This is by far the best OVA title studio AIC ever made. It is also directed by Akiyama Katsuhito, who also has other famous oldies such as Gall Force and Bubblegum Crisis under his wing. This baby smells retro magic from miles away.
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 8/10 [EXODUS !!!]
- If there is something anime lack, that would be good epic fantasy series. The best there is, is still Record of Lodoss War, which is boring at best. Series like Berserk and Claymore don’t count because they are « dark » fantasy and not « epic ». Series like Slayers also don’t count, as they are basically slapstick comedies with a loose story in a medieval setting.
- And then there is Bastard !!, which is still not pure epic fantasy. Still, it happens to be an extremely enjoyable series, which keeps jumping from comedy, to ecchi, to epic, to Dragon Ball Z level of fighting, to drama, to mystery, to post-apocalyptic, to even a mind game of looking for references to famous Heavy Metal Band names, songs and singers. All of which are offered in a balanced amount, so you won’t feel like there are six scriptwriters taking turns in the story. (oh, how I hate it when the DM changes in the middle of a D&D campaign !)
- Few series are able to remain interesting throughout their entire duration. Bastard !! is a not compete success, as some scenes seem to take it too far into Lalaland (minus one point) and the ending remains unsatisfactory open (minus another point).
ART & SOUND SECTION: 8/10 [ Sex, drugs and Roc’n’roll! ]
- Lots of naked chicks, lots of muscular guys, magic spells, horrid monsters, explosions that level mountains, girls hitting hapless men and a weird mix of medieval castles and ruined high-teck cities. How can you not like it? Fan service expands from the typical nude, to the orgasm that comes from seeing things blow up and hearing references of your favorite music bands (no hardcore sex scenes; so take it easy). The feeling of watching an RPG will also attract those who play such games, especially of the western origin.
- The level of quality is obviously aged; although being of OVA format they surpass most series of their time, both in clear details and vivid colors.
- Voice acting is overdone with all the yelling and laughing over peanuts but is very on par with the whole shallowness deal of the series, so it is generally appealing.
- Music themes and sound effects are the epitome of epicness! Powerful, strong, imposing and blood-boiling, all of them. They even turn to calm elegies when the scene gets sad or romantic. Truly good; they pay attention to what is going on in the plot.
STORY SECTION: 5/10 [Soda cliché with a lot of lemon twists.]
The story begins in a more than typical way. Evil monster army marches to conquer the world and find four artifacts in order to resurrect an archdevil, good people summon a powerful wizard/warrior in order to save them. Boy, have I been fed up with this fairy tale shit … The Lord of the Rings was the last straw. No more! I want a twist to the formula! … And it turns out there is more than one in this one. The twists have the form of parody to the most part, but are great nonetheless.
The twist is that the “savior” is trapped within a hapless boy…
-Big deal; Naruto has the same idea. So what?
… And gets freed and trapped again with a kiss by a virgin.
…And he is not good-willing at all. He wants to have sex with every female he encounters and doesn’t give a shit about justice and goodness.
- Now we’re getting somewhere!
…It also turns out he was the original leader of the monster army and a friend of the main villains.
-OMG! He can’t just kill them, like nothing happened!
…And that the world is not really medieval but a second Dark Age that befell mankind when they created the archdemon in times past (ruined skyscrapers all over the place), who in the context of the series is a doomsday artificial intelligence device.
-GIMME, GIMME, GIMME!
The great thing is that the main villains are not cardboards you won’t give a shit if they die. They all have a dark secret that makes them humane and sympathetic. They even have a close relation to the so-called savior, who practically is 10 times more evil than them. Every battle progresses the story through human drama and passionate ambitions. Not manihaistic Walt Disney clear-cut bullshit of good versus evil. The bad thing is that, although not entirely predictable, the story is linear and ends in a very open way that will drive you nuts for more.
CHARACTER SECTION: 8/10 [ What?! He screwed more than 150 women ?!!! ]
As the title implies, every major character is a bastard with a double exclamation point. ,ales are all brawn and no brains, selfish and arrogant. Women are fragile bishojos that can’t stay dressed for more than 5 minutes without being sexually attacked. Yet, unlike most heavy-dudes and useless damsels-in-distress in fighting series, they also have a drama behind them that gives a sensitive side to them. You almost feel they are just little immature kids with super powers, which go haywire every five minutes under the pressure of their ambition and sexual tension.
I tell you, I had my share of ridiculous characters over the years.
-I despise spineless male characters that get beaten by girls all the time (i.e. Keitarou from Love Hina).
-I mock ideal-driven characters that all they want are to become the best in the world (i.e. Ash from Pokemon).
-I spit at muscular idiots that just use raw force to solve all their problems (i.e. Goku from Dragon Ball).
-I even loath amoral anti-heroes that play it hard to get (i.e. Dante from Devil May Cry).
The cast in this series is not any different than the above examples. Yet, they seem to be an interesting mix of the best parts of the established clichés.
- Dark Schneider is practically an immortal that loves to blast people to bits, like Alucard from Hellsing (I hate that guy!). Yet, he cares about his women and even allows them to hit him when they get angry. That is a lot funnier than what you can tell by simply reading it here.
-They play jokes to each other and yet don’t forget to mention the cruel events in their pasts that led them to this mess.
-They talk like they are gods and yet they also cry and complain a few minutes later.
In all, although they are not original or realistic in any way, they have a wonderful mix of comedy and drama that overshadows almost all similar characters in other shows. The trio of Shneider, Nel and Gara strongly reminded me of Berserk’s Griffith, Caska and Guts; yet these guys were funny half the time and developed a lot faster.
The characters lose points for being rather-one-of-the-same and didn’t fully develop throughout the series. Especially the last of the evil army generals is completely left out from the story. The open ending means there is more to them but was simply not continued being animated.
VALUE SECTION: 7/10
With such a lack of interesting fantasy anime titles and with such a high amount of Heavy Metal references, the series clearly has high historical value and memorability. Rewatchability on the other hand is low, as the story feels too simple not to bother with it any time soon.
Read the manga version, as it continues the story further.
Watch Berserk (very good dark fantasy), Slayers (very good comical fantasy), Claymore (good dark fantasy) and Detroit Metal City (very good death metal comedy).