Sorcerer on the Rocks

For some reason, anime simply cannot put out much straight fantasy product. Most shows either go the silly route, such as The Slayers, or they opt for the "villain of the week" ala Magic Knights Rayearth or Saint Seiya. Very seldom do we get something as classy as the original Lodoss OVA series. I had hopes for Sorcerer on the Rocks, but it turns out to be a goofy, violent tale with more than a faint similarity to other popular fantasy shows. In a way, it's a reviewer's nightmare--not bad enough to enjoy slamming on it, but so unremarkable as to be a vague recollection only half a day later. Indeed, the most memorable thing about it is the legal conundrum that forced the show's title and the protagonist's name to be changed in the US.

Set in the same world as the series Sorcerer Hunters, this 1999 2-part OVA introduces us to a wretch of a sorcerer named Chivas Scotch (at least in the Japanese) and what for all purposes are his indentured servants. There's the naive Sister of the Gold Cross named Gin Fizz, who believes that she can be a ray of light into Chivas' darkened soul, as well as the sprightly werewolf girl Kiss and the heroic soldier Genma (who wishes that Chivas would realize his undying love and affection...ahem.)

For reasons outside the script, Chivas is in debt to a wacko woman named Million Dollar who is after him to pay her back. In order to get this freak off his back, Chivas and company take on the neighborhood monster, Roki. They get paid a handsome sum to do the deed, but Chivas blows it in a casino, and Fizz and Kiss wind up dancing on tables to make ends meet. Meanwhile, the town's mayor, Cuttlefish, has plans to revive an ancient evil of his own, and once Roki's out of the picture, he'll make Fizz and Chivas into a nice little sacrifice to resurrect it. Fizz might convince Chivas to stop being a sleazeball if she can survive his possessing her body in order to survive Cuttlefish's mischief.

Sorcerer on the Rocks is yet another brightly colored treatise on taking no risks. For those who like good-looking shows, Sorcerer will fit the bill just fine. The character designs are prototypical late-90s, but they are handsome/cute, depending on your point of view. There's a reasonable amount of fan service on display, but actual nudity is rare and non-detailed. (Whether that's good or bad is your own call--it really added nothing, in my opinion, but it wasn't distracting either.) Music was fine, artwork was fine, etc.

What bugged me about Sorcerer was that it seemed to be a derivative of other shows within the genre, which isn't exactly full anyway. The cute names based on alcoholic beverages brings back thoughts of Metallicana and the Stryper defense from Bastard!, a 6-part OVA that started strong and ended pretty weakly. The look and feel remind me more of the first season of The Slayers, though without the consistent comedy. The story is very straightforward, and I can't fault it for not resolving everything pretty neatly. But there's nothing to hang your hat on, so to speak--no character development, no deep thoughts, not really even much good comedy. The relationships are secondary to the plotting, at best. It's simply more of the same old, same old in a pretty looking package.

Sorcerer on the Rocks isn't a terrible show, just a very average one. There are three types of movies that can leave you speechless: the stunning achievements in cinema, the mind-bogglingly awful garbage, and the stuff right smack dab in-between the first two that might leave you vaguely entertained but ultimately unfulfilled. This falls in the third category, which leaves me little else to say.

Sorcerer on the Rocks -- violence, profanity, non-specific nudity -- C+