Following on from the success of the brilliant Professor Layton puzzle games on DS, developers Level 5 have teamed up with director Masakazu Kubo – best known for directing many of the Pokémon films – and animation studio P.A. Works, who create all the animated scenes in the Professor Layton games, to create a feature film. Unlike most video game films, which aren’t exactly known for their quality, Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is part of the game’s universe. Any fan of the series will be right at home with the style of animation, plot devices and voice actors.
Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva kicks off with Professor Layton and his self-proclaimed number one apprentice Luke Triton solving the mystery of the theft of Big Ben, with an introductory voice over from Luke to ease newcomers to the starring duo. This section, however, is more fan service than anything else, with a quick resolution and lots of cameo appearances – only fans will understand what is going on. After this opening teaser, Professor Layton digs out a record to play, which kicks off flashbacks from three years ago, and the mystery of the Eternal Diva.
Even though Professor Layton and the Lost Future is out very soon in the UK, Japan have already enjoyed the next game in the series – Professor Layton and the Specter’s Flute – which kicks off a prequel series set before the events of The Curious Village. The events of The Eternal Diva take place after the fourth game. This leads to one problem – some of the new characters don’t have a proper introduction as the film assumes that you’ve played The Specter’s Flute. While you’ll instantly identify Inspector Clamp Grosky with Inspector Chelmey, Layton’s new sidekick Emmy would have benefited from a proper introduction.
I don’t want to spoil much of the plot, so I’ll keep things simple. One of Layton’s old students, Janice Quatlane, invites Layton to one of her performances to solve a mystery – Janice’s late best friend visited her in the body of a young child, claiming to have eternal life. Layton and Luke embark on a journey to discover the truth behind this eternal life. Along the way the duo have to solve puzzles, and the film gives you plenty of time (as well as a few hints) for you to think things out before the answer is revealed. There are loads of heartwarming moments, clever thinking and exciting action. The plot can get a bit daft in places, but that goes without saying – it’s just like the games, after all.
P. A. Works have done an astonishing job with the animation. It’s a combination of hand drawn, computer drawn and CGI components, all of which blend flawlessly to create many beautiful scenes. It retains the look of the games, while managing to produce cinema-worthy imagery.The detail and colours are especially good on the Blu-Ray edition. Layton will be pleased to know that many of the great music cues from the games also find their way into the film. You are also given the choice between the original Japanese voice actors and the voice actors who do the voices in the English versions of the game. Both mixes have the option of 5.1 and 2.0 sound options.
Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is the perfect film adaptation of the Professor Layton games, anyone who enjoys the Layton games, puzzles and over-the-top plots will almost certainly love it. It’s made by the creators of the games for fans of the games. It proved that, when you escape Hollywood, video game films can definitely work. All they need is the love and care of the original development team.