“Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva” is a fun enough little film even if, like me, you haven’t played any of the puzzle games.
It drags a bit in the middle, but otherwise it’s a good introductory film for finding new, young anime fans.
Layton is an “archaeologist, puzzle-solver and true gentleman,” according to his young assistant, Luke. He gets involved in various mysteries around London and uses his skills to solve puzzles that stump the brightest minds.
In this case, he’s invited by a former student, Janice, to see her in an opera. Unbeknownst to her, the opera is a ruse to lure the country’s elite with the promise of eternal life. The perpetrator’s goal (I won’t spoil who it is, but I don’t think the goal is a big deal) is to bring back the fabled city of Ambrosia, where, legend has it, one can find the Elixir of Eternal Life.
Along the way, Layton and his friends (and other opera patrons) must solve a series of puzzles. Most aren’t too hard, so young ones watching the movie can figure them out along with Layton and Luke. Luke himself even solves a couple. I couldn’t get “Blues Clues” out of my head, but they are tougher than that.
The art style is the same as the animated sequences in the game, which means it’s pretty simplistic. But it also provides a variety of humorous character designs. Game characters such as Emmy and Inspector Grosky have parts, plus there are several cameos by other characters.
The action, when there is some, is just this side of thrilling and appropriate for a target audience of younger viewers. But everyone watching might droop a little in the middle when parts between puzzles drag on, and inconsequential characters get a bit too much screentime.
There’s not much in the way of character development, either, for Layton or Luke, which is disappointing. But I suppose it’s expected when it’s just a movie and not a series based on a game.
So, innocuous but not monumental, “Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva” settles for nice. And these days, that can be nice enough.