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AKA: ファイアーエムブレム 紋章の謎 (Fire Emblem: Monshou no Nazo), Fire Emblem: Mystery of the Emblem
Genre: Lightweight fantasy adventure
Length: OAV, 2 episodes, 30 minutes each
Distributor: VHS and R1 DVD from ADV Films
Content Rating: PG (violence)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Heroic Legend of Arslan, Record of Lodoss War
Notes: Based on the first game of Nintendo's Fire Emblem strategy-RPG series. Originally released on the Famicom in Japan only in 1990, it later saw ports to the Super Famicom and the Nintendo DS, the latter of which was released in America in 2009 under the name "Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon."

Fire Emblem


Once upon a time, there was a land called Akanea. Though the land was conquered by two other kingdoms, the spirit of their people could not be defeated, and the Prince Mars would grow to rally the people and regain the land of his forebears.


I'm getting increasingly annoyed and frustrated by the abundance of short OAV series and one-shots being released in the United States. Fire Emblem is yet another one-shot tape that fails to deliver much beyond a pretty intro for a game that, up until 2009, few Americans were familiar with.

With not even the hour running time claimed on the tape, Fire Emblem has very little time to establish an obviously well-developed and substantial cast of characters. Prince Mars Marth is fine, but I found the character of Navahl Navarre to be more charismatic and interesting, even in the short space of time allotted to him. There were a few good action scenes here and there, and the animation was okay, but there's just a LOT missing here.

The plot is standard to boot, and though perhaps it would've been epic for anime if Record of Lodoss War had never existed, by now the whole fantasy hero's journey thing is pretty old hat. No new twists or inventions here, just a straight-up heroic tale of save-the-country that doesn't hold water when you don't actually see him saving the country. (Arslan has this same problem, though it manages to last five episodes before falling into oblivion.)

This all would've been well and fine if at least the Fire Emblem series of video games had been released in the United States, but they weren't released until many years after this OAV came out in North America.

Again, what's frustrating is the obvious effort put into the presentation of this show. This title is well beyond the original Lodoss War series in budget and animation, but it simply doesn't have the holding power of that classic series. Apparently, not many people in Japan cared either, as these two episodes are all that were ever made. Sheesh.

I have to question the wisdom of acquiring such a marginally marketable series as this. Fire Emblem has very little to offer for any but the most ardent of fantasy fans, and the lack of a continuation will merely leave a bitter taste in the mouths of fans asking for more.

It could have been good, but Fire Emblem simply doesn't do enough with even the short amount of time it's given to be worth much. Fans of the games *might* give at an extra star.Carlos/Giancarla Ross

Recommended Audience: Some swordfighting, nothing special.

Version(s) Viewed: VHS, Japanese with English subtitles
Review Status: Full (2/2)
Fire Emblem © 1996 Nintendo / KSS
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