Record of Lodoss War Collector's Series (of 1) (Mania.com)
Review Date: Sunday, July 14, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, July 09, 2002
What They Say
Lodoss, the accursed island. Born in the battle and baptized in fire, it has seen wars ravage its kingdoms for thousands of years. Now, an evil beyond any it has ever faced before is awakening, and a party of six are drawn together to battle for the future of everything dear to them.
Among them, Parn, a young fighter who lacks experience and is driven by his desire to redeem his father's tarnished name; Deedlit, a young and naughty elf who is both attracted to the young fighter and infuriated by his lack of interest; Ghim, a grizzled dwarf warrior haunted by a personal failure; Etoh, a priest; Slayn, a skilled magic user; and Woodchuck, a cynical but good-natured thief.
Six who barely know each other. Six who must learn to act with a single purpose.
Six who are destined to become heroes as they encounter enemies and allies beyond their wildest imaginations. Join the quest - the war for the future of Lodoss has begun!
After a lackluster and ultimately disappointing release under a sublicense to Image Entertainment back at the end of 1998, Central Park Media has finally shown the love that Lodoss War truly deserves with this remastered Collectors Series release.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The series features a pretty basic but decent stereo mix, though most of it feels like it’s center channel based and just filling up the entire soundstage. Dialogue is nice and clear throughout and we didn’t notice any distortions or dropouts.
This release is a significant improvement over the original release. While there are still issues, it’s cleaned up a number of problems and restores back something very important, namely openings and endings. The biggest improvement we can see right off the bat is how much better the first episode looks. This episode has always looked poor, both in Japanese and US releases, being overly dark and grainy. The majority of the grain has been cleaned up and things brighten up a bit where it should be. Other episodes in the series benefit from the grain clean-up as well. Cross coloration is very minimal throughout and aliasing isn’t that big of an issue. Some backgrounds throughout are problematic though in that they’re quite shifty and it shows in the encoding. There’s also some instances of frame jitter that shows during some scene transitions. Colors in general do look much better here, adding a bit more vibrancy than we’re used to with this series. This is a release I almost wish went to four discs so things could just be maxed out.
Much love is also given to the packaging. A good cardboard slipcase is provided, with the front cover featuring a great looking logo and the inspiring image of Parn and Deedlit pressed together with his sword raised high. The back cover features a simple summary of the show and lists the discs features and basical technical information. Inside, we have a great looking digipack that features the good/evil sides on the two main flaps with their leaders and dragons. Opening up all the way, we get the main production credits and the cast for both languages. A mini booklet is included that’s actually part of the manga for the series. The back side of the digipack features the chapter selections for all thirteen episodes.
The menus here are pretty basic, with some animation playing through a center sphere while you have Deedlit riding along the bottom. It’s decent, plays some good theme music from the show and flows nicely.
There’s a couple of good extras included here. There’s a “Cast a Spell” section that lets you see some of the magic sequences separate from the main show as well as a two minute video that shows off the manga series that CPM is also releasing. There’s the always present five minute video from 1990 showcasing the cast meeting the fans and talking about the series and their expectations of it. There’s also a six minute Japanese promotional sequence from 1990 that was probably used to try and get people on board for it. It’s an interesting look back in terms of marketing. Oddly, it’s also all in English, but with their mention of Dragonlance definitely gives it a feel of something being used to sell it. A good six minute video gallery of artwork and the meet the characters segments round out the extras here. Sadly, there is no clean opening or ending.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Lodoss is considered one of the early holy grails of anime. When it was announced that it was acquired several years ago, a lot of people got primed about it. And a lot of people got primed and into DVD alone based on the announcement of the Image disc set. Many fans, myself included, never purchased the VHS tapes that came out from CPM, instead holding out for the laserdiscs. At that time, there were a lot of pressings for CPM titles, but for some reason, Lodoss just never made it. Up until the Image release, I'd never seen beyond episode 10, as that's where my fansub cut out.
The storyline, combined from several RPG sessions that went into a novel series, is a somewhat grander Dungeons and Dragons campaign as a smattering of politics and epicness flows throughout it, as well as plenty of mystery. The main characters are the archetypes that are commonly found. The scruffy thief, the noble young hero, the slightly less physical mage, the grumpy dwarf, the pretty but deadly elf and the young and cheerful cleric. I've played many a campaign using any of those characters over the years. Watching this after six years was like a homecoming, the names coming back quickly.
The series plays out in two parts. The first seven episodes introduces us to our main cast of characters, as they work towards their own individual goals as a group. We get characters like Parn, who simply wants to become a swordsman and serve a higher good. We get Ghimli, a powerful dwarf who is on a mission to rescue the daughter of a friend whose been kidnapped by the evil witch Karla. You’ve also got your hanger-ons, those who come along to help out others and to be a part of the group, such as Slayn the wizard or Etoh, a young priest/cleric in training.
The first arc of seven episodes does a good job of really working the fantasy feel, as the characters grow and learn their place in the world as well as experiencing the bad side of the Lodoss with its constant wars and bloodshed. The gradual introduction of the larger picture of the gods and their wars as well as the kingdoms and theirs is well done, not forced, but slowly and surely brought out to bear. As we watch Parn, who is our main character, grow and mature into a formidable swordsman and leader, it’s done without being overly rushed.
The second half of the story takes place years after a critical battle between the forces of light and darkness. While evil still lurks, we’re shown new heroes for the day as older ones retire and move out of the picture. While the heroes of the first half do appear and do have sizeable roles, we’re given more time over to the new folks, such as the fiery red headed female mercenary and her berserk friend. The story does follow rightly from the original arc, so while there is a leap forward, it’s a logical one.
Lodoss continues to be hailed as one of the best fantasy series in anime because there’s been precious little done in a serious vein. Most fantasy in the anime world tends to be comedic pieces, which are all well and fine. But the lack of serious straight fantasy is something that has caused Lodoss to rise right to the top and stay there nearly twelve years after its initial release. This is good solid OVA entertainment, and a series I’m glad I got to revisit again after nearly four years.
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Cast a Spell – A Video Shortcut,Comics,Fan Convention with Japanese Cast,Japanese Promotional Video,Art Gallery,Meet the Heroes
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B+
Packaging Rating: A+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Central Park Media
Running time: 355
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Record of Lodoss War