As a relative newcomer to the community (hi everybody!), I thought it would be rather fitting to delve into my own introduction to anime. The quintessential series that stated it all for me and even after all these years has continued to captivate me. Of course I’m talking about Ryo Mizuno’s sword and sorcery masterpiece, Record of Lodoss War.
Truth be told I came across this series by complete accident in the most unlikely of places. As a Kid I would often deal with sever bouts of insomnia. To combat this I would often turn to the tv to see if I could find something boring enough to induce some sleep. Usually I would seek out some infomercial or bizarre public access show to knock me out. However upon reaching the public access channel I wasn’t greeted by a crazy pastor shouting fire and brimstone, or some weirdo trying to sell me something, but rather a cartoon. In fact this cartoon was unlike anything I had ever seen before.
You have to understand where I was coming from as a kid in regards to animation. I was used to watching cartoons like Garfield & Friends, Duck Tales, and Ninja Turtles. Decent shows in their own right but they were clearly meant for children. Now here I am glued to the tv watching this mystery show where there’s blood, violence, and did I just hear a curse word?
When it was all said and done, the show panned out only before saying “next time on Record of Lodoss War.” With a name in hand I had to get proactive and find out if my newly found show was on VHS or not. Had this story happened to me in the present, a simple Google search would have made me an instant expert on everything Record of Lodoss War. But this was the early 90’s and you had to put a bit of work in to uncover the random things you came across on the tv. Taking to the yellow pages I must have called at least 20 VHS rental stores before I finally found one that knew what I was talking about. I rented and eventually copied the entire series and I can’t tell you how many times I watched it!
What made Record of Lodoss war unique to me was how it balanced your typical western fantasy archetypes and anime quirkiness. Of course I’m talking about exaggerated facial expressions, random chibiness, and flashbacks galore. As a kid this was a little bit strange to me, but somehow endearing at the same time. Looking back its easy to see why this series was not only my introduction to anime but many others a swell. It was the perfect blending of east meets west via storytelling.
While I truly believe the series has withstood the test of time (hard to believe it’s 25 years old!), media wise is a completely different story. Lodoss war on DVD has been out of print for quite some time and remains unlicensed in the United States. While you can find used copies aplenty, be prepared to pay some exorbitant prices for them.
Naturally though a series as influential as this should be on its way to blu ray, right? Well this is where things get a tad bit foggy. Media Blasters had initial plans to release the series in high definition but they ran into problems with the conversion and had to scrap the project all together. As Justin Sevakis of ANN explains:
“It's not just that they can't get them [HD masters], it's that they don't exist. Kadokawa isn't sure where the film elements are either, though I'm not sure they've spent enough time searching for them that they can really be called "lost." Meanwhile MB was trying to tinker with restoring 'em off the old LD masters (which is all that exist right now), but quickly found that they're not very good and not much can be done with them. (We were remarking about how bad they looked at CPM, and look how low our standards were!!) Not that this doesn't indicate bad things are still happening at MB, but this really wasn't shaping up to be a great release anyway. Not sure anyone will be able to improve much upon the last release CPM did.”
There is a silver lining in all of this though as Kadokawa Shoten would eventually give Lodoss war the tender love and care that it deserves via a two disk blu ray release. The only problem with this release is, well the price of it, $350! Now despite how much I love Lodoss War, there is no way I would ever drop that amount of cash on an anime, it’s just not going to happen. I think it’s safe to say that I’m not in the minority here. We can only hope that some benevolent distributor will license Kadokawa’s transfer, bring it to the west, and give it to us for a reasonable price, finger crossed!
So there you have it, my mini history with Lodoss war from beginning to end. For those that are already familiar with the series, I hope this sparked a bit of nostalgia for you. For those not in the know, well what are you waiting for? The accursed island awaits (a little birdie told me it's available on YouTube to watch!), no seriously go watch Record of Lodoss War, you won’t regret it!