A virtual step out of nowhere.
That pretty cool-looking if Western-styled CGI animated Dragon Quest movie, Dragon Quest: Your Story, was out in Japan early August. Movie-goers and gaming fans over there watched the film, and have voiced out their complaints in the form of 2-star reviews over at IMDB-like Japanese site Eiga.com (via Siliconera).
But what the heck were they pissed off about? I will need to bring up spoilers as the complaints stem on the game’s narrative. You were warned.
So here’s what happened: the film starts off just like Dragon Quest V’s story save for main hero Lucas’ childhood bits, which was glossed over. The show’s complaints on the site were mostly about the disjointed episodic nature of the film.
However, the film pulls off a twist: when the main villain shows up, he explains that he is a game bug built from the character data of Nimzo. Essentially, the film goes meta on its audience; main hero Lucas is actually a human player embodying the role of Lucas in an immersive VR Dragon Quest V experience. As he is about to be ejected from the virtual world by the Nimzo bug, he gets saved by a Slime he recruited, who turns out to be an anti-bug program in a deus ex machina sort of reveal.
The hero triumphs over fake Nimzo after an arduous battle, and also brought in a weapon from the first Dragon Quest game to finish him off. The game world is then saved, with the player learning a valuable lesson: even if the games are not real, the memories together with the characters in the game will forever live within them.
You can call this video game propaganda from Square Enix, the current makers of 50+ hour JRPGs, if you’re feeling cynical. Heck, a lot of Dragon Quest are being vocal about this turn of events and its moral. They felt as if the director and writer gave up on doing a faithful adaptation of DQV’s story and just added this Sword Arts Online-esque bait-and-switch. Plus, they mentioned that DQV’s Zenithian sword gets shafted in favour of a DQ1 superweapon.
Me personally? Assuming that it’s handled well direction and narrative-wise, I am fine with this. I was told that the film did foreshadow the meta-narrative from the game-like presentation in certain key scenes. The fact that Lucas speaks like a normal kid, as well as the film title, is a dead giveaway.
For many fans, it is considered a cop-out, but for other film-goers who are open-minded and don’t mind the deviation from its source material just to be clever with its message, it’s a welcome sight. There’s no English language release date for this film as of yet; we may get more news on it in the near future.