Final Fantasy: Unlimited (FF:U ～ファイナルファンタジー:アンリミテッド～, FF:U ~Fainaru Fantajī: Anrimiteddo~) is an anime television series based on Square Enix's popular Final Fantasy role-playing video game franchise.
Final Fantasy: Unlimited incorporates both 2D animation and 3D graphics, and takes elements from the Final Fantasy games. It was licensed for North America and the United Kingdom by ADV Films, and 7 volumes of videos were released on DVD. In 2003, the series soundtrack Final Fantasy: Unlimited After 2 was released. The continuation of the story has also been released in a variety of other media.
Ai Hayakawa (アイ・ハヤカワ) and Yu Hayakawa (ユウ・ハヤカワ) are the main characters of Final Fantasy: Unlimited. The 12-year-old twins are the children of Joe and Marie Hayakawa. Ai is an energetic and intensely curious little girl who is very positive and outgoing, while her brother Yu tends to act like an adult in that he always proceeds with caution along their journey. Other main characters include Lisa Pacifist (リサ・パツィフィースト, Risa Patsifīsuto), a 22 year old woman who Ai and Yu encounter in the Subway as she became their protector while helping them search for their parents in Wonderland. She is able to manipulate spirits found in nature through the use of her Kigen Arts and uses this power to protect the two twins from the various monsters of Wonderland. There are also two mysterious figures that the group encounter, "Black Wind" (黒き風, Kuroki Kaze) and Makenshi (魔剣士), beings of incredible power who each lost their world before coming to Wonderland.
Final Fantasy: Unlimited follows the story of Ai and Yu Hayakawa, 12-year-old twins who travel into Wonderland, a mysterious parallel dimension, in search of their missing parents. The series is divided into two major sections, defined by the main method of transport the protagonists are utilizing. The first half of the series see the group using the Ghost Train to reach a part of Wonderland, crossing paths with Kaze as he has no memory of his past save Makenshi, who aids the Lords of Gaudium who attack them. The group also encounter fragments of a destructive being named Omega, which is after the Ghost Train's powerful source to become whole. Meanwhile, the story from the antagonist's view is periodically revealed with Earl Tyrant's discussion with his lords. Earl is the embodiment of Chaos, and is seeking the fragments of Omega to possess power equal to the Unlimited, beings of immense power like Kaze and Makenshi who could destroy him.
The second half of the series see the protagonists join up with the rebel faction, the Comodeen, and board the submarine, Jane, which is bound for Telos, the only place in Wonderland that has a natural deposit of the gravity defying Flying Water. This substance is sought by both parties: the Comodeen to power their airship Silvia to reach Earl's flying fortress Guadium and the Earl's forces using the substance to contain Omega's power. The series climaxes when the Earl himself makes a move on the Comodeen, destroying Jane and capturing the protagonists in his true form: Chaos Tyrant. It was then that the Earl's right-hand man, Oscha, reveals that Ai and Yu were spawned from Chaos in the aftermath of Kaze and Makenshi's sending their adoptive parents to Wonderland. With only Omega's heart, Clear, remaining and fused with his Fying Water suit into a crystal, the Earl intended to absorb the Hayakawa twins as well to increase Chaos's power from their experiences. Luckily, Lou Lupus and Moogle come to their friends' aid as the Earl killed the former. Confronted with Chaos Tyrant, Kaze and Makenshi sacrifice themselves to destroy the Earl, thus ending his reign of terror over Wonderland while Lisa and the Hayakawa family were found by the Comodeen.
The North American complete FF:U boxset re-arranges the series into five discs of five episodes each, titled "Phase 1" through "Phase 5." The English complete FF:U boxset retains the seven disks as released singularly. Both were released by A.D.V. Films.
The series was composed by Nobuo Uematsu, Shirō Hamaguchi, and Akifumi Tada.
The series received an opening theme and three ending themes. The opening theme for the series is "Over the FANTASY" (Composed by Nobuo Uematsu, Arranged by Takahiro Ando, Lyrics by Yuko Ebine) performed by Kana Ueda. The first theme is "VIVID" (Lyrics and Composition by Takashi Genouzono, Arrangements by Fairy Fore and Masao Akashi) performed by Fairy Fore and was used for episodes 1-12. For episodes 13-24 the ending theme was "Romancing Train" (Compition and arrangements by t-kimura, lyrics by motsu) performed by move. The third ending theme was "Over the FANTASY" and was used on the final episode of the series.
Two soundtracks were for the series. The first is Final Fantasy: Unlimited Music Adventure Verse 1 December 19, 2001 on the label Geneon. Final Fantasy: Unlimited Music Adventure Verse 2 and released on April 17, 2002.
A novel titled, Final Fantasy: Unlimited - Sou no Kizuna (ファイナルファンタジー:アンリミテッド―双の絆, lit. "Final Fantasy Unlimited - The Bonds of Two Souls") was released on March 28, 2002 by Kadokawa Shoten. The novel was written by Katigiri Sho, illustrated by Kazuto Nakazawa, and supervised by Squaresoft. It explores a side-story that is set in the time of the television series (somewhere before episode 12). Final Fantasy: Unlimited Before is a drama CD that features a flashback to the destruction of Kaze and Makenshi's worlds. FF:U Before was awarded to competition winners in Japan. A serial web novel After Spiral was novels published on the official Japanese FF:U website. The first of these short stories takes a quick plunge into Makenshi's past, while the rest describe an encounter between the show's heroes and Soljashy on the twins' childhood home of Sado Island, where Ai and Yu are briefly reunited with their old friend Touya Satomi.
The story of Final Fantasy: Unlimited, left incomplete by the television series, was continued in several other media released only in Japan. A book titled Final Fantasy: Unlimited After - Gakai no Sho (ファイナルファンタジー:アンリミテッドアフター~外界の章~, lit."Final Fantasy: Unlimited - Chapters of the Outside World") was released in 2002 by DigiCube. The book contains a 32-page manga and 120-page script. It covers the twins' return to their own world, revelation of Lisa's past and introduces a new villain under Gaudium: Soljashy. A radio drama titled FF:U After 2 - Risa tachi kira reta kusari (FF:U After 2-リサ た ちきられたクサリ-) was released on December 26, 2002 by Avex. It deals with Comodeen's final attack on Gaudium and brings a conclusion to the conflict between Lisa and Soljashy, however it leaves many questions yet unanswered.
Two video games have been released. The first, titled FF:U with U, is an RPG video game adaptation for Japanese mobile phone on i-mode's distribution service developed by Index was released in August 20, 2002. The game contains the same plot as the anime. Points can be accumulated by playing through the game's scenarios and be used to purchase more characters. Ringtones based on the music of Final Fantasy: Unlimited can also be purchased through the game as microtransactions. The second game, titled Final Fantasy: Unlimited on PC Adventure - Labyrinth, is a video game set in the Final Fantasy: Unlimited universe. Published by Amada Printing, it was released May 16, 2003.
The series was ranked 18 by popular vote for Top 20 Anime in Japan for the month of November 2001.
Outside Japan the series had received mixed reviews. Allen Divers of Anime News Network (ANN) ranked the series an overall score "B" stating, "Despite its somewhat formulaic plot, Final Fantasy is an ambitious series and manages to be visually engaging." Sandra Scholes of Active Anime praised the series stating, "It is interesting to see how well thought out this series has been. The characters have been created with care and consideration for the ones out there who have followed the Final Fantasy genre from the start." However Ken Hargon of ANN criticized the series for being unappealing and not living up to the Final Fantasy series nor any other anime. Carlos Ross of T.H.E.M. ranked the series three stars stating that "The style is firmly entrenched in Saturday morning, but at least it's better than FF Legend of the Crystals." Paul Gaudette of Mania gave the series a "D" stating "Although it has almost nothing to do with its namesake, Final Fantasy Unlimited was somewhat enjoyable in the beginning while falling into every cliche of a show written for a younger audience."