Anime Programming in the US
Making a Living in Manga in Japan with Felipe Smith
Lost in Translation
It's the end of the road for Orphen, Cleao, Magik, and their ever-complaining companions Volcan and Dortin. Volcan and Dortin are tasked with finding healing herbs for the sick dragon, while Orphen and his gang enter the Room of Knowledge, so they can translate the sacred runes and find the final talisman to rescue the dragon from an untimely death. Naturally, there are plenty of people willing to get in the way.
ADV's much-maligned release of Sorcerous Stabber Orphen concludes with this release. It's five episodes of completely nonsensical mumbo-jumbo if you haven't been watching the series up to this point. This series has a seemingly endless cast, and they all stand around and talk about “talisman this” and “scared rune that” and “Tower of Fangs” and so forth. The dialogue seems as though it were lifted from an RPG video game. Basically, if you haven't been watching Orphen, don't get this disc.
If you have been watching Orphen, well, this is it for now. ADV will be releasing Sorcerous Stabber Orphen II (Titled “Orphen Revenge” in Japan), but this series closes off pretty well. There's a sense of closure at the end, which is pretty rare for most anime series these days. Things get decidedly melodramatic towards the end, with people shouting their lines at one another across zooming planes of magic energy. People make sacrifices, characters have to decide their ultimate fate, etcetera and so on. Basically, it's probably exactly what you were expecting. Orphen has never been considered a groundbreaking series, and after watching this melodramatic ridiculousness, it's pretty easy to see why. Orphen starts out as a promising fantasy-action-comedy and winds up being more like bad role-playing in an AOL chat room. Glowing magic swords and naked girls who turn in to dragons aside, the dialogue and plotting just aren't very good. It's all a little too complicated.
The production values for this series certainly aren't bad--for the most part. The animation is very well done, and the character designs are pretty unique. They're almost never off-model and the frame rate maintains a high count. There's a few very stylish scenes; although it's tough to judge the cinematography of something that's animated, Orphen is very cinematic towards the end. Unfortunately, the same can't be said for the music. The music in this show is uniformly terrible. It all sounds like it's being pumped out of a Sound Blaster 16 MIDI keyboard. I don't know what they were thinking with some of this music; start with classical guitar and then enter a MIDI flute playing long tones? Why? The closing theme is the lone exception, being a breezy, downbeat sort of tune that will stay in your head.
The dub for this series is notorious for being poorly scripted and suffering from bad casting. Cleao sounds fine, if a bit too old for her character, and Orphen is appropriately generic, but Magik, Orphen's sidekick, sounds like he's in his 40s. The two troll characters are played very poorly. To top it off, since this was one of ADV's first properties to be considered for television, the dub scriptwriter hacked the plotline to bits. The dub doesn't even resemble the sub in many places, with completely different verbage being used. In some cases, the dub is more confusing than the sub. Bottom line: do not watch the dub of this series.
Basically, if you've been watching Orphen, you don't need to be told to buy this disc. If you haven't started on the series yet, keep in mind that it turns in to a slightly confusing melodramatic train wreck near the end but does have some sense of closure. If you're a big Dungeons & Dragons player or like online role-playing, this sort of rare item name-dropping and ridiculous, unfounded relationship drama might be your cup of tea, so give it a shot. Everyone else should probably just watch Slayers.
Overall (dub) : C-
Overall (sub) : B-
Story : B-
Animation : A-
Art : A
Music : F
+ Decent animation, should please fans of the show.
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