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Gude Crest: The Emblem of Gude

It’s been a while since an anime OVA based on a series of novels has been discussed on the site, but it’s that time again. This go around, the anime in question is Gude Crest: Emblem of Gude. It’s based on a series of fantasy novels from the 1980s and jam-packed with tropes of the sub genre. Granted, that was an era when fantasy was heavily influenced by dungeons and dragons campaigns, so it should come as no surprise that certain character archetypes, plots, and the like were common. That isn’t to say that Gude Crest is by any means bad, it just goes down a heavily trodden path.

While the OVA does plunge viewers right in the middle of the adventures and goings on of its characters and world, it does a lot better job familiarizing the audience with who everyone is and why they’re important. Some of this can be figured out by viewers on their own, but more complicated subjects are presented naturally in a way that makes perfect sense. The plot itself is straightforward enough with a princess (Jira) and her companion (Efe) travelling the world in search of adventure. Unfortunately, they manage to get captured by some slavers and are tossed on a ship to be sold in a far off land. It doesn’t take long before they hatch a plan to escape, and get back to freedom. While doing this, they happen upon a young prince also being sold into slavery. He helps in their escape, but dies in the attempt. The two girls had learned that his brother and sister are still alive, and decide to take the prince’s pendant to them and deliver the sad news. This embroils them in a much more sinister plot involving awakening lost gods which the two must find a way to thwart.

Again, there’s nothing unique about the plot or characters. The whole OVA could just as well have been a very common quest chain in an RPG. Those looking for something new would be better off watching something else. People in the mood for something comfy and familiar will be right at home with Gude Crest. The same goes for the characters, as they’re the sort we’ve seen countless times before. There are the dual female heroines where one is a feisty warrior and the other is a more thoughtful sorceress, meanwhile the villains are all oozing varying degrees of arrogance. This is a show for people who want a nice, simple adventure to enjoy in less than an hour.

Character design is very much in a traditional 80s style, as one can see by looking at the faces of anyone in the show. There are a variety of costumes that help keep things interesting, and look like what one would expect from the instruction manual of an NES role-playing game. Meanwhile, environmental designs ride a line between looking medieval and something from antiquity.

A quick look at the roster of voice actors will suggests that J.C. Staff were still swimming in that sweet, sweet, bubble era money while this OVA was in production. Jira is voiced by Kazue Ikura (City Hunter), Efe is played by Naoko Matsui (Detective Conan, NG Knight Ramune & 40), the arrogant prince Shagan was performed by Show Hayami (Fate/Zero), and the young prince Kilian was played by Yumi Touma (Ah! My Goddess!). With that, astute viewers are likely to notice a few familiar voices in Gude Crest.

For a show that is meant to introduce people to a series of books, Gude Crest: Emblem of Gude does a good job of bringing a fun story that both gets people curious about its world. What is also nice, though, is that it doesn’t end on a cliffhanger. It’s a fully contained story. A lot of other OVAs meant to get people to buy books or manga leave a lot of loose ends open, which is fine for someone who lives in Japan and can track down the source material. Westerners, however, are left high and dry with a far from satisfying conclusion to the story. The fact that Gude Crest doesn’t do this is most welcome, and makes for a fun, rather RPG-esque adventure to whittle away an afternoon with.

- IroIro
August 30, 2019

Directed by: Kazuhito Kikuchi
Studio: JC Staff
Released: 1990
Episodes: 1

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