Legend of Crystania – “The Motion Picture”

June 20, 2004 on 1:53 pm | In Legend of Crystania | Comments Off on Legend of Crystania – “The Motion Picture”

This was actually the second anime DVD I ever bought, four years ago. I watched it once.
It’s another “motion picture” courtesy of ADV films. Legend of Crystania is actually an OVA that somehow fits into the Record of Lodoss War universe. How, it’s not quite clear, as it chooses to focus on characters that were not only secondary in the original OVA, but also characters who were dead.
Despite that, it’s pretty enjoyable and much easier to follow than the time jumping Record of Lodoss War.

Ashram, for reasons undisclosed, is sailing the seas with his people to look for a new place to settle. The voice of Barbas, aspiring King of the Gods of Crystania, offers to open the Gate of the Gods and let his people prosper if Ashram agrees to provide his body as a vessel.
Meanwhile, uh … 300 years later … the people of El Djana are being oppressed by the evil Chancellor. When the Chancellor murders the peace loving Haven, brother of the overthrown king, his son Redon swears revenge. Barbas opens the Gate of the Gods once more, offering Redon the awesome power to take revenge. Then they get involved in a civil war between the various beast tribes of Crystania.
Crystania is confusingly referred to as “the land of the Gods”, despite having an entirely different belief system to the rest of the world. When the script upgrades it to “the sacred realm” – meaning a place that doesn’t take kindly to strangers – it makes more sense. This was produced as one of the first few DVDs by ADV, so the production values aren’t always at their highest.
So it makes no sense in the continuity. Let’s just look at it as the jolly Crystania adventure!

The characters are less obviously a “party” than those of Lodoss War. There’s no real hierarchy, except everyone looks up to the High Priestess Aderishia. Guild is perhaps the most incompetent warrior ever seen. He looks away from the person he’s clashing swords with to observe Redon clashing swords with some other person (or lizard, as it may be). It’s surprising that he wasn’t killed a million times over. Redon stops being angry pretty soon which, despite his anger overpowering him supposed to be the theme of the piece, is well done. When you see what Barbas is doing as the King, it’s no surprise that someone wouldn’t want to strike a deal with him.
Nerese as the sorceror isn’t much of a character, but the two most interesting are Orville and Laifan: the mercenary and the little girl who he travels with. Orville is the hardened warrior type, and his soft spot is unsurprisingly for Laifan, the girl with the strong powers for someone of her age. What little time they get together (and the time that they spend apart) are the most well written of all of the scenes.

The animation and design is at times appalling. The daytime scenes are where it is hit the worst as the animators saw fit to make the daytime sky white, and the sunlight makes all of the characters very pale as a result. The first ten minutes were animated with practically no colour in them at all. At night time, or in the afternoon, everything looks just fine. It’s one of the worst decisions that could have been made. There are some well done action scenes, and it quickly becomes clear that El Djana and Crystania subscribe to the “half” approach to violence – that is, one swipe of a sword can cut a person in half, or amputate their hands. At one point, Orville impressively decapitates a horse and separates its rider’s torso from his body in one strike.
The transformation sequences are similarly well done.
The characters generally look fine, if unimpressive. The only problem is that Pirotess and Ashram are featured in this outing and they look nothing like they used to. Ironically, when possessed, Ashram looks more like himself than when he is himself. It’s heartening, on the other hand, that the two most interesting characters are those who look the nicest – that is, the duo of Orville and Laifan.

The music is actually impressive, particularly compared to the not always up to scratch animation. There’s even an insert song, which was a pleasant surprise. It’s not eldritch fantasy stuff, but it’s more than good enough for what’s on offer. The music panning over the credits shows that quite a bit of imagination went into the production, as well.
Voice acting is actually pretty good as well, especially as Kamiya Akira and Tamagawa Sakiko reprise their roles as Ashram and Pirotess (which they did not do for 1998’s Chronicles of The Heroic Knight). Midorikawa Hikaru as Redon set a precedent for his sword fighting characters, and Nishimura Chinami is delightful as young Laifan.

It’s followed by a three part OVA, The Chaos Ring. Then after that, the “alternate and yet the same continuity” TV series picks up Record of Lodoss War‘s story in the form of Chronicles of the Heroic Knight. Don’t be discouraged by the DVD quality I have described – ADV have actually rereleased this under their Essential Anime line. It’s not actually essential by any means, but it’s much better than I remembered – despite its random production values.

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