El-Hazard - The Magnificent World OVA Collection Print
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R4 DVD Reviews
Saturday, 09 April 2005 13:16
El-Hazard - OVA Collection (Cover Art)Okay, this one took a while - welcome to the longest single article I've posted to this site so far, and please don't forget the read the whole thing...!  El-Hazard is an anime of legend, almost, but as it's never had an el cheapo DVD release, I've passed it over several times in favour of newer shows.  Madman finally got around to releasing it last month, and for a reasonable price too, so now's my chance to find out what all the fuss was about...

OVA1.1 - Battlefield of Confusion
Katsuhiko Jinnai has problems - he's just been rumbled for rigging the elections for school President, and his main rival, Makoto Mizuhara, is the one responsible for uncovering his plot.  To make things worse, his own sister Nanami is helping Makoto out.  The discovery of an ancient ruin beneath their scool gives Jinnai a chance to at least grab some free publicity for himself - but the ruin has a strange power of its own.  When it's activated, everyone around it is frozen in a state of suspended animation, except for Makoto.  When he goes to the ruin to try and find out what has happened, he finds a woman there, who knows who he is from when they last met - 10,000 years ago.  Her last act is to send Makoto, Jinnai, Nanami and their teacher Fujisawa-sensei through time to the world of El-Hazard.  While Makoto and Fujisawa end up in the 'care' of the kingdom of Roshtaria, Jinnai ends up in the Bugrom Empire - and promptly sets about planning to take over the world...

El-Hazard - A strange being underneath the schoolEl-Hazard - Makoto & Fujisawa find themselves in a new world

OVA1.2 - The World of Beautiful Girls
Makoto's doing rather too well at impersonating Princess Fatora - to the point where even Fatora's apparent lover, Alielle, can't tell the difference.  Until she gets a grope of his tackle, anyway.  His latest task is to visit the three priestesses on Mount Muldoon, to perform a ritual that Roshtaria's allies have demanded be carried out to prove their committment to their alliance.  Meanwhile, Jinnai is doing almost too well as the Bugrom Empire's new military commander, and one by one the human nations are beginning to fall to the Bugrom.  When he hears about "Fatora's" mission to unseal the Eye of God, he decides she must be destroyed - and he's even more determined once he realises Makoto's involved...

El-Hazard - Alielle's wake-up callEl-Hazard - Shayla-Shayla lets rip

OVA1.3 - The World of Hot Springs
Having failed at the first attempt to persuade the priestesses of Mount Muldoon to unseal the Eye of God, Makoto & co decide to follow Afura and Shayla-Shayla to their purification ritual and try again.  Can you say "onsen episode", anyone?  The ritual is due to take place at a desert oasis, and the trip through the dunes to get there proves extremely difficult.  Definitely worth it when they get there, though - until Makoto's cover is blown when Nanami shows up.  Jinnai, meanwhile, is looking for some sort of advantage over Makoto - Diva, Queen of the Bugrom, seems to know of a possibility - Ifurita, being of legend and immense power - and the woman Makoto met in the school's shrine...

El-Hazard - Jinnai, scheming as usualEl-Hazard - Nanami can't believe Makoto's disguise

OVA1.4 - The World of the Demon God
Jinnai and his Bugrom sidekicks head for the island where Ifurita is rumoured to lie dormant, while Makoto and the gang try to get there first.  They're not the only ones on the case, either - the Phantom Tribe have their own people on their way, with instructions to help the Bugrom if need be.  Jinnai and Makoto reach the Forbidden Island at around the same time, and so the race is on to see who can reach Ifurita's resting place first.  Once there, there's the small matter of how to control her.  Makoto's also not prepared to discover that he's met Ifurita before...

El-Hazard - The Phantom Tribe strikesEl-Hazard - Jinnai awakes Ifurita

OVA1.5 - The World of Thunder
Ifurita's been unleashed on El-Hazard, and she's not in any way reluctant to use her awesome destructive power - which makes the Bugrom, Diva and Jinnai very happy indeed.  Her meeting with Makoto is preying on her thoughts, though.  Back in Roshtaria, the allied nations - urged on by Galus - are pushing even harder for the Eye of God to be deployed in their defence.  With Ifurita on the loose, no-one's in any position to argue.  Away from the action, Makoto's on the wrong end of a love triangle, as Shayla-Shayla and Nanami vie for his attentions, while Fujisawa's bride-to-be Miz resorts to drastic measures to keep him from drinking.  Shame no-one asked him first - either about the drinking, or the wedding.  Meanwhile, the Phantom Tribe continure to experiment on the real Fatora, looking for a way to seize control of the Eye of God, while Ifurita travels to Roshtaria, looking for some answers from Makoto...

El-Hazard - Galus, who isn't all he appears to beEl-Hazard - The Phantom Tribe experiment on Fatora

OVA1.6 - The World of Gleaming Light
With Ifurita seemingly set on killing Makoto, the Priestesses rush to his defence - but Ifurita's able to mimic their powers and easily defeats then using their own abilities.  When she gets her opportunity to deliver the killing blow, though, she's unable to do it - Makoto's able to read her memories & share his memories with her, and what she learns from the experience leaves her unable to follow through on her plans.  After Ifurita retreats, Shayla-Shayla decides to look into just what's going on between Makoto & Ifurita, while Miz contines with her plan to rope Fujisawa into marrying her.  Meanwhile, the Phantom Tribe have learnt enough from their experiments to have a way to activate the Eye of God, giving Galus a chance to initiate his plan to defeat both the Alliance and the Bugrom, while the Bugrom, under Jinnai's command, continue their conquest of the Alliance nations...

El-Hazard - Ifurita's looking for answersEl-Hazard - The Eye of God awakens

OVA1.7 - The World of Endless Adventures
Galus activates the Eye of God, but before he can unleash its power, Ifurita intervenes to stop him and he's forced to retreat.  With Roshtaria unable to control the Eye without Fatora, though, Jinnai seizes his chance and launches the final phase of his invasion of the Allied nations.  In a last-ditch attempt to shift the balance of power, Makoto leaves to try and recapture Fatora, with help from the Priestesses and Fujisawa.  Saving Fatora means another confrontation with Ifurita - and with Jinnai, but when Makoto is able to destroy Ifurita's obedience curcuit, Jinnai's plans for domination begin to fall apart.  With Fatora returned to Roshtaria, the Eye of God is back in the game, but the Phantom Race have sabotaged the Eye & Rune Venus and Fatora are unable to deactivate it.  With the Eye running out-of-control, there's only a little time left before the world of El-Hazard is detroyed...

El-Hazard - Jinnai, about to find out Ifurita's no longer under his controlEl-Hazard - Rune Venus and Fatora unleash the Eye of God

This series completely live up to the hype, which is very unusual these days.  El-Hazard is from AIC's earlier days, before they realised that is was easier to make a quick buck by stretching a show out for as long as possible (Tenchi Muyo!, anyone?), so these seven episodes make up a complete story, with a proper ending and with the male lead having made a choice from among the girls on offer.  Of course, they went an undid all that good work when they made the various sequel and spin-off series, but that's not for worrying about here.

The pacing of the story's very good, as well - there's a lot going on, but there's breaks in the story for comic relief in amongst all the mayhem and destruction.  It's also one of those rare shows where there isn't really a character that's impossible to like.

Add it all together, and you get the easiest "Recommended" review I've ever had to do.  But there's more - the OVA Collection also includes El-Hazard 2, but for that you'll have to read on...

OVA2.1 - The Bride of Roshtaria
The Bugrom and the Phantom Tribe have been defeated, and normal life has returned to Roshtaria.  Unable to return home, the gang from Earth are making the best of the situation - Jinnai is still with what's left of the Bugrom, looking for a new way to take over the world, Nanami has started her own restuarant, Makoto is researching El-Hazard's ancient civilisation in the hope of finding a way to get them home - and Fujiyama-sensei's getting married.  Or is he?  When Fujisawa goes missing on the day of the wedding, the jilted bride vows to track him down, and drags the rest of the gang along with her.  Meanwhile, Jinnai's search for a new home for the Bugrom leads to an unexpected discovery...

El-Hazard - Miz anticipates married lifeEl-Hazard - Shayla-Shayla falls victim to one of Fatora's plots

OVA2.2 - Awakening of Kalia
Jinnai's found himself a new Demon God - Kalia, although she doesn't seem to have the same obedience circuitry that Ifurita had.  She does claim to know the location of an unbeatable weapon, however, so she has Jinnai's full attention.  Meanwhile, Makoto and the gang find themselves in a hidden world when their ship crashes - and Ifurita is there to meet them.  She doesn't seem to remember any of them, however, and wastes no time in attacking them.  Trying to find out what's wrong with her, Makoto gets close enough to read her soul - and finds out that this isn't the Ifurita they knew.  The master of this Ifurita is an old man who also came to El-Hazard from another world - and who else should find there way here but Fujisawa, and following not far behind, Jinnai and Kalia...

El-Hazard - Jinnai discovers KaliaEl-Hazard - Ifurita - or is it?

OVA2.3 - Ifurita, Farewell to Destiny
With Jinnai and Kalia safely past Ifurita's defences, Kalia reveals her true nature and abilities - like Ifurita, she has amazing powers, and the ability to drain the life from living things.  Jinnai's all set to use her to help with his plan to take over the world, but Kalia has other ideas - there's something in the temple that she wants, and she's not about to let anyone stand in her way.  The priestesses alone don't have enough power to overcome Kalia's abilities, but perhaps Ifurita will be able to...

El-Hazard - Kalia reveals her true natureEl-Hazard - Ifurita layeth the smack down

OVA2.4 - Promise for Reunion
With Ifurita defeated, it seems nothing can stop Kalia's plans with the Trigger for Destruction now assembled and operational - if she gets the opportunity to use it, it will mean the end for El-Hazard.  She may have made something of a tactical error, though, by taking Miz captive, as Fujisawa's determined to get her back.  Yuba thinks he may have a way to reactivate Ifurita, although it carries a high price, while the need to destroy the Trigger for Destruction quickly means there may not be enough time to rescue Miz...

El-Hazard - The Trigger for DestructionEl-Hazard - Kalia lets her guard down

El-Hazard 2's reputation among fans is almost the polar opposite to the first series - abomination, terrible, cash-in and other phrases are what you'll hear if you dare mention its name.  There's even a school of though that says that even though this series is included in the set, you shouldn't watch it.  I'm nothing if not a glutton for punishment, though, so I did.

I wouldn't go so far as to say I wish I hadn't, but it certainly wasn't the most enjoyable 2 hours of my life - and the difference between the two shows is particularly jarring when you watch them back-to-back.  The personalities of the characters have been messed with to make this more comic than the original OVA, while the story lacked that epic feel.  While the first El-Hazard kept you glued to the screen, this couldn't.

As a standalone show, it probably wouldn't be too bad - but carrying the El-Hazard name mean high expectations, and El-Hazard 2 doesn't live up to them.

And finally...
The OVA Collection comes in perhaps the most gorgeous packaging I've seen - describing it wouldn't do the artwork justice, so here's a few images...

El-Hazard - Digipack artwork (outer cover)

El-Hazard - Digipack artwork (inside 1)El-Hazard - Digipack artwork (inside 2)

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