Type: TV (26 episodes)
El Hazard: Wanderers
Mokoto's science experiments finally catch up with him when he and a few others from school are transported into an alternate dimension. El Hazard is an exotic land of fantasy, and for the time being it looks like they're stranded. Mokoto's rival Jinai becomes commander of the insect Bugrum Empire, causing never ending mischief. Mokoto himself becomes involved with the princess of the kingdom. Their love may be the key to unlocking mysteries of El Hazard, and may save it as well.
The franchise launched with the The Magnificent World OVA. Similar to the fate of Tenchi Muyo, El Hazard starts from scratch for TV (Wanderers). Franchise decline was quick in this case, and by this incarnation they'd already messed everything up.
El Hazard is yet another anime featuring a guy (group actually) transported into a strange fantasy world - the kind of stuff 1990s anime was saturated with. The El Hazard OVA overflowed with imagination, with an exotic environment making the world feel vibrant and new. The prophetic opening kept the viewer hooked wondering how parts connect. It was a fun adventure from start to finish, with great characters. I didn't realize how special the OVA was, until watching the TV series and seeing how it could have gone.
Characters are reworked, except Wanderers improves nothing and severely screws most of them up. Mokoto continues as a blank slate, however the princess is replaced with a generic... princess, with virtually no personality. A major point of this anime is the ham fisted dull romance between the two, with a minimum of five minutes per episode dedicated to them mooning over each other. Other characters are mostly the same but "toned down"; very disappointing in the case of boozer teacher Fujiwara.
Changes to Ifurita are a betrayal to the franchise. In the OVA she was an odd contrast between a (demon) woman yearning to meet her love she'd not seen in 10,000 years, while also cold aloof and one of the biggest bad asses ever witnessed in anime. The TV series makes the mind boggling choice of turning her into a dopey comedy gimmick, even changing her iconic hair color.
Even with the character situation, things could be salvaged, if it weren't for the way the story stumbles through everything. With 25 episodes they'd obviously have to fill it with something. I hesitate to use the term "filler" because I often enjoy off the wall episodes, however in Wanders it is so BORING. Episode plots seem as if written by a first grader, rarely make sense, and accomplish almost nothing (not to mention the absence of a bigger plot). Much of this anime just left me shaking my head. The princess gets kidnapped later on, so Mokoto chaises after her. Uh, shouldn't the entire KINGDOM rally to take her back? Nope, just him. Then again she's such dead weight to the show, I can't imagine her subjects are eager for her return either. There's so much stuff like that, don't get me started.
Some parts are semi-amusing. The Bugrum empire remains unique comedy relief villains that are somewhat fun. The end plot (which takes over 20 episodes to even start) is dumbed down and almost feels forced. And drags on sooo long.
As a Pioneer release, it features some of the best dubbing of the day. Some liberties were taken with the script which often works but sometimes doesn't. The animation and design is inconsistent. It's usually good, but sometimes plagued by large drops in quality (mostly ignorable).
Even if you took out the 20+ episodes of filler, this anime wouldn't even be half as good as the OVA. After episode 5 I already wanted it to be over. Even the "climax" is drags so long it becomes a chore to watch. Taken on it's own merits it offers very little. So many episodes are dumb and go nowhere, while not particularly amusing either. It's a weak show all around, and better to skip.
Ifurita: My name is Ifruita, and I've come to kick your ass.
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