In a lot of ways, Final Fantasy XV resembles a typical fantasy epic. You have a band of warriors, led by a brooding prince, traveling the world on a lengthy quest. There’s a serious king doing everything he can to keep his people safe amongst the violent drama of warring factions. But it’s also really, really weird, with trailers that focus on everything from camping trips to luxury cars (that can also transform into planes) to shopping in a convenience store.
This mixture of goofy and serious is on full display in the ongoing anime spinoff, Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV, the fourth episode of which was released just this week. It’s delightfully strange, and the perfect thing to hold you over until the game’s November release.
Brotherhood debuted back in March, and new episodes have slowly been trickling out since then. The first was a solid introduction, taking us through a day in the life of the boy band-esque foursome at the heart of the game. It was less than 12 minutes long, but managed to show the group in a wide range of situations; everything from arguing over burgers in a fast food joint to slicing up robotic soldiers with giant swords. Since then, the episodes have all been primarily flashbacks, showing how Prince Noctis’ entourage came to be.
The great thing about these backstories is that they’re not at all what you’d expect. While initially the group feels like a collection of cliches straight out of a Making the Band playbook — there’s the angsty one, the cute one, the tough one, etc. — they quickly show themselves to be characters with depth and lovable quirks. In the second episode, which deals with the gun-wielding blonde Prompto, we learn of his struggles with weight loss and his endearing affection for tiny puppies. The most recent episode looks at bespectacled Ignis, and his curious, ongoing quest to find the recipe for a dessert Noctis loved from childhood.
Needless to say, these aren’t the typical quests you’d find in a role playing game like Final Fantasy. But these smaller, personal moments do a great job of balancing the more serious, save-the-world shtick common to the genre (that aspect seems to already be covered pretty well by the upcoming CG movie Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV).
With just one episode to go, which will likely focus on Noctis, these anime shorts have made me even more excited to play the game. Based on what I’ve seen and played so far, the game seems to have a similar mix of huge action set-pieces and quieter, weirder moments — I can only hope that come November I’ll be able to bake a cake for the future king.