Finding it hard to endure the wait until Final Fantasy XV? We hear you. Thankfully, Square Enix has been releasing free 15-minute anime episodes to help you get to know the party members better. The anime, called Brotherhood, was announced back at the March event, and so far four of the five episode arc have hit. You watch on them on Square Enix’s YouTube channel). If you purchase the Ultimate Collector’s edition, you get a bonus episode on Luna. As someone who loves learning about the cast, I’ve enjoyed watching these, but I bet you’re wondering if they’re worth your time. Here are my impressions so far.
What To Expect
The Brotherhood anime is meant to get your acquainted with the main characters, and its focus is on how they meet and become friends. Surprisingly enough, I’ve found a lot to like in these early episodes, especially seeing more of the party dynamic, such as Gladiolus telling Ignis to stop babying Noctis. Another takeaway is Noctis always seems so subdued, like the weight of being the prince is constantly on his shoulders. The interactions, while small, say a lot about the people you’re about to encounter in the game. Every episode will focus on a different party member; so far we’ve seen stories devoted to Noctis and Prompto. It looks like this is all leading up to the beginning of the game when Noctis must deal with threats on his kingdom. Of course, it’s more than he expects as it’s not just a warring nations at play, but also something stranger causing the nights to grow longer and bringing with it the fear that perpetual darkness will envelope the land.
Episode 1: Before The Storm
I wish this was a stronger opener. It focuses on a past monster encounter that almost killed Noctis. You see him as a child struggling against this foe, and then we’re set to present day with the gang hanging out in the car and at a burger shop. This episode is meant to show Noctis’ growth as a man; he’s come a long way from being just a small, scared kid. The episode ends by showing the start of a battle with a vicious monster. I won’t spoil anything, but I have a feeling the anime will end showing its conclusion. It’s like the not-so-great episode that’s required viewing just so you can see the payoff or understand what’s going on if it comes into play later.
Episode 2: Dogged Runner
I could take or leave the anime after the first episode, but this second one sold me on it. This episode digs into Prompto’s childhood and how he met the prince. Prompto is interesting in that he’s the only member of the party without royal ties. Dogged Runner does such a good job at showcasing what Prompto really is about and where his heart is. More importantly, how he becomes friends with the prince is really heartwarming, as we also see Luna in this episode and the part she plays in the two becoming friends. Prompto was an overweight kid and his parents aren’t really around, forcing him to fend for himself, so you get to see the klutzy character in a different light. In addition, the episode depicts how Noctis was treated at school, allowing you to understand some of the difficulties he’s had as prince. After watching Dogged Runner, I can’t wait to see what other revelations Brotherhood makes about the cast.
Episode 3: Sword & Shield
This episode centers on Gladiolus and the tough time he had accepting Noctis, whose laid-back attitude is frustrating. He calls him a “punk” and “stuck-up prince,” based on his interactions with him as his instructor in combat training. Sword & Shield features Gladiolus’ little sister, Iris, who he adores. This allows us to see his protective older brother side come out. I won’t spoil anything, but this episode shows that while Noctis can act indifferent to his duty as future prince, he has a good heart. More importantly, we see that even after Gladiolus becomes friends with Noctis, he still never gives him anything easy, as that would be a disservice to him. I enjoyed how this episode shows a little rivalry between the two, but also illustrates that they a good understanding of one another after all these years. Unfortunately, while it’s great to see Gladiolus care so much about his sister, this episode does little to make him that interesting of a character. Without his sister or Noctis around, he just seems like a hard-headed gladiator. I’m hoping there’s more to him than that.
Episode 4: Bittersweet Memories
Bittersweet Memories is my second-favorite episode. It doesn’t surpass Dogged Runner, but this one makes more of an effort to give all the party members a spot, which I enjoyed. It’s focused on Ignis and his role in the prince’s life. Ignis works as a staff officer for King Regis, but acts more as butler to Noctis. In Bittersweet Memories, we see Noctis being more a slacker about his responsibilities. He’s moved away from the kingdom and lives on his own, attending school, but he’s hardly acting independent or responsible. His apartment is a mess, and he’s happy to blow off studying to hit the arcade with Prompto. Ignis comes and checks in on him every day, cleaning up and cooking for him. Ignis is trying to set an example for Noctis on what he needs to do to take care of himself and be mature, although Noctis takes this for granted. The episode takes an interesting turn when it explains more about Noctis’ fears about the kingdom and the life chosen for him. I like that it also sheds some light on King Regis and the sacrifices he’s been making to keep the kingdom safe. As this episode shows, tensions are rising over the potential of a war. Bittersweet Memories does a great job not only with Ignis’ arc, but also with showing Noctis’ growth as a man and future king.
Will you like it?
This all comes down to how interested you are in the party members, or if you’re looking for more to them than you’ve seen in the demos. The anime does a good job at setting up their personalities and providing some intriguing backstories. Watching it has also made me more excited for the game. It’s like a preview to the people you’ll be hanging out with, and this anime makes them more exciting than anything else Square has showcased at this point. The episodes are short, but that’s not a bad thing, as they don’t have any fluff and every scene has its own importance in establishing what these men are all about. If you’re even remotely curious, it’s worth watching.
If you’re still on the fence and would like to know more about the cast, check out my deep dive on the characters.