There’s something about Professor Layton and his apprentice number one Luke that has captivated me through three complete DS games. Needless to say I can’t get enough of the British accents, puzzle solving madness, and mysterious antics the duo get themselves into. Enter Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva, an anime film based on the DS series of video games. After arriving in my mailbox via Netflix I was giddy like a child on Christmas morning waiting to get some free time to watch it. And though the movie is based on a puzzle solving video game, Eternal Diva does a fantastic job capturing the look, feel, and charm the DS games have become known for.
Chronologically, The Eternal Diva takes place after the events of the latest game in the series released in America, Professor Layton and the Last Spectre but before the newest game in the series that is currently only out in Japan, Professor Layton and the Mask of Miracle. The Professor is reminiscing with Luke about a certain musical record when they flashback to a few years prior. Layton and Luke, a much younger looking Luke for that matter, get a ticket to an opera about the legendary city of Ambrosia, which is said to hold a long lost secret to eternal life. Janice, a friend of the professor’s and lead singer in the opera, has a special request of the archeologist as well: Her good friend Melina has been dead for some time, but she has apparently reappeared in the body of a young girl claiming to have found the secret to eternal life. Always the curious fellow, Layton begins investigating the claim and winds up in the middle of a madman’s game to find the lost city of Ambrosia and claim the elixir of eternal life for himself. Pretty dastardly for someone to do, I know, but nothing new for Layton and Crew. The story absolutely captures the essence of past Professor Layton games, and by that I mean it feels like it fits in with the rest of Layton’s adventures. Not only that, but the way puzzle solving is incorporated throughout the movie (complete with the puzzle solving tunes from the respective DS games!) is done in such a way that it doesn’t feel out of place or strange . I felt the ending itself borrowed too heavily from the events that took place at the end of Unwound Future, but overall everything in the movie felt fresh, introducing new characters and presenting a story that was enjoyable.
Luke, Layton, and Emmy (Layton’s assistant) make up the main cast of characters returning from the previous game. Since this game takes place in the past, the only other characters from past games (like Flora, Chelmey, Barton, and Don Paolo) are given small cameos at the beginning of the movie. Layton’s old teacher, Dr. Schrader, is featured a bit later in the game (complete with the Elysian Box he’s been researching!) but doesn’t offer much to the overall plot. A band of new characters are introduced for Eternal Diva, including the aforementioned Janice, a young female math wiz named Amelia, an enthusiastic Ambrosia historian Marco, and Whistler, the opera’s writer who is obviously hiding his true motive. The main villain is Jean Descole, a scientist gone awry, who will stop at nothing to resurrect Ambrosia and claim it’s life-giving potion. Though the new cast isn’t a familiar one, the script is well written and the characters are charming to a point where you’ll accept them as you accepted past characters from the series. Christopher Robin Miller reprises his role as the eponymous professor and does a great job giving the British doctor his unique personality. To be honest the movie (and games for that matter) wouldn’t be the same without his iconic representation of Layton. Overall the characters are likeable and animated, as they would be in the game series.
Did you ever wish that those rare full-motion video cutscenes from the Professor Layton games were longer? Well that’s exactly what Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is: a movie based on the exact animation style found in said cutscenes. I was impressed by the amount of detail in this film. Ever scene and location looks crisp. Bright colors are used everywhere, great shadow effects give places like the outside of the ship a gloomy feel, and best of all is the cast of characters. Layton and crew look just like they do in the games, and the rest of the new patrons have that same quirky yet fitting look to them like those in the games. Whistler has a ridiculously huge nose, the inspector Clamp Grosky has a big blue tuft of chest hair constantly poking through his shirt, and Descole wears a mask like he’s trying out for a role in an Assassin’s Creed game. Unlike the DS’ cutscenes however, this movie looks a lot better and isn’t compressed and fuzzy. Really, this feature looks that great, and I highly recommend checking it out just for the incredible artwork alone.
I was very pleased with Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva. Very pleased. The way the movie incorporates so many aspects of the games (characters, puzzle solving, music, art style, story) is astounding. This is definitely one video game movie done totally right. There are even reports that new movies (including a live-action one) are on the way! If you are a fan of the Professor Layton series of video games and want more Layton to lap up then I strongly suggest getting your hands on this DVD. It’s a bright future for the Professor and his apprentice number one, and I’m itching to solve another mystery!