EL-HAZARD: The Magnificent World 1 and 2 (1995/1997)

 

Format: 7 45-minute episodes (series 1) and 4 40-minute(?) episodes (series 2)

Rating: PG-13 (BN, AC, GV)

Type: Fantasy

American Production: Geneon (was Pioneer)

English Dub Production: Animaze

Japanese Production: AIC

 

Grading

 

Premise:

C

Story:

B-

Writing:

B-

Character Design:

C+

Animation:

C-/C

Artistic Merits:

D+/C

English Dub:

C

Musical Score:

C

Songs:

C

Opener:

C

Closer (1st/2nd series):

B/C

 

 

Humor Content:

B

Action Content:

C+

Drama Content:

C

 

 

DVD Presentation:

C

DVD Extras:

???

 

 

OVERALL:

C+

 

Synopsis

      Three students and an teacher at a Japanese high school are, by accident, transported to the fantasy world ofEl Hazard, a distinctly Arabic-patterned world rebuilt after its ancient civilizations obliterated themselves in massive wars. There they become integrally involved in various schemes and conflicts intended to shape the destiny of El Hazard.

 

The Long View

      El-Hazard is one of the more prominent anime franchises of the mid-to-late ‘90s. It begins with a seven-episode OVA series (The Magnificent World) which is followed up by a four-episode OVA (The Magnificent World 2) that is a continuation of the story in the first. Two additional TV series (The Alternate World and The Magnificent World, aka The Wanderers in English) also exist which provide alternate reality variations on the stories told in the original two series. Only the first two series are reviewed here.

      All of the El Hazard series are predicated on the common fantasy premise of ordinary characters from the “normal” world being transported into a fantasy world where they gain powers and importance. In this case the fantasy world is split into human nations, of which Roshtoria is the lead nation, and the land of the insectoid Bugrums. A third race, the blue-skinned Phantom Tribe, lives underground. Nothing that is outright called magic exists in El Hazard, although priestesses capable of manipulating fire, water, and air do play prominent roles and technology exists which is so advanced that it is akin to magic.

      In the first OVA, four characters are transported into this world in different locations, where their various traits and the special power they gain play pivotal roles in the course of events in El Hazard. The good-hearted young man Mokoto, whose discovery of a mysterious woman who said she’s been waiting for him for “thousands of years” triggered the world-hopping, has the power to resonate with the ancient technology of the land and activate it, an ability which is not so important in the first series but becomes critical in the second series. He is also a dead ringer for the missing Princess Fatoria of Rashtoria, a discovery that leads him to be called upon to masquerade as her for most of the first series. (This, of course, leads to no end of cross-dressing hijinks.) Arriving with him is Mr. Fujisawa, a boozing smoker who is obsessively dedicated to his school but has an heroic heart when push comes to shove. His power manifests in the form of superhuman fighting abilities which only kick in when he’s sober – which is no mean feat for him. The third transplant is Katsuhiko Jinnai, the ruthless and psychotic class president who is a bitter rival of Mokoto (as he sees it). He falls in with the Bugrum, where his ability to communicate with them fully manifests and his ambition and drive inspire them to make him their leader. The fourth transplant is Nanami, Katsuhiko’s enterprising younger sister and the girlfriend-wannabe of Mokoto, who arrives separately from the others but eventually hooks up with Mokoto and Mr. Fujisawa. She gains the occasionally-critical ability to see through illusions.

      On El Hazard the transplants encounter an array of characters, including Queen Diva of the Bugrum and the wimpy Princess Rune of Rashtoria and her much more capable advisers. A significant player starting with the second episode is Alielle, a diminutive girl with odd-colored eyes and a pink diamond on her forehead (it’s never explained if she is human or something else) who is nonetheless quite physically mature. Her place in the grand scheme of things is best described as Princess Fatora’s sex kitten, but she tries to attach herself to just about everyone else female in her lover’s absence. Later on the priestesses of Mt. Muldoon come into the picture in a major way. Among them are the fiery and carelessly destructive redhead Shayla Shayla, the sensible brunette windmistress Afura Mann, and the lovesick watermistress Miz, who desires nothing more than to get married and drop the priestess gig and sets her sights on Mr. Fujisawa for this purpose. Later on Ifurita, a female construct left over from the ancient civilizations who’s supposed to be an avatar of destruction, comes into the picture in a big way. At the end of the first series the real Princess Fatora is recovered and joins the main cast for the second series. She’s not at all what you’d expect from a princess, besides quite clearly being a lesbian.

      Although there is a fair amount of action and a bit of what might pass for drama in El Hazard, it is primarily a light-hearted series which draws a lot of its entertainment value from the obsessive behaviors of some of its characters and the sometimes very odd relationships between them. One of the neatest (and by far the cleverest) aspect of the whole series is the way it treats cats. They are living body armor, you see, that can wrap themselves across a person’s chest, watch out for the person they’re protecting, and perform various quite handy functions with their paws while functioning as armor. They also have a limited vocabulary. Trust me, if you’re a cat lover, you’ll be envious of Mokoto by the end of the series.

      The technical merits on El Hazard aren’t great - in fact, they’re rather bad in the first episode - but they do get better as the series progresses, hence the split ratings in some categories. Opening and closing numbers change between the two series, but neither of the openers is worth the time to watch, nor is the closer of the second series (which seems to feature a different female character each time). The closer of the first series is kind of neat, and it is sung in English in a vaguely show tune style; it’s worth a viewing. Writing merits are average, and a person who’s trying could poke all sorts of holes in the plot. The English dub job is also decidedly average.

El Hazard is not what I’d classify as a must-see series, but it is a good light diversion.

 

DVD Extras

      I didn’t take good notes on what extras were available with the DVDs. I can say that a boxed set including both of the OVA series is available, and I believe the are boxed sets for the later two series as well.

 

Principle English Voice Actors

Role

Voice Actor

Makoto

Christy Mathewson

Katsuhiko Jinnai

Bob Marx

Nanami Jinnai

Lia Sargent

Mr. Fugisawa

Michael Sorich

Shayla-Shayla

Mimi Woods

Miz Mishtal

Dorothy Melendez

Afura Mann

Patricia Ja Lee

Alielle

Melissa Charles

Princess Rune

Ruby Marlowe

Ifuriita

???

Bugrum Queen (Diva)

???

 

 

 

Home   |   Anime Reviews   |   Manga Reviews   |   References   | Links |   Bibliography