In the Rune-Midgard Kingdom, Roan, a young swordsman, travels with Yuufa, a childhood friend and an Acolyte. Adventuring together after some tragedy befell their old party, they search about for adventures and monsters. Over the course of a few recent travels, they acquire a few new friends, and meet some old ones. And learn of disturbing things. The land is changing. Some shadow grows over it. Dead friends reappear, same in face, horribly changed in soul. And in time it becomes clear that there is a grand journey to be made, the adventure to trump all adventures to be had, the monster of all monsters to stop. Neither Roan nor Yuufa can be allowed to cling to their childishness anymore. Both must grow, and discover strength of the body and mind-and heart. The Dark Lord is pulling strings again, and any darkness, any weakness within, can become an enemy.
Sakaguchi Daisuke as Roan
Mizuki Nana as Yuufa
Hisakawa Aya as Takius
Momoi Halko as Maya
Nakai Kazuya as Illuga
Arakawa Minako as Judia
Koyasu Takehito as Keough
Fantasy, Action, Adventure, Romance, Drama
Ragnarok aired from April 06, 2004 till September 28, 2004
Ragnarok has twenty-six episodes. A sequel is unlikely.
Everyone has their own opinions on what makes an anime good. Action, romance, fan-service, strong characters-there are as many opinions as there are people. I’ve always preferred to answer from a more general angle. I say nothing matters more than the story. Tell the right one, tell it well, and everything else-voice acting, color, animation, etc-will cease to be important. Tell it wrong, and a multi-billion dollar budget won’t change anything. I recently had two anime stage an allegory of this on my computer. One was Kaze no Stigma, a slick 2007 production from Gonzo. The other was Ragnarok, a low budget, antiquely animated, square screened blatant RPG rip-off. Ragnarok kicked Kaze no Stigma’s rear all the way to the end, falling only just short of that rarest of accolades, a five out of five. I take great pleasure in telling you why.
Lead male, Roan: a swordsman whose love for his childhood friend is still immature, just like he is. Good hearted, talented, protective, and yet slightly pathetic, he is the seed of a great warrior-but only a seed. For now. Lead female: Yuufa. Light hearted, cheerful, and even more childish than Roan, the only thing that seems to bring a true shadow to her face is the memory of her dead brother. Seemingly oblivious to Roan’s devotion, she blissfully follows behind eating bananas, when someone doesn’t need her healing abilities. It’s a luxury with a time limit. Sidekick one, Maya the Merchant. A manipulative little thing with a bouncy pink teardrop for a pet, at first she’s only along for the ride, and to collect profitable items she herself isn’t strong enough to reach. However, she isn’t as selfish as she might seem, and establishes herself as a dependable member of the party in time. Takius, the mage. A woman of power, her senses are sharp enough to allow her to navigate the world blindfolded, as she literally does, for reasons known only to her. She is dedicated to the ideal of truth and eradication of evil, as well as her teacher, Zephel-sensei. Later to join are Illuga and Judia. Illuga is an assassin, though he rarely seems it; he is tall, silent, and superbly skilled. Fighting with two blades worn over the backs of his hand, he was once part of a party that included Roan, Yuufa, and Yuufa’s older brother. Playing the part of the imperturbable, he is apparently impossible to affect or move unless he decides to care, a valuable trait when dealing with his partner, Judia. A Hunter(thanks BW) who fights with her falcon and a bow, she’s energetic, direct, has a healthy appetite, and lives largely and blissfully in the moment. She makes strong backup though. On the opposing side are three figures who are somehow connected to the dark force emerging. A demon who’s bitter hate of humankind knows no reason, a mage whose losses have driven him to a mad search of a truth that will save the world, which the dark lord has promised him. And finally, a man everyone in the party knows, but who no longer resembles him; his antipathy is his driving force, believing in hate and cleansing the world of humans, from whom all troubles come. Seemingly invincible, he comes and goes, leaving chaos in his wake, despite the best efforts of the heroes. Until all comes to a head…
Ragnarok’s strength takes a while to see. Until about episode seven or eight, there’s only sporadic hints of the story’s potential, as the group is assembled and some background provided. This is the sole reason for the four point five, instead of a five; I can’t really give a masterpiece mark to an anime who’s first seven or eight are so not, however strong it becomes. Besides for a glimpse of the tip of the plot, it’s mostly so so, and sometimes trying. Hints of the quality they might be capable of are a little more common. Then episode nine happens, then ten, then eleven, and by then, everything has turned around. Plot, whether involving the nemesis or the characters, kicks in like a rocket booster, and everything is level five from there on out. All the most frustrating aspects of the characters become demons to exorcise as the stakes expand and engulf them, leaving no room for immaturity, for weakness, for being coddled, for being selfish, for being blind. Every minute of the ‘trying’ moments I mentioned become fuel for the fire as those faults are faced, made real by all the time we spent wincing through them. Watching growth is most satisfying when you first learn to care about them as they used to be, and the old ‘trial by facing weaknesses in an inner world’ has rarely rung so true. One by one, every character is brought face to face with their mistakes, weaknesses, pasts, and cleansed in fire. Action settles in to stay, as characters learn greater strengths, only in time to match the increased efforts of the enemy. And when the climax comes, it is everything a character strong action climax should be, as everyone’s efforts converge on victory, and even one or two that you never expected to be significant somehow manage, by complete accident, to help save the world. The rising triumph, the screamed refusal to bow to the odds, the final efforts of everyone they’ve fought beside so long, all come together with all the impact you could wish for. One of the most powerful feelings a story like this can tap is the fierce pride in the indomitable spirit of humankind, and Ragnarok does: magnificently. And in the end, though there have been losses, the closing is definitely upbeat-the sun is out. Life continues. And the party moves on.
I was completely taken by surprise by this anime, I could have sworn that kind of power wasn’t there, but at some point it suddenly managed to grip me and never let go. This is the sort of anime where reviews are most useful: where without someone who finished it to tell you, you might not realize its worth. I’m glad to be here to tell you otherwise. Don’t judge this one until ten or eleven, or you could miss something fantastic. Don’t let the blatant RPG elements fool you(character power-ups come in the form of class changes, you don’t get any more obvious than that). Once you get used to them enough to ignore them, this thing is incredible. Remember, this was almost a five.
Final Rating: 4.5/5
This review is brought to you by Z.N. Singer
Info such as cast and info are taken from ANN’s encyclopedia listing. All else is and always will be the origination of the author.
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