Review by: Sophie Stevens
Publisher: FUNimation Entertainment
MSRP: DVD: $59.98
Running Time: 625 minutes
Rating: TV PG
Release Date: Available Now
Where’s the Restart button?
Aside from our love for anime and manga, the people in our little office have another major crush and that’s games whether its on a console or on our PC. We love our role-playing games and we’re even more in love with MMORPGs like World of Warcraft as well as the impressive Ragnarok Online that has stole many an hour from our lives. So it came as a pleasant surprise that Ragnarok: The Animation, The Complete Series has found its way on my desk.
Now imagine my heartbreaking when the anime series just isn’t the exciting experience it should have been considering the fact that most of the elements from the game are present and the anime even pokes some good natured fun at some features from the game such as the guides in frilly maid outfits. You’ll even find familiar monsters as well. With all these elements, how did this anime go so wrong?
Well, for one thing, Ragnarok: The Animation doesn’t develop the one-dimensional characters and – besides their motivations – we don’t feel like we really know these characters enough to care about them. We meet a young budding swordsman named Roan and his close friend since childhood and acolyte named Yuna who embark on an adventure together. The pair are the clichéd couple that doesn’t admit to the other they have romantic feeling and so, for the most part, we watch Roan and Yuna awkwardly try to sidestep the fact that they like each another.
During the course of their travels they meet an attractive Mage named Takius who wears a blindfold for training purposes and decides to join the pair after they defeat a clock tower monster as well as a sewer filled with roaches together. In the same sewers they meet a spunky little girl named Maya (and her pet blob named Poi-Poi) whose actually a merchant that travels with them mainly for her own protection. The party grows again when they meet a sexy female archer named Judia and her traveling companion named Iruga who knows both Roan and Yuna.
Oh, and Yuna’s brother who she watched die in the hands of a dark knight is back but he’s no longer the kindhearted young man she remembers. Her brother is joined by an evil warrior named Zealotus who is half human and half monster as the main villains that keep showing up throughout the series. Why has Yuna’s brother turned evil and why does he continues to pursue them? Who is Zealotus and why are there whispers of the Dark Lord’s resurrection? These are questions that pop up often in this anime and are answered in the final five episodes of this 26-episode set.
In the meantime, we follow the band of adventurers as they travel to towns aiding those that need their help such as the time they help a young girl from the Thieves Guild clear an underground city of a curse and in another mission they head into Geffen Tower to clear it from powerful spirits. The band of heroes even makes it to a port town that just so happens to be where Maya is from and then travel into a desert where Takius is tested by her Master’s influence.
As I mentioned earlier, we really don’t get a true feel of what the characters are really like even though we do get a glimpse of their pasts such as how Judia met (and fell in love with) Iruga as well as a look into Maya’s tragic past. We know Roan’s motivation for protecting Yuna so it doesn’t come as a surprise that he leaves the group for a little while to train with a Crusader. Even Yuna takes a break from adventuring to study to being a Priest (which is the world of Midgard’s version of a religious magic-user). We just don’t care when they rejoin the party because their personalities are as wooden as the trees in the Labyrinth Forest.
To top it all off, the animation is generic and the animation is lazy when it comes to the action so we have to sit through the same spells being cast continuously during each fight. With boring battles and uninteresting character development, it becomes hard to want to sit through the whole experience. All isn’t bad, however, because the series does have some interesting moments scattered throughout (like the attack in the city of Comodo) and there are even genuinely comical moments (Iruga and Judia’s cosplay wedding). The final four episodes really pick up with a refreshing change of pace that includes characters hooking up, an evil French kiss and a number of deaths. Why wasn’t the whole series like the last episodes?
In the end, Ragnarok: The Animation fails to be an epic fantasy anime worthy of the game itself. With characters that are lifeless and uninteresting, it’s hard to find a reason to continue watching the 26-episode collection. Sure, there are some fun moments but they’re wasted on a production that is lacking in all the qualities we love about the fantasy genre.
DVD REVIEW BREAKDOWN
A young swordsman and his childhood friend set out on an adventure in a world familiar to fans of the Korean MMORPG of the same name. Along the way they meet other fellow travelers that soon join their party and take part in an adventure that involves a Dark Lord, a crazed teacher of the magical arts and plenty of monsters.
VIDEO QUALITY: C-
The bland-looking characters and lazy fight sequences are just too noticeable to ignore although the backgrounds can be very pretty in certain episodes. Still, the animation could have looked better than what we see here.
AUDIO QUALITY: C+
The English dub voice cast does its best with the poorly scripted dialogue in the earlier episodes but it’s best to watch Ragnarok in its original Japanese. The music isn’t stellar but it does the job right and the opening and closing theme songs are simply Ok.
There are only a small collection of trailers in the fourth disc so don’t expect very much in terms of extras.
The Complete Series of Ragnarok: The Animation is a disappointing fantasy anime that – sadly – is a forgettable experience with very little to offer even the most dedicated Ragnarok Online fans. While it takes time for the story to really take off, it becomes hard to really care about characters that just aren’t interesting. Sorry, Ragnarok fans, but you’re better off skipping this one.