Bastard!

I admit I wasn't very taken by Bastard! after watching the first two episodes. It seemed sillier than I expected, and without much in the way of a decent plot or characters. However, the more I watched, the better it got. Bastard! strongly focuses on its characters, almost foregoing the plot in the process. Dark Schneider is the "hero" of the story, and yes, he's a bastard. It took me a little while to get used to his arrogant attitude and over-posturing, but I was soon laughing at his crazy antics and one-liners. I still have trouble taking him seriously because of his name, however. Thunder Empress Arshes Nei, now *that's* a good name (maybe this explains how she whooped his ass so many times). There's also Yoko, the "damsel in distress", although she does prove herself rather vindictive at times. Various other characters include Gara, a ninja master, and Rushie, Dark Schneider's alter-ego. As previously stated, there is little in the way of story. It basically involves the kingdom of Meta-Rikana resurrecting Dark Schneider in an attempt to ward off invading forces. This is really just an excuse for lots of mayhem and destruction, which is a good thing in this case. The action was very exciting, with D.S. firing off mega-powerful spells left, right and center. You want plot? Go watch Record of Lodoss War. You want action? You've come to the right place. If you're looking for humor then you've also come to the right place. Just look at some of the names. Ansla-Sax? Iron Maydon? Meta-Rikana? (for the uninitiated, those are references to heavy metal bands). Plus, there are plenty of other jokes in the form of one-liners and outright silliness. Especially funny was watching Dark Schneider and Yoko. He's just putty in her hands. To back up the good material found here, this series has some impressive production qualities. The artwork is quite vivid, with lots of bright colors to enhance the battle scenes, and the animation is fairly smooth. The English voice-acting is mixed, though. I preferred Dark Schneider's arrogant English voice to his Japanese counterpart, but the remainder of the characters sounded better in the original version. But if you prefer your anime in English, then the dubbed version won't hurt your ears. If you're looking for a good fantasy anime with plenty of action and laughs, then grab a hold of Bastard!. The Verdict: * * * * (good)

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