Saturday, January 26, 2013

Anime Review No. 48-El Hazard the Magnificent World 2

"Lost Potential", El Hazard: The Magnificent World 2

1997 OVA, 4 episodes

Studio: AIC

Genres: Adventure, comedy, fantasy

This time around, I figure I do the same thing I did for the Nadesico movie review. I'll tell you about most of it. Trust me, you are not missing much. El Hazard: The Magnificent World is quite possibly one of the best OVAs that AIC ever put out (Tenchi Muyo and Oh My Goddess are a bit better). However, the sequel is well, an entirely different beast altogether. It is a disappointing and inconsistent mess. Let's get started!

Episode 1 The Bride of Roshtaria

We start with an exposition dump by Princess Rune, you know, the character who did next to bum kiss in the original OVA. Great way to start, I must say. Then the opening, which is just that not good and tries so hard to be epic like the original OVA's opening song. This is evident by the fact that strands of that theme music do come through is some desperate attempt to say 'Oh don't worry, this is good I swear'. There is a rather noticeable shift in the art design where it is a bit sloppy and inconsistent. But that's the least of this OVA's problems.

The crew from the original OVA are dealing with the wedding of Miz and Mr. Fujisawa. Miz is naturally excited about it, with her innate desire of being a housewife and stable income, even having a humorous flashback to the drunken proposal. Mr. Fujisawa, on the other hand, isn't really ready and for really petty and vague reasons. So much so, that he doesn't even show up to the ceremony. When confronted of it by Makoto, he says he needs to "find the man within" or he's useless. Miz, to say the least, takes it real well by nearly flooding the capital.

Also, there's a subplot involving Princess Fatora and Aielle and their funny antics. Fatora, being a rather frisky lesbian (as you do), tries to seduce Nanami by disguising herself as Makoto. However, this is a total failure. So far, they are the most enjoyable part so far in this OVA.

Once she is calmed down, the crew gets ready and mobilized on a journey to find Fujisawa-sensei. They figure that he went to Mountain Lilly-Coco, which is a place of mediation, and bring him back to his senses. They stop off for the night at a desert hamlet, where not much happens aside from more antics by Fatora, this time targeting Shayla-Shayla. Again, it goes hilariously terrible.

Then, we cut to Queen Diva and Jinnai, he still being his crazy usual self. They, along with a small group of Bugroms, are searching for resources for the Bugrom Army. But, they stumble onto a cave and Jinnai find a key-staff, similar to Ifurita's. After a few obstacles, they reach the core of the cave: another like Ifurita ('demon doll' as Jinnai puts it).

Well, this is an interesting setup for the story. Though, the ending song sounds like a rejected disco track. Moving on...

Episode 2 Awakening of Kalia

This opens with a recap of the end of Episode 1. Jinnai awakens the new weapon, named Kalia. She is a bit of a foil to Ifurita. She's a bit brash, impulsive, out-going and rebellious, much to Jinnai's chagrin. She also has never heard of Ifurita, which is a bit baffling, but I will let slide for now.

Our crew is still on their way to the Mountain Lilly-Coco. An accident by Shayla-Shayla crashes their hovercarft and they end up land in some sort of 'micro-dimension' or a hidden place masked by an illusory spell. It has flora and fauna that El Hazard had in ages past, looking much like a paradise rather then the desert wasteland that much of the land is. This is where the OVA turns into a completely different story, and its a bit jarring.

Ifurita appears, but there's a catch: She doesn't know Makoto or his friends. Her appearance here is another baffling thing that just raises too many fecking questions, so I won't bother now. To put it simply, this is 'another' Ifurita who has lived with an old scientist, Yuba Yurius. The place is a 'living time capsule'. It turns out Yuba is another traveler from another dimension, much like Makoto. He reveals the heart of the shrine houses a machine now activated ('The Trigger of Destruction'). This is particularly interesting, as lost ancient technology was explored in the original OVA (The Eye of God).

Jinnai and Kalia are heading over to the same place They bump into Mr. Fujisawa who has gotten lost in the desert near the hidden place, which he stumbles into by shear accident. The gang is all back together, at long last. Jinnai hatches a plan of deception to get in by pretending to be nice and kind. This leads into really awkward and cliched scenes with Jinnai playing up being nice, which you think wouldn't work, but it does. However, Jinnai's plot does downhill in part due to Kalia, who its turns out that she is also an evil and heartless villain.

Episode 3 Ifurita Farewell to Destiny

The battle against Kalia begins. Jinnai gets relegated to side character, not even a joke villain (he's still enjoyable in the scenes he's in). The Plan: Jinnai will activate the 'Trigger of Destruction' with Kalia's assistance.

This ensues lots of fighting between the three priestesses and Kalia who like Ifurita can mirror and project back the priestesses' power. This is interluded with various other scenes. There's a quiet Moment between Yuba and Ifurita; a very touching but too short for worth. Fujisawa has a "Manning Up" moment which is pretty good. Unfortunately, there is also a few scenes so trite or cliched I won't even happen.

Now the problems of this story come into place: a bit too much going on all at once which makes the episode drag more then the previous two episodes. The story has lost all sense of coherence and focus that even the first episode had in spades.

In addition, the story lacks any sort of urgency and concern that came with the original OVA; at times I kept asking myself: what's the point of all this? So what if Kalia activates the superweapon? Unsure of what will happen, but it has to taken care of since Kalia's evil.

An there's another problem: Kalia is just plain evil for no good or explained reason. The Shadow Clan and Ifurita from the 1st OVA had nuance, maybe not a lot but enough to empathize with them. Not the case with Kalia, as she turns on Jinnai and activates the 'Trigger of Destruction'. Oh noes!!!

Episode 4 Promise of Reunion

The 'Trigger of Destruction' turns out to be a giant war-ship with tremendous power. Ah so that wheres all the budget went to, I see. It does look quite impressive and menacing, as any doomsday weapon should be.

Meanwhile, Makoto and friends regroup. Ifurita is non-functioning so Yuba and Makoto set to revive her, but Yuba dies at the cost of reviving her. What a shame. Now there's impetus to get rid of the superweapon but too little too late. The ending is a lot like the final episode of the 1st OVA. Heck, the final confrontation between Makoto and Kalia is both too short and too late to add nuance to Kalia. Once again too little, too late. The warship melts away into a gooey mess. Wow, what an anticlimax.

Fujisawa rescues Miz, resolving their plot thread (that I didn't care for) and a tad pointless at this final point in the story. Yes, the plot thread that propels this OVA that then gets thrown aside like a used towel halfway through episode 2 and not resolve towards the end.

Finally, the Epilogue:

Jinnai and his bugs pick up some of the remnants, proclaiming he will be back, the crazy nutter.
There's another farewell to another Ifurita, placing a plot thread that goes nowhere. The Wedding between Miz and Fujisawa takes place, which I don't care for so moving on. The last note of the OVA is Fujisawa and Makoto getting chased by Nanami, Shayla-Shayla and Miz. Yeah, brilliant /sarc.

Good Haruhi this sucked. The story has little to no focus or coherence, the characters haven't really developed much since the first OVA, Kalia just doesn't work as a villain, etc. That's not to mention the art/character design which is also lacking. The only great thing I can say is that the dub actually makes this bearable. The entire cast from the first one return, and give it their all despite the poor material given to them. But the worse thing about this OVA is how potential is lost. This could have been great, like the first OVA. Instead, it just recycles concepts and ideas from the first one with a slight redressing. I can't in good faith recommend this, just watch the original OVA and stick to that.

See you laterz

The Eclectic Dude

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