Sunday, January 5, 2014

East Meets West: Record of Lodoss War

When I was a kid, I used to watch Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon and the like, along with a lot of the American cartoons that were running at the time. I think a lot of people my age did. Those were the first animes I was exposed to. And they were pretty Japanese, even if the characters' physical appearances belied that fact.

The resemblance is subtle.
Looking back, the first anime I remember being introduced to by a friend was one that didn't make it to American TV. It was called Record of Lodoss War (ロードス島戦記), and it was right up my alley. It had kings and knights, magic, elves and dwarves, heroic quests, parties of adventurers. If you've ever played a traditional RPG, it was basically that in anime form. I remember thinking in retrospect that it was just like watching an animated Dungeons and Dragons campaign. Well, I wasn't too far off the mark.

Apparently Record of Lodoss War came about in the 80's as the first example of a new literary genre - the replay. Replays are the retellings of gaming sessions, put into light novel format. So a bunch of gaming company employees were actually playing D&D and decided that their adventure was epic enough that its story had to be told. The series' most popular character, the elf Deedlit, was played by a scifi writer dude.

Digging into the Wikipedia entry, it's quite interesting. Group SNE went on to develop a whole gaming RPG universe called Sword World. Lodoss itself was adapted into anime, manga, books, movies, etc. The world of Sword World, Forcelia, includes the island of Lodoss, plus the continents of Crystania and Alecrast, which have their own media spinoffs.

I just recently decided to borrow my sister's copies of the Lodoss DVDs and give them a second watch (to see how much of the Japanese I can understand). The animation reminds me of the old American Bass and Rankin fantasy cartoons (Lord of the Rings, Flight of Dragons, the Last Unicorn), which were Japanese-animated. I wonder if perhaps there are some common artists there. Then again, maybe that's just the way anime looked back then.

Incidentally, I also recently tried a rom for the old SNES Lodoss game, which never made it to foreign shores. About 5 minutes in I encountered a bug that froze the screen. Oh well.


And it appears both the Japanese and English versions can be found on YouTube:


  1. Ha! I remember watching this when I was younger (the Sci-Fi channel had a weekly 'Saturday Anime' movie right after MST3K), and your thoughts reflected mine; I felt like I was watching a JRPG in cinematic form. Man, I haven't seen this movie in ages...

  2. Hey Jeff,

    Oh wow, so this did run in the US, then. That's cool. Feel free to check it out again on YouTube. =)