Plot: Villgust is as a peaceful land in a world parallel to ours. However, many years of peace were suddenly interrupted when an evil deity appeared and cast a dark shadow over the land. Many monsters laid waste to the countrysides, and the people prayed to their god, Windina, for help. She answered their prayers and created eight warriors to rid Villgust of the evil deity and return peace to the world.
Breakdown: I tend to get excited when I start watching old mostly unknown OVAs. Even if they’re a product of a much different and, arguably, crazier time in anime, their style, stories and characters usually draw me in.
This is, sadly, not one of those times.
Kouryu Densetsu Villgust is a two episode OVA made in 1992 to 93. It’s based off of a Famicom game of the same name that was never released outside of Japan and I’ve never played, obviously. Not that…it matters? Because it sounds like the plot isn’t the same as the OVA’s.
Wiki: “The object of the game is to rescue your girlfriend and to return to modern Japan from a parallel medieval world. The player controls five people as they fight apes and skeletons for experience points.”
As you can tell from the plot synopsis, none of this seems to mesh. There’s no girlfriend in another world. In fact, as far as I can tell, all of the characters are from Villgust, and the main characters are eight people, not five.
However, I can’t vouch for this as an adaptation, so let’s go over this anime on its merits as a standalone.
First, the plot. That is some grade-A cliché plot right there. For the love of Windina, this is basically the plot to Captain Planet. This has to be one of the oldest plots to ever see written word. But that’s not necessarily a bad thing if the story and execution are good enough, though….And they’re really not.
This show is aiming to be equal parts action fantasy and comedy. This is obvious from the fact that all of the human characters are done in mid-chibi style. Ya know, where the characters are adults but clearly smaller and made cuter, but not so extreme as to be real chibi.
Put it this way – if normal characters are drawn eight heads high and chibi characters are about three, this style is about five.
Problem is, the action’s not that good and neither is the comedy. The action is hard to take seriously since there’s the lingering contrast of the comedy and the complete lack of a villain you can take seriously.
In addition to the main baddie being the oh-so-creatively named ‘evil entity’, he’s not even who they’re fighting. The baddie for this series is Gavady – a follower of the evil entity who is impossible to take seriously because, in order to add comedy to him, they have him baby a pet frog named Antoinette. He pets him like a cat, talks to him and makes kissy faces – the fear is not happening.
The evil entity….is confusing. In the opening narration, the evil entity is created, unleashes swarms of monsters to cause destruction and terror, Windina makes the warriors, but the warriors never defeat the entity.
In fact, at the start of the series, for the most part, they don’t even know each other. They’re separated into two groups of four and only meet at the ending of episode one. They’ve never met before this and obviously never defeated the evil entity, but dialogue indicates that the evil entity was defeated somehow and his henchmen are trying their damnedest to bring him back to life.
I don’t get it. At all. I watched the opening narration four times just to see if I missed somewhere where they might have said he was sealed away by Windina or something, but no. She just creates the warriors and never says a word or even appears over the course of the entire series.
However, the evil entity is never revived. The final battle is of Gavady’s ‘true form’, which is a weird…worm….turtle….goblin…thing? The series ends on the ‘we can’t let the evil entity be revived’ note.
For a good chunk of the OVA, the enemy isn’t even Gavady – it’s his henchmen. Yup, even the henchman to the guy who is supposed to be the main baddie isn’t our main baddie.
He hatches a plan to have the warriors meet and trick them into fighting each other until they’re so tired that they can’t fight back….Let me point out that this henchmen states later that one of the reasons the followers of the evil entity had enjoyed their time of terror so far has been mostly due to the fact that the warriors had yet to all meet up… He’s even so nice as to reveal to them that they’re all the warriors of Windina….Good job.
That plot, by the way, takes up half of episode one and half of episode two. We don’t get to the point of fighting Gavady until the very end of episode two.
This includes having those frustrating super villain moments where you’re sitting there gnashing your teeth asking why, when given a perfect opportunity, do the bad guys not kill the warriors?
One of the characters triggers a huge expulsion of energy, which knocks out the warriors after having exhausted themselves from fighting each other. The bad guys have nearly all of the warriors unconscious right in front of them, exhausted beyond belief, and what do they do? They jail them, let them wake up, explain their plans, and set up an elaborate execution later on, not even questioning where the other two warriors are.
Again, good job.
I will give the ending battle this – it’s a pretty decent battle, even if he is one of those irritating grab bag of powers villains. He can make super powerful gusts of wind, has a Venus fly trap turtle shell thing, can shoot a multitude of tentacles from his mouth, turn people to stone, shoot huge bursts of fire and has three….giant facehugger worms (?) on his body. But, of course, it’s pretty predictable. They all combine their efforts together….except Bostov….to defeat him.
It’s an alright, albeit bland, story, but the plot about meticulously tricking them into fighting each other takes up way too much time. No one’s going to believe that they’re going to destroy each other or won’t figure out the trap. It’s pointless. They would’ve been better off having the entire group together at the start and building off of that.
Second, the characters. They’re a mixed bag to say the least.
Group A: First up we have Kui, who is a knight from a distant land, I think. He is sworn to protect the princess, Chris, and is her love interest. Outside of that, he’s your very typical knight character. He’s brave, noble and honorable.
Next we have Chris, the aforementioned princess, who flip flops between also being a brave warrior and being a stereotypical girl character, fawning over Kui. One minute she’s all “I’m fighting because I’m a warrior too!” and the next she’s “Ohhh, news of a bad guy nearby! Oooh I’m so scared. Hold me, Kui!”
Then we have Youta, who is a little pervy and goofy.
Finally, there’s Fanna, the only archer of the group (everyone else uses swords.) Fanna seemed alright for a while, helping out in battle and taking no shit from Youta, but she quickly becomes very irritating and another stereotypical girl character.
In her shining moment of idiocy, she’s taking a bath while the others chase some cat girl I’ll definitely get to in a minute. Because she’s alone and vulnerable, the enemy tries to sneak attack, but they’re pushed through the wall of the bath. Fanna freaks out, we cut away, and when the others arrive at the bath they see that Fanna knocked the two intruders out with rocks. That would be fine and dandy if she stayed where she was, but no.
She’s so freaked out over these two monsters seeing her naked that she does the only logical thing….she runs off alone into the forest, still naked, freaking out over them seeing her naked.
None of this particular action makes any sense. ‘Bad guys attacked me because I was alone and vulnerable. Better run off into the woods alone and naked without my bow so I’ll be as vulnerable as humanly possible. Monsters saw me naked! Better run off naked into a forest where tons of living beings, people and monsters alike, can see me naked.’
Then she collapses in the forest crying out that she’s lost….Dumb…ass.
Fanna later becomes entirely useless and is relegated to being Ryuquir’s bitch girl. Fun.
Group B: First up for Group B is Murobo, who is essentially Kui if he was much more gullible, wielded an axe, and was an anthropomorphic Red XIII from Final Fantasy.
Murobo was my favorite character, but that’s not saying much.
Second, we have Bostov, who is a slimy, perverted sack of crap. He wields a boomerang.
Next, we have Remi, the lone mage of the warriors, but don’t expect her to do much. Her one moment of usefulness is healing Kui and Murobo so they can do some actual damage to Gavady. She has no personality outside of being kind and insecure about her age and lack of physical development, which is only brought up once in a petty argument with Chris.
Finally, we have Chinese water torture incarnate, also known as Ryuquir. She is the aforementioned catgirl and one of the most annoying anime characters I’ve ever seen.
She’s a catgirl who actually acts, in all ways, like a cat. She even chases a mouse once. She’s incredibly hyper, inconsiderate, has an ungodly grating voice, and has the personality of a three year old if you gave her cat-like abilities, 30 pounds of sugar and a few hits of crack. Even her theme music is way too fast and makes me want to put a blow torch to my ear.
Not only is she annoying in every way, shape and form, but the very first time we meet her, she’s gorging herself on the village elder’s food supply without his consent – In a village where everyone is starving because they keep getting attacked by monsters.
The one positive thing I can say about Ryuquir is that she’s a good friend and brave, but friendship doesn’t not trump annoyingness.
One of the main worst aspects of Ryuquir is that she’s treated like she’s the main character on several occasions. She saves the others from peril in a big display twice, and she easily knocks away huge groups of enemies without batting an eyelash. You almost wonder if Windina really needed to create eight warriors when the seven seem like they can’t do much and Ryuquir seems like she can win this whole war on her own.
She even sings the ED of the first episode….
None of these characters get any backstory whatsoever, outside of the brief flash we get in dialogue of Chris and Kui’s story, which might be relevant to the games? None of them have any moment of character development nor do we get much bonding between them.
The two groups separately are meant to be close by default, I suppose, but outside of Murobo and Kui, who obviously bond through their fight together, the others seem kinda shoved together – literally with Fanna and Ryuquir. Youta and Bostov bond over being pervs, and – are we meant to believe Remi and Chris bonded over insulting each others ages and boob sizes?
Bottomline: Villgust does a lot of things wrong, but I’d be hardpressed to say this was a chore to sit through. It just wasn’t very entertaining. Almost all of the comedy relies on slapstick, which is seriously getting old, even back then. You really need to do something creative with slapstick if you want to get any laughs.
The action wasn’t great, with the biggest highlight being the final battle with Gavady, and even that’s not fantastic. It’s also very hard to get invested in the action when the stakes never feel real due to the comedy.
The characters are not fleshed out enough to feel much concern about them, but there is a little something there. Ryuquir is way too annoying to ignore, though.
The art and animation is decent at best and cheap at worst. The music pretty alright, but forgettable.
I’d like to see a longer series of this with a better arrangement in regards to story, and I’d like to see them actually combat the evil entity, but that’ll probably never happen.
Additional Information and Notes: Kouryu Densetsu Villgust was directed by Katsuhiko Nishijima, who also directed Project A-Ko, and was produced by animate Film. It is not currently licensed in English.
Recommended Audience: Outside of some typical anime pervness and fantasy violence, there’s a tiny splat of blood. 6+