Every Final Fantasy Movie & Anime Spinoff, Ranked

Final Fantasy, as a series, began in 1987 in Japan. It has been going strong since with up to 16 main releases, sequels to those games, and many, many spinoffs. And not just in the gaming realm, either. Some of these spinoffs have taken the form of other media entirely, including films and anime.

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It’s those films and anime we’ll be focusing on today. At present, there are nine in total, and we’ll provide an overview of each, as well as a rough qualitative ranking within the list. Which Final Fantasy TV fare is worth your time?

Updated on July 14, 2023 by Quinton O’Connor: With Final Fantasy 16’s recent launch, the RPG-loving net is all in a frenzy over the franchise once more, meaning there are bound to be fans devouring everything Final Fantasy they can possibly find. Should you include these in your big FF binge? See what we have to say below!

9 Final Fantasy: Legend Of The Crystals

Promo art featuring characters from Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals

Ostensibly a sequel to Final Fantasy 5 – though anyone who’s watched this will tell you the creators took extensive enough liberties that you’ve got to squint to see it – Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals was a four-episode 1994 anime following FF5 hero Bartz’s distant descendant some two centuries into the future. As an OVA (original video animation) project, Legend of the Crystals has some decent production values for the time, but that’s about as nice a thing we can say about it.

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Legend of the Crystals goes incredibly overboard with so-called fan service. The pirate character and her cohorts all wear bikinis. The secret switch to enter their lair is… a pair of breasts. Worse by far, the heroine, who we might add is around 12 years old, can’t go five minutes without suffering the indignity of an upskirt shot. Oh, and uh, there’s even a narrative ‘reason’ for this tired trope, but we’re not even going to get into it. This just isn’t a good piece of Final Fantasy’s past.

8 Last Order: Final Fantasy 7

Zack from Last Order: Final Fantasy VII

Before the debut of Crisis Core, the PSP FF7 prequel starring Zack Fair, Last Order: Final Fantasy 7 was arguably the shiniest way to watch the pivotal in-universe events at the Nibelheim Mako Reactor that shaped the destinies of multiple major characters. We say arguably because, well, boy howdy, does it take some liberties, and one specific liberty is downright painful.

You see, one of the most memorably heroic moments in the Final Fantasy series involves a young Cloud Strife managing to surprise the arrogant Sephiroth and toss him into the pool of lifestream far below them despite Cloud’s tremendous physical weakness relative to the legendary SOLDIER.

Last Order instead shows Sephiroth pull a terrible ‘all according to keikaku’ moment and leap into the lifestream of his own volition, robbing the event of nearly all its emotional weight and leaving us with a pretty dire anime special as a result.

7 Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

Promo art featuring characters from Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within

If you’re up on your behind-the-scenes Final Fantasy lore, you’ll likely be aware that The Spirits Within, a major Hollywood blockbuster production, was a resounding financial failure that caused Square no small amount of hardship in the following years, leading (in part) to the executive decision to merge with Enix in 2003. That’s not the sort of thing you want your flick to be remembered for, but here we are.

But not every box office dud is a bad movie. Sometimes, these things just sort of happen. Sometimes, shoddy marketing can drag a good thing down. That’s not quite the case with Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, a gorgeous (for its time) science-fiction thriller that suffers not only for its near-lack of Final Fantasy flavoring, but more importantly, its dry and by-the-numbers script.

For all the visual grandeur and high-concept themes, The Spirits Within is without much to say.

6 On The Way To A Smile: Episode – Denzel

Denzel from On The Way To A Smile - Episode: Denzel

On the Way to a Smile is a novella set between the events of Final Fantasy 7 and its CG movie sequel, Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children. Each of the short stories follows a specific character (or in a couple of cases, multiple characters). While the majority of these tales chart the goings-on of familiar favorites like Barret and Red, the first chapter introduces a new character to the canon – Denzel.

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The quality of this 28-minute OVA effectively lives or dies on how interesting its perspective lead happens to be. And Denzel is… all right. His tragic backstory – his parents dying when the Sector 7 plate fell in Midgar, and the uplifting bit about Reeve looking after the poor boy thereafter – makes for a fairly inspired storytelling pitch, but Denzel himself just isn’t particularly compelling despite the setup. Watching this isn’t a waste of time so much as an exercise in moderate tedium.

5 Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy 15

Promo art featuring characters from Kingsglaive: Final Fantasy XV

We’re moving into the more watchable fare now, though Kingsglaive will forever irk a fair number of Final Fantasy fans for essentially serving as the chopped-off first act to its flagship video game. The events of Kingsglaive set Final Fantasy 15 in motion almost as much as it would be fair to say the events in Midgar set Final Fantasy 7 in motion. The only notable difference between the two is that Kingsglaive features a (mostly, but not entirely) separate cast.

But enough about the meta issues with the FF15 universe – how does Kingsglaive hold up on its own merits? Well, like we said, it’s watchable. The action scenes are pretty good, the big stars brought on for voice acting roles deliver decent enough performances, and there are little set design sprinkles of the old Final Fantasy Versus 13 project that get us oddly nostalgic.

The script’s simply not up to snuff, and the film’s a smorgasbord of fictional terminology that’s sure to bewilder any newcomer, and will have even lifelong Final Fantasy buffs to scratch our heads here and there. Without strong enough writing, Kingsglaive is destined to be less than the sum of its big, explosive parts, an unfortunately common issue with FF tie-in media.

4 Final Fantasy 7: Advent Children

Characters gathered together in Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children

Pinch us if you’ve heard this before, but Advent Children’s main weakness is its writing. The spectacle of its visuals stunned RPG aficionados when it premiered, and the release of an enhanced (prettified with extra runtime) version called Advent Children Complete helped to ensure the movie’s graphical fidelity has stood the test of time. The excitement behind getting to see FF7’s cast – and hear them! – in the years following the original game was absolutely palpable.

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Strong performances, a head-banging soundtrack, and some surprisingly solid little character moments can’t entirely save Advent Children from some ridiculous little retcons and an overarching plot that can’t measure up to its legacy. It’s not bad – well, aside from that sequence when everyone jumps up high in the sky, and Cloud basically bounces off of each of them to reach Bahamut – but it’s not especially good, either.

3 Final Fantasy 15: Episode Ardyn – Prologue

Ardyn from Final Fantasy XV: Episode Ardyn - Prologue

The cancelation of three out of four of Final Fantasy 15’s planned second-season DLC stories is unfortunate, but thankfully, Episode Ardyn was far enough along the pipeline to escape unscathed. Ahead of its launch, Square Enix gave us Episode Ardyn – Prologue, which is exactly what its title suggests. At 13 minutes long, it’s hardly a commitment, and it’s worth watching for the full 2,000-years-ago experience.

Prologue, and Episode Ardyn itself, help to give some context to Ardyn’s motivations, which were somewhat ill-defined in the game. Ardyn comes away from this short anime chapter more intriguing as a result, so we’d give Prologue a passing grade for doing precisely what it set out to do.

2 Brotherhood: Final Fantasy 15

Gladio and Noctis Brotherhood: Final Fantasy XV

It’s symbolic of the patchwork nature of Final Fantasy 15 that whilst Kingsglaive is required viewing for fans who wish to know what sets much of the game in motion, Brotherhood – a five-episode anime about Noctis and his friends and a sixth for Lady Lunafreya – is similarly required for those who want to see the sorts of bonding moments that bring the boys together as friends. Brotherhood more properly introduces Ignis, Prompto, and Gladio to the audience, and it’s generally an endearing affair.

It’s hardly perfect, and some might deem it inconsequential. But sometimes, inconsequential’s OK. If one of your favorite things about the fifteenth mainline installment is the camaraderie between its core quartet of bros, you won’t want to miss Brotherhood: Final Fantasy 15.

1 Final Fantasy: Unlimited

Promo art featuring characters from Final Fantasy: Unlimited

Contrary to the cute little cactuar and even cuter chocobo on the cover, Final Fantasy: Unlimited has rather limited ties to the FF franchise as a whole. Then again, what is Final Fantasy? This age-old criticism of Unlimited may not hold as much water as it sounds. Unlimited’s fairly comedic tone and only occasional winks to the games doesn’t prevent it from being a modestly fun time.

Twins Ai and Yu step into an alternate dimension, meet someone named Lisa Pacifist (yep), and get entangled in some larger-than-life plot beats. The worst thing we can say about Final Fantasy: Unlimited is that its low ratings got it canned before completion, with only 25 of a planned 52 episodes finished before it got the axe. That said, there are books and radio dramas that offer further adventures for the twins and their friends – not ideal, but if you end up hooked, you’ve got something.

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