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Exclusive review: Inu-Yasha:
Rumiko Takahashi's (Ranma 1/2, Maison Ikkoku, Mermaid Tales) new hit TV series in Japan
  Rating: PG-13
  U.S. Distribution Rights: Pioneer Entertainment
  Genres: Fantasy, Comedy

El Hazard: The Magnificent World (OVA)
Alternate Title: Shinpi no Sekai El-Hazard

Description:    Meet Makoto, an ordinary Japanese high school student. Katsuhiko Jinnai, a not-so-ordinary high school student, has somehow gotten it into his head that Makoto is his destined rival, and hatches plot after plot against him. Makoto's never given Jinnai any reason to believe this, but that doesn't stop Jinnai from luring Makoto to school late one night for his own nefarious reasons.

Once at the schoolyard, Makoto is summoned by a mysterious woman who shows him the way to El Hazard, The Magnificent World. Pulled this way and that by the threads of destiny, Makoto and several others venture into this land of fantasy and Demon Gods.

Overall Grade: 87% (B+)

The El Hazard: The Alternative World (TV) Review
The El Hazard: The Magnificent World 2 (OVA) Review
The Wanderers, The (TV) Review

  Reviewer #1: Andrew Kent
  Episodes reviewed: OVA 1-7; subtitled
Grade: 93% (A)
   The first of the various El Hazard series, and in my opinion the best, The Magnificent World is a beautiful fantasy tale. Three students and a teacher from a Japanese high school are transported to a magical world, where they become entangled in a giant war between the human inhabitants of Roshtaria, the insect drones of Bugrom, and the mysterious Shadow People, all of which are struggling to obtain the power of a gigantic Death Star-like device, the Eye of God.

This was one of the first anime that I had ever seen, and I was bowled over by the quality of the animation. Roshtaria is a maze of lush forests, desolate deserts, and Middle Eastern castles, while Bugrom lies somewhere between a haunted house and the industrial styling of Gartlant from Saber Marionette J. Luxurious eye candy, aided by some top-quality character designs and a budget that didn't run out at the end, a problem for many high-quality series.

The characters present a mixed lot. Jinnai is quite possibly my favorite villain; his particular brand of madness (and crazed laughter, oh ho ho!) is worth it all by itself. Also noteworthy is Fujisawa-sensei, outrageous drunk, teacher, and mountain climber. The main character Makoto is fairly bland, although the series has him do a great deal of cross-dressing and we rarely see him in his "comfortable" zone. Nanami is adequate but secondary to the plot, as are many of the secondary characters... though the priestesses get some good differentiation, especially the marriage-obsessed Miz. When Princess Fatora is finally rescued, and you have to listen to her, you'll be yelling, "Lock her back up!", if my experience is any indication.

It's hard to judge the appropriateness of the series for children. There's not too much nudity, outside of the third episode (ah, the obligatory onsen fan service festival!), the language runs fairly clean, and there's next to no blood. On the other hand, there IS the third episode, which is chock full of nudity, and Alillele is a disturbing little walking Lolita complex. The gender bending aspect of the plot isn't extreme, but it's there.

El Hazard is one of the classics. If you like fantasy at all, go out of your way to see it.

  Reviewer #2: Clyde Adams III
  Episodes reviewed: OVA 1-6; Subtitled
Grade: 93% (A)
   El-Hazard is a beautifully executed, high-quality, exhilarating fantasy adventure, highly recommended. The style is strongly influenced by the Arabian Nights. The underlying theme is familiar: a high-school student is thrust into a fantasy world to take a major role in an epic struggle. What makes El-Hazard special, aside from its beautiful art and high production values and its many engaging characters, is the originality and freshness of its story. For example, the cataclysmic struggle for El-Hazard, with Makoto on one side and his enemy Jinnai on another, turns out to have a third side with a decisive impact.

The protagonist, Makoto, and three of his acquaintances are transported to the world of El-Hazard. Each gains a different, special power as a result of the transfer. Makoto's power is subtle, and is not discovered for several episodes, but has a major role at the climax.

In a clever comic coup, the creators use the Prisoner of Zenda plot with a gender twist. When Makoto arrives in El-Hazard, he is seen to resemble a missing princess(!), and is coerced into impersonating her.

  Reviewer #3: Sun Yang
  Episodes reviewed: OVA, dubbed
Grade: 75% (C)
   I personally am not really fond of most of Pioneer LDC publications. El Hazard, being produced and published from Pioneer, is somewhat exceptional from all the rest. Art is close to it of Ah Megami sama! (Oh My Goddess!), especially the color cordination of background art, which is heavy with pastel-tone. The character design is reminecent of OMG as well, but more typical of all the rest Pioneer LDC. The music is alright, for the ones trying to be exotic, mid-eastern style or Arabic, I assume.

Story line is rather simple to follow. It was amusing to see this first episode of El Hazard, even though it was dubbed in English. It was tolerable, although not recommended. Over all, this animation has good qualities of its own... I suggest you watch this, or even add this to your vast anime collection, especially if you like people falling into another dimension to meet their destined lover, (ie. Fushigi Yuugi, aka Mysterious Play, yet another Pioneer LDC publication) then this is one of the anime for you.

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