For the next several weeks, I'm binging the Dragon Quest anime series with a group of friends online. It's been a ton of fun, and I just wanted to recap some of the interesting things I've found in the anime so far. Don't worry, I'm trying to avoid as many story spoilers as possible. So consider this a 90% spoiler-free post.
For the first week, we watched episodes 1-12 of Legend of the Hero Abel. By the way, it's not too late to join us. You can click on the link here and DM the @DragonQuestFM Twitter page for an invite, or talk about it with us on the Geek to Geek Discord server for Dragon Quest.
What's It About?
The anime series follows Abel, a typical Toriyama-style hero with spiky black hair and muscles. After an encounter with Baramos, Abel must work together with a growing roster of quirky companions to rescue his friend Tiara from Baramos's evil clutches. Oh, and there's a dragon that may or may not be resurrected.
It's an interesting premise, and the early episodes have a lot to do with Dragon Quest III, which had come out in Japan a few months before. Still, I wouldn't necessarily take the stuff in the anime as canon. Instead, I'd think of it as an alternate universe from the Erdrick Trilogy.
Themes and Other Tidbits
The cultural themes in the anime (at least in the beginning) seem more influenced by Native American cultures than the Medieval English world of the first few games. There's also plenty of trademark DQ humor and lots of recognizable monsters to appeal to fans. And if you've got an eye (or ear) for it, you might even catch the names of some familiar locales from Dragon Quest III.
The anime does a great job of feeling like the games. Abel quickly establishes a four-person party made up of characters who fit into typical Dragon Quest job roles. You've got Yanack the mage, Daisy the warrior, and Mokomoko, who fits into a role reminiscent of DQ VIII's Yangus. At the end of the each episodes, characters “level up,” and get stat increases. Before a commercial break, the show pauses like a video game. Even the episodes themselves are called “Levels.”
I've purposefully made this post pretty short, because more than anything else I just want to encourage other people to watch it. In the upcoming weeks on the blog and podcast, I want to really look at the people behind the scenes (especially Long John Baldry, who narrates the thirteen English episodes and had a pretty illustrious career beforehand).