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[ Nazca logo ]


Episode 1: Those Who Awaken Despartar

Copyright: © 1998 Genco-Radix/Kadokawa Shoten/TV Tokyo, © 2000 Pioneer LDC
Length: 25 minutes
Rating: NR/13 UP, Café rated Recommended for Mature Audiences
Format: DVD / VHS, Original Japanese Dialog / Subtitled / English Dub


VHS jacket

High-school student Miura Kyoji is late once again for his sensei's kendo tournament. In his haste, Kyoji literally runs into a beautiful young woman just outside the train station, bowling her over. Not wanting to be any later than he already was, he apologises, and quickly runs off to the centre...

4th-dan Masunari Tate is a teacher, and instructor of the kendo club at Kyoji's school. Kyoji finally arrives at the tournament centre, just before Tate is about to head into the final elimination round of the tournament. Much to his surprise, the young woman that he "ran into" greets Tate. Kiritaki Yuka has a couple of surprises for young Kyoji -- first, the shinai which he had left behind at the train station... and second, Tate reveals that she is also his fiancée...

But something goes terribly wrong during the final elimiation bout. Tate finds an opening during his opponent's attack, and goes in for the point -- but during the strike, Kyoji notices that Tate now appeared to be dressed in some unusual garb, and weilding a real sword... and the strike to his opponent was not a typical cross-cut do strike used in kendo. Indeed, the strike cuts through the do breast plate as if cut by a real blade, and leaving Tate's opponent with four broken ribs.

Later that day, Kyoji finds himself trying to convince Tate not to resign his position -- but Tate not only refuses to listen, he orders his student to spar with him using real swords. During the heat of combat, Kyoji finds himself inexplicably possessed by the spirit of an ancient Inca warrior... and that he is fighting Tate not in the dojo, but on the Plains of Nazca!

capsule review:

Many people complain that I don't review a lot of the martial arts/action style anime that's found on TV these days. Well, there's a reason for that -- most of these types of series are just awful, and at least for me, nearly unwatchable. I don't like cartoons which are basically ads for spin-off merchandise, or feature repetitious and mindless plotlines. I fear that Nazca just might fall into that category.

It might not be fair to make such a statement, especially after only one episode -- but the opener is pretty bad. Once again, our hero is blessed with some as-yet-to-be-explained superpower, but some as-yet-to-be-discovered spirit of some as-yet-to-be-discussed spirits/demons/warriors/smurfs from the past... this time, the great Inca civilizations of Peru. Miura Kyoji, it turns out, is possessed by the spirit of the Inca warrior Bilka; his sensei, Masunari Tate, is similarily possessed by the spirit of the warrior Yawaru. The transformation sequence is signified by the swooping down of a great condor, one of the birds depicted on the arid Plains of Nazca. (These plains are famous for a series of line drawings etched into the ground. The underlying soil is of much lighter colour than the top few inches of the arid topsoil. Remarkably, the various figures and geometric shapes scored into the ground cover a huge area, and are only visible from the air -- thus raising the possibility that the ancient Inca civilisation may have had some form of air transport capability.)

Pretty far-fetched. Director Tokita Hiroko does manage to make things flow fairly well, despite the script. And to be perfectly honest, there could have been enough material to make a decent series without this ancient mysticism stuff.

The action sequences are rendered fairly well -- the stoic, upright stances in kendo are captured accurately, as are the kendo-gi, or equipment. Animation is very good for a TV series, and the backgrounds are richly colour-saturated. Character designs by Sano Hirotoshi are somewhat unusual -- faces are drawn with almost no nasal features, and bell-shaped heads seems to be the preferred style, making many characters appear somewhat serpent-like. One notable exception is the main female lead, Kiritaki Yuka, who will undoubtably be the main romantic interest.

English voice acting is suprisingly good -- not quite as good as my measuring stick, My Neighbour Totoro, but it's far better than the previous generation of efforts which have given dubbed anime a bad reputation. Tate and Grandfather Miura's voices are on the disappointing side, but Erika Shaffer's (Yuka) and Aimee Nelson's (Miyuki) efforts make up for the shortcomings. Pioneer's fresh vocal talents are a most welcome addition to the dub scene.

But story is usually what makes or breaks a feature, and in this case, what story is revealed in this exposition is lost in the disbelief I underwent when the premise was revealed. Hopefully, I'll be able to suspend some of this disbelief as the series progresses...
- AN, 2000.02.12

café rating (english dub):


1 star

[1 / 5] - Yet another martial arts/action series, with a nearly impossible, perposterous opening premise. Pretty accurate depiction of a kendo tournament, though.


4 stars
[4 / 5] - Director Tokito Hiroko makes due with some outlandish ideas, and actually makes it semi-workable.


4 stars
[4 / 5] - New Generation Picture's first effort for Pioneer is superior work, with smooth voice-overs for most of the characters. The "huh?" type dialog from most productions noticeably absent, and even though several VA's are recycled for incidental characters, they're a welcome change for what we've been subjected to in the past.


4 stars
[4 / 5] - Better-than-average animation for a TV series, lots of textured CG animation used in opening credits, and fairly decent cel animation against detailed, richly coloured backgrounds.


4 stars
[4 / 5] - Use of J.S. Bach's Fugue in G Minor for the opening theme is unusual and most distinctive, resulting in a strangely quiet and ethereal atmosphere. Not your typical opener, and solid accompaniment for sequences during the show. It's not Inca-style music (what is? The Inca did not have a written language outside of the Quipu), but it's refreshing. Ending theme is a nice combination of woodwinds and percussion.


[ n/a ] - No rating, as we did not receive an original language version to compare.

Overall Rating:

2 star
[2 / 5] - Pretty typical TV fare, with better-than-average animation, but weak script and unbelievable circumstances.

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Page last modified 2000.02.13