class=”alignleft size-thumbnail wp-image-48874″ title=”Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva” src=”×150.png” alt=”” width=”220″ height=”150″ />Professor Layton is one of the most popular video game series to spring up in recent years, with over seven million people currently playing them it’s no surprise that Level-5, the studio behind the games, have decided to make an animated film based on the property.

With the third game released in the UK on the 22nd of October, Manga Entertainment have finally decided to release the film directly to Blu-Ray and DVD in the same week as the up-coming game. As a big fan of the series, I can safely say that Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva is an honest and well executed attempt to bring the popular professor to the small screen.

Based after the events of the fourth game, Professor Layton and the Specter’s Flute, we see the famed character and his young apprentice Luke as Janice Quatlane, a former student of the professor, invites them to the famed opera house, Crown Petone.

After seeing Janice’s performance, a masked man announces that everyone is part of a game to claim eternal life and that only one person may possess it, while the others will die. The opera then shakes and it is revealed that the opera is part of a giant ship taking everyone out to sea. With everyone having to solve several puzzles in order to make it alive and travel to numerous locations in order to gain the prize.

With Professor Layton, Luke, Janice and Inspector Clamp Grosky forced to take part in the devilish game, can they make it alive while solving the secret about the power of eternal life?

The writing for the film is quite good in comparison to the games and it did not disappoint me as the writers stayed really close to the narrative style that the games follow and managed to make a decent attempt at trying to write a feature-length adventure. However, it does not quite live to the story in the video games as they contain more unique mysteries and while I will not ruin the ending of the film, the twist is quite weak in comparison to the brilliant twists in the individual games.

One of the most praiseworthy things  about the film is how well the animation team have managed to keep the art style of the games all the way through the film, with its mixture of European-inspired designs and stylish anime that really helps to make this a fresh film for newcomers to the characters.
The different set pieces that they use throughout the film look quite stunning and even add realistic and fictional backgrounds to keep people interested at what is happening in the background as much as the foreground.

For example, the first scene sees Layton and Luke in London and we see many of the city’s many landmarks, including Big Ben and Tower Bridge all the way to the White Cliffs of Dover. But the best background and set pieces were the fantastically giant buildings that just look like the many obscure structures that players would have seen in the games and this is a great plus, as people new to the series can see one of the biggest advantages of the games’ settings.

Meanwhile, the characters all move as smoothly as they do in the video games’ cut scenes and it is surprising to see the team put so much effort into the movement and expressions of the characters, despite the fact that it is not a major production. Also, the soundtrack complements the characters, giving them different tones and evoking mystery and excitement in their adventure.

Here’s the bad news about the numerous packages and features that Manga Entertainment have decided to do for the film, though. If you are only looking to get the DVD, there will be a massive lack of bonus features and while not everyone will mind this, it is disappointing for those who are.

But if you are looking to get it on a Blu-Ray format, you’re in for a treat. There are three packages to choose from and the first is much like the DVD version of the film where you do not get any bonus features. The second is a three-disc set that includes a DVD and Blu-Ray disc version of the film and the third disc contains a few features that should keep some people interested. But the third set definitely offers the most for your money, as it includes the three-disc set, surrounded in a lovely sleeve and has a six hundred page book containing all the storyboards and some art work. But the third set will set you back about thirty-five pounds.

Overall, this is a good attempt for Level-5 to get Professor Layton on the big screen and should not disappoint the fans too much. This is not the best animated film of the year, but it kept me entertained throughout. Even though it is based after the fourth game (which is not released in the UK until next year) and confused me a bit at times, it never ruined the experience.

Lovely animation, good voice acting, great soundtrack and a good story, this should also keep newcomers enjoyed as well. It is catered more towards the fans, but I do not see any reason why this should be have a negative effect. Without a doubt, this comes recommended as a rental for newcomers or the casual players of the games, while it is worth buying if you are a true diehard fan.