English 2.0 Stereo
English 5.1 Surround
English Dolby Digital 5.1
Japanese 2.0 Stereo
Japanese 5.1 Surround
The Professor Layton series of games have been a quiet success, mixing brain teasers and charming animation to appeal to both casual and core gamers alike. Given the anime cut scenes spaced throughout the games it seemed only a matter of time before the Professor got his own anime. One of Layton's former students Janice, is performing in an opera telling the story of a legendary lost land called Ambrosia whose inhabitants discover the secret to eternal life. Janice is concerned because the composer Oswald Whistler has recently adopted a young girl who is claiming to be reincarnation Whistler's dead natural daughter Milena.
The main thing which struck me as I watched Eternal Diva is that Manga Entertainment have recruited the original English voice cast for the dub track. Having played the English release of the games this touch was appreciated, and since the game is set in England the use of an authentic British cast works well. The animation style and soundtrack are also taken directly from the games, invoking the same atmosphere.
The film opens a little slowly, jumping from a chase scene to the Professor and his apprentice Luke in his study reminiscing about the 'Eternal Diva' case, and then launching into the retelling of the case which forms the basis for the film. It's a little confusing at first, attempting to serve both as an intro to the series for people who have never played the games and as an explanation as to when Eternal Diva is set.
Once it gets going, Layton proves a delight from start to finish. The nostalgic atmosphere and classic mystery plot are strongly reminiscent of The Castle of Cagliostro. There are a few moments which take direct reference to the game where the Professor is set puzzles. The film keeps its tongue firmly in cheek going so far as to actually show a giant music player playing the puzzle music from the games. The main plot of the film plays out like a mystery in a kind of fantasy version of Poirot, but it's easy to follow and it's clearly designed so that you can try to figure out the mystery as you watch.
Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is one of the best game to movie adaptation's I've seen, and for fans of the games like myself and absolute treat. It takes a simple mystery plot and turns it into a genuinely charming and enjoyable experience. Like all 'family' films there's a chance that it might appear a bit twee to older anime fans, but on the flip side I'd also recommend the film to anyone looking for a family film for the Christmas holidays.