Exploring Influences: Record of Lodoss War

Continuing the topic of influences, this week we’re looking at Record of Lodoss War.

Unlike the rest of the series we’ve looked at thus far, Record of Lodoss War is an anime series, not a book.

Lodoss War is deliciously cliché, with the headstrong but inexperienced leader of the party, fair-haired and nature-loving elf maiden, grumpy and battle-hardened dwarf… Basically, it’s everything a fantasy series should try to avoid, thrown together and turned into a spectacular story.

It’s also what I consider my first anime. I had seen episodes of things like Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z, but I wasn’t really invested in either series. Lodoss War sparked not only an interest in the story, but in the entire vast world of foreign media. In the years since, I’ve seen many great stories told through animation and other types of foreign film, as well as reading them in books rife with detailed translation notes putting them in a language I can understand.

Though its story elements are simple and the story itself is straightforward, Lodoss War also does an excellent job of illustrating what solid storytelling should contain. It keeps its goals clearly in sight and does not stray. It shows strength and conviction in some characters and weakness in others, all while helping the main group develop their identities. It illustrates love and loss, not just on one side, but both – The growing bond between Lord Ashram and Pirotess is far from a mirror of the relationship between Parn and Deedlit, and the glimpse of what it’s like for the “bad guys” to be people, too, is very refreshing.

That development was the one to make me wonder how much a story could change just by viewing it from the other side. It’s something I still hold to. After all, real villains are not wicked for the sake of being wicked. They do what they do simply because they truly believe that what they’re doing is for the best.

Last week: The Lord of the Rings
Next week: Dragonriders of Pern

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