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Xanadu Dragonslayer Densetsu

Nihon Falcom’s RPGs have always had a dedicated following in the West, but they’ve been decidedly more niche than the likes of Squaresoft and Enix. In Japan, though, the company quickly became very popular in the 1980s for their series of Xanadu RPGs on the various personal computer platforms of that region. The series did so well that it eventually received an anime OVA based on it. However, instead of being a very serious story, it focused a lot more on gags, gore, and basically all of the things that made OVAs targeting a slightly older audience popular.

The story has a bit of an isekai thing going on as it starts on Earth in the year 2030 where a war is raging in Eastern Europe. One mecha tank contraption in particular is suddenly hit by a flash of light and the crew then finds themselves in a fantasy world. As they wander around trying to figure out where they are, the crew is attacked by a bunch of giant insects and a sword wielding lizardman. Two of the three crew members quickly meet a gory end and the last survivor panics, piloting the tank to run away as fast as possible. Eventually, the tank mech falls off a cliff and the pilot dies. However, a magic user comes upon the wreck, pulls the pilot out, and casts a spell to resurrect him.

This is where viewers are introduced to Fiigu, then main character of the show. He’s the survivor from the mech, but has no memory of his time on Earth. Since being saved, he’s been doing adventurer-type things around the town he’s been living in. Quickly, things take a turn for the worse in the kingdom, though, when a powerful, evil wizard raises an army of monsters, kills the king, and is on the hunt for three legendary items that will secure his power forever. From here, Fiigu sets out on a very RPG-like quest with the local princess to stop this wizard. The adventure itself is really quite predictable. Nothing is done to introduce viewers to Xanadu’s game world, with the show seeming to assume people watching it would at least be familiar with it (entirely possible given how popular the games were at the time). Instead, the OVA is laced with quite a few gags, often at the expense of pervy characters’ shenanigans, while being mixed in with some extremely violent deaths, some nudity, and a side order of tentacles. If anything, the Xanadu anime functions more as 50 minutes of spectacle rather than being an advertisement for the video games.

Visually, there isn’t anything too terribly special to behold in Xanadu. Most of what’s there is typical 1980s broadcast television levels of art design and detail. Characters and monsters look like illustrations from an RPG instruction manual brought to life (back in the 80s and 90s it was common for game manuals to have quite a bit of art in them). About the only thing that really stands out is when the evil wizard tries to resurrect an ancient dragon and winds up with a giant flying sea urchin instead. It was a bit weird as a vehicle for taking over the world, but the thing shot lightning and could blow up armies, so it was at least useful.

For being a quick OVA one-off of a popular RPG series, the show managed to rope in quite a few big name voice actors. Fiigu was voiced by Ryo Horikawa who was most famous for his role as Vegeta in Dragonball Z at the time. Meanwhile, there were also appearances by Akira Kamiya (City Hunter, Fist of the North Star), Naoko Watanabe (Dragonball, Gall Force), and Maria Kawamura (Slayers, Mobile Suit Gundam Z). By the looks of things, Toei wanted to splash a fair bit of cash on voice acting for this OVA.

Xanadu Dragonslayer Densetsu feels quite different to a lot of other anime based on video games. Usually these things would act as vehicles to introduce people to the games and hopefully increase sales for those series. Here, it’s as if the writers and producers went under the assumption that people watching this show would already know what it is, so why not just have some fun instead. As such, the best way to go into this is to expect gags, gore, and nudity, and forget about any sort of grand high fantasy adventure. Do that and Xanadu will be an enjoyable way to pass an hour.

- IroIro
August 11, 2019
Studio: Toei Animation
Released: 1988
Episodes: 1

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