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The Weathering Continent

It’s not uncommon for anime to serve as a vehicle that promotes some other property. Often it’s to draw attention to a manga or visual novel. Yes, sometimes these series will wind up being a full adaptation of the source material, airing year after year. Other times, though, shows that do this will only be around for a single season and then it’s up to viewers to track down the manga and continue from there. On occasion, and especially in the 80s and 90s, there wasn’t even an entire series of anime to whet people’s appetites. All they got was a single OVA, or possibly a short film, as an introduction, leaving viewers with 60-90 minutes to decide if the larger story was something worth investigating. The Weathering Continent is one such example of this.

It’s a brief snapshot into a much larger world that existed as a serialized novel from 1990 to 2006. Taking place on a vast, forgotten land, centuries of environmental disasters have taken a tole on the once great continent, rendering it a desolate wasteland. Three travellers wander this world together. First is a gruff warrior named Bois. Next is Tieh, a sorcerer with delicate features, very much the opposite of his companion. Finally, they are joined by an energetic teenage girl named Lakshi.

In the film, they are making their way across a vast desert when they come across some ruins that they begin to search in hopes of locating water. There they are attacked by an emaciated girl who is close to death. After calming her, they learn that she and her group were attacked by bandits after which the girl dies. Continuing their journey, the group comes across an underground city that is actually a tomb for an ancient civilization. Unfortunately, the bandits have found it as well and are scouring the place for treasure. Tieh, being the sorcerer, is smart enough to realize that disturbing the dead and their gods is a bad idea, and urges his friends to be cautious. Of course, the bandits are the exact opposite, spirits are angered, and adventure ensues.

Given that the show is only an hour long, there isn’t much to go on. The movie introduces the characters and does very little to develop them. At most, viewers are given a glimpse of Lakshi’s background, hinting that her journey is of the utmost importance to her village. Meanwhile, Bois and Tieh wind up being archetypal warriors and mages like something out of an RPG. There just isn’t enough time to build these characters meaningfully.

The Weathering Continent acts more as a set piece. It presents a part of its world, some of the people in it, and the dangers they will encounter. If their surroundings aren’t trying to kill them (the desert), then it’s throwing roving bands of brigands at people, and if that doesn’t work out there are plenty of otherworldly beings eager to do their worst to unsuspecting travellers. What Tieh, Bois, and Lakshi encounter is part and parcel with what one can expect while wandering this fallen world. It’s very much a place inspired by gritty high fantasy and a time when Dungeons and Dragons was very popular, not unlike Record of Lodoss War or Berserk. That being said, the film doesn’t have anywhere near the meat that its counterparts had.

Aesthetically, the movie falls in line with this. It’s on par with other anime movies and OVAs of the era, nothing amazing, but not terrible either. Character design has that early 90s flair so popular at the time, while the environments look suitably desolate and uninviting. Given that a lot of the show takes place underground, it can be a bit dark and difficult to see what’s going on as a result, which adds a bit of spookiness to things.

Perhaps if the novels or subsequent light novel were readily available in English, this film would be a lot more useful to Westerners. As it stands, The Weathering Continent is something that will likely only appeal to those who happen to be massive fans of the fantasy genre. There are so many other series in similar settings that have more interesting characters and adventures that would be a better fit for most. Clearly, this film was meant to introduce Japanese viewers to The Weathering Continent and hopefully get them buying the books. It’s not a bad marketing tool and it could well help get people interested. The books never came out here, so it’s hard to have that base level of investment watching this and developing the curiosity to explore the world further in print form. Ultimately, the film feels like one of the many that Western distributors threw money at to get onboard the burgeoning anime hype train that was trying to pick up steam in the 1990s. Almost 30 years on, though, it leaves The Weathering Continent as a curious little artifact from a bygone era in anime that only the most devoted fantasy fans are likely to enjoy.

- IroIro
April 1, 2019

Writter by: Kouichi Mashimo
Directed by: Kouichi Mashimo
Studio: A.G. Tatsunoko
Released: 1992
Runtime: 54 Minutes

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Promotional Art

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The whole team exploring ruins

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Tieh in thought

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Bois and Tieh

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The world of The Weathering Continent is an unforgiving place