Record of Lodoss War OVA Box Set (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, December 22, 1998
With the release of the Record of Lodoss War 2-DVD box set, CPM brings to anime DVD fans the ENTIRE 13-episode OAV series of one of the best swords-and-magic storyline in both a compact format and much more affordable price range. For those of you that haven't the slightest clue what Record of Lodoss War is all about, here's some background. Record of Lodoss War follows the adventures of six adventurers on their journey through the accursed island of Lodoss to face and defeat an evil to save Lodoss's future. Among the six is the young fighter Parn, the beautiful elf Deedlit, the dwarf/mentor Ghim, the young priest Etoh, the wizard Slayn and the thief Woodchuck. Their adventures through Lodoss pits the six heroes against numerous enemies and also leads them to allies willing to help them in their quest. Men against monsters. Fighters against wizards. Dragons against dragons. Light against darkness. The fight for Lodoss has begun!
The entire Record of Lodoss War series is broken down into two DVD discs in this boxed set. Packaged within two Warner snapper cases, disc 1 contains episodes 1 through 7 and disc two finishes up the series with episodes 8 through 13 as well as the "bonus" Making of Record of Lodoss War documentary (this was included on the first CPM VHS subtitled tape version of the series). The cover art works for all outside appearances (the DVD box has the cover art for videotape volume 1, disc 1 contains the 2nd tape's art and disc 2 has the art from the 6th videotape), but personally I would've preferred that CPM had incorporated the cover art from the rest of the videotape series into the DVD packaging-but hey, that's probably only because I'm bummed that Pirotesse is NOWHERE to be found in the art! A short synopsis is given for each sets of episodes and it is similar in style to CPM's other "complete" series Iria-Zeiram the Animation. The organization of the synopsis are a little awkward, with the first episodes being on the back of the DVD case and the following episodes on the inside flap. The cases could've been put together just a TAD better than this, but its only a minor annoyance.
The audio is in Dolby digital stereo, so only the front left & right speakers are utilized with good separation. Considering that Record of Lodoss War was released originally in Japan around 1991 and didn't make its domestic appearance until 1995, I wasn't expecting a 5.1 treatment on this production anyways. The Japanese-dub is dead-on, and while the English-dub production is not done too horribly the English versions of the opening and ending themes are actually very nicely done in my opinion. The only time the audio becomes questionable is when the episode reaches the end of an episode. Usually at the end of the episode there would be a Japanese voice-over for the promo for the next episode, but in the English-dub version the voice-over is from the opening lines from the episode introduction. Comparing the DVD version to the VHS version, I discovered that CPM did some fancy editing and they made a seamless transition from episode to episode by cutting out the ending Japanese promo screens and replacing it with the next episode's opening introduction WHILE still retaining the Japanese audio track as the introduction scene played itself out. Kind of an interesting compromise that CPM made, although I guess its the anime purist in me that's kind of kicking about right now :-)
The video is very nicely done, with all the colors coming through and all the brights and shadows handled properly and no visible signs of pixellation or artifacting. The standard white font that is a staple of all CPM anime productions was utilized in Lodoss, and to be honest I really wish they'd switch over to a readable yellow font (such as the one employed by M2-K/Animeigo's Bubblegum Crisis DVD Suite) because there are some times where the font blends in with the anime background making it hard to read at times. The menu interface is, at best, serviceable. CPM hasn't been noted for being exceptional with their menu interfaces, and Lodoss doesn't get any special treatment as well. The menu screen is a static picture, with options for starting the movie, chapter search indexes and language selections. With the exception of the menu interface, the video for Record of Lodoss War was given great care in being brought over to the DVD format. Before closing, I have to include one little gripe I have about CPM's anime lineup in general as Lodoss continues this trend. I'm aware that CPM is using their English-dub production masters when they are encoded to DVD (as most anime companies are doing), but its a very annoying oversight to not include the Japanese voice-actors ANYWHERE on the DVD's, much less the packaging! M2-K/AnimEigo put both the Japanese and English voice-actors on their credits list and Pioneer/Viz put a credits page on their Darkstalkers DVDs, but CPM has been notorious for forgetting to include the Japanese voice-actors and giving them their credits. Is this laziness on your part, CPM? Well, please take note of this and try to do something about it!
Overall, Record of Lodoss War will be given a good play on many anime DVD owner's players. For its affordable price range ($60-$70), its a much cheaper buy than either the subtitled or dubbed videotapes separately or their boxed set equivalents ($100-$130). The storage capability of the DVD-format is presented very impressively with this double disc set, and folks who purchased the entire Lodoss series on tape will be slightly upset seeing the entire Lodoss DVD set roughly taking up the same amount of shelf space as one VHS tape! Any fans of swords, sorcery and fantasy adventures will certainly enjoy viewing this series for the first time and long-time fans familiar with Record of Lodoss War will certainly enjoy seeing the DVD treatment that's been given to it.
Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: B-
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B+
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Image Entertainment
Running time: 290
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Record of Lodoss War