(from ANN). Legends speak of a Dark Tower with a race of dragons that awaits the command to arise and wreak havoc. At least Kyle used to believe they were only legends until his lady, Alita, is stolen by the Black Dragon. Now Kyle must form an alliance with Blau, a blue dragon, in order to rescue her before she becomes the catalyst for the Dark Tower`s final program: the complete destruction of the world..
(my response) Well, most of that wasn't very clear in the actual show, but I guess that's what we have box-cover summaries for.....
You've got a mildly popular rail shooter-style video game franchise on your hands, and you decide it'll be good for the series' reputation to adapt it into animated form. So what do you do? You pull a few strings to get in-between animation from some otherwise-reputable studios, allow less-than-interested screenwriter Yousuke Kuroda (of Tenchi Muyo! fame) to write up the most pathetic possible of pathetic damsel-in-distress characters I've ever seen, and finally decide to incorporate some "doomsday and ancient civilizations" nonsense in the hope you'll get something resembling a plot. The mess you've just become responsible for is the pointless OAV adaptation of the Panzer Dragoon franchise, which combines the most generic possible fantasy characters with an uninteresting storyline riddled with inconsistencies and permeated throughout by low-quality CGI, pixelated animation, and an embarrassingly dated attempt at an "ethnic" soundtrack. I can't imagine that this shoddy effort will please fans of the video game, and for the rest of us, it'll at best turn out to be mildly amusing drivel, the kind of thing that gives anime critics the incentive to deride video game adaptations and B-movie junkies to add another choice find to their libraries.
The best thing that I can say about Panzer Dragoon, really, is that I've seen worse. As restrictive as the short running time is, it at least forces the plot to move fast enough as not to be boring, and while the dialogue is stiff, the actors do as good a job as they can with a script that rivals Mars of Destruction and Psychic Wars in awkwardness and which no degree of eloquence will ever save. Indeed, it's really the pointless, lazily-composed, and entirely uninspiring plot that makes Panzer Dragoon as bad as it is: we've seen poorly-defined supernatural quests, monsters, and delicate love interests in storytelling since humans first developed speech, while the idiotic and reckless abandon that basically defines our otherwise-indistinquishible protagonist (christened "Kyle" in the English dub) has been a hallmark of shonen anime since the days of Osamu Tezuka. All one really needs to know is this: Kyle and his redshirt best friend get attacked by dragons of undefined origin, an evil black dragon snatches and steals Kyle's blind and delicate girlfriend "Alita" for no apparent reason, and Kyle's quest to recover her (because chivalry or desperation apparently makes him forget how entirely useless she is) soon turns into a tale of "there's-an-ancient-civilization-that-will-bring-doomsday-upon-us-all" and similar new-age garbage. In the meantime, we are treated to idiocies such as Kyle's inexplicably befriending another dragon (whose true allegiance is as unclear as his species' origins), said "friendly" dragon attacking a relatively harmless fleet of airships for no apparent reason, and Kyle's discovery that the race of dragons can apparently talk in the voices of sagely African American men. If they really had to pull that stunt, they could at least have done it with style...where on Earth is James Earl Jones when you need him?
And the story is really just downhill all the way, bathing itself in greater and greater degrees of inconsistency as time passes before landing at an ending that, given the scant details of this universe, is little besides a cliffhanger and a teaser for the games that one would presumably be encouraged to buy after watching this drivel. The reviews of the games themselves are positive enough that I assume that most of the fault, as usual, was in attempting to turn gameplay into a plot, which is less of a direct relation than many anime directors assume it to be. On top of the poor storytelling, some unforgivably dated hairstyles and primitive CGI that harks back to its earliest days set this firmly within the world of the 80s' trend of shoddy one-off OAVs, and there's ultimately little to see and only a token amount of mockery to be had. I've seen some offensively terrible anime, and while I wouldn't quite put Panzer Dragoon in that category, I'd say that wasting 27 minutes with this excuse for a story is pretty offensive in itself. The viewer has been forewarned.
This is a very, very weak two stars in which the second comes from a highly subjective sensation of "this could have been worse" rather than anything to do with the show's merits. — Nick Browne
Recommended Audience: There's some tame violence (including one death that's more embarrassing than sad) but little else to worry about. As dumb as this anime is, there's at least not much to be offended by.
Version(s) Viewed: Digital source, English dubbed
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Panzer Dragoon © 1996 Sega Enterprises Ltd
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