Record of Lodoss War DVD Collection
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Lodoss, the Cursed Island, is not a very nice place at all. Goddesses fight, dragons do battle, and everyone seems to want to take control of the world through nefarious ends. What it needs more than anything is a hero, and he needs to be strong and fast and fresh from the fight. What Lodoss gets is a party of adventurers in the classic D&D party, which makes sense because the series is based on a D&D campaign. Whether the all-but-audible dice rolling in the background bothers you or not depends entirely on your taste for classic fantasy.
The Record of Lodoss War DVD Collection gathers all 13 episodes of the series into one handy little red box. Lodoss Island is threatened by war and a mysterious witch named Karla is interfering in worldly affairs. Great dragons stir in the planet itself and an evil sorcerer plots to wake a fallen goddess and destroy everything. Five heroes are all that stand between Lodoss Island and (buh-buh-buh-bum) certain death (ooooooh).
Our little band of heros is made up of Parn, the usually-clueless fighter; Deedlit, the elf/ranger type; Slayn the wizard; Ghim the dwarf; Woodchuck the rogue; and Etoh the priest. Each one fits their little niche so well that veteran role-players will feel a little twinge of déjà vu and the class system is nowhere more apparent than in Parn. He’s that fighter who constantly yells “I took Great Cleave, dammit, and I’m going to use it,” which usually results in him getting himself in danger and risking the entire party. The rest all fit their niches. The dwarf is surly, Slayn is mysterious and wizardy, Etoh is holy, and so forth. The characters are generally likable, if predictable, and it’s easy to find yourself caring about them.
While the chronicles of their struggle to save the island of Lodoss from certain destruction are very enjoyable, there are some problems. The plot tends to meander, for starters, and some characters appear without much introduction and then go on to disappear for several episodes. Lodoss Wars suffers from the fate of a lot of epic fantasy, in that it tries too hard and sometimes falls into tossing out plot threads to see what sticks. The fighting evil part comes through, but the party wanders here and there, and sometimes you can’t help but wonder if the DM was just improvising to keep people occupied.
Still, a fantasy dork like me would be hard-pressed to not enjoy dwarves and dragons and cool magic spells, and the plot is very much the classic, enjoyable “good guys fight some seemingly overwhelming evil.” It’s also a treat to see so many dragons flying around, rather than there being one really evil legendary one that nobody talks about. The world of Lodoss feels fully developed, the background obviously had some thought put into it, and the series benefits from this by using the background to form a cohesive whole. It is not a generic fantasy hook for a plot to hang on. The backstory goes back hundreds of years and old friendships and alliances keep turning up.
Technically speaking, the disc looks pretty good. The animation is admittedly kind of gritty and old school but considering the age of the series, that is to be expected. The transfer to DVD will undoubtedly please those fans still clutching old VHS versions that have been lovingly worn out, because the animation may be old, but the digital touch makes it look as good as it can. Lodoss War’s sound and music may be a little on the 80s synth side, but it’s as crisp and clear as you could ask for and with Dolby Digital Stereo as an option, you can annoy the neighbors with nice, loud dragon roars on your home theater setup.
While there’s no t-shirt or cool little key ring, the on-disc extras are probably the closest we’ll ever come to The Complete Package For The Lodoss War Fan. The art galleries are worth a browse, the scripts and cast listing will be of interest to everyone, and there’s even cool little extras like a “spellbook” with all of Slayn’s spells, illustrated with clips from the series. It’s an impressive package of DVD goodies.
Those chasing the next new thing are going to gripe that this is cliché fantasy, but the reason it’s cliché is because it’s so cool. There is a tremendous satisfaction that comes from seeing the surly dwarf charge headlong at an angry dragon, and that’s just the way it is. The clash of good and evil is a timeless tale precisely because it’s so captivating. If you want high fantasy adventure in anime form, you want the Record of Lodoss War DVD collection.
This DVD set has just about everything a fan of Lodoss War could want. The only thing it’s lacking is a t-shirt or some other kind of cool schwag item to make it a ten. The extras more than make up for the datedness of the animation and repetitveness of the music.
This is a good series overall, but suffers from some inconsistencies in the plot that may make it hard to follow. It’s also worth noting that Parn’s cluelessness in matters romantic may prove profoundly irritating.
Episodes: Complete Set
DVD Extras: Digitally Remastered Video, Japanese Promotional Video, Comics, Fan Convention with Japanese Cast. DVD-Rom: Scripts, Cast List, Production Credits, Art Gallery, More Comics.