Professor Layton has been a hit series globally with over seven million copies sold, and everybody from young children to their grandmas solving the Nintendo DS games' brain-baffling puzzles. With a creative artistic style that takes its roots from somewhere between the French Belleville Rendezvous and Japanese Studio Ghibli works, the visuals have always been a striking part of the series. Level-5, the masterminds behind the series, have been hard at work crafting a film to take the series to the big screen; perhaps not such a huge jump as you might expect, considering the regular use of animé cutscenes during the games. The outcome of this is Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva. In terms of time period, Eternal Diva takes place between Pandora’s Box and The Last Time Travel (the second and third titles in the DS game series, respectively). Pleasingly, it retains all the atmosphere found in the games.
Without giving too much away, Layton and his trusty apprentice Luke receive a letter containing show tickets from opera singer Janis Quatlane, a former student of the Professor. Detailed within the accompanying letter is the curious issue of a friend of Janis', who died a year ago and has now reappeared as a seven year old girl claiming to have an immortal life. Deciding to get to the bottom of all matters mysterious, Layton and Luke set out for the Crown Petone Theatre, nestled off the White Cliffs of Dover. Oslo Whistler, the composer, displays an opera based on the ancient kingdom of Ambrosia; a land that Layton’s mentor, Dr. Schrader, had a specific interest in, as it was claimed to be the land of eternal life. It appears, however, that the audience isn’t here for the opera, but rather to acquire immortality; following the appearance of a mysterious character on stage and the setting of a series of challenges, Layton and company are whisked into puzzling madness once again.
Here the film nods to its gaming counterparts, introducing questions in the classic 'No. 001' format found in the Nintendo DS titles. What is nice about the film is that it doesn’t answer questions straight away. Viewers are given the chance to try and figure out the answers to the questions posed for themselves before Layton goes through his 'thinking stage' to discover the most valiant (and often painfully obvious when thought about properly - another look towards the games) of answers.
The film features a lush and lavish storyline that is teeming with puzzles, gentlemanly humour, mad contraptions and plenty of action sequences to keep the viewer gripping their seats and, ultimately, their thinking caps. All of this is tied together with a very familiar soundtrack that keeps everything linked to its DS counterparts. Level-5 have produced a really good story and animated the sequences so well that it doesn’t feel out of place in Professor Layton's universe; if anything, it gives a larger insight into the psyche of each of the characters.