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[ café reviews ]

Episode 9: Shihai No Oshyaku
(The Sceptor of Domination)

Copyright: © 1990 Kadokawa Video (Japan), 1995 US Manga Corp / Software Sculptors (North America)
Length: 40 minutes
Rating: NR, parental guidance suggested
Format: Subtitled (VHS/Hybrid Quicktime CD-ROM)

Based on the novels by: Yasuda Hitoshi and Mizuno Ryo Executive Producer: Kadokawa Tsuguhiko Producers: Tamiya Takeshi, Ikeda Kensho, Maruyama Masao Screenplay: Watanabe Mami, Kanemaki Kenichi Director: Ryu Taiji Character design: Izubuchi Yutaka Music: Hagita Mitsuo English version producer: John O'Donnell Translator: Neil Nadelman

[ plot summary ]

volume 4

The lands of Marmo have fallen into chaos, now that the spells that bound the non-human alliance together died with its leader. Ashram, the heir apparent, struggles to master Beld's possessed sword, the Soul Crusher. The sorcerer Wagnard prods Ashram to seek out the Sceptor of Domination, which is closely guarded by an Ancient Dragon deep within Fire Dragon Mountain. "He who holds the Sceptor of Domination holds all of Lodoss." But Wagnard receives a most unexpected vistor in his lair -- Karla, removed from Leylia's body, has now possessed the body of Woodchuck. The sorcerer, mad with power has set in motion a plan to ressurect Kardis the Destroyer, one of the two ancient goddesses who created the island of Lodoss. His goal, however, requires a sacrifice -- the eternal soul of a High Elf! Meanwhile, King Kashue of Flaim recieves word from his homeland that Shooting Star, the ancient dragon that cost Tessius his name, is terrorizing his lands. Kashue leads his army to Shooting Star's lair -- the dragon's lair deep within Fire Dragon Mountain!

[ capsule review ]

If there was ever a reason for picking the video version over the CD-ROM version of a movie, this episode might be it. Karla's entrance into Wagnard's lair is eerily done, with excellent use of stereo separation to make his echoed footsteps seem to come from everywhere. Watch this in a darkened room, on a large TV and a stereo with good imaging, and you'll get shivers down your spine! (Apple's Quicktime just doesn't do this episode any justice.) Wakamoto Norio (Woodchuck/Karla) too has just as sinister of a voice as his female counterpart, Sakakibara Yoshiko (Leylia/Karla).

This episode also brings into the fold two characters briefly introduced in episode 8 -Shiris, a female mercenary, and her companion, Orson -- a berserker, who's soul has been possessed by Hyuri, making him a formidable foe when challenged. I thought the two characters were extraneous -- obviously brought in to replace Ghim -- but they didn't bring anything that couldn't have been handled by the characters we've already met. Still, their voice characterisations certainly don't detract from the series. Tamagawa Sakiko (Pirotess) also does as fine job as the Dark Elf who has found a strong symbol of leadership in Ashram. By the way, does the manner in which all roads (past and present) lead to Fire Dragon Mountain seem contrived? Well, it is, but you won't feel that way watching the video. Once again, strong direction wins over the occasionally weak story material. - AN

Shooting Star, the dragon which terrorised the country so long ago, has again risen from his(?) sleep. Attacking Flaim, King Kashue leaves Valis in an attempt to stop the dragon's rampage. Ashram in the meantime is still struggling to control the Demon Sword which would in turn allow him to rule Marmo. This episode while more interesting than #8, is again one of the weaker ones in this series. However, what is interesting is the about face that Wagnard's character seems to have done since Episode #3 where he seemed to be decidedly cynical about the war effort going about him. What has happened to make him so power hungry? Knowing that the Sceptre of Domination was needed to rule Lodoss, Wagnard easily brings this to the attention of Ashram. However, the sorceror has other plans up his sleeve as well which will become clear as time goes on. Karla, resurrected now in the body of Woodchuck is up to her(?) usual tricks influencing the events in Lodoss. Only with Kardis' impending resurrection, will her powers be enough to restore balance? Now, with a mix of old and new adventurers, the journey to save Lodoss continues. - JYN

[ café rating ]

Original: Subbed: Dubbed:
Story: N/R 3 stars N/A
Direction: N/R 4 stars N/A
Acting: N/R 3 stars N/A
Animation: N/R 3 stars N/A
Music: N/R 3 stars N/A
Translation: N/R 4 stars N/A
Overall Rating: N/R 3 stars N/A

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