Record of Lodoss War
A thousand years ago, the sacred lands of Lodoss was torn apart when the gods fought each other with all their might. The only ones left were Marpha and Khardis, who were left in a deep sleep. In the era that followed, men sought to conquer and rule in their stead, and nations still clashed in war, albeit less destructive. To prevent a single community from becoming too strong, unseen forces put them up against each other, with the intent of letting neither of them win.
Young Parn gets caught up in the middle of all this. Driven by the desire to make good the apparent betrayal of his father, he decides to travel to Valis to become a knight. This he does with his group of companions, some of which he meets before even setting out on his journey.
Lodoss Wars! If there is any love for adventure and fantasy in your soul, you will know about this show, especially if you've been an anime fan for a good number of years. For good and bad, The Record of Lodoss Wars OAV is a classic in more ways than one. The OAV itself were built around a series of novels, which again were built around a concept similar to D&D role playing.
Heading up this roster is Parn, as typical a reckless, eager teenager as you'd ever find. His type is generally the most common in stories like this, also often used in Japanese, story-based console RPGs. What he lacks in talents at the beginning, he often makes up with in moxie, though naturally, he would not survive for long without the aid of his friends and allies, conveniently shared between most of the common RPG archetypes; the wizard, the cleric, the elf, the dwarf and the thief.
The traditional build of Lodoss Wars is both its best friend and greatest adversary. On one hand, it allows for some pretty epic storylines involving gods and great dragons clashing together. It's hard not to be impressed each time the intro animation rolls around, and you see the giant black dragon emerge from the mist, landing on the mountaintop fortress above it, opening its mouth in a giant, bellowing roar. (That you won't get to hear due to the opening theme, but still...)
But then, you'd also have to put up with some pretty predictable plot twists and a dialogue that just plain hurts at times. Part of this blame might fall upon the rather sad excuse for a dub. The acting quality varies greatly, but they all seems to be afflicted with a weird thing where they all talk really slowly, as if the audience were all a bunch of slow-on-the-uptake idiots. Never mind that most of the lines in Lodoss Wars reads like heavy-handed monologues. I'm guessing -- or hoping -- it's not as ridiculous as in the Escaflowne movie. I would at least like to think there's something even more pompous out there. Of course, that also means you can have some fun with this series. (Like how many LOTR orStar Wars references can I put in here? Or even play "find the D&D RPG cliche".)
What's really surprising, though, is that despite Lodoss Wars being a Madhouse production, the animation is surprisingly pedestrian. The art is actually pretty good, which will make this show look very appealing in screenshots, but Lodoss Wars is actually a very interesting study in animation budget saving. I have to hand it to the editing team too; while it's glaringly obvious, it's also not quite as bad as it sounds. Actually, it's nice to see some classic OAV animation after all this cheap CG tomfoolery in newer shows, even if it's making me feel my age. The music is all sweltering classical fare, though, which makes the whole thing even better. Also, ironically enough, I much prefer the English version of Adesso Fortuna, the opening theme, compared to the Japanese (no offense to the Japanese singer.)
There has been released a lot more good fantasy anime after the creation and release of this show. One of my most recent titles are Utawarerumono, which was a compelling title in its own right, and shares more than a few passing similarities with Lodoss Wars, despite its somewhat modernized settings and story (and the oddly harem-ish add-on.) This show might be considered old-school, but it has still aged remarkably well, and should be considered a part of the curriculum of any fan of adventure and fantasy.
It's a classic, simple as that. — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: No nudity or foul language, although this fantasy is about war, and people do get killed in this anime. Probably okay for all but the youngest of audiences.
Version(s) Viewed: Official All region release by Manga Entertainment.
Review Status: Full (13/13)
Record of Lodoss War © 1990 Kadokawa Video
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