El Hazard - The Magnificent World
Funny how things can suddenly blow way out of proportion. Just look at the rivalry between high-school students Makoto Mizuhara and Katsuhiko Jinnai. Makoto never really meant to be so good at everything, or to best Jinnai in all matters academic, social, and athletic. Of course, Jinnai thought otherwise, and has decided that Makoto is his sworn, bitt'rest enemy. And when Jinnai loses the credit for uncovering a rare archeological find because of his younger sister, who has a crush on Makoto -- well, that was simply the last straw.
So the next night, Jinnai lures Makoto to school after-hours to, um, deal with him. However, a bizarre event interferes in the form of a beautiful woman who tells Makoto that she's been waiting for him, and will transport him to the world of El-Hazard. Before anyone can protest, Makoto, Jinnai, his sister, and hard-drinking, chain-smoking Mr. Fujisawa are whisked away to a magical, mysterious realm full of political intrigue, surprises, and mistaken identity. Things begin to fall apart as the four find themselves as key players in the ultimate struggle for dominance of all of El Hazard!
When you get right down to it, El Hazard is basically a giant animated B-movie. You've got giant evil bugs, high schoolers with special powers, silly and melodramatic one-liners, a beautiful female weapon of mass destruction, and a big ol' dimensional zapper that everyone's trying to control. The difference, though, is that El Hazard pulls it off with flying colors and will probably be a fun, favorite title for years to come.
As with most titles from Pioneer, the artwork is eye-poppingly vivid and stylized, with strong undercurrents of the Tenchi style running throughout. You really get the feeling of being in a strange, foreign land. The animation is a mixed bag, remarkable at times and average at others. Fortunately, El Hazard is remarkable when it counts, and the backgrounds and scenery will make you all but forget the average bits. And it doesn't hurt that the soundtrack is one of the most dramatic I've heard.
Plotwise, prepare to be taken on a wild, unpredictable journey where nothing can be taken for granted. The story isn't one of the deepest, but it _is_ a lot of fun, populated with a cast of spicy, zany characters. And in grand Pioneer style, the dubbing is not only exceptional but has many lines that are actually _funnier_ than the original Japanese, making the dubbed version just as viable an option ((if not more) as the subtitled one. One odd bit, though: Makoto's voice is done by the guy who does Ken in the Street Fighter movie dub, making for some odd juxtapositions ("We're all gonna die...SHOURYUKEN!") But otherwise, this is a wacky series high in entertainment value that's sure to be a favorite.
A Magnificent World it is. — Raphael See
Recommended Audience: Lots of cartoon-style violence throughout the series and some minor profanity. Some implied deaths, but all happen off-screen. A rather nymphomaniacal lesbian character and the use of another character's alcoholism as a humorous point may offend some viewers. Older audiences, though, will probably get a real kick out of this thing
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub
Review Status: Full (7/7)
El Hazard - The Magnificent World © 1995 AIC / Pioneer LDC
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