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Anime Reviews: "Record of Lodoss War" and "Ninja Scroll"

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Anime Reviews: "Record of Lodoss War" and "Ninja Scroll"

Old 09-07-99, 03:13 AM
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I've only recently become a serious afficionado of Japanese animation. My exposure has mostly been limited to Hayao Miyazaki's work (My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service, The Castle of Cagliostro), Grave of the Fireflies, an occasional English dub on the Sci-Fi Channel (like Galaxy Express 999 and its sequel), and such Americanized Japanese-animated television series as Speed Racer, Robotech, and Sailor Moon. (I've seen all the episodes of those series, and they probably rank as my three favorite cartoon series ever.)

Seeking to expand my knowledge of the genre, I noted that recent threads here on DVD Talk recommended Ninja Scroll and Record of Lodoss War, so I rented them both on DVD from Netflix. (No, I don't work for them.)

Ninja Scroll: Excellent. The plot is a bit fantastical in that the heroes basically have super-human agility, etc., and the villains have strange mystical powers. Basically, it's kind of like an arcade fighting game, but that would be more a bit insulting to "Ninja Scroll" which rises far above that. Rather, I suspect that a lot of Japanese-originated video games were inspired by this movie. I'm probably making this sound worse than it is. It's actually a very good story that is more than just fighting, and the animation is excellent. The fight scenes are very cool, and the characters are interesting.

The disc's menus are not animated, but it does include cast/crew bios. The video is 4:3. My only complaint about the disc is that the English dub is Dolby Digital 5.1, but the Japanese audio is only Dolby Digital 2.0. Personally, I prefer to listen to the original Japanese dialog and read the English subtitles. I listened to the English dub a little, and I thought it was very well done though.

My grade: Thumbs up. Anime fans will love it. People just getting into anime will probably want to rent it first though.

Record of Lodoss War: 13 episodes on 2 discs. Roughly about 5 hours. The set is kind of pricey, but worth it, I think. The animation is top-notch. Highly detailed. The dragons especially are breathtaking in their design. Unfortunately, the animators often used camera motion of a static matte painting to simulate animation of some of the more complex scenes (like the ones with dragons). I found this to be a little disappointing, but that's a minor nit to pick, compared to how well the animation is done overall. The plot is heavily derivative of Tolkein and Dungeons and Dragons. The first episode is almost a direct rip-off of The Fellowship of the Ring's flight through Moria. Fortunately, once you get past that episode, things pick up considerably, and the plot is reasonably original, considering genre limitations. The movie is very RPG-like though, perhaps overly so. Basically, each character belongs to either one of the D&D classes (fighter, thief, magic-user, cleric) or races (human, elf, dwarf, goblin, kobold). If you can get past that as well, you'll be fine. I should also note that the first episode actually comes chronologically after the fourth episode or thereabouts. (That really confused me.) The story though is involving. The characters are likeable and evolve over time. The villains especially are not one-dimensional or completely evil at all, and I found that very refreshing. And there are plenty of twists in the plot to keep you on your toes.

Again, not surprisingly, the disc's menus are not animated or all that interesting. There's a featurette that shows fan reaction when the series debuted in Japan and has comments by the animators/designers. I almost missed this entirely. Fortunately, I watched the closing credits after the final episode all the way through, after which it went into the featurette. The Japanese and English audio tracks are both Dolby Digital 2.0. I listened to the English dub for part of it to compare with the Japanese audio, but I did not think it was particularly well done at all compared to the Japanese, but that might be a credit to the Japanese voice actors who did an excellent job. Also, for the record, I noticed a couple errors (grammatical and otherwise) in the English subtitles.

My grade: An enthusiastic thumbs up. Despite some unoriginality in its depiction as part of the fantasy/RPG genre, the three-dimensional characterization, involving and unpredictable plot, and highly detailed animation make this highly recommended. It's definitely worth a rental, and I'm looking to purchase the 2-disc set as soon as I can find it at a good price.

[This message has been edited by Ed Sabol (edited 09-08-1999).]
Old 09-07-99, 03:24 PM
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Ed, you can pick up the Lodoss set at Reel for $31.99 right now if you use a coupon and their free shipping. Add ****** to the picture and you save another $3. Of course that _is_ still pricy, but I don't see it getting much lower.

Continuing in the recommended vein is Iria: Zeiram. I hope to get it in the mail today. $17.99 from Reel with a $10 coupon.

Also, you didn't mention Ranma 1/2 in your message, so I'll recommend it. Of course only the movies are available on DVD, and I haven't seem any of them yet, but the series is hysterical, especially to watch with some friends to laugh along with you.

Old 09-07-99, 04:40 PM
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I'm just getting into Anime and was curious about "Ninja Scroll" and "Lodoss". Thanks for the reviews.

Does anyone have any idea when "Castle of Cagliostro" will make to DVD?
Old 09-09-99, 02:08 AM
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Marcus,

I'm glad you found the reviews helpful. I remember reading on http://www.animeondvd.com/ some months ago that Castle of Cagliostro is being readied for release. I think it was supposed to have been released back in July. Obviously, that hasn't happened, or at least I never heard that it was released. With luck, maybe it will be released before the end of the year.

Eli,

Thanks for the additional recommendations. Someone else suggested Iria: Zeiram as well. I've made a note to rent it from Netflix soon.

As for finding a deal, well, for one brief, shining day one could have purchased Lodoss during Mass Music's sale for like 18.50 + shipping. Now, that is a deal. Unfortunately, I missed out on the 50% off list price, and now it is just 50% off MSRP which comes to $31.56 shipped. I think I'll pass and patiently wait for a better deal than that. Ninja Scroll was like $9 too. Ugh! I so wish I had heard about that sale the night before, but I wasn't home, so I missed out.
Old 09-13-99, 12:38 PM
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I have own both Ninja Scroll and Lodos. Both are great. However, I have a favorism as to watching Ghost In The Shell, Serial Experiments Lain, and Grave of the Fireflies for their plots. When I first saw Ghost In The Shell I was like "ohhh sh*t! Lets watch that again!" ... seriously I was amazed by it. I loved some of the dialog in it too. A nice place to check out reviews on Anime would be www.animeondvd.com. I thought I would add in some thoughts.
Old 12-28-00, 10:24 AM
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quote:<HR>Originally posted by daedalus:
I have own both Ninja Scroll and Lodos. Both are great. However, I have a favorism as to watching Ghost In The Shell, Serial Experiments Lain, and Grave of the Fireflies for their plots. When I first saw Ghost In The Shell I was like "ohhh sh*t! Lets watch that again!" ... seriously I was amazed by it. I loved some of the dialog in it too. A nice place to check out reviews on Anime would be www.animeondvd.com. I thought I would add in some thoughts.
<HR>


When I first saw Ghost In The Shell I was like "ohhh sh*t! Lets watch that again!" >>>>>>>>>>>
My thoughts exactly!

Looks like Lain might be a good one for me
to try out, can you tell me more about it?
People say if you like David Lynch then you will
like Lain, well to the best of my knowledge
I have only seem one movie from him,
Blue Velvet and I do love the film.
The reviews on Lain seem quite mixed
so I am a little leary about purchasing it.

Also could you recommend a few more for an
Anime newbie?
So far I like:
Princess Mononoke(great story and animation)
Ghost in the Shell(ditto)
Ninja Scroll(ditto)

Dislike:
Macross Plus(story is not my cup of tea, nice animation though)
Perfect Blue
Bubblegum Crisis (1-3 on one disc.)


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