Dragoon Anime Review
Legend of the Dragon Machine
US Release By
3 30-minute episodes
1997-07-25 - 1997-11-28
While the young Sedon is sharpening his sword skills, he comes across a beautiful and naked girl named May in the snow. Little could he dream she's the product of an evil experiment and has a hidden power inside her. A power that can save and destroy. However, May suffers from amnesia and can remember nothing of her past, power, or reason of existing. She and Sedon decide to go on a quest to find her memory, and maybe they'll save the world while they're at it.
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Dragoon opens up with some extremely clever foreshadowing, which immediately grabs the viewers attention. Things, of course, calm down and we're gradually brought into the life and eventual quest of young Sedon and mysterious May. It has good pacing, especially for a fantasy anime, revealing the story in small amounts. Most of the characters are stock fantasy, although May has a lot of potential and Prince Lane is funny for the smart aleck comments he makes under his breath. Technically, the series is fine, but not outstanding; the characters and backgrounds are attractive, but most of the fights are disappointing freeze-frame cop-outs. The music is a similarly mixed bag; some (including the opening) is quite good, while at other times it's lame. Sadly, it's an unsatisfying series, since it stops before it's over.
Dragoon was definitely interesting, solidly entertaining, and worth watching as long as you don't mind having a lot of questions unanswered due to no ending.
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Now here's a title that came out of nowhere. Having a similar title to the ever-dreaded Panzer Dragoon, who wouldn't be a little weary of this one? But with such an attractive box cover, who wouldn't be slightly interested? I, for one, was. I wasn't able to scrape up any information about this title, aside from a synopsis. I took a chance on it though. In the end, I wasn't disappointed with what I got.
Dragoon opens up with some extremely clever foreshadowing, which immediately grabs the viewers attention. Things, of course, calm down and we're gradually brought into the life of young Sedon. Sedon is the son of a brave military leader who was wounded in a battle and was not able to recover. Therefore, he had to give up his swordsmanship and pass it along to his son. Sedon is practicing in the mountains and, as mentioned above, comes across May and brings her home. May and Sedon leave for the above mentioned quest and things go along from there. The foreshadowing made me watch the show with keen interest, however, not many questions are answered and we are revealed more of the story in small amounts. Dragoon has good pacing, especially for a fantasy anime.
As advertised on the box, fantasy and science fiction are blended together. This has been done before, and the result is decent. There is very little science in Dragoon, actually. It's mostly fantasy based, but seeing imperial soldiers in robotic armour and a mechanical seaplane is not unheard of.
Technically, Dragoon is fine, but not outstanding. The character designs are attractive but remain more or less standard fare. The backgrounds are good, but that's usually a standard for fantasy-based anime. The animation started out good, with the first fight scene being fairly slick but after that it falls a little. Particularly the fights. They turn into those standard freeze-frame fights. (The character charges, then it shows him or her hitting the opponent for about three seconds and then the same thing is repeated.) That was, unfortunately, disappointing.
The characters were also generally standard, although I really want to know more about May. Sedon was a typical dedicated hero, with generous helpings of honor and decency. The only character that really piqued my interest, other then May, was Prince Lane. I thought he was going to be a stuck up, annoying and egotistical pretty boy who would provide a love triangle between Sedon and May. But he turned out to be a somewhat engaging fellow. His smart aleck remarks under his breath were usually funny. I ended up liking him.
I've only seen the dub, and it was fine. Not outstanding, but not bad. However, with the amount of high quality dubs that are hitting the market nowadays it won't be long before a dub like this will become unacceptable. Getting back on track, the casting was fine, and I recognize a good handful of the voices from Legend of Crystania. It's also amusing that Jay Sefton does the voice of Redon in Crystania and Sedon in Dragoon. Two main characters from two fantasy based animes whose names rhyme are voiced by the same person. Interesting coincidence, no? I'm sure this wasn't intentional, though. As for the acting, it was fine (hearing that word a lot, eh?) but not especially noteworthy. Prince Lane, again, was cast well and acted as good. The comments made under his breath were always well done. The music was either good, or pushing mediocrity. The opening was well suited to the series and the ending was pleasant. Some of the BGM was quite good, while at other times it was lame.
I expected Dragoon to get off to a rough start and get better, then end with me feeling satisfied. That wasn't the case though. As I said, the foreshadowing snagged me immediately and as I watched I never felt really disappointed. Dragoon maintained a steady entertainment value. However, it didn't end with me feeling satisfied. Dragoon didn't end. Period. That means I will never find out about May or the foreshadowing that got my interested in the first place. If Dragoon was a longer running OAV series, ADV probably would have released only two episodes on this tape instead of three. We all know ADV is infamous for squeezing every penny out of the anime audience. So, all in all, Dragoon was definitely interesting and worth watching as long as you don't mind having a lot of questions unanswered due to no ending.
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Bears some resemblance to your average fantasy show--Crystania, Record of Lodoss War, and the like--as well as more creative mixes like Escaflowne or (just a bit) Last Exile.
Notes and Trivia
Maker KSS apparently attempted to turn this series into a franchise, though it doesn't seem to have fared well. First out was a series of RPGs for Windows 95 (3 in total), followed shortly after by a radio drama CD and the three OAVs, then an adaptation of the game for the PlayStation, and finally a series of three novels by Shuuichi Kamiyama (who has also had a hand in the screenplay of various well-known anime productions, including, uncredited, Last Exile).
The OAV series was never completed. It's worth noting that the games were captioned "Dragoon" (in English), which, although the anime version apparently wasn't, is where ADV got the English title.
US DVD Review
No English DVD exists as of this writing.
Appropriate for the 16-up crowd on account of significant amounts of nudity and some mature jokes.
Violence: 2 - People are killed, but it's not too graphic.
Nudity: 4 - May is seen naked quite a bit more than just in the snow, as are other female characters.
Sex/Mature Themes: 3 - There's some funny situations with Sedon and May, particularly at the beginning.
Language: 1 - Surprisingly mild.