Emblem of Gude

When, oh when, will I ever learn about one-shot OVAs? If there's one real rule that is paramount in anime circles, it is this--if an OVA is bad enough that there's never been a sequel, likelihood is that it didn't do well in Japan, and there's often a good reason for that. Now there are exceptions, of course--Vampire Hunter D was actually quite a good OVA, and it took 15 years for a feature film to follow. Unfortunately, Emblem of Gude falls under the rule and not the exception. If it weren't for the glaring continuity errors, weak animation, and rip-off attempts, this might be an OK show. As it is, though, there's little to recommend it.

On to the plot...the show starts on a slave ship, where our heroines Efera and Jiliora are being held captive. (The show gives us no reason why or how they got into that predicament; it's just one of many glaring faults that make you scratch your head.) They escape, of course, but they first run into a young boy who wants to get away with them. He gives them a mysterious gem for their help. But it's to no avail...his bravery is rewarded with death at the hands of one of the minions on board as they try to make their getaway. (Don't worry; this isn't a spoiler, since it happens during the first three minutes or so.) The twosome manages to get to land, where they find that the emblem itself is a rare treasure that will guide their destiny. More rescues, more captures, and more escapes follow.

On a very basic level, this show is vaguely enjoyable...the story has been done countless times, but it's not terrible. What's so problematic, however, is that the show has countless continuity problems, so many that it was impossible for me to get into it at any level. One minute, our heroines are in the sea trying to get to safety. The next minute, they are on dry land. What gives? They abandon ship in the middle of nowhere and are able to get back to the mainland? Or let's talk about the aftermath of an escape. Several characters get away on horseback from a castle. In the next scene, there's a full wagon hitched up to a horse. When the heck did they get that? Was the group so confident that they wouldn't be captured that they stopped along the way, bought a hitch and cover, took the time to put it all together, and then started up again? There's plenty more, believe me.

I don't think I've actually seen so many complete jumps in logic in any single anime as I did here. Constantly, I'd find myself thinking, "How did they get to where they are from where they just were?" At every step, the plot cheats you. Villains come out of nowhere. Good guys come out of nowhere. It's disjointed and inane. What's the kicker is that they try to establish some back story to the characters, but that's even worse--it just makes the viewer all the more aware of the desperation the crew must have felt putting this thing together.

Meanwhile, the animation is a joke. It's at best on the level of 80s television anime, and often looks just plain bad. The music is virtually non-existent, or worse, completely forgotten afterwards. The character design would be reasonable if it weren't so clear that the designers were essentially trying to create "Dirty Pair meets Dungeons and Dragons". As it is, the whole production is a joke. It's like a bad mixed drink--put in a dash of plot, a few cups of blood and gore, a teaspoon of nudity, and a garnish of bad language, and away you go. It won't get you drunk, but it will give you the headache afterwards.

To be fair, Emblem of Gude is not as bad as the worst anime out there only because it's not dull. It's just not much of anything else, though. It's The Slayers minus the humor and fun. It's Dirty Pair minus the riotous happenings and great characters. It's Lodoss minus the sense of epic struggle and character development. Don't let it be you without your hard-earned cash.

Emblem of Gude -- brief nudity, violence, language -- D+