Feb 8, 2013

Inspirations: Dragon Warrior

I woke up early this morning wanting to watch something fun and inspirational while I worked on pages for Goblyn. The second I sat down I instantly started hearing the theme song to Dragon Warrior, the English translated version of the Japanese anime Dragon Quest: Legend of The Hero Abel. You see, while many people in the US site the Dragon Ball series as their introduction to Akira Toriyama’s work, mine was through his work on the original Dragon Quest animated show.

It has its moments of utter goofiness, and even terrible localization as a lot of anime was done in the early days of it being brought over to America. (i'm looking at you Saban entertainment) But it has more awesome moments then bad and that’s why it holds a special place in my heat. It was the first time I was exposed to Akira Toriyama’s style of art, and I was instantly drawn to it.

I was also drawn to the story structure, which was just like a video game (including calling each episode a level). They maintained a lot of the games concepts and mythos, no matter how weird they were impossibly absurd quests, jewel monsters, magical transporting fairy wings, over the top villains of pure evil, & man eating treasure chests just to name a few… it was all there and all amazing fun for me.

This series shaped the way I thought about characters out in the big world on a quest. I admired and was fascinated by how they would eat, sleep, explore the world and not just travel from village to town and fight monsters, but get into normal everyday situations as well as the extraordinary.

Having been so young this was literally at the time my lord of the rings. I’ll be honest, the series has a slow start in which you are clobbered over the head by an series of info dumps for the sake of understanding the plot right away (which is typically Japanese), but it really picks up  after a few episodes and all the main protagonists have gathered together, and is running on all fours by episode 9 and 10.

My most vivid memories are of episodes 11 through 13, which were the first eps I ever saw of the show, but they were strong enough in content to get me hooked on the show, the game and Toriyama’s art style. If you can find it, I encourage you to watch the series even though it was not run to completion in the states (we only got 13 of the total 43 episodes). 

For some odd reason it has never come out on dvd in the US despite having come out in 100% completion in japan. No one in the bazillion fansub communities seems to care enough about the series, to create an English subbed version of it in totality, but maybe one day. Heck, if I was any good at Japanese I would make the sub. I can only hope to one day see the series in its entirety. what a dream come true that would be. For now what few blurry VHS to digital copies exist, are all I have to enjoy.

Ultimately though if you enjoy Akira Toriyama’s work, his story telling, his art style, his monster and character designs, and you like RPGs this is a really good show to see if only once. and it's true to its core material.