El-Hazard: The Magnificent World
Review by Kenneth Chisholm
This 4 tape OAV series is a wonderful combination of the classic adventure tales, The Prisoner of Zenda and Edger Rice Burroughs' John Carter series. In this series, three high school kids and an alcoholic, chain smoking gym teacher from contemporary Earth are sent to a magical world called El-Hazard by a mysterious young woman. The group are scattered in the world and Makato, a young boy, and the gym teacher, Masamichi, rescue a princess and her entourage from an attack from insectoid soldiers from a rival nation called the Bugrom. As it is later revealed, each of the travellers has gained a different special power that will come in very handy in the story, such as in the rescue, Masamichi learns that he has superhuman strength, but only when he refrains from drinking and smoking.
As the pair accompanies their new friends, they learn that the princess' kingdom is in peril because the only thing preventing the Bugrom nation from invading her land, Roshtaria, is the fact that her land has an ancient superweapon called the Eye of God, which takes two princess sisters of her land to operate. Thus the presence of this weapon and the alliance of other lands based on this fact. Unfortunately, one of the princesses, Fatora is missing, and that means the Eye of God can't fire and the alliance would crumble, leaving the land vulnerable a Bugrom invasion. However, Makoto bears an uncanny resemblance to this princess and they beg him to impersonate her in order to prevent a disaster. He is NOT at all enthusastic at this proposal, but eventually agrees when he realizes that from the description of the weapon, it may be as a dimensional shifter, which could allow them to go home. He does the drag act and on top of all the hassles of royal responsibilty, he has also has to deal with Princess Fatora's lover Arere, an amourous girl has seems to fall in love with every aggressive woman she meets.
During all this, Makoto's would be girl friend, Nanami is struggling to survive in another part of El-Hazard with only her keen entrepeneurial wits to help. Unfortunately, her older brother, Jinnai, a near psychotic snake in the grass who is irrationally convinced that Makoto is his destined rival out to frustrate his every move has landed in Bugrom territory and almost immediately becomes a high ranking and extemely effective general for that nation and its queen.
Thus the stage is set for Makoto and his friends to go on a wild adventure to protect Roshtoria while Jinnia is out to conquer that land and stop his hated rival.
This series is a delight to watch which a deft mixture of adventure and humour that serve to compliment each other in a manner quite similar to the Princess Bride and just as effectively. Unlike many films, this series has a wonderful epic feel that does not diminish with further view, but uses intriguing character development that endears you to all the characters. Makoto in particular benefits from this with him being a bit of a rarity in anime, he is a gentle and compassionate boy who still can rise up to the grandest challenge in a way that is so endearingly human, an excellent role model. Most of the female characters are active adventurers who almost never display sexist attitudes. The best amoung these include Ninami who is later revealed to be clever and determined enough to have established her own successful business within a few days of arriving in this strange land and three high Prietesses Makoto must contact who possess a great deal of magical firepower that they do not hesitate use, especially Shayla-Shayla, the fire specialist with blazing red hair and the temper to match. Thus this can be a good film for girls looking for active female characters to see. There is also the Gym teacher who has must cut down on drinking and smoking to have superstrength, which is a positive message about the need not to do either to a young audience.
This film comes in both subbed and dubbed versions and the dubbed version is excellent, especially with the actor playing Jinnia performing his role with a hilariously silly psychotic gusto keeps him amusing while never undercutting the real menace of the character.
Finally, another thing to mention is the opening title sequence from the second episode on is magnificent with a lavish orchestrial score that has a strong Arabian Nights feel to it and a glorious image montage that concisely conves the epic feel to the story and the likablilty of characters at the same time.
In short, if you like classic fantasy adventure with wonderful modern twists, then I heartily recommend that give this series a try!
Parent's Guide Rating:
yellow (parental guidance advised)
Since this film features a war, there is war violence and destruction, but extremely little blood is shown. Much of the personal violence the principle characters do is the wild superhero variety that mainly gets combatants bashed around and knocked unconscious at worst.
As for sexual situations, the only thing to look out for Arere, a amourous girl who makes the moves on all the aggressive female characters she finds. The most explicit thing in the entire series is Arere's introductory scene of her entering Makoto's bed and doing foreplay before Makoto wakes up and stops her by revealing to her that he is a male imposter. She also wears a skimpy outfit and in the end credit, you do see her g-string underwear for a few seconds, but that is treated rather mildly.
Another scene to watch out for is when the heroes track down the priestesses to a meditation oasis where these beautiful young women are bathing nude in all female place. Nothing sexual is intended in it, but there is the humour of the coach being blindfolded, but Makoto still in his princess disguise can only respectfully avert his eyes while he tries to get down to his intended business. He does later get thrown in the water and he is revealed while he accidentally bumps up to Shayla-Shayla in a way one can misconstrue as sexual.
However, beyond these scenes, this is an excellent series for kids from early teens up.
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