Let’s talk about Dragon Quest. For a time, this was the big series of JRPGs competing with Final Fantasy in North America and Japan. It was also possible to get it in Europe, although we had to settle for the North American version since we didn’t have an official release until Dragon Quest VIII and the DS remakes. Try being the five year old whose trying to play the original game in a language you don’t know a word of. It is actually possible to beat through trial and error but you won’t know what the plot is in the slightest. Naturally, a franchise that competed with Final Fantasy in Japan got several anime and manga adaptations including today’s film, Dragon Quest Retsuden: Roto no Monshou. The work for this was handled by Enix, Pony Canyon, Shochiku film and Nippon animation. Let’s delve into the movie and see just where they went with it.
The story takes place between Dragon Quest III and the original. We open with a young boy named Arus being trained in swordplay by his… mother… sister… guardian… teacher? It never really says who she is to him. There’s a problem with his training, however. He seems unwilling or unable to use the sword as she’s trying to teach him or the magic that his elderly mentor is trying to teach him. To make things worse for this kid, the other children think he’s a coward. This leads to a competition between him and another boy named Kira to go into a potentially dangerous situation.
Honestly, the story is not bad but it’s not good either. The main plot is a pretty cliché coming of age story. Just in a fantasy setting, which has been done plenty of times. There’s nothing specifically wrong with it but it does nothing new. As a result, it’s pretty predictable.
The characters in this are kind of bland. We’ve got the hesitant hero. The abrasive guy who isn’t really a bad person but comes across as kind of a jerk. The older mentor figure and so on. The film never bothers to establish anything about them aside from their archetypal traits. Although, to be fair, the film is less than an hour long and Arus’s story arc isn’t badly handled. Even though he never really develops beyond the trope.
The art in this isn’t very good. To a degree, it’s understandable since this is a film from ’96 and they didn’t exactly have access to all of the animation technology we do today. However, it isn’t even good by the standards of the day. When you compare it to The Slayers, Gundam Wing or Sailor Moon, all of which started earlier but had installments airing at roughly the same time,the art and animation just look lazy. Almost as though they weren’t trying.
The vocal cast in this is decent. Everyone does competently, although no one gives their best performance. This is a film with Hiramatsu Akiko, Shiozawa Kaneto and Han Keiko, just to name a few. They all do fine, but they don’t really have much emotional range to work with so their performances, though competent, are a bit underwhelming. The music is genuinely good. Beinghandled by Wada Kaoru, who also did the music for 3×3 Eyes, and Arai Akino.
Most of the characters in this are little kids. So, no ho-yay.
There’s not much to say about this one. We have a standard plot with standard characters and standard acting. The movie isn’t bad, but it’s nothing special or good either. If you don’t mind the cliches and you’re a huge Dragon Quest fan you might want to consider it. Otherwise, you’ll probably just find it dull. My final rating is going to be a 5/10, and I am a fan of the franchise with the 5th game being my favourite. Tomorrow, a different kind of film. In the name of the moon.