Based on the first Wizardry game "The Proving Grounds of the Mad Overlord", a group of characters enter a dungeon to confront the ultimate wizard to prevent him from reaching an unstoppable power. On their way they meet up with a few new friends who have their own battles to settle, but their paths lay together.
Don't let the rating put you off this one. Its not as pretty or grand as many other sword and sorcery animes of the period but it is a very solid and enjoyable watch nonetheless. Definitely worth its hour long runtime.
The story is very generic but also very faithful to the dungeon crawler game it is based on. Many similar ova adaptations of rpg games ditched this aspect to break free of video/table top game constraints. But by staying faithful, the spells and character classes benefit from a added depth and charm. Similarly, the pacing follows a rpg style encounter, party member, exploration routine. This
works well for a hour long action ova and I can't see anyone messing something simple like this up. My only complaint is that the supposed big bad is stopped before he ever comes out, despite the considerable build up leading to his return to this realm. Many old ovas suffer from the flaw of a rushed or confused ending but at the very least, this one's ending is neither particularly rushed nor unsatisfying in any way.
Character is the strong suit of this anime. In a short 60 minute run, what an action anime should deliver isn't deep character development but rather, appealing character designs and personalities and the chemistry between the characters as they face dangers together. Wizardry delivers in all three aspects. You get the standard magic swordsmen, healers, apprentice spellcaster and elf against the standard zombies, vampires and demon stuff. And then theres also more original stuff such as the badass ninja character (called Hawkwind no less!) and a demonic harlequin. Easily the best part of this anime is how all the characters overcome their initial differences and cover each others backs to defeat monsters stronger than the sum of their individual abilities.
The art is average for its time. This includes both animation and the quality of the frames and drawings. The designs themselves are also very generic; but being based off classic dungeon crawler aesthetics, the anime somewhat gets away with this. Last thing of note is the darker colour palettes. Not as bright and vibrant as many other fantasy animes though you can argue that dungeons are supposed to be dark.
Sound is standard synth soundtrack, the sort of unmemorable stuff that a vast majority of anime of this period had.
If Wizardry has a flaw, its the fact that it isn't spectacular. There are fantasies out there with better art, characters, music and/or story but what Wizardry does have, it delivers with perfection. A solid hour long watch for any fans of retro rpgs, D&D tabletop style games and sword and sorcery fantasy.
Ever play a role playing game with dungeons? like l.o.t.r.o. or elder scrolls? This movie takes that experience and puts it into a if that were real this is how it could be played out. That idea alone of taking a lot of people's fantasy for the r.p.g. area make me happy and others too i would imagine. Sure, one could fight a monster or two or hundreds but this setup was a rarity/unique. Granted how people knew how this dungeon worked without informing the viewer was a little sloppy for an intro. Then again, the main cast was
not 'rookies' in their words. All that aside, the flow went well straight to the nice ending.
p.s. word of advice... depending how you see the movie via an English subtitle pay attention to what spells are cast/effects. Descriptions tend not to matter in general but this is an exception.