Anime Meta-Review


Ruin Explorers


By Date




Title Info

  • seen: 1-4 of 4
  • type: OAV
  • grade: watchable
  • made: 1995
  • Review created: Sun Jan 14 11:47:23 EST 2001
  • mod: Fri Jan 19 11:47:19 EST 2001

It's pretty obvious that when roleplaying games hit Japan a `certain' percentage of the population was quite taken with them. And this population almost certainly had a sizable cross-over with the anime market. Leading to anime such as this, redolent with roleplaying standards, a rich fantasy world and a bunch of novel and fun characters to have adventures in it.

The anime starts off with a bit of back-story to the world. It seems that at one time the world was dominated by powerful magic and kingdoms built on its power. However, in a very believable fashion, it seems that eventually the conflict over this power grew to such an extent that war, and potent magics, swept most of these kingdoms into ruin. Mankind is rebuilding, but the ruins of ancient places of power, still holding dark and mysterious artifacts and legends, has an immense attractive power to those not averse to the risks they contain.

In other words it's a pretty familiar fantasy world with a neat excuse as to why there's dungeons full of monsters and treasure. Still, the focus is the characters and their interaction, so lets meet the cast. We begin with two attractive young girls. One's a tough, relatively sensible, ex-mage. The other is often labelled as being an elf, although cat-girl is closer to the mark, and she's fun, flighty and learning magic from the other. They're seeking the `ultimate power' for their own reasons. The first wanting help with the curse that keeps her an ex-mage, while the other wants to be even better friends with the spirits.

Along the way they meet some other characters, although some of these spend as much time being enemies as allies. There's a pure-hearted prince of a destroyed kingdom seeking revenge. There's two other adventurers, a slightly air headed female mage and a self proclaimed greatest swordsman. There's also a `honest' merchant, and his dog, with a penchant for selling totally trustworthy (cough) treasure maps. They're good fun, and there's some quite nice interaction, both verbal and physical, between them. After all given that traps (perhaps the main opponents for much of the anime) are static it's the opposition and competition that is responsible for much of the action.

At the start it's an awful lot of fun. The characters bounce off one another in a delightful fashion. The worlds a bit `stock', but it's not a major problem. And while the character types are familiar there's enough twists and quirks there to keep it fresh and exciting. The fact that a lot of the cast are rather cute, in a somewhat cartoony way, certainly not hurting either. The main complaint would probably be that it's a bit light, too playful to be taken seriously. And the scale of the events and the story is very small and local. That's fine, these RPG inspired anime tend to take a while to build up steam and character.

And then, all of a sudden, we're into the two episode end-game. This changes both the character dramatics and the tone of the anime in a fairly wrenching way. Suddenly there's an awesomely powerful, totally psychotic, nemesis figure itching for a show-down with the team. And they've signed up for the prince's revenge trip which involves giving him that fight. While the story tries to keep the character interaction going the fact that they're on the same side, the somber atmosphere (the guy has killed thousands) and the very focused story detracts from these efforts. Likewise the `kill the badguy' plot is rather familiar. All that said, it's still some interesting fantasy with some nice action and some decent character moments. But it does give the show a `dual' nature, with neither of the sections really being long enough to draw us fully into the quest.

Fortunately the animation itself is pretty good. The backgrounds are often fairly somber and dark, given that they spend a lot of time in caves, but the characters look good. There's a strong sense of personality about their design. It also looks good, albeit perhaps a bit quick, when they move. There's some nice moves, and magical effects, to be seen. Although those hoping for non-stop action might find it a bit `talky' for their liking (of course this is what makes the characters good). Attractive, expressive and the two mains are sufficiently's aged very well. The voices are great, very fitting and expressive. The opening music is nice light vocal stuff, and the in show music is fine. I also got a chance to listen to the dub for the second tape and it's definitely worth avoiding. It's average at best, but the female `bickering' and `cute' that is a large part of the interaction generally doesn't work with english voice actors. It definitely doesn't work here, leading to some really painful moments.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:24 WST 2009