El-Hazard: The Alternative World
Despite having watched such an abundance of anime, I don't really consider myself a "fan" of too many series. El-Hazard, though, is one of the few series I can really get into and enjoy pretty much regardless of any shortcomings it may or may not have. Unfortunately, the latest offering in the El-Hazard universe had me rather torn when it came to reviewing it.
Even though this is the second season of the El-Hazard television series, the story line is actually a continuation of the second El-Hazard OAV series, and not the first TV season. Miz Mishtal and Mr. Fujisawa have finally gotten married, and Miz has retired as the priestess of water. Her replacement, Qawoor Towles, is due to undergo an inauguration ceremony as she takes over the role as water priestess. It is during the ceremony, however, that something goes horribly wrong transporting all of the main characters to the strange world of Creteria. Separated and confused, everyone attempts to come to grips with what has happened, why they were sent to Creteria, and most importantly, who sent them.
Several new characters are introduced to the El-Hazard universe. The first is obviously Qawoor, the new water priestess, and a rather quiet and demure one at that (quite a contrast from Miz if you ask me). Alliele's brother, Parnas, shows up too, and proves to have a similar affixation for females as Alliele. After the main characters undergo their unexpected journey to the kingdom of Creteria, another few characters are introduced in the mix, including Emperor Dall and military commander Gilda, and a handsome farmer with whom Rune Venus becomes attached to.
The problem with this series stems from the fact that there are far too many characters. Attempts are made to focus on individual groups of characters as they have a handful of adventures in the world of Creteria. It takes until the end of the tenth episode before anything really starts happening. During all the episodes in the middle of the series, the characters just meander around without that much advancement to the plot. Not to mention a lot of it is pretty pointless. For example, an entire episode is devoted to Rune Venus as she falls in love with this handsome farmer. Unfortunately, that plot point is all but forgotten at the end. Another story sequence is devoted to Jinnai, Shayla-Shayla and some bizarre bugrom-type creatures with glowing red eyes. In truth, it contributes nothing to the overall plot and acts mainly as story filler to involve Jinnai and Shayla-Shayla in some way. The only real significant parts of the series revolve around Makoto, Qawoor, Gilda and Emperor Dall which, fortunately, makes up a bulk of the series. All the extra bits and pieces of various story lines, however, gives El-Hazard: The Alternative World a somewhat disjointed feeling.
And then there's the thirteenth episode, which has nothing at all to do with the main plot. The series really ends in the twelfth episode and the thirteenth is a kind of "bonus" episode, if you will. It involves the main characters all traipsing off to the hot springs for a "purification ceremony". In other words, they get naked and go for a swim. However, Fatora and Alliele accompany everyone on this trip and you can only imagine what they end up trying to do with lots of naked priestesses around. The word "icky" springs to mind.
Another thing that irks me about this series is Ifurita, or rather the lack of Ifurita. Despite being in the opening credit sequence and featured prominently on the first volume box cover, she doesn't even show up in the series. What a disappointment.
Even though El-Hazard: The Alternative World is a TV series, production values are more on par with the OAVs. The character art is slightly more stylized than previous versions of El-Hazard, with many of the characters sporting rather rounded noses. Fans of the English dub (like myself) will be glad to know that all the same voice actors replenish their familiar roles. Once again, the English dubbing is top notch.
Fans of the El-Hazard universe will probably want to see this series despite being weak in the plot department. While I enjoyed some of it, I ended up feeling cheated by the unfulfilling story line and use of far too many characters. While it certainly isn't the bottom of the barrel when it comes to anime, compared to previous El-Hazard series, El-Hazard: The Alternative World is decidedly average.
The Verdict: * * * (average)
|last modified: 05-26-03||The Anime Critic and associated content © 1999-2003 Pete Harcoff. All rights reserved.|