Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch Vol. #03 (Mania.com)
Review Date: Tuesday, January 25, 2005
Release Date: Monday, November 01, 2004
Writer/Artist:Ryo Mizuno & Yochihiko Ochi
Translated by:Laura Jackson and Yoko Kobayashi
What They Say
In this climactic final battle, Parn and his battle-hardened companions challenge Karla, the Grey Witch! Can they awaken the young girl whose body Karla has stolen? Will Ghim make the supreme sacrifice to defeat the evil witch? The senses-shattering conclusion!
The Review: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Princess Fianna has been safely returned to her father, the King of Valis. The memory of Parn's father has been returned to it's proper place of honor. Now it's time to learn who Karla really is, and why she is manipulating so many nations across Lodoss to battle. A dangerous trip to visit the great but eccentric sage Wort brings them face to face with Karla. She believes that the battle between darkness and light is necessary to prevent one side from dominating the other, which would lead to total ruin for everyone. She asks Parn and his group to join her, but he refuses. After the confrontation, they learn from Ghim who she is. Karla was a great sorceress who lived 500 years earlier. Even with magic, she can't live that long. She's been possessing bodies since then, moving from one body to the next as necessary. She now inhabits the body of Leylia, the daughter of a great Pharis priest. The headpiece she wears contains Karla's magic. If they can remove it from her, they can save Leylia and defeat Karla.
Meanwhile, great battles are raging across Lodoss. Parn, Deedlit, Ghim, Etoh and Slayn go into battle to stop the Marmo army from overrunning Valis and claiming all of Lodoss. Once the battle is settled, the adventurers track down Karla to finally put a stop to her.
In the conclusion to this swords and sorcery story, Ryo Mizuno creates sweeping battles and delves into great themes of good versus evil, and righteousness versus heavy burden of duty. Mizuno's characters could easily have felt like they were rolled up in a game of Dungeons and Dragons, but he gives them more life than that. Parn is a righteous young man, but capable of mistakes and learning from them. Deedlit is a beautiful young elf, but she's very capable of taking after herself. The rest of the cast are equally as three-dimensional, which makes following their adventures enjoyable. Yoshihiko Ochi's art is as impressive as ever. He uses heavy linework to add dimensionality to his characters in a style that looks like woodblock printing.
This volume is a reprinting of the previous graphic novel but in the smaller B6 size and at the $10 price point that is so popular these days. The previous volume was a collection of the original monthly comic that was released in the late '90s. As such, the art is flipped and all sound effects are translated and retouched into English. As the story is heavily based on Western mythology, the same source material that was the basis of the Dungeons and Dragons fantasy role-playing game, it's not such a big problem. Surprisingly, considering how bad CPM's art reproduction was at the time, these volumes look pretty good. Since Ochi prefers cross-hatching and linework to screentoning, there's less chance for the art reproduction to go bad. The few times screentoning is used, heavy moiring is visible, however. The translation and English adaptation by Laura Jackson and Yoko Kobayashi is excellent, something that I've come to expect from this duo. Nothing seems out of place, stilted or forced. The dialog flows smoothly and naturally, allowing the reader to immerse themselves in Mizuno's expansive fantasy world. The extras are two pages of character introductions, a plot synopsis, and creator biographies. The cover is a composite image of Deedlit in battle gear using her magic, with a larger image of Parn behind her. There are thick blue bands along the top and bottom in the current CPM style with the title logo across the top, and artist’s names and a review blurb along the bottom. The back cover has Karla looking both sexy and dangerous, as if she's about to strike.
If anything, my own history of playing far too much D&D in all night games during the late-'70s makes me wary of most stories clearly based on the popular game. They often come off as a fleshed out retelling of someone's game, but this story doesn't make that mistake. Mizuno created a very detailed and well-throughout world, populated it with interesting characters with real motivation for their actions, and then told a grand story of good versus evil. If you already own the first edition of these graphic novels, then there's nothing here to warrant a second purchase. But if you like grand fantasy, this is a fine story to start with.
Mania Grade: B+
Art Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Text/Translatin Rating: B-
Age Rating: 13 & Up
Released By: CPM Press
Orientation: Right to Left