Episode Count: 13
Version reviewed: Japanese Subtitled
Date of Review: 25 May 2012
A fine example of swords-and-sorcery fantasy of the highest order.
The forces of good and evil are locked in opposition once more in the land of Lodoss. The young warrior Parn and his band of companions must set out on a quest in the hopes of restoring peace. With powerful forces of darkness in their path, along with the prospect of war, will Lodoss see brighter days again?
Welcome to anime before it became more widespread in North America. Record of Lodoss War is a gem from the early 1990s, even before Sailor Moon took the world by storm. This OVA is an excellent example of cel-based animation, with meticulous attention to detail. The paint lines and shading may seem archaic in today’s anime climate, but for a series of the time, these are some of the highest production values to be seen. Watching Record of Lodoss War is like stepping into a time machine, and not just because of the setting of the story.
Speaking of story, fans of high fantasy will be right at home here. Record of Lodoss War resides approximately where Dungeons & Dragons and The Lord of the Rings intersect, with perhaps a dash of old-school Final Fantasy thrown in for good measure. If you enjoy any or all of those titles, Record of Lodoss War is for you. Parn’s group consists of himself (a human), a monk, a mage, a dwarf, a thief, and an elf. It’s hard to find a cast of characters better suited to a fantasy quest than this. All of the major classes are covered, and there are monsters and dark elves working for the forces of evil, among others. Kings, princesses, and dragons make appearances as well. The cast and setting are what drew me to this series in the first place, and as far as swords-and-sorcery fantasy goes, Record of Lodoss War is surely one of the pillars of the genre.
The story in Record of Lodoss War has two parts, roughly split between Parn’s quest and the greater crisis of Lodoss. The first half is quite strong, if a little rushed in parts due to the length (or should I say brevity?) of the series. I found the second half to be a bit less cohesive than the first, after the story changes. Regardless of this, the characters and setting were completely engaging. Whatever the story may have lacked or sped through was made up for by the presentation.
Record of Lodoss War is a fine piece of Japanese animation history, despite being “only” twenty-two years old at this writing. It holds up very well, even if it may seem a bit dated to today’s audiences. Lodoss War doesn’t have the clean “sparkle” of modern digital animation, but it doesn’t need it. Every last line is drawn by hand in fine detail, the voice acting is solid, and the story easily transports the viewer into another world. If you are a fan of hard fantasy, your collection is not complete without Record of Lodoss War in it.