Legend of Crystania Anime Review
はじまりの冒険者たち レジェンド オブ クリスタニア / レジェンド オブ クリスタニア
Hajimari no Boukensha-tachi - Legend of Crystania / Legend of Crystania
The Beginning Adventurers - Legend of Crystania
US Release By
Theatrical Movie / OAVs
78 minuts / 3 45-minute episodes
1995-07-29 (movie), 1996-11-21 - 1997-04-23
Young Prince Redon leads a pleasant life. He's picked up many skills such as Blacksmith, Farming, etc. due to his father, the king of a pleasant little farming land. But in the undercurrents of all this, there are plans to overthrow the king. And they succeed! Redon's parents and even his dog are killed. When retreating, Redon and his friends and allies come to the great wall that holds a land called Crystania away from the outside world. It is said that the animal gods rule Crystania and no outsiders shall enter. However, when the evil god Barbas feels the hate in Redon's heart he beckons to him. "Come, I will give you the force you need..." With that, the wall opens. What is beyond this wall? Who is the voice that tempts Redon...?
While my synopsis in pretty much centered in the 'Motion Picture' part of Crystania, my review is of all four parts. To be clear, this is not Lodoss War, not was it ever meant to be Lodoss War. ADV is, unfortunately, getting infamous for leeching off the popularity of other titles (Ninja Scroll/Ninja Resurrection comes to mind). Crystania is by Ryo Mizuno, the creator of Lodoss War, and features two characters with the same names as two characters in Lodoss War. That's it, there's no other relation between the two series. You can watch Crystania without ever hearing about Lodoss War and still enjoy it.
First impressions always last and Crystania makes a bad one. The scene before the intro was probably what made me think "Uh-oh, I've wasted my money." I think this is because of the use of color in that first scene. There wasn't enough. It seemed like the animators were waiting for a shipment of ink but it was late and they were on a tight time schedule.
But, aren't we taught to give second chances? When it comes to Crystania, you gotta watch a little bit until it slowly envelops your interest and you suddenly realize "Hey, I'm enjoying this!"
The story is actually quite good, and while the pacing is uneven I still think that Crystania has a better story than Lodoss War. It flows well and you never quite see anything coming.
The characters are... well, not really there. I feel bad for Redon, and Orbaron was sort of engaging but the lack of development and interaction kinda hurt this anime.
On the visual side, Lodoss War has this one beat. The character designs, while original, are lacking in detail. In fact, that's what kinda hammers this series: lack of detail. The spells in particular, while the chants are cool, look choppy. The animation is pretty good, but still uneven. The sword fights sometimes flow nicely, but a lot of the time they seem awkward and you wonder "If these guys are good swordsmen, what does a bad swordsman look like?"
The acting in the dub is pretty darn good. Lots of passionate yelling and drama are pulled off rather believably by the cast. But there's a problem. The actual casting is rough. A lot of the characters sound the same, and some voices are a little too deep. Also, the English acting seems awkward because of the poor lip flap. I imagine the Japanese version has just as shoddy lip flap but they can work around that better then English actors can (Dragon Ball Z comes to mind). Still, it's nice to see ADV pick an original cast instead of their "regulars."
Now, everything mentioned above gets better. Much better. By the third tape you can really start to appreciate this series. When it's done, you'll realize that you've invested your time wisely.
Overall, Legend of Crystania has a good story, great in terms of a fantasy anime. It's not without its faults, but they all smooth over as the series progresses.
Notes and Trivia
The "series" is composed of a theatrical movie and a three-episode OAV series (sold by ADV as "The Chaos Ring") that follows it. It is a very loose sequel to Record of Lodoss War, and theoretically takes place in the same world several hundred years later, but there is very little functional connection to that series.
Available in North America from ADV on "Essential Anime" bilingual DVDs; one disc of the movie, and a second of the OAV series, called "The Chaos Ring." The DVDs are re-release of earlier discs, and the series was available on dubbed and subtitled VHS before that.