At Shinonome High School, Makoto, a mild mannered engineering prodigy is working on a special science project with some help from his girl friend, Nanami, an entrepreneurial whiz as passionate about her work as Makoto is at his. Unfortunately, her brother, Jinnai, a mega-maniacal cheat who irrationally thinks that Makoto is out to ruin his every ambition including his corrupt school presidency, has other plans. He tries to sabotage Makoto's device when Makoto catches him. In the ensuing struggle, the rewired machine opens a dimensional portal that throws Makoto, Jinnai, Nanami and their history teacher friend, Mr. Fujisawa into the world of El Hazard. Once there, Makoto and friends struggle to find a way home with all the help that a princess they meet, Rune Venus of Roshtaria, can give them as well the special powers granted to each of them as a by-product of the trip. At the same time, they must also stop Jinnai, who has allied with an enemy nation, called the Bugrom to conquer El ... Written by
Kenneth Chisholm <email@example.com>
Okay TV adaptation of hit OAV; slightly uneasy mix of action and farce.
Based on the hugely popular Pioneer anime adventure comedy El Hazard, this series re-tells much the same story but in expanded form and with a few key changes. Princess Rune is now younger and the object of Makoto's affections, while the demon goddess Ifurita is now a dizzy screw-up. The world of El Hazard still looks gorgeous - with breath-taking vistas of mountains and river valleys, lush forests and oddball alien creatures - plus a few background vistas of the Bugrom homeland which frankly look cheap.
The action animation is quite well done, too. Everything is a bit slower moving, as the story has 26 episodes to play out over rather than seven, and consequently lacks the all-stops-out action appeal of the OAVs, but it at least does not leave the audience thinking MOVE dangit, as so many anime TV series now do. (Have Japanese animators completely given up on the idea of making characters move around? Is it all just sassy posturing and blowing hair now?)
The first three episodes introduce the key characters and situations and deviate little from the OAVs. The next three episodes introduce the three priestesses one at a time in slightly different fashion from the earlier series, but only episode six seemed truly fresh. At this point everything starts to get away from the story line of the original OAV series enough that it begins to take on a flavor of its own. Back as Makoto's would be rival is Napoleon wannabe Jinnai, who hatches plot after plot to conquer El Hazard and humiliate Makoto, despite the fact that they keep going awry! Then Jinnai and his allies the Bugrom search for ancient weapons of mass destruction, to force El Hazard to capitulate to him or be destroyed!
The expanded story line deviates even farther from the original series here, but some of the new choices made are a little less interesting. Plus, a few one-shot episodes are thrown in to round things out, although these tend to work less well, since the real appeal of a series like this is a grand, season-long plot line. No new regular characters get added at this point and some of the background animation is beginning to look a bit cheesy, as if the artists were having trouble keeping up with the production schedule.
All-in-all, this is a good-looking and enjoyable series both for fans of El Hazard and those new to the franchise, and in fact it might even play better among those who have NOT seen El Hazard, The zaniness, though, feels at times forced and the whole show has a more camp comedy approach than the earlier OAV series, which featured a more balanced approach between drama and silliness.
Recommended largely for its great fantasy look.
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