sing for an opera during the movie (they kept the Japanese singing in the English dub). She also sings to a tune called A Song of the Sea, which plays a pretty prominent role during the movie. In any case, all of the music is absolutely fantastic.
A side note about the movie, I personally preferred the dub, even though the mouthing didn’t sync up perfectly. Somehow my image of Luke was always as an overly enthusiastic but kind of incompetent wannabe, and the Japanese version of him sounded much too mature and competent so I didn’t really give it much of a chance after that. However, like in the games, almost every female’s voice sounded pretty bad (much too high pitched) in the dub.
And that’s about it! So, gochisousama deshita! You’ve waited long enough for my verdict: