Review

by Allen Divers, Jan 14th 2002

Sorcerer on the Rocks

Vol. 1

Synopsis:
Sorcerer on the Rocks
The Spooner Continent is a place filled with danger. Evil Sorcerers rule the land, terrorizing the populace. Only the Sorcerer Hunters stand in the way, providing a beacon of hope to the downtrodden. This story ain't about them!

Meet Shibas Scotch, a bounty hunter and all around wretch. When he's not bullying his underlings, he's looking out for himself and trying to get rich anyway he can. He takes the jobs that the Sorcerer Hunters don't and charges a pretty penny to get it done. A local Sorcerer calls Shibas in to defeat a monster that is threatening his town. Of course, its one of those towns filled with evil acts and total debauchery so Shibas feels at home. With all good tales, there is more to the story than a simple monster slaying, as Shibas finds himself in a plot that threatens to destroy him!

Review:
Sorcerer on the Rocks is a 2 episode OAV collected on one DVD set in the same world as Bakuretsu Hunters (aka Sorcerer Hunters). It's not necessary to have seen Sorcerer Hunters to follow this short series, but it helps explain some of the background details of the world. The characters involved in Sorcerer on the Rocks are new, having nothing to do with Sorcerer Hunters. Sorcerer on the Rocks is a real mixed bag of good and bad following a pretty standard plotline with no real surprises in its climax and resolution.

Being an OAV series, the animation is more detailed than a standard TV series. Character designs are strong and remain consistent throughout the animation. The transfer to DVD is done well, with a minimal amount of scratches and problems from the original source material. The colors seem a bit drained in places, but seem to be more stylistic rather than problems with the picture.

Audio is a mixed beast with this DVD. The English dub comes across as tinny and distant in sound. The majority of the voices simply don't fit with the setting provided, and the acting leaves a lot to be desired. Voices for Fizz and Kiss seem well suited, with the actress for Fizz doing a good job of bringing out Fizz's personalities. The real disappointment is Shibas. The Japanese actor comes off as smooth with a suggestion of mischievousness playing up how much of a wretch Shibas truly is. The English actor simply comes off as bratty. One major problem is the fact that for some reason, the dub scriptwriter decided that he didn't like major moments of silence. There is a lot of exposition that occurs that simply does not exist in the Japanese script. The actual dub of the dialogue stays rather true to the subtitled script changing mostly for timing reasons.

Extras are pretty much non-existent on this release. There is a “game” on the menu system where the viewer can hunt for the beast. It's simply a set of menus that the viewer goes through with their remote until they find the right order to get to the end. It's an interesting idea, but doesn't really add anything to the value of the DVD. The language selection menu is nice, giving 3 easy choices for language selection: English, English with song subtitles and Japanese with English subtitles. Everything is clearly marked, so no worries about what mode is selected.

The overall plot is a twist on the standard hero tale. Instead of the main protagonist being an upstanding heroic figure, it turns out he's pretty much a rotten individual. He's not out to be the hero for glory or to help others; he's strictly out to get more money and to protect his property (amongst which he groups Fizz, Kiss and Genmi). The motives for the rest of the characters are a bit unclear. Fizz is apparently with Shibas to redeem his soul and make him a better person. It really doesn't fit well because its quite obvious he isn't willing to change. The fact that she travels with him seems more like a plot device to try and create a certain amount of drama and a lot of comical situations. The major problem with this being a 2 episode OAV is of course a lot of the character background and setup is compressed allowing the show to move directly into the action. A longer OAV series could have gone a long way to explain why these characters are together and just where they are going.

The story itself is pretty self-contained, so there shouldn't be any worries over cliffhanger endings. Most of the action that takes place seems to be centered on humiliating Fizz, the only good soul of the bunch. It's almost as the creators decided that they really don't like nice people and wanted to create this to punish them. The villain in this series exists strictly to make Fizz realize that being owned by Shibas isn't such a bad thing after all. No real threat seems to exist to the characters because of the foreshadowed power of Shibas. The ending is no surprise and is really rather anti-climatic.

Sorcerer on the Rocks really feels like someone wanted an excuse to humiliate the hero stereotype. All the characters are one-dimensional with no real depth to them. Any potential for good character development is shot due to the shortness of this series. Given more episodes, the characters and plot have the potential to really entertain, but with only two episodes, the viewer really doesn't feel drawn into this world.

Grade:
Production Info:
Overall (dub) : C
Overall (sub) : B
Animation : B
Art : B
Music : B

+ A quick romp through the world of the Sorcerer Hunters
No time for character development

Director:Kazuhiro Ozawa
Script:Hiroyuki Kawasaki
Storyboard:Kazuhiro Ozawa
Music:Nobuo Ito
Original Manga:
Satoru Akahori
Miku Yuki
Character Design:Hisashi Abe
Art Director:Yasutada Kato
Animation Director:Hisashi Abe
Sound Director:Jun Watanabe
Director of Photography:Toshiaki Yamaguchi
Executive producer:
Yuichi Sato
Takashi Yamabe
Producer:
Hirohito Kobayashi
Ryosuke Komaki
Hirotomi Yamaguchi

Full encyclopedia details about
Sorcerer on the Rocks (OAV)

Release information about
Sorcerer on the Rocks (DVD)

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