- Eternal Filena (1992-1993: Studio Pierrot) 6/6 eps.
Staff and Background
This OAV is based on a series of light novels of the same name by Takeshi Shudou who also created Minky Momo and did scripting work of Legend of the Galactic Heroes and Pokemon. The light novels seem to have been fairly successful as it ran for about 10 years with 9 volumes as well having a video game based upon them. The OAV was directed by Yoshikata Nitta who also directed Galactic Gale Baxinger, Isamu the Wilderness Boy, and Embracing Love, but to name some of his many mediocre productions. What we seem to have here is strong source material adapted by a quite poor director.
Story and Characters
Eternal Filena is pretty weird. It opens with an Ancient Greek looking city state being blown to bits by laser tanks. Filena, the princess, is smuggled away by two royal guards who then go their separate ways, with one raising Filena. For reasons that are never really explained the soldier raising Filena brings her up to be a battler, aka a gladiator. In this world they have computers and some sci-fi tech like laser guns but everyone dresses in togas and they have gladiator battles where people fight with swords…and sometime chainsaws.. So yeah, Filena is brought up to be a gladiator and is told by her adoptive father that she has to rise through the ranks until she is a ‘main battler’ which means she’ll be able to find the other soldier dude who has her family sword or something. Along the way she has to deal with the dudes who script the gladiator fights getting in her way. She is also pretending to be a man this whole time and manages to acquire a wife who falls in love with Filena because she doesn’t rape her, at least there doesn’t really seem to be any other reason for her to have fallen in love. Typing this all out really underscores how nuts this thing is but it doesn’t really feel all that weird when you watch it.
The overall production is fairly weak but they did do a good job in the progression and only giving you as much as you can handle so that when the dragon turns up at the end you just accept it instead of wondering what the fuck is going on. But as I said the rest of it is mediocre. The characters are not particularly deep, the plot not very engaging, and the general pacing feels quite slow, I even ended up watching the final 3 episode at x1.5 speed just because it as dragging so much. It also has some really bizarre moments such as when Filena’s sword just suddenly starts firing lightning at people with no explanation or when there is an out of the blue dance scene that is never mentioned ever again. I can definitely see that the source material was probably quite good with a fun little world, a little touch of mystery, and characters who have potential. However, this adaptation just feels like it was pumped out without any real passions or care. This isn’t helped by the fact that this is essentially the prologue to the main story and so has no ending, it just ends after a big fight with no resolution at all.
Audio and Visuals
For the most part the music isn’t good. There is a lot of super unmemorable tunes and some, quite frankly, ugly ones. Having said that I really like the main theme which really fits with an epic fantasy story, you could slot it right into something like Record of Lodoss War. The voice acting ok, but sadly there are no stand out performances. The art style is sadly bland as fuck. The character designs are super simple and generic are super simple and generic which is a shame because the cover art and the LN art is pretty cool. The animation is a bit of a mixed bag. It has some really smooth animation in the early fight scenes but they degrade into slideshows later on and even the well animated fights have poor choreography. In addition, most of the run time is just people standing around talking to each other, not exactly what I would call visually stimulating.
Overall Eternal Filena seems like a classic case of strong source material being pumped out without much care or love, resulting in an ok show. It certainly is nowhere near the worst thing I’ve ever seen but it is definitely below par. I can only recommend watching this out if you really really really want some techno fantasy.
Final score: 3E