Thursday, April 12, 2012

In short: Dragon Slayer: The Legend of Heroes (1992)

Original title: Dragon Slayer Eiyuu Densetsu: Ouji no Tabidachi

The peaceful fantasy kingdom of Faaren is invaded by the monstrous Lord Akdam and his monster minions. The country's armies are slaughtered, the good king killed while he is distracted by the demonic faces Akdam hides under his cloak, and the queen kidnapped. Fortunately, the "head of staff" (whatever he does) manages to get a way with Prince Serios.

A few years of dominion by evil and no sunshine over the country later, Serios has grown into a shouty teenager with a large sword, and returns to take vengeance on Akdam. Fortunately for Serios, he doesn't have to go it alone, for there's a resistance movement including the expected fantasy anime characters willing to help him out. But even with an army, Serios won't have it easy: before he can even think about rescuing his (still living and fit) mother or killing Akdam, he'll have to cope with the troubling fact that Akdam's main henchmen can transform into a big damn dragon (actually, it's the other way round, these are monster that can transform into people - werehumans), with tentacles. It's Dragonthulhu!

Oh, if Serios only had a dragon of his own.

The two part OVA Dragon Slayer is based on one game of a pretty popular JRPG series, not one of which I have ever played, so if you're looking for deep insights into the quality of the adaptation (this might even be a prequel for all I know) you've probably come to the wrong write-up.

I'm just here to praise this thing as an especially shouty piece of shonen anime that tries to cope with the necessity of squeezing a probably pretty epic piece of (kinda) quest fantasy into a running time of 44 minutes, which would usually hardly be enough time for the prologue of such a thing, and sort of succeeds. Director Noriyoshi Nakamura (sort of) gets around the impossibility of his task by pretending his film's running on triple speed; there's just no time for stuff like exposition, characterisation or character development, so Nakamura just shouts the plot into his audience's face while pummelling it with editing so hyperactive this looks like the platonic ideal of a shonen anime instead of a real one. This - surprise! - does not exactly result in a good anime, but if you have a place in your heart for attempts at condensing Big Fat Fantasy to its most basic elements, adding much shouting (did I mention there really is a lot of shouting, even for shonen?) and an evil dragon with tentacles, this will probably be right up your alley.

Even though this may sound like I'm damning Dragon Slayer with faint praise, I'm doing no such thing. In fact, I think the thing is just awesome. It's an epic fantasy anime made by and for the amphetamine-fuelled twelve-year-old in all of us, and that's something I can't help but approve of.

Plus, a dragon with tentacles is like chocolate cake with ice cream.


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