In an ancient time of swords and sorcery,the struggle to rule the cursed land of Lodoss rages on, spilling the blood of monsters and men. With the threat of dragons and dark powers hellbent on destroying it, the only hope for Lodoss is a young swordsman named Parn and his comrades. Armed with determinination and sheer strength, the band of friends must join the forces of kings and elves to overcome the dark sorcerer Ashram and his mistress Pirotess, as the ultimate battle of good versus evil begins!
StoryRecord of Lodoss War is basically the ultimate fantasy story. You like Lord of the Rings? The Shannara series of novels? This series would be right up your alley. All the traditional characters and monsters are to be found: dragons, kobolds, elves, dwarves, you name it. Magic abounds, the power of good and evil is key, and the power of comradery is the strongest of all. The story itself is an epic tale of all of these things, and more. Unfortunately, it does come off as being somewhat generic, because it is essentially a fantasy staple. If you are looking for something unusual besides the usual features of straight fantasy, you might be a bit disappointed. In addition, I felt that the story was fairly hard to follow for the first amount of the series. Instead of having any sort of introductions, you are thrown into the action, being forced to try to understand who all these strange people and names are. Even after watching the entire series, I still am unclear on who some people are, or what was always going on. Although seemingly generic, the story itself is still entertaining and executed well (besides being confusing sometimes). If you like fantasy at all, you should appreciate the story in some context or another. AnimationThe animation for Lodoss War is definitely good for its time. Characters are shaded in a very simple way, with lots of little lines drawn on for details (especially hair, and furrowing facial features). You'll recognize the older style of character designs as well: the elf with huge pointed ears, the medium sized rounded eyes, the thick lines usually accompanying the face, etc. Backgrounds had much more attention to detail, especially textured walls and scenery. Monsters also were more detailed than their human counterparts. Lodoss War had its violent parts, and there is a decent amount of blood and gore. Well presented, though. There were, however, some things that made the animation a bit dodgy. For example, literally every dragon until the end of the series appeared to be animatronic. Each time a dragon appeared on the screen, it basically showed the one shot of the dragon's head, moving across the screen. No movement of the mouth, eyes, anything. There also tended to be some squiggles across the front of the dragon to indicate movement. Other than that, literally, the dragons were always still and just moved around on the screen. For something as majestic and (in this case) frightening as the dragons, you'd think they could have put a bit more into their animation. Special effects were also a bit cheesy sometimes, but the dragon part is what stuck out the most. SoundThe music is definitely a high point of Lodoss War. Pretty much the best case scenario for a fantasy series such as this. Think of a nice, dark orchestral soundtrack. Quite a few nice sound effects were used, though I swear I had heard one of them in a Star Trek movie before. ;) The music definitely lended itself well to the different types of scenes. CharactersAlthough others might disagree with me, this is where I felt the OVA truly failed. We are given no introduction about the characters in the beginning. And although over the course of the series, things are briefly explained about each character and their past (in some cases), there isn't really any depth to any of them. Relationships are unveiled, but have no background or basis as far as we are concerned, so they seem shallow and empty. Just keeping track of who everyone is is confusing enough, but the fact that they mostly seem 2-dimensional doesn't help with a sense of empathy. Even by the end, I was mostly enjoying it for the strong fantasy element, not the characters and definitely not the character development (as there wasn't much). Voice actors were chosen well, can't say I have any complaints there. OverallLodoss War is a success because it is a timeless fantasy story, period. Having been spoiled by many unusual fantasies in my anime watching history, it might be normal that I'd finally watch the staple of the genre, and be a tad disappointed in the generic feeling. But this, I assure you, does not make the series a failure in any way. Had it been executed slightly better (not confusion right away), it might have made more of an impact. But in general, a very epic and action-filled plot that will entertain ALL fantasy fans, new or old. Great animation and fantastic music fill out the reasons you should see this, besides the fact that it's a relatively quick watch. For new anime fans (or ones like me who just hadn't seen it), make sure you add this to your list of things to watch in the near future. I personally don't think I'd rewatch this, because the story isn't unusual enough to warrant another viewing. However, I can see that this might be appealing to hardcore fans of fantasy.
First off I opted to watch this dubbed (which paid off after the first 3 episodes were over as it was shaky then). If watching the dub, hold out through the first few episodes and it gets better. I did thoroughly enjoy this after the first episodes. The story was compelling and the characters were good, however bear in mind that this is a very traditional fantasy tale and it delivers as you would expect. It hits you hard with emotions and the characters struggling with life during war is well handled. The dragons are visually wonderful and the soundtrack is good and well utilised. Also, for an older anime the english dub holds up quite well after the voice actors settle in. Overall I would seriously suggest watching this series to everyone who likes traditional fantasy (both high and dark fantasy). PS: I might add to this short review when I get around to re-watching it. :) Scored with consideration as to it's age.
OVA opening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p2vxlZkfW-YSeries opening: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eJiKEy4rsvA&feature=relatedI will review both the OVA and tv series here, as there is very little to write about each one individually. - The original story is based on a rather wide franchise that includes RPGs, novels, manga, and tv series, originally written by Mizuno Ryou, who also made a buch of other mediocrities such as Rune Soldier, Starship Operators, and Galaxy Angel. Lodoss is clearly his best work and even that smells cheese from miles. Can’t say he is a genious but he did something all others failed to do all these decades: To make a watchable Sword & Sorcery anime adaptation. - The OVA is animated by the king of anime, Studio Madhouse, so it looks gorgeous for its time. The tv series on the other hand is made by the lesser Studio AIC, and thus it looks quite rundown. In fact everything in the tv version is inferior with the only exception being the opening song Kiseki no Umi, performed by Maaya Sakamoto. Damn does it kick ass!- The directing of the OVA is done mostly by Nagaoka Akinori, whose roster is full of unimpressive and forgettable works. But hey, he is still better than the next guy. The directing of the tv series is done by Takamoto Nobuhiro, who sucks ass if you see the crappy job he did in 07-Ghost and Beelzebub. So as you can tell, the franchise wasn’t exactly given to the best people in the field. ROLW is the first serious attempt at making a western-fantasy type anime and believe it or not, it is still the best Sword & Sorcery ever made into anime. Anything other affiliated with the genre is comedies and parodies or far worse serious scenarios with crappy animation. Just to give you an example of how bad the rest are, the second best in the genre is Guin Saga, which despite its good ideas is still lame in overall. Despite all that, even ROLW is still nothing but average at best because the transition from one culture to another is a lot harder than it seems. Westerners are better at making movies and stories about cowboys and medieval knights, in the same way Easterners are better at making movies and stories about samurais and martial artists. I mean, seriously, after all these decades the industry is still incapable to do it right. Just check out what crap Marvel has done with its superhero adaptations to anime or how dreadful Dragonball Evolution was as a western adaptation. Thus ROLW is a famous cult title even today because the competition sucks a lot more. Anime fans who also happen to be D&D fans simply have no other option. If there is something this anime does right is the story and the atmosphere. The BGM and the backdrop history of the setting are simply amazing and make a fine 2nd edition D&D campaign. What does wrong is the plot and the battles. They are so simplistic and dried up; you end up not caring about what in going on. If I sit down to describe to you the story in detail, with what the Gods in the series did in the past to form the Lodoss Island, and how the ancients brought their doom and the barbarian tribes rebelled, and the Dragons became the keepers of knowledge, and how a mysterious witch can transfer her consciousness from one body to another for centuries, all as a plan to unleash a great demon God, and how the kingdoms keep fighting each other and how one betrays another and teams of adventurers are sent to investigate realms full of monsters and… Ok, I stop here but mind how I didn’t even described the tip of the iceberg. Yes, it is a very good campaign on paper but the DM was an uninspired rookie who couldn’t role play at all. In case you are wondering what is the difference between the OVA and the series, well, the first has better animation and overall story but very rushed plot, while the later has a larger duration, more events and characters, but the animation is worse and the plot is slow. Most prefer the OVAs for their higher production values alone. In both cases though, you get nothing but cheese. It is a real shame how this project flops because of the dull presentation; the artwork is otherwise quite splendid for its time. Characters and backgrounds are detailed and usually well drawn but still pass as nothing more than a generic fantasy realm. The tv version had some serious budget problems and thus most of the animation, aka action scenes, are nothing but still panels and cheesy visual effects that give of a very amateurish feeling. I can say something similar about the characters of the show. We have this huge roster, covering all the classic fantasy species and classes, and all the archetypical roles from kings and avengers, to traitors and barmen, giving off an air close to the Dragonlance setting. Unfortunately, just like those novels, the actual plot is equally boring in terms of execution because instead of visualizing a fiery sword dropping with force on the unlucky orc chieftain, what you get is a monochromatic meple rolling a D20 + your base attack bonus vs the target’s THACO on another meple. The character profiles all look wonderful with their stats and abilities but their role play is plain boring and colourless. I mean I liked Parn and Deedlit as a couple of romantic adventurers, strolling their lands with a band of fearless companions, as they fight their way through hoards of monsters in an attempt to prevent the resurrection of the archdemon. Too bad all I was watching on screen was stiff caricatures doing simplistic attacks. What strikes as even worse is that they made OMAKE parodies of each episode in order to make you laugh a bit and shake off the boredom. That’s cheap man! Finally a serious title and there you go ridiculing it like every other medieval fantasy! Bah, this is getting depressing. Better go listen to some Hammerfall to fight back the disappointment. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k25X8RAjJ00Ah, much better…And now for some excused scorings. ART SECTION: 5/10 General Artwork 1/2 (good in the OVA, generic in the tv series) Character Figures 1/2 (generic) Backgrounds 1/2 (basic) Animation 1/2 (basic in the OVA, bad in the tv series) Visual Effects 1/2 (basic) SOUND SECTION: 7/10 Voice Acting 2/3 (corny but fitting with the feeling of the series) Music Themes 3/4 (fitting with the feeling of the series) Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess) STORY SECTION: 5/10 Premise 2/2 (interesting) Pacing 1/2 (rushed in the OVA, slow in the tv series) Complexity 1/2 (rich backdrop, poor foreground) Plausibility 0/2 (none) Conclusion 1/2 (cheesy) CHARACTER SECTION: 6/10 Presence 1/2 (generic) Personality 2/2 (cheesy but well founded) Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there) Development 1/2 (overblown but it’s there) Catharsis 1/2 (overblown but it’s there) VALUE SECTION: 5/10 Historical Value 2/3 (quite famous) Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of the dull plot) Memorability 2/4 (generic presentation but better than nothing) ENJOYMENT SECTION: 4/10 Art 0/1 (looks generic) Sound 1/2 (I liked the opening) Story 1/3 (as generic as it gets) Characters 2/4 (they are ok) VERDICT: 5.5/10
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