Another title I was able to see via the generosity of Arsen Azizyan, Domo Arrigatou. And, if this title isn't based on a console RPG then I would really think that one should be made to go with it.
Begin cheesy RPG backstory component. In a parallel world all is rustic and medieval styled bliss in the land of Villgust. However the stirrings of a dark and evil god brings monstrous beings into existence who begin to terrorize the land. Should he fully awaken this monstrous horde will be even more fearsome than they are now, surely causing the world to descend into endless darkness.
The goddess Windina watches with concern, and chooses to respond by selecting 8 heros of the land. Blessing them, and watching over them, she believes that they will be a powerful force and provide leadership against this encroaching evil. Although, when you look at the rather exotic bunch she picked, you've also got to figure that Windina has a rather active sense of humor. There's no doubt they're powerful, but boy are they weird.
Oh yeah, it's all so familiar. The world design, the backstory and all the convenient plot elements simply scream out `console RPG' to me. And the semi-SD look of the character designs, as well as their extremely archetypal powers and appearances, virtually confirm it. You can look at each and almost imagine reading the simple statistics that each `hero' would have.
Which is why it came as somewhat of a surprise that it's really fun. To begin with, while the characters are familiar, it does mean they have strong personalities to set them apart. Rather than seeing another revision of a familiar type its more like meeting old friends again. And the characters are rather cool.
There's one `true' warrior who's the noble sort with sword and armor. He's matched with a female warrior, and ex-princess, who is part companion and part aggressive partner. There's a huge beastman warrior, with heavy armor, shield and polearm who's full of warrior pride and power. He's matched with a physically weak, but magically strong, priestess of windina. There's two `thief/skirmisher' types, in light armor, one with a sword and one with a boomerang. Finally, and most amusingly, there's a completely over-the-top cat-girl who immediately latches onto a female archer type and starts to drag her round the countryside and through the plot.
While the powers, appearance and personality are very carefully designed to make a `balanced' party, even to having an equal distribution of the sexes, they have more personality than you might suspect. There's lots of really good character interaction and comedy, generally not too subtle but surprisingly enjoyable. And each character does generate a lot of identity even in the very short time available. There's a couple of scenes that are simply magical, especially since they are initially split into two groups and tricked into fighting each other.
And the tone is surprisingly light, fast and enjoyable. Sure, there are some moments where the monsters are evil, powerful and nasty. But there's almost as many comedy moments, such as the evil `skeleton' force showing how not to set up traps. It's fast moving and well balanced. Not so intent on being original but really enjoying what it's doing. Which makes it a shame that there's only two episodes. It's obviously designed to be the foundation for more, although the story arc contained in these episodes does complete. Then again I'm not sure if the balance and energy really could have been maintained over a longer run.
The animation is rather nice too. In look, design and even color it really does seem to draw from console games. The characters look a touch SD but are really rather cute and express themselves cleanly and well. The action is really rather good, smooth, imaginative and amusing. There's also some surprisingly nice scenic and effects shots spread throughout. Clearly there was a decent amount of money available to make the OAVs. The voices are good and the dialog and interaction is a major reason for the success of this anime. The music isn't bad either, but nothing particularly spectacular.
None of my regular sources seem to have a review for this title.