Sunday, September 9, 2012

Anime Review No 41-Ruin Explorers

Hi, I'm The Eclectic Dude and I review it for the lolz. 

Ok, time to start off Fantasy: Then and Now. I will look 2 anime titles from the 90s (Then) and the 00s (Now) for September and October. I have reviewed other fantasy anime titles before, like Princess Minerva and Detatoko Princess (check those reviews out by the way). This time, I hope to present some titles I own that are better then those I just mentioned. Let's get started with Ruin Explorers.  

DVD Cover
Ruin Explorers is directed and written by Takeshi Mori, who also directed Stratos 4 and Vandread.
Based on the 1992 manga by Kunihiko Tanaka, its production was done by ANIMATE and Asia-do. 
It was licensed in the USA by ADV Films, with VHS in 1999 then DVD in 2004. I own it under the "Essential Anime Collection" line, same for "Golden Boy" OVA. 

Ihrie and Fam 
Ruin Explorers tells the tale of 2 Ruin Explorers (Treasure Hunters) Fam and Ihrie in a European Medieval setting. Ihrie is a female warrior-tomboyish, headstrong, and confident. Fam is a squirrel Wiccan, despite looking more like a catgirl. She is the mage of the duo, timid, soft-spoken and cute. They are on a quest to get the “Ultimate Power”, key to the survival or destruction of the world. It requires 3 items to activate, because that's how that works in these fantasy stories. 

Migel, Galuff with his dog and Rasha
Fortunately, they are joined up by several travelers in this quest. They include: Rasha, another female mage; Miguel, a big brute of a swordsman; Galuff, a sneaky and conniving merchant (sidekick dog); Lyle, prince of a fallen kingdom. All the while, they must contend with the villain Ruguduroll, a priest from Lyle's kingdom who went insane and wants the "Ultimate Power" for himself.  

Now, onto the strengths/weaknesses of this OVA, which are quite a few. First, It tells a complete story in 4 episodes, a rarity in the 90s OVA market. As I have demonstrated, lots of 90s OVA went unfinished due to money running out of production or low video sales or etc. Granted, the ending seems a bit rushed, with a few unanswered questions which leaves you wanting more. There is potential for more, but as it stands what we got is pretty good. 

The story, while not exactly original, has a nice mix of comedy, drama, and adventure. Takeshi Mori comes across as being competent with telling this fantasy tale, but that's about it. It has an interesting cast of characters, even if there are just fantasy archetypes (Ihrie-female warrior, Fam and Rasha-mage, Miguel-big brute warrior, Lyle-prince of a lost kingdom, Ruguduroll-powerful villain) Nonetheless, the interactions and relationships between these characters keep the audience's interest up with little/no problem. 

Second, the music is very great, all orchestral  and performed by the Versailles Chamber Orchestra. It is very Wagnerian/Fantasy RPG Video Game in terms of music, with the use of leitmotifs, rich harmonies, long sweeping melodies, etc. It is not on the level of LOTR music, but fittingly epic. I would love the CD for the OST, but sadly that might never happen. 

Third, the animation is pretty good for something that came out 15+ years ago. Granted, it looks quite similar to stuff from the mid-90s, but the background visuals are very good looking and show that a lot of effort went into it. 

Lastly, the english dub is probably the best way to enjoy this OVA. It seems fitting given the European Medieval Fantasy setting. The cast includes people from 90s ADV dubs, including Tamara Lo, Jessica Calvello, Guil Lunde, Brett Weaver, Kelly Manison, Jason Douglas, and Tristan MacAvery. Now, T. Lo and Calvello a little rough when it comes to screaming/yelling, but serviceable in the rest. Kelly Manison and Brett Weaver are very good (one extra on the DVD is a commentary on episode 2 from both of them, which is very entertaining). Guil Lunde is pretty funny, spouting out some more comedic dialogue of this short series. Tristan MacAvery (Gendo from NGE) turns in a particularly nasty performance as the villain. Lastly, Jason Douglas is OK, even with the not so good British accent (really? why?)

Final Thoughts: 
Ruin Explorers is a very simple yet good fantasy tale. It borrows quite a lot from other better fantasy tales, but its decent and entertaining anyway in its own right, which is due to how 'straight' they play it. I like it for this, as my previous titles I've reviewed (Detatoko Princess and Princess Minerva) they do it silly, dumb yet funny. With Ruin Explorers, its more simple tale with the right mix of serious and funny moments. 
If you got a friend who wants to get into fantasy anime, then this is a decent OVA to start off with. I can attest to this, as a friend of mine wanted to get into fantasy anime and I said to him "Oh, here's Ruin Explorers-Enjoy!" 

Other Recommendations include "Detatoko Princess", "Princess Minerva" (previously reviewed), along with "Those Who Hunt Elves", "Eden’s Bowy", "Spice and Wolf", "Slayers", and "Escaflowne".


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