Finally! At last year's Animation Nation, I got a kick out of watching this specially commissioned anime series Freedom by Nissin Cup Noodles, but alas the audience had only the Prologue, and Episodes 1-3 to savour, being left with a major cliffhanger, and wondering if the remaining episodes will ever reach our shores, or we'd have to put down some money for the DVDs instead. In my recent trip to Japan, the original DVDs don't come cheap, and cost almost S$50 per chapter, with all chapters available for sale.
Of course, knowing that this year's Animation Nation will feature Freedom in its entirety, I felt it justifiable hold back those purchases and to double dip at the festival instead, and to watch it in a spanking new auditorium at Fusionopolis. And having now seen the completed episodes, the urge to purchase and own this series just got a little stronger.
The last we left off, Takeru and Bisu had blasted off for Earth, and the remaining 4 episodes deal with their adventures on our planet, meeting up with the love of their lives, and the contemplation of having to return to Eden to fulfill the promise to Kazuma as he had to stay behind in order for his friends to reach their destination.
While on the whole it seemed to have spent a lot more time on Earth while neglecting what's happening back at Eden, the story still managed to effectively deal with that issue in Episodes 6 and 7, despite having to fast forward some two and a half years from Episode 5. Some surprises do get thrown up, as do new machines as well as addressing the background and intent of the Freedom project. Kazuma and the rest at Eden don't get any more air time until the last episode, while Bisu has an extended role given that he's on Earth together with our main protagonist. As all of them would agree, and the audience as well, there's never a dull moment when in the company of Takeru.
A fantastic story with pleasing animation and well placed humour, I couldn't recommend this series any more than telling you to watch it at first opportunity, and if you have the cash to splash, do you know that the Blu-Ray box set is scheduled for release in November this year?! According to the official website, it'll be on 11 Nov 08! I'll probably need to break the bank in order to purchase my first Blu-Ray box set for this.
LtoR: Director Shuhei Morita, Producer Hideo Matsushita, and Yonghow
There was a short Q&A session with the filmmakers after the screening, and it was revealed by the director that there had not been such screenings held in Japan, so he was happy to see everyone enjoying this series of films together in a theatre setting. There was a question as to how come Nissin Cup Noodle of the Seafood variety existed on Earth, but of course there's no logical explanation for that other than the filmmakers just having to put that in, no prizes for guessing why of course. There was an additional interesting question that went if Shotaro Kaneda (of Akira) went head to head in a race with Takeru, who would win, to which Shuhei Morita replied that since he's the director for Freedom, it would be natural for him to say Takeru would. However, as he's also a fan of Akira, he would prefer if it ended like Akira with the two boys riding out together.
Yonghow also shared that each episode took 3 months to produce and they were under some intense deadlines. As the animation took up the bulk of the time, he was really pushed in the final stages of production doing the lighting and rendering,
Freedom Project Official Website (In Japanese)
Last Year's writeup on Freedom
Freedom Scenarios 0-3 Screenplay and Artbook
Freedom Scenarios 4-7 Screenplay and Artbook
For those who missed the Seminar, do catch up with what was discussed over at this link
And I still can't get enough of the theme song used though, This is Love by Utada Hikaru
Freedom Project Opening Titles
And here's Utada Hikaru performing it (with English Subs)