Long ago, an ogre was born with a sword named Ogre Slayer in his hands. Human in appearance and known only by the name of this sword, he has turned on his kind seeking to slay every last one for after he kills the last ogre, he shall become human. As the years have passed, modern man may have forgotten about the threat of the ogres and their dark emotions may give the creatures power, but the ageless Ogre Slayer continues on with his grim mission.
This title presents us with a man/boy/ogre of few words on a seemingly endless quest against an often hard to find enemy. This plot, to put it kindly, is a bit derivative. I suppose having him be an ogre/oni instead of a vampire or something like that is a bit different, but honestly nothing about this title's plot does much to make it stand out from similar titles. Most of the episodes aren't even connected in terms of plot, so the show doesn't really have the opportunity to build up any strong dramatic tension over its four episodes.
Laconic protagonists of unusual combat ability are fairly standard in anime. Now I don't particularly have a problem with this in and of itself, but I feel it is still important that a title give us insight into the character and motivation of its primary character. The mere fact that the character may not be the type who cares to wax philosophical doesn't mean this can't be done, it is all about how you frame their reactions to situations and others. I do not feel this was done particularly well in Ogre Slayer.
Though we get some minor character development in the last two episodes (even that felt a bit forced), for the most part I found that I just didn't really care what the Ogre Slayer did or what he was killing. I didn't really feel sorry for him because he wasn't a human and at times I must admit I was even a bit bemused by his plight. You see, as far as I can tell it is very easy for more ogres/oni to come into the world and the Ogre Slayer apparently doesn't belong to any sort of network of hunters or anything of that nature from what I can tell. So, I think he'll basically be chopping up ogres forever in a sort of Sisyphean mockery of his own espoused goal.
Most of the character work actually seems to focus around the various victims of the ogres. It seems that dark human feelings contribute to the ogres' power and in some cases, some of the characters initially want to make use of the ogres to protect themselves, for example, but, rather expectedly, such situations begin to get out of hand all too quickly. In some cases, desperate humans have made poor choices that they did not expect to come back to haunt them. These various characters invoked in me some emotion, I suppose, but they, like the Ogre Slayer, weren't really developed enough for me to care all that much.
There isn't really much thematic depth in this title. Though they do raise the idea that some of the failings of humans are in some cases letting the ogres have more influence, they don't really handle this issue well or in depth, resulting in it seeming more like just a story excuse for why an ogre is in a particular place rather than any serious exploration of the nature of moral compromise. The Ogre Slayer's desire to be human is only minimally explored as well, so a lot of interesting thematic potential about the nature of being human versus the nature of being a monster is wasted. I'm not saying every title has to be particularly thought provoking, but with such a pedestrian plot and lackluster characterization it could have been a saving grace.
The general scene and character design of this work was isn't bad. While this title is over ten years old, it was originally an OAV so had the advantage of a higher budget per episode. The animation is fine for the most part, but I can't really say that I was all that impressed by the action scenes whether they involved the ogres killing people in their own gruesome ways or the Ogre Slayer himself dispatching his kin.
The version I viewed was a dub. The dub, though not spectacular, was competent enough. I haven't had a chance to view the original Japanese version, so I don't know if there were considerable differences in plotting, but as this was an OAV that featured rather gruesome scenes and focused pretty heavily on a certain general type of Japanese monster, I tend to think that the dub script doesn't drift that much from the original.
A decent enough concept and I have certainly seen far worse, but the lack of strong plot movement or characterization doesn't really cause this to rise much above being a story about a fellow named after his sword who kills monsters. If you like titles with a bit of gore or are a fan of the manga, you might want to add a star. — Jeremy A Beard
Recommended Audience: We have nudity (kind of gratuitous at that), attempted rape, lots of violence in general, and lots of gore. The dub had of a bit of profanity here and there as well. It has been a few years since I've seen this title so perhaps it isn't nearly as violent as I remember it being, but for now I would recommend it more for your oldest teens and young adults.
Version(s) Viewed: VHS, English dub
Review Status: Full (4/4)
Ogre Slayer © 1994 KSS
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