In the quest for the Ultimate Power, an amusing group of adventurers come together to deal with it.
What They Say:
Ancient curses, enchanted artifacts and plain old fashioned dungeon diving: that’s what Fam and Ihrie do for a living – whenever these lovely young ladies can get someone to pay them for it, that is. As two highly trained magic users with slightly faulty spelling abilities (Fam can’t do anything destructive and Ihrie keeps turning into a mouse), they’re off on a quest for the “Ultimate Power.” All they have to do is find three artifacts: the Proof Of Royalty, the Sword of Sargus and the Mirror of Truth. So how hard can it be?
Unfortunately, Sorceress Rasha and her muscle-headed partner Migel are on the same quest, as are the mysterious Prince Lyle, the anything for a buck merchant Galuff with his dog Gil, and the sinister magician Rugudurol! And to make this epic odyssey even more odd and complex, it’s not really clear as to exactly which ones are the bad guys!
Contains OVA episodes 1-4.
The audio presentation for this series brings us the original Japanese language track in stereo as well as the English stereo mix, both of which are encoded at 224kbps. This is a bit of a downgrade overall as the previous release way back in 2004 had an English 5.1 mix as well. The show in its stereo form is certainly good though as it works the soundstage well with a good mix of action and dialogue that has a full feeling to it that just has a certain warmth to it. There’s a bit of a basic feel to it at times but it works well with the material at hand and overall it’s easy to enjoy and comes across cleanly and clearly as there are no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.
Originally released to video in Japan back in 1995, it first made its US DVD release in the summer of 2000. Back then, it was one of the early ADV releases on DVD, a title that was one that tried a couple of tricks which at the time caused widespread problems on a number of players. Using alternate angles for the opening and closing sequences, the technology both in authoring and in the players at that time wasn’t quite solidified enough that it worked across the board, certainly not the way it works these days. That release either stuttered out on a lot of people or just broke up into massive amounts of macroblocking. This release works off of the 2004 remastered edition though which avoids that problem. With some good remastered materials and even a decade of experience since that release, this release is a much cleaner looking transfer than the previous release. The only really noticeable problem is that the cross coloration issue is still present and was very lightly visible. There’s a few moments of it throughout the show in very small areas that don’t distract, leaving only the eyecatches at times to really stand out badly. Even the minor amount of line noise comes across well here. There’s a natural look to things here with its colors, the mild grain and the appeal of the traditional animation.
Using the same artwork as the previous releases, we get a good looking cover that provides for some great looking character artwork and a different sense of color and layout than we usually get these days. The artwork for it looks good though with a shot of the leads in their bright solid colors in the foreground while the darker colors and evil looking villain make their presence visible behind them. I liked the cover the first couple of times around and still do now. The back cover provides a few character shots along the bottom and a decent sized premise of the series along the other side while the discs extras are in the middle. The discs technical and production information is all easily found and the technical grid is a definite improvement over the old way of doing things. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The only extra that the original release in 2000 had was an image gallery and that’s not present here. What is carried over from the 2004 release is the clean opening and ending sequence as well as a commentary track by a couple of the English voice actors. Since the lead character voice actors were at the time no longer around or no longer in the area, the commentary track shifts to the secondary characters with Brett Weaver and Kelly Manison talking about a show they dubbed over a decade ago. While their memories are a touch hazy, they do have some amusing anecdotes about the production from them and some of the changes since then.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Ruin Explorers is the kind of show that for me has a certain level of nostalgia. Not back to my early days in anime, but to the heydays of anime DVD releases were companies were experimenting with the format, trying to get certain tricks to work and to give fans more of what they wanted for their preferred language. Those early releases had problems and I’ll admit that as much as I liked Ruin Explorers, I was more excited when I saw it again in the 2004 Essential Anime line since it was less about the technical problems and more about enjoying the show again, which is something I did a good bit of back when I had the old VHS releases.
During my pre-teen years and early teen years I read a lot of fantasy novels and played an ungodly amount of hours of Dungeons & Dragon’s and a wide variety of fantasy role playing games. Suffice to say that after awhile, I finally burned out on the whole fantasy oriented style. The whole genre in my mind was really lacking in anything new and innovative and instead clung to time honored traditions.
As such, I’ve had mixed reactions to fantasy anime shows. Some have been very well done and have had me very interested in them while others tended to follow the standard formula. For the most part, Ruin Explorers follows the standard formula. The four episodes, which contain the entire series, is well done with what looks to be a slightly above budget animation. The characters, though most are without any real depth or detail, are well done and you know easily what kind of person that they are. The villain is sufficiently evil looking and has a dark purpose, though there is a bit of a twist with that as well.
Fam and Ihrie are a couple of ruin explorers who are searching for the Ultimate Power, a device that will grant the person anything they wish. Ihrie, who may have been a bit of a punk magician in her youth, had a curse placed on her and has been searching for this so she can rid herself of it. Fam, her partner and obligatory catgirl, is along for the ride… and food. Along the way they also meet up with a merchant and two other ruin explorers and another mysterious man. They eventually take on a quest that involves finding the Ultimate Power that ties around stopping the villain with the dark purpose.
There are a lot of amusing moments along the way, as this is a light hearted fantasy romp with only a few truly dark moments. There are a few brief moments of nudity, but no real foul language. There are however two really above average things that need to be mentioned about this show. The first is that the music is above average. Instead of the typical synthesizer music with the same repeated sections, they went a bit further and got the Versailles Chamber Orchestra to perform the music duties, and it sounds good. There’s a lot of ambient music throughout that helps set the various moods well. While orchestra’s performing music for anime isn’t as rare as it once was, it’s still pretty uncommon, but it paid off in this effort.
The other is one of the characters in particular. The merchant has a dog. Not just any dog though. This is probably the one character who line for line gets the best lines. Basically picture him as an anime version of Mutley from those old Hanna-Barbera cartoons and you’ll have it dead on. He even has the same kind of evil hee hee laugh of Mutley.
With it being nearly a decade since I last saw the show, I was really excited to revisit the show again since it has such a solid blend of comedy, action and general character material in a fantasy setting. Every time I hit releases like this from this time frame, I keep finding myself more and more wistful for the time period in terms of how the animation looks. While a lot of today’s shows look amazing and are lavishly detailed and painted, there’s just something to the traditional method of anime that still sings strongly to me. There’s a certain life and movement to it that’s just not quite there in a lot of shows these days. Ruin Explorers presents another trip to the past and is a show that a lot of fantasy enthusiasts will enjoy as well as those who like the buddy-buddy female teams. Definitely an easily recommended pickup for new and old fans alike.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Commentary, Clean Opening, Clean Closing
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Maiden Japan
Release Date: July 2nd, 2013
Running Time: 100 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony 70” KLD70550R 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.