El Hazard: The Magnificent World

OAV - 7 episodes

This show also goes by the name 'El Hazard OAV' (episodes 1-7).

Makoto, a talented high school student, finds himself in the position to expose one of his 'friends', Katsuhiko Jinnai, for rigging the student president elections. When Jinnai goes after revenge Makoto ends up the only one capable of movement when the world suddenly seems to stop. He find the cause in the newly discovered ruin under the school, and the woman sealed there promptly whisks him off to the world of El Hazard, along with his alcoholic teacher Masamichi Fujisawa, and Jinnai's ambitious sister Nanami. It turns out that in El Hazard Makoto is a dead ringer for the missing Princess Fatora, so they convince him to impersonate her and meet the three priestesses Miz, Afura and Shayla-Shayla, who can unlock their ultimate weapon: The Eye of God. Then they can defend against the insect race known as the Bugrom. Of course Jinnai also gets sent along and ends up helping these Bugrom to conquer El Hazard, and decides to go after an ultimate weapon of their own, the 'demon god' Ifurita. You also have several of the girls finding themselves attracted to Makoto and trying to get closer to him. Then there is the fact that when you cross dimensions you gain some sort of special power, such as Fujisawa becoming a super powerful martial artist, provided he is sober.

Quite a bit going on then. As is usual for a show of this type the cast gets quite large, but is managed very well considering the show only runs seven episodes. In terms of theme the show seems a melding of fantasy and science fiction with some lovely settings in El Hazard and a fair bit of high technology which creates the shows more magical effects. The two however combine very well, with things never seeming out of place in the setting. The show is mainly a comedy/adventure that moves at a fair pace when things start to heat up for the characters.

The show is definitely aimed at teenagers and adults and contains quite a few sexual jokes and references. Alielle, princess Fatora's lesbian lover, is particularly frisky and often tries to get close to the other members of the mostly female main cast, usually with humorous result. Episode three is also based around a hot spring so there is plenty of fan service. The show never gets explicit though, it's just there for fun.

The animation is generally nice, although a few scenes seem a little crude in terms of drawing style when a fast shot with lots of movement occurs. This is mainly in the first episode, and gives those shots a cartoonier feel, which is a little out of place. The rest of the show is very nice looking though, especially the scenes of the priestesses charging up their powers, even if they do get used several times. The character designs share much with those from 'Tenchi Muyo! [Ryo-Ohki]' and 'Dual', all three series coming from the same creator. The music is also similar to those titles, with rather fun fast beats for the combat but some very nice slow emotional pieces, although it does not have the best tracks of the three series.

It was nice, having first seen a great deal of Tenchi Muyo material, to have a conclusive ending. We get the end of the story, then the final concluding scene which felt very nice indeed, and pretty much wrapped up the 'who gets Makoto' question (again, similar to the two titles mentioned). Between these is the period for the sequel to occur, so it nicely ends the story but leaving more room for episodes. A clever move.

As to the English dub, I understand that this was one of the first of the good dubs that was made for anime, and it is very enjoyable. The writing feels very natural and there are some truly wonderful lines that don't appear in the Japanese. Also, unlike many dubs, this show is not afraid of the more mature pieces of subject matter that appear. If fact if anything they are slightly toned up instead of toned down, and it does work very well. As to the actors themselves most of the cast does a very good job, emphasising the comedy in this series but getting serious when it needs it. They also give Jinnai a suitably cringe worthy laugh. However, as usual a few of the actors just don't feel like they have the characters down. Thankfully that is only the few and while not perfect this is an admirable and very enjoyable dub.

Fans of 'Tenchi Muyo!' and 'Dual' you will love this. If you hated them, you probably wont like it much better. To everyone else I recommend this very enjoyable show.


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