Growlanser IV: Wayfarer of Time
After a long, hard war, the land of Valcania has been absorbed into a great confederation ruled by a multinational parliament. Due to inequities in the system, Valcania's Prince Lyros plots a revolution to restore his nation's independence, spurred on by a noble named Fedonis.
Valcania's appointed protector, Lady Dianna Silvernale, is determined to prevent war and protect her people at any cost, and she must decide whether independence by revolt or cooperation with the Confederacy is the best path to take.
The Growlanser RPG series (itself a spinoff of the Langrisser franchise) only recently came over to North America in 2004, but has been around in Japan for quite some time. An epic story sprawled over a vast continent and a lengthy period of time, it is redolent with byzantine politics, ethereally silver-maned women, and heroes with long, flowing hair that an 80s arena band would envy. It goes almost without saying that the artist for this is Urushihara Satoshi (Plastic Little).
Instead of trying to follow each and every party on its adventures, the OAV focuses primarily on Lady Silvernale, which makes for a vastly more coherent and tightly crafted story than you might find in other RPG-to-anime conversions. Granted, a lot of the names and places aren't going to mean much to those who don't know the game, but they at least explain the context of the situation in a brief intro, so that when events play out, they actually make sense instead of coming out of left field. You get the feeling that even watered down into a half-hour video, the original source material seems actually rather complex and rich - if this is any indication of how good the games are, I may have to go pick them up myself (though only II and III are currently available in North America as Growlanser: Generations).
The art is well-executed, which is unusual for promo specials. How much you like the designs really depends on how much you enjoy Urushihara Satoshi's distinctive art style, but like Plastic Little before it, Growlanser IV features lots of pretty girls, albeit with swords and armor rather than swimsuits. Yeah, an Urushihara work without fan service -- whodathunk? The music ranges from average to slightly above, never impressive, but never annoying. The end song (actually Lady Silvernale's image song from the Growlanser character CDs) is fairly decent.
While there is a little bit of swordplay, that's really not the point of this OAV. Those expecting Dungeons and Dragons will be disappointed - this isn't Legend of Lemnear. There's no orcs or trolls or anything of the sort. It's mostly the internal dilemma of the main character, and it may not appeal to a lot of people as a result. However, Growlanser IV succeeds as both an independent, coherent story and as a trailer for a larger game series universe.
Not bad for an unheralded one-shot.
Preferring to deal with politics and interpersonal relationships than special effects, Growlanser IV is essentially a brief chapter out of a greater epic. — Carlos Ross
Recommended Audience: There is some violence, but it's rather stylized, and there is no blood. No sexual content or themes. Fine for teens and up, but really intended for fans of the games.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Growlanser IV: Wayfarer of Time © 2005 Atlus
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