Now that North America got a chance to check out Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children we decided to dust off our Japanese copy and compare the two releases side by side. Both of the DVDs tell the story of Cloud post Final Fantasy VII. After saving the world Cloud wanders the world while a mysterious illness consumes him and the children. Geostigma is spreading across the world in Eden, the new town where Midgar used to stand. Meanwhile Kadaj, the movie’s new villain, searches for his mother. The story is preserved in both DVD releases, but what about the packaging and the extras? Which version reigns supreme?
The Japanese release comes with a shiny clear slim plastic case, which makes it stand out on a DVD rack. The North American version has your run of the mill black case. As for the cover art the Japanese version has a holographic print of Cloud on Fenrir while the North American uses the same cover sans the reflective paper.
On the cover of the Japanese disc is a tribal style tattoo of a wolf. This is the same wolf that is on Cloud’s shirt. Instead of using this design the North American release has a cover with Cloud and Sephiroth in CG for like the early wallpaper that Square-Enix released.
The Japanese disc contains only the Japanese language track and Japanese subtitles. Compare this to the North American release which has the Japanese track, the English voice track and subtitles in eight different languages. We’ve mentioned before that the North American version has a Hollywood cast that includes Steve Burton (Cloud), Rachel Leigh Cook (Tifa), Mena Suvari (Aerith) and Steve Staley (Kadaj). While the quality of the voices is fairly good, the dubbing is out of sync at times.
The original Japanese release has just a few extras on it. Reminiscence of FFVII is a quick overview of Final Fantasy VII. The feature shows off some of the key story segments and has a few FMV clips. While this won’t get people who didn’t beat the game up to speed about the story, the summary is a good refresher for those that haven’t played the game in a couple of years. The disc also includes the Compilation of Final Fantasy VII trailers. These are quick peeks at Dirge of Cerberus, Before Crisis and Crisis Core. Finally the original trailer is included.
Here’s where the North American release shines. All of the extras from the Japanese release are included along with new features. First are about a dozen of deleted scenes. Most of these are only a few seconds long and don’t affect the story. There is one scene which is an alternate fight sequence in the forest between Cloud and Loz, which is the highlight of the reel. Also included is footage from the Venice Film Festival and a thirty minute feature about the making of the movie. The extra commentary from Tetsuya Nomura, Nobuo Uematsu and Yusuke Naora shines light on the story gaps in the movie. They explain how they ended up with the design of Cloud’s motorcycle Fenrir, why they brought Bahamut into the movie and explain the origin of the town outside of Midgar where most of the movie takes place. Tetsuya Nomura also speaks about the difficulties of making a feature film compared to cut scenes. Most of the extra features found on the North American release were only included on the limited edition Advent Children package bundled with the PSX game, t-shirt and other goodies sold for around $280.
It took around half a year for the North American release to come out, but it was worth the wait. More extras, a solid English language track and plenty of subtitle options make the North American version the copy to pick up.