I have fond memories of this anime. Not only was it one of the first that I watched as a kid, but the first time I watched it was during my first overnight not-sleeping sleepover. By which, I mean that we teenage boys decided to try and stay up all night, and some of us even succeeded(ish). That would be when I learned to never do that unless you actually have to. Heh, I was so out of it when my parents picked me up, and I was dead to the world for most of the day! Ha, good times! 🙂
That said, one may recall what I said when I reviewed Rurouni Kenshin, about kids’ shows eventually being seen from the perspective of an adult. They are always dear to us, but it’s just not the same anymore, ya know?
In the case of the Lodoss-based franchise, there is some mitigating virtue in how it, like Fullmetal Alchemist, is not just one series, but two. And, yes, they are different from each other, including what sort of audience they are geared towards. But this time, I’m going review the both of them simultaneously, with just one post, but more in depth than I did with Digimon.
Record of Lodoss War is an aptly-named medieval fantasy anime. Set on the fictional island-continent of Lodoss, it tells the stories of a series of wars there, through the eyes of the young knights and their companions who make their way into the heart of the extended fray. There’s swords and sorcery, elves and dwarves, dragons and goblins, kings and wizards, battle and war. The ultimate conflict is not between nations, though the dark island of Marmo features as the primary source of antagonists as they invade the rest of Lodoss. No, the final battle is between good and evil, light and darkness, life and death, as a dark wizard attempts to resurrect a fallen goddess of destruction, in a mad scheme to turn the world into a kingdom of the dead, with himself as its ruler.
So, it’s a fairly standard fantasy story, really. But there’s nothing wrong with that, now, is there? 😉
There are two versions of this show: Record of Lodoss War and Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight.
The first Record of Lodoss War begins partway through the story it tells, introducing the adventuring party, and then it rewinds to when they all met and when the war they’re embroiled in began. It wraps up the most major plot points of the first war and then it moves forward a bit, showing us how the dark wizard is maneuvering and the heroes’ struggle to thwart his evil plan. It’s a combination of basic and epic, quite well done, though not exactly meant for young children, with all the bloodshed, and skipping over a number of time-consuming details here and there.
Chronicles of the Heroic Knight begins with most of the same adventuring party, but soon expands with new cast members, and, soon enough, an entirely new adventuring party, from the rising generation. It actually picks up the story of Record about halfway through, and then tells the second half in an entirely different way, and it’s twice the length. Thus, while Record feels a good deal more “epic,” Chronicles tells its story in a much more fleshed-out way, leaving no threads dangling. It more thoroughly encompasses how this extended conflict, across fifteen years or so, affects the whole of Lodoss and everyone on it. It’s also clearly crafted to appeal to the younger audience more, though there is some language.
Both shows feature casts of lovable characters, hero and villain alike. They begin with Parn, a young warrior/knight, and his friends defending their village, soon drawn into a contest over the dominion of Lodoss, and this is just part of the war to determine the fate of Lodoss. Chronicles adds the party of knight-in-training Spark, but whether it’s Parn or Spark, both are noble warriors surrounded by loyal friends. They also have love interests which are obvious enough, though Neese’s mutual affection for Spark takes more time to become evident than Deedlit’s love for Parn. They have wise friends, strong teachers, elves and clerics watching their backs, and they are friends with noble kings. All of them fight for the good of Lodoss, to protect and liberate its people from terror and tyranny.
The antagonists are equally as enjoyable, perhaps even more so, for while the heroes grow up, the villains are already grown. The difference between Record and Chronicles is how pronounced the more redeeming qualities within Ashram, Pirotess, and others are. In Chronicles, they are not always so different from the heroes, more like “heroes who happen to be on the other side,” and they can be both redeemed and saved. In Record, however, they are definitely villains, wrapped in darkness, with very little light in their souls. Their stories are tragedies, for in walking in the dark, they fall into destruction, swallowed up in madness.
It’s up for debate whether the redemption or the destruction of the villain makes for a better, more appealing, more compelling story. 🙂
The music and the animation for both shows is beautiful. The styles are very different, but they suit their respective shows perfectly. One is an epic fantasy adventure, and the other is an adventurous fantasy. Very similar, almost the same, but not nearly identical. The styles reflect that in a way which I am not entirely capable of describing. I suppose Chronicles is more bright and cartoony, and censored, while Record is more stark and classical in its approach. Either way works, though, and I always enjoyed the both of them.
Speaking of the differing approaches though, as I’ve mentioned, Chronicles is meant more for kids, outside a bit of language. I don’t think there’s any actual bloodshed, for the most part, and even the action sequences are heavily edited to avoid the gritty reality of violence. Record has no such limitations, not only in the blood and violence, but in the weight of what is lost in war. Probably my favorite contrast in that is how they handle the demon sword Soul-Crusher: in Chronicles, it’s just a slightly-mystical sword, but in Record, it can be used to annihilate small armies all at once.
There’s not really any other kind of “mature” content to be found in either show, though Record does momentarily show a woman, attacked by goblins while bathing herself, fleeing naked, as one would be in such circumstance. And even then, it covers her up quickly enough. So, I would rate Chronicles as PG, and rate Record as a solid PG-13.
In either case, the story of Lodoss is a very entertaining fantasy, one that happens to be told twice, in two distinct ways. I highly recommend both shows for fans of the genre, though with an understanding of who each series is meant for. 😉
Rating: 9 stars out of 10.
Grade: solid A.