This week I have another fantasy anime I’m reviewing, specifically a four episode OVA.

Cast & Crew

Hekiru Shiina as Fam
Michiko Meya as Ihrie
Chikao Ohtsuko as Galuff
Hikaru Micharikawa as Rael
Iemasa Kayuma as Narrator/Rugudol
Kouichi as Yamadera as Migel
Kenichi Ogata as Gill
Rica Matsumoto as Rahsya

Written and Directed by Takeshi Mori
Music by Masamichi Amano
Animated by Asia-Do

The Premise

Fam and Ihrie are adventurers, with Fam being a were-squirrel druid, and Ihrie being a former sorceress who was cursed by her master as a child when she trashed his magical laboratory. Specifically, Ihrie was cursed to turn into a mouse any time she casts a spell, leaving her to take up the sword until she can lift the curse.

The two race to find three magical relics before the evil sorcerer Rugudol finds them and uses them to plunge the land into darkness.

High Points

Like Record of Lodoss War before it, this show feels like it’s out of someone’s D&D campaign, but in a fun way, as opposed to the “I’m using D&D tropes to write a really dry fantasy novel” way. Also, the show passes the Bechdel Test, which is nice.

Low Points

One of the things that Slayers, another comedy fantasy anime, does right that this doesn’t do, due to run-time, is shift smoothly from wacky hijinks to serious, life & death business. To be fair, the reason this show grinds its gears when going from the silly stuff to the serious stuff is due to the fact that the show is four episodes long. Two more episodes would probably have given them the time to fix this problem.

Actually, come to think about it, four episodes is just too short for an OVA. If you’re going to make an OVA, go for 6 episodes. If it’s going to be 3-4 episodes long (~90-120 min) then just bite the bullet and make it a theatrical release film.

Scores

Originality: An adaptation of a manga from the Japanese equivalent of “Dragon Magazine” (or White Dwarf for gamers from the UK). 3/6

Animation: The animation is generally really good, with the sole exception being some close-up shots in a dialog scene with two characters talking on horseback. 4/6

Story: 3/6

Emotional Response: The serious bits feel tense, and the humorous bits are funny. However, you can hear the narrative gears grinding as they try to transition between the two. 3/6

Production: Sound Design and score are good, but nothing to write home about. 4/6

Acting: The material here isn’t particularly meaty, but the cast does a good job, particularly Rica Matsumoto. 4/6

Overall: This is an enjoyable short OVA, but I wouldn’t call it a must-buy. I’d recommend streaming the OVA through The Anime Network (if available in your country), or renting it/checking it out from the library first. 4/6

The total score for Ruin Explorers is 25/42.