Mania Grade: NA
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- Audio Rating: N/A
- Video Rating: N/A
- Packaging Rating: N/A
- Menus Rating: N/A
- Extras Rating: N/A
- Age Rating: 12 & Up
- Region: 1 - North America
- Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
- MSRP: 29.99
- Running time: 75
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
- Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
- Series: El-Hazard
El-Hazard, The Alternative World Vol. #4
By Roman Martel
February 16, 2002
Release Date: January 25, 2000
Overall Rating: 3.8
(on a scale of 1-5)
Acting: Japanese: 5
How shall I begin the sad, sad, tale I must unfold, about a an old true friend of mine; someone I could count on to make me laugh, to give me good goofy fun, to make me choke up a bit at the end, to make me yearn for my own priestess of wind, to make me want to wear a cat as armour... Where do I begin about my friend's tragic downfall, from the pinnacle of the anime pantheon to the lowly depths of Hades (also known as the Alternative world). I can only wipe away a bitter tear and shake my head in utter disbelief and say.... "That was stupid."
Sorry folks got a little sentimental there. You're lucky Ladycat isn't writing this... it would be a painful review filled with obscenities and every other sentence being.... "This just sucked!!!"
As Ladycat becomes Shayla Shayla (from the first OAV) and lights this disc on fire (can you tell she didn't like it). I will go over the technical aspects of the disc first. I will go into the content below... but there will be spoilers, so don't read them if you want to keep what little suspense there is left in this sad, sad, attempt of a story. (Wipes another tear away.)
Technically this disc is just another top of the line Pioneer product. Great sound, great picture, the menu works perfectly (even if it isn't flashy), and the box art is great. The goodies are standard for the show, you get the Japanese LD art, and the opening theme without the credits. I must point out that Pioneer finally updated their catalogue of available titles on the DVD. Got some new faces on there and a general update in all the sections.
And now for the pain. Don't read any further if you don't want spoilers or if you really like El Hazard. The sad truth is just too painful (breaks down into tears again).
******BEWARE- The following is a Rant and it contains spoilers!!!!!!*********
Where did it all go wrong? One answer... the writers. It seems that Return of the Jedi syndrome (the rehash of previous plot points and characters) has struck my dear friend El Hazard. The result is less than pretty. The final three episodes... or should I say two... that compose the plot of the series, flail about destroying all semblance of originality, character development and story until you are left gasping in pain and mumbling "What the hell is going on? This is so stupid! My brain hurts! Make it stop!", and then you cry for days and sleep.
What's the big problem here? Well lets start with the overall idea. I said this at the beginning and it has been reinforced... Why did they have to get transported to another world in the first place. There is plenty to do in El Hazard, and there were plenty of plot and character points not resolved from the first OAV (not to mention the second). Can we say Ifurita? What happened to her? Do any of the characters care anymore, the writers obviously don't!
The fact that the plot revolves around ANOTHER Eye of God (How many of these damn things are there!) is just stupid. I was hoping for something more creative than another, bigger, half finished Death Star 2 ... I mean Eye of God. There was even a little old annoying guy on board this thing... Someone did watch Return of the Jedi before writing this plot.
Then there are the characters or should I say lack of characters. If you're gonna haul the whole group over, you might want to give them all equal screen time. Some of the best characters had the sum total of 30 minutes of screen time for the entire series. Then you get the characters slipping away into very primitive versions of themselves. Let's recap: Makato is in fact the stupidest man alive (not just the nice dense kid we knew from the first OAV), he's basically a walking vegetable in the last two episodes with such wonderful lines as "What was that?" and "Huh?" Not to mention his new ability of being able to recap the last five minutes of any part of the show. Then there is Qawoor. She is the perfect counterpart to Makato, being bland, and vapid. She's nice and she's cute when she's asleep, which is most of the series (she even sleep walks in the final episode... oh wait she just resting her eyes ;-) Nanami, in what little screen time she has, spends most of it whining and clinging to Makato (god knows why, she's ten times smarter than him and way more interesting). Shayla Shayla became uber-bitch. She basically beat up anyone who was nearby and shouted a lot. I remember when these characters had depth and personalities that made them fun and interesting.... now there are merely shadows of their former selves.
There were other characters in this show but they don't get enough screen time for me to remember their names.... some relative of that purple-haired girl, and that one guy who's funny when he drinks, and the really nice lady...Rune something or other.
Now the final blow, that ends the series in it's dismal, dark oblivion. The writers have handed this blade to the show... it is time to commit seppuku. In one swift stroke all hope is destroyed.... this entire series hinges on one fact - IT WAS ALL A DREAM!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
That single point is driven into the show (and our skulls) killing it and letting it die slowly and painfully as the credits roll.
Of course it's hinted that it really might have happened, but by this point you don't care. You are drooling and blinking and praying for death (theirs or yours).
But this show does not go gentle into that good night... OH NO! We have one more episode, one last death throw that spills the characters out onto the screen in a huge pulpy mess.
I think it was supposed to be a funny, epilogue to our whole voyage to the Alternative world. Instead, it just makes you embarrassed to be watching it and seeing those poor girls get molested. When did El Hazard become a Hentai? Did I blink? It's weird, it's not funny, it makes you cry. Then it ends, and you are numb. I guess they had the late night slot and they were gonna use it... for good or evil, mostly
And now I sit here and reflect on what could have been and what was.
I can only say one thing. Pioneer better get the OAV series out soon, so I can cleanse my mind of this and remember El Hazard as it was and as it should be... a really, really great show.
This was not that show.
P.S. Only Jinnai retained his glory and remained his good old amusing self. Well him and Groucho! Kudos to both!!!
Hitachi GD-2000 DVD ROM, Cinemaster QI DVD Player (application), Dell Model UltraScan D1025HTX Color Monitor, ACS295 Atltec Lansing Speakers (right, left, Subwoofer)