Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight (Mania.com)
Review Date: Monday, February 18, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, October 17, 2000
The Lodoss OVA was my first anime purchase, let alone my first anime DVD purchase. That was almost 2 years ago now. And, though I don't exactly remember why I chose it of all the anime out there, my ICQ history log tells me I should thank Chris again for taking time to personally advise me on this major purchase. That single event is possibly what most opened the door to my future anime purchases.
Needless to say, I went into the OVA headlong with no prior experience, and was enthralled. I know this isn't a review of the OVA, but considering the relation, I think it's more than relevant. Last year I began to hear about the "sequel" tv-series, and when I heard the whole series would be released in a small boxed set, I pre-ordered it.
I'd heard, and it should spoil nothing to say that this series in a way re-tells the last half of the OVA. The beauty of it is, it is so different, that even if you've watched the OVA over and over, you will still be held enthralled. To say this is merely a re-telling is to forget that this series takes 27 episodes (and 10 years) to cover events which the OVA gave 6 episodes to. To reiterate, if you've seen the OVA, this series won't feel "old". If you liked the OVA, you should definitely consider this purchase. If you haven't seen the OVA, you should watch at least the first half to bring yourself up to speed, but it isn't absolutely necessary.
I would go over the continuity issues here, but other reviews have done that, and the first disc's extras (and the included booklet) do it well (and interestingly, rather self-consciously).
The series actually looks very good. I suppose I don't have the experience or equipment to give a full technical analysis (read Chris' review!), but I was more than satisfied. Before I got the DVDs, I read a review somewhere that said the animation was "horrible in places". Sorry, I don't see it. The OP has some beautifully fluid segments, but of course they're embellished. Reviews complain that the animation in the actual show isn't as good as in the opening, but I think it's rather inaccurate and irrelevant. Perhaps what some reviewers have a problem with is the comic-book feel they throw in sometimes: at a point of action, instead of starting into a fast fluid segment, it will show a hand-drawn frame (or a sequence thereof), and the effect hails back to flipping through pages of comic books. I imagine there are those out there who misunderstand and think this is "poor quality", but I rather appreciate it sometimes. Also, amazingly enough, I noticed very FEW repeated frames throughout the series, and very seldom erosions in artwork/animation quality. Overall, very good.
I had no major problems with the audio, technically. I emphasize again, however, that if you want the technical details, read Chris' review. The opening song is STUNNING (I'm peeved that I can't find a recording). The closing song is beautiful. Both are way more appropriate to the feel of the show than in the OVA (no 80's reminiscent J-pop this time, for the most part). The music during the show flows nicely (though for my taste, it doesn't take the center-stage quite often enough -- I like a nice string crescendo every once in a while, but again that's just me).
The dialogue, as always, is very well done. The Japanese acting is excellent, and as far as I can tell, the translations are dead on. One thing I noticed about the sub was an occasional misprint. Not a case of mis-translation, but just simple typos. The problem is, when you're methodically dialogue-reading (the art of reading the dialogue so fluidly that you don't realize you're actually reading anymore), a misprint can throw you way off-course, and you have to rewind and see what you missed. Fortunately, it only happens maybe once per disc here, which I suppose is acceptable.
There's only one problem I can think of with the audio: There are those out there who may feel like watching this dubbed. DON'T. I don't know how, but Lodoss manages to get some of the worst dubbing. The actors lack almost all feeling and subtlety. The translations seem rather poor (I suspect they not only over-Americanize it, but over-modernize it as well; though it doesn't seem as sanitized as the OVA). Anyway, if you feel like putting yourself through this dub, DO NOT watch the "Welcome to Lodoss Island" shorts at the end of each episode. It won't be a positive experience (I checked). However, this is only me, you may do as you wish; but stand warned. ;)
I was quite impressed. The packaging is 4 discs in Amaray keepcases, all housed in a cardboard sleeve. And, it all uses a stunning ruby-red color scheme. No complaints!
Overall, I was very impressed with the way the series seemingly threw in so many characters, yet found time to flesh them out while effortlessly advancing the storyline. Through the 2 separate story arcs of the show, it manages to introduce (and keep active attention on) almost 3 times as many protagonists as in the main cast of the OVA. Also, when the attention switched away from Parn and Deedlit during the second story arc, the pair were still given their own parallel storyline which allowed them to be active right through the end of the series. Also, I was actually much more satisfied with the conclusion of this series than of the OVA: they took basically the same concept, and expanded, added, refined, and went one step further. Very nice.
With such an excellent storyline, superb acting, artwork, and music, and with about 7 episodes per disc (6/7/7/7 in all), this set is well worth its price, and highly recommended.
Mania Grade: A+
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: A
Menus Rating: N/A
Extras Rating: N/A
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Central Park Media
Running time: 650
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Record of Lodoss War