A game to anime conversation which reveals a lot of the charm from the game and expands on it with a comedic action series guaranteed to put a smile on your face.
What They Say
After the King of the Netherworld dies, demons start trying to take over in his place. But with the son of the King on his way to stake his claim, the demons will have some competition. Will the Netherworld's rightful ruler stand a chance with the help of Etna, her Prinny Sqaud, and Flonne, an assassin-turned-hero?
For this review I went for the English 2.0 Stereo. Unfortunately there is no 5.1 on the UK Release – no problems found during the checks of both English and Japanese, in reference to timing with subtitles or transition. The audio is fairly good as it is quite clear, but sometimes found elements that the background effects/music overshadowed the voices. However, it’s always interesting to hear several penguin sole creatures speak at the same time…
The video transition for the release of Disgaea was overall very good. The effects between conversion (especially with the CGI Effects) along with the subtitling were spot on, with no elements of choppiness and full screen converted beautifully. With a lot of action going on with a lot of the fights Laharl causes, the fluidity of the animation has to be spot on especially considering it’s a colourful show, which combines elements of darkness and hellish colours with bright angelic palettes (Laharl vs. Flonne in another way), the transition to video is overall excellent.
No packaging was supplied with this test disc.
The menu is fairly straight forward, with simple selection for Play All, Extra and Episode Selection, illustrated nicely with small pictures of scenes from the episode. The menu screen consisted of our three ‘heroes’ in Laharl, Etna and Flonne, though Laharl seems to be in the background compared to the colourful shots of the two girls, in front of a hellish background of a castle on a sky of red. Simple, straightforward and nice to at.
There are quite a few nice extras for the first disc. First, there is an English trailer featuring scenes not on this disc, showing a bit of Etna/Laharl mischief, the always welcome textless opening and close, a Japanese promo which is more of a standard trailer compared to the English one, and trailers for Solti Rei and Desert Punk.
The big extra though is a near 20 minute in total interview involving Kaori Mizuhashi – the voice of Laharl. This is in particular a delight for me, as it basically discusses how it transferred from game to anime, the characteristics of her character, how things have changed in the transition, and some general chit chat. It doesn’t help that it’s one of my favourite seiyuu either, so a double treat. It’s entertaining and informative, and if you are a fan of the games as well, it’s a must see.
Disgaea is a name familiar to RPG fans, a classic Nippon Ichi RPG which has several games on the Sony formats in the UK (and elsewhere) – knowing the sometimes hazardous ways games are treated when converted to anime, I was hoping a lot of the comedy elements of the game would remain along with some decent battling.
So far so good.
We cut straight into some nice CGI effects showing the colours which seem straight out of the game, and we are quick introduced to a blonde young girl with angel wings, who finds a coffin with what she says is an ‘Overlord’s Crest.’ So being the angel she is, she intends to destroy it. However, several comic failures later, a young demon like boy emerges from the coffin, disturbed has his sleep has been interrupted. We’re introduced to Laharl, the son of the current Overlord, whilst the cute girl is Flonne, an angel trainee/assassin of demons. The two are immediate polar opposites, one loving the word ‘love’, the other despising it but after much comic arguing, it is found out that whilst he was sleeping, his father had passed away (it was his father that Flonne was sent to assassinate) so a ton of demons are vying up the vacant spot of Overlord. Laharl immediately goes to stake his claim, but Flonne however has lost a specific amulet which keeps her alive during this world. Laharl, demon as he is, couldn’t care less, but they are interrupted by a comic Earth troupe, lead by the charismatic (and pompous) Captain Gordon, his big-breasted assistant Jennifer, and their robot helper Thursday. Laharl immediately gags, his weakness revealed (big breasted women) and it’s also revealed he was poisoned beforehand. Despite his cold air, Flonne is able to heal him, and Laharl showcases that is truly a powerful demon, sending the Earthlings flying. However, he has no thanks for Flonne and won’t help her, which leads to Flonne turning her attentions to assassinate him, and the introduction of a red headed favourite…
…yes, episode 2 begins the anime debut of the popular game character Etna, a bushy haired red head. She and Laharl have a past, and leave Flonne to rot, whilst the Earthlings enounter Seraph Lamington, a big-wig from the Disgaea equivalent of heaven called Celestia. Also revealed in this episode are two other trademarks from the game, the lovable if slightly demented Prinnies, penguin like beings who are treated like servants and always say the word ‘dood’ and Vyers, the rival of Laharl, but is better known (much to his annoyance) as Mid Boss. This episode pretty much casts the entire main cast into centre stage, with a few brief battles, and the pendant being recovered by Laharl to Flonne much to everyone’s surprise – albeit in Laharl’s own way. It leads to Flonne joining the group to see if Laharl does have compassion in his head.
The last two eps now focus on the group doing travelling to return to Laharl’s dad castle to stake his claim as Overlord. Etna get’s a little background as she’s very playful in different ways with both the demon and angel, and she obviously has her own agenda when the bounty hunter like signs she brings out have to be hidden by her Prinnies. Anyway, they visit the Hall of Treasures as an alternative inn because it has display beds. Yep, this is definitely Laharl’s logic. However, the House of Treasures is a little unusual because after a few fiddling of buttons, an archangel’s intervention and two girls collapsing on the bed, when he wakes up he realises that Flonne and Etna have swapped personalities! To say this is amusing is an understatement seeing Flonne being comically cruel and sadistic and Etna begging for her to stop it. Cameos from the Earth Team and Mid-Boss later, Laharl is able to figure out the way to break them out of it, which admittingly seemed a little too easy, but it does end predictably…but comically.
Finally, it turns out that the Prinnies are not quite free labour – indeed, they need payments to compensate their good deeds – with all three being cheap, they decide to follow Laharl’s logic of ‘finding the richest guy around and get money from them otherwise I won’t get food’ philosophy. The richest girl in the area is a Giant Pig named Zenisky, who apparently was Laharl’s father’s vassal when he was alive, but is now claiming to be the Overlord due to his ownership of the Demon Tome, a book which has the Overlord’s crest on it. Corrupted by power and wealth, his son Koganesky despises his father, and steals the Tome to be pawned at the pawn shop…just as Laharl and company have finished their way too easy raiding. Realising the relationship between Zenisky and his dad, Laharl figures out an easy way to get Overlord status and goes on Koganesky request to kill Zenisky. Laharl is way too strong for the guards and Zenisky, but when it comes to the final blow, Koganesky despite the way his dad has turned out, has a change of heart. Much to Flonne’s surprise, Laharl doesn’t kill them and instead transports them elsewhere, bringing the small plot of ‘Does Laharl have any kindness in him?’ back into play. However, the Tome is now in someone else’s hands…our Earth trio…
It’s hard not to like Disgaea, whether you’ve played the game or not. If you have, it makes a lot of the characters easily more accessible and with background knowledge, everything flows through. Without the game knowledge, it’s still easy to get into as there is no real major plot aside from Laharl trying to be Overload, Etna’s hidden motives and Flonne’s seeing if Laharl is really good – it’s simply good fun. It’s a great comedy, got sweet animation, and the background characters are all amusing (poor Mid Boss…) – Laharl is a bit of a cold hearted demon, but you know there is something in him which makes him different, Etna is very fun and has two different evils between talking with Laharl and Flonne, whilst Flonne is a scatterbrained adorable sweetheart. Whether she can make Laharl’s heart melt is another story but it’s probably going to be a lot of fun for the next 8 episodes.
And how can you hate a show which has penguins that say ‘dood’?
Disgaea is easier to watch if you’ve played the games beforehand, but it’s certainly not inaccessible to anyone getting into the franchise for the first time. A bright, hellish animated series with an engaging and likeable cast, which whilst has very little in terms of plot at the moment, has a lot in terms of charm and comic timing. Laharl is an interesting character who screams to be developed, Etna and Flonne are charming in different ways, and the background characters of Mid Boss, the Earth Squad and the Prinnies are all lots of fun in their own ways. Not a show that requires thought provoking, but a show that requires you to try not to smile…you will fail. Recommended.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Dolby Surround, English Subtitles
Toshiba 37C3030 - 37" Widescreen HD Ready LCD TV – Tangent Ht-50 Home Theatre System Multi-Regional DVD Players/Speakers – Tangent Subwoofer 50-150 Hz, Impedenced 8 OHM.