Record of Lodoss War
This past weekend, I somehow found myself in the mood for watching an old fantasy anime. I could hardly have picked a better place to start than the classic Record of Lodoss War (ロードス島戦記, roudosu-tou senki).
Record of Lodoss War follows a resident of the titular island called Parn who dreams of becoming a hero and clearing the name of his father, a disgraced knight. Parn finds his opportunity when the chaos of Lodoss, itself born out of a war between deities, comes right to his doorstep.
Record of Lodoss War is a 1990 13-episode OVA based on a series of light novels written by Mizuno Ryo, and he wrote the novels based on his Dungeons and Dragons sessions.
It’s clear from the first episode that Record of Lodoss War is based on an RPG. Parn, a warrior, has in his party Deedlit the elf girl, Etoh the cleric, Slayn the sorcerer, Woodchuck the thief, and Ghim the dwarven bruiser. The party combat mechanics seem like something straight out of basically any of your favorite RPGs.
Record of Lodoss War featured everything you would expect in an old-school fantasy story, complete with dungeons, dragons, and an evil mage who would be reincarnated as Jeremy Irons in the infamous Dungeons and Dragons Hollywood adaptation.
I shudder to think that the screenwriters of the movie took inspiration for Irons’ character from this anime.
The story was really epic in scale. Parn manages to stumble into no less than three conflicts. Each character gets a share of development. The characters band together to form a party in a logical enough manner. Parn is essentially kicked out of his village and Etoh, his best friend, joins him. Ghim searches for a priestess’ daughter along with his friend Slayn, and the four find themselves going in the same direction. Deedlit sees Parn from a distance and is infatuated with him.
Record of Lodoss War suffered the opposite problem as Aria: the Animation. Aria: the Animation was a 13-episode TV series where essentially nothing happened while Record of Lodoss War was an OVA of equal length with three major battles. Aria: the Animation would have benefited from a lot of fat being trimmed off the story and probably would have been better off as a five or six-part OVA. On the other hand, Record of Lodoss War probably could have used a few extra episodes to spread the story out a little more.
Interpersonal relationships, particularly that between Parn and Deedlit, really suffered because of the somewhat rushed nature of the OVA. At one point in the OVA, Parn is told to stay behind from a battle by a king, but he rides off to join the king by the end of the episode. At the beginning of the next episode, we see Parn having already joined back up with the king. The reunion basically happened between episodes, and I feel like there should have been some interaction between the two.
That may have been one of a few symptoms of Record of Lodoss War having gone seriously overbudget. What is more immediately obvious is the quality of the animation. The character designs, particularly females like Deedlit and the witch Karla, are gorgeous. I saw the first episode and thought, “Hey! That animation is classy!” Unfortunately, it went down hill from there. The animation got progressively worse with each episode. In the climax, we see dragons fight each other. This battle was animated with the camera panning across still cels with you having to use your imagination to fill in the rest.
What Record of Lodoss War lacked in funds, it made up in heart. The sounds in general fared a lot better than the visuals. The voice acting, barring Parn, is competent all around. When I heard Parn at first, I would have sworn his voice actor was Hiyama Nobuyuki, who voiced Link in The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It is in fact Kusao Takeshi. I did really like Touma Yumi’s performance as Deedlit.
While the voice acting was competent, the show’s soundtrack kicked all kinds of ass. The opening and end themes, “Adesso e Fortuna” and “Kaze no Fantasia” respectively, were performed by Kato Izumi under the stage name Sherry. “Adesso e Fortuna” was written by Arai Akino. Readers of my blog would know I’ve been a hardcore fan of Arai-san for many years now. I recommend checking out both Sherry’s and Arai’s own rendition of the song; Sherry’s version fit the anime better while Arai’s worked better as a standalone song. In fact, I think I actually want to get my hands on Record of Lodoss War’s soundtrack album.
Overall, while a very flawed OVA, Record of Lodoss War is a fantasy anime classic. It was just a lot of fun and appealed to my liking of very old-school anime.