Original Story and Character Design by Kazuhiro Soeta, Takashi Azumano and Toshiko Sasaki,
based on the fiction of Ryu Mizuno
Director: Nobuhiro Takamoto
Scenario: Katsumi Hasegawa
Music: Kaoru Wada and Yoko Kanno
Writing: Ryu Mizuno
American production and distribution: Central Park Media/U.S. Manga Corps
Rating: Unrated (contains some mild violence)
Dindrane's Anime Warnings:
Language Options: English; Japanese with English Subtitles; Japanese
Anamorphic: N/A, appears in its original 1.33:1 format
My advice: Own it.
Fans of the original Lodoss OVA series are often confused about where the Heroic Knight story fits in. A little background on the Lodoss series: the story originally appeared in 1986 as a series of role-playing game session write-ups in an issue of Comptique magazine. Then came Ryo Mizuno's novel The Grey Witch in 1988, the Lodoss Companion source books in 1989, and several multimedia projects, including video games and audio books. Finally, the first OVA series was released in 1990. This series attempted to compress Mizuno's novels into TV form, deleting some storylines and characters, compressing the whole into the first eight episodes of the series. The last five episodes were then used to tie up dangling plot lines. Then, about five years later, the producers decided to retell the novels in a longer format, and the Chronicles of the Heroic Knight series was born. It is best then to enjoy both Lodoss stories independantly of each other, or to see the Heroic Knight saga as a kind of sequel.
Lodoss, the Accursed Isle, has a problem. Actually, they have all kinds of problems, but one of the most pressing is Ashram, a warrior who is trying to recover some lost powerful artifacts, currently being guarded by powerful dragons. These artifacts would allow Ashram essentially to take over the world. Kashue, king of Flaim, enlists Parn, the free knight, Deedlit, the beautiful elf and mistress of shamanic magic, and their other friends to help him stop Ashram. Along the way, there is magic, death, joy, pain, and even a few surprises.
The plot may seem simpler than it really is, as there are sub-plots and large time gaps in this series. Perhaps this is the nature of adapting novels to a TV series, but Heroic Knight could have benefitted from a few more episodes early on to follow the action more closely as the nine-year gap is a bit abrupt. There's a lot going on for even twenty-seven episodes to develop. As it stands, though, the plot is easy to follow and richly told. Containing action, fantasy, and even a bit of understated romance, fans of most genres should be satisfied. Victories do not come easily, and there are enough plot twists and nifty details to keep even jaded Anime fans interested. There may not be any socially-redeeming themes here, but the story itself is good fun and complex enough to satisfy.
If you have seen the first Lodoss series, most of the characters will be familiar to you, but there are some new additions, such as Kashue and Cherise. The perennial favorites of Deedlit and Parn are back in all their good-guy glory. Even the bad-guy, Ashram, is developed well enough to earn him some fans. All of the characters are beautifully drawn, and their personalities are distinct and interesting. Those familiar with the role-playing games that gave birth to Lodoss will recognize the popular character classes, such as wizard and cleric, but there are interesting twists and tweaks to the classes that make the characters more interesting and a bit less predictable.
The four DVDs are attractively packaged and slipcased. Each DVD case has its own image, depicting at least one of the major characters of the series. The artistic style is slightly different than that of the series itself, but is still well-done and interesting. The disks themselves are rather plain -- red and labelled with the series graphic and disk letter. The slipcase is sturdy, and the cover graphic is nicely designed.
The DVD extras are all contained on disk A. They include some character sketches and profiles that show the evolution of the look of the characters, including stills from the early comics, as well as some information guides about the progress of the Lodoss world itself. The cast page is also nicely done and a welcome addition to the DVD.
In short, Record of Lodoss War: Chronicle of the Heroic Knight is a good addition to any Anime DVD library. Fans of fantasy stories and role-playing games will be pleased, as will anyone who enjoys adventure, magic, and good storytelling.
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