Let’s see…there’s got to be a halfway decent one somewhere in my collection…
Oh, speak of the devil! Here we are! A halfway decent one!
“Record of Lodoss War(Original)”
Note that when I mention this one, I’m referring to the original series. Not “Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight”.
This was actually one of the first animes I ever watched. Back in the day when SyFy was the Sci-Fi Channel and actually featured science fiction movies that weren’t bad CGI horror films that might as well be called “Yet Another Way To Use A Shark As A Movie Monster”, they had a segment called “Saturday Anime”. Actually, they revived it a while ago, but they only had series instead of movies.
…Ok, technically this is a series itself, but it wasn’t presented as such. Basically one of the “movies” they showed was nothing more than the first three episodes of “Record of Lodoss War”. And that in and of itself is confusing because the series doesn’t progress perfectly chronologically. The first episode is a “flash-forward” to a point after the third episode, while the second episode on progresses chronologically. Confused?
Well, as I said earlier, fantasy anime might as well be a flame and I’m a moth. So when I see an anime with a quest involving a warrior, an elf, a dwarf, a wizard, a cleric, and a thief? I’m sold like someone wanting to play D&D. And only based on the three episodes, I was genuinely hooked. Lots of monsters, fighting against evil, bad guys of evil knights, emperors, and witches… This looked like a lot of fun. I actually almost had my jaw drop when it ended only three episodes in, especially since the third episode ends on something of a cliffhanger. So years later, when I see the same anime for sale on DVD (new at the time)? I snatched that up.
Unfortunately, the rest of the series doesn’t pan out so nicely.
Sure, it still has questing and such, but it kind of lost it’s feel after a bit. The anime played out more like a normal extended “series” anime…or even an animated cartoon. A new villain or challenge every time. And at only 13 episodes, I was hoping more for an overarching quest.
It wasn’t necessarily a bad flow. Just…became kind of mundane. Especially the last couple episodes, which was pretty much our hero going to save his elf lover from an evil ritual that requires her to lie down and do nothing while dressed in a revealing black outfit. Oh, and when he finally rescues her, there must have been a clause requiring the outfit to get damaged enough to have a breast hang out…
The worst part, however, is how the series just kind of “fizzles out” rather than ends. They never stop the Gray Witch character, the thief character Woodchuck just kind of gets forgotten after he gets possessed, the dwarf character Ghim dies early in it, the bad guy knight kind of just shuts himself out from the world and dies, including abandoning his own would-be dark elf girlfriend, and basically the end of the series is just a repeat of the hero going down through stuff, Evil Spock bad guy (see the beard? He’s evil) gloating, and the elf lying around in the black outfit. It leaves a lot of loose ends, which is my least favorite kind of “good” anime, and it kind of runs that “message” home by having one of those dumb deals from fantasy in the 80s…
You know, where the “moral” is supposed to be good can’t exist without evil.
Yeah…that’s a philosophy that only originated in affluent countries. Try going to South Sudan and tell those victims of genocide that they need to keep suffering so that good can exist and see how receptive they are. Worst of all, it kind of validates the standpoint of one of the villains, the Gray Witch, who believed that neither good nor evil could ever triumph if there was to be “peace”, but both had to be allowed to exist and leave the island of Lodoss in a state of turmoil forever.
The real moral is “if you can’t end an anime series well, try to make it meaningful when it ends poorly”.
Rating: 2.5 out of 5
If good animes couldn’t exist without bad ones, and bad animes couldn’t exist without good ones, this series would STILL be in the gray in-between.
What you should do with this DVD set: Watch the first three episodes and let it inspire a more satisfying D&D session.