Long ago, the blacksmith Adin forged a belt of seven powerful gems, one from each of the seven tribes of Deltora. Wielding the belt's unparalleled power, he repelled the Shadow Lord's attempt to overthrow the kingdom. Adin was crowned king of Deltora, but he never forgot that the enemy remained unbeaten.
Centuries later, memory of the Shadow Lord has become faded and almost forgotten, and the people of Deltora see their monarchy as detached and uncaring. Much to their dismay, the Shadow Lord strikes once more, breaking the Belt of Deltora by scattering the seven gems across the continent. Jarred, a close friend of the young king Endon, assists him and his wife in escaping from the castle as the Shadow Lord takes over, and they part ways to go into hiding.
The Shadow Lord now reigns over Deltora and many years pass under his tyrannical rule. However, there is a glimmer of hope in Jarred's son Lief, whom he has lovingly raised and trained to find the scattered gemstones and reassemble the Belt of Deltora. Along with his companions Barda and Jasmine, Lief must face devious enemies and dangerous beasts to oust the Shadow Lord and return peace to Deltora.
"CLEAN NORADS HERE!!" Ehm, sorry. The adventure genre has gradually become a lost art the last couple of years in anime, but thankfully, titles like Deltora Quest can hopefully breathe life back into it. I've never read the books or even heard of them until I began to dig up information on this show, but this is pretty good and could encourage me to give the novels a gander.
While there is nothing particularly stunning about Deltora Quest plotwise early on (it goes through the motions ala Inuyasha), it's simple formula is pretty well executed and the pacing never seems to drag. Maybe it's because
I've been watching a lot of drawn-out shonen battles at the time I'm writing this, but seeing heroes solve puzzles and fight a variety of clever enemies with a bit of strategy and guile instead of powering up for 17 minutes and unleashing whatever beam they fire, but this was quite refreshing. Lief, Jasmine, and Barda venture through the very vast kingdom of Deltora, meeting interesting people and exploring dungeons that are straight out of PSX rpgs. The accompanying dialouge explains the nuances of the plot rather basically, but it's acceptable for introducing people who haven't read the books to the history of Deltora itself and the belt. I watched the English dub on The HUB channel, and at first it was corny when the cheesy narrator would chime in during character speech, but I didn't mind. Everything eventually reaches a climax that......well....anyone on MAL ever watch the Michael Jackson movie/video Moonwalker?
I really dig the visuals, and are debatably Deltora Quest's strongest point. Very vivid colors and beautiful hand-drawn character designs spliced with some of the better CGI I've seen utilized in anime in years for a television show makes this a very pretty title to look at. The various caverns, catacombs, forests, and towns offer little in redundancy. From the dreary, fog-laden Forest of Silence to the etherial and mysterious city of Tora, the back drop is very well done. The battles are pretty darn good, but the central trio of Lief, Barda, and Jasmine are just slightly varied melee fighters, so battles with Shadow guards can get a little repetitive. I would've liked more of a magic user or ranged fighter earlier in the show to break the monotony, but that's just a minor pet peeve of mine.
Not too much say about the English dub voice acting. I think for most people, it will be tolerated or hated. I found it acceptable, but I'd be lying if I didn't say some voices are grating. At times, Jasmine sounds like a valley girl and Lief's self-righteous heroistic nonsense comes off as whiny. Cole Howard is a good guy and I do support him as a young anime voice talent in a market where 40+ year olds like Vic Mignogna has to voice a junior high student, but outside of singing the Sorceress Theagaan song, he does little to impress. Not the worst effort in terms of dub work, but it is passable at times.
Now, while I do like the overall cast, I might go off on a rant here about the characters and I can only hope in the novels that these three display a greater degree of intelligence than their anime counterparts. I know it's standard protocol to add a bit of intrigue and a bump in the road every now and then, but at times these three can be so stupid and gullible, it borders on infuriating. Sometimes it plays into mildly crucial plot points, even adding humor at times, but some instances could've been avoided altogether. They get better over time and I became more forgiving, but the second time they got back around to Tom's Shop, I was livid with how much crying our "heroes" were mustering because they didn't get their way. That aside, most of the supporting characters that stick around a little longer, like Doom and Dain are pretty awesome, while representatives of the different tribes are not really around early on. I could do without Nerida, thankfully her presence seemed kept to a minimum. Even the villian, the evil Shadow Lord (as opposed to the jovial and happy Shadow Lord) is shrouded in mystery most of the time and maintains some menace, so I could roll with it, but man, what a reveal. Overall, I thought most of the supporting characters just weren't there enough to develop into anything outside of fighters.
IN CLOSING: With a few caveats that nagged me a bit, Deltora Quest is a pretty solid show that kept me entertained, and I wished more TV shows followed a similar pacing. A linear plot that's spliced with very solid adventure is what I look for to get my anime-viewing juices flowing. Since this recently aired here in the U.S., I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a DVD release. I would love to put this on my shelf.
OVERALL SCORE: 7 out of 10
PROS: Really cool adventure tale, detailed world, great visual effects, I want a plush Filli toy, a neat freak cult: BEST.... CULT..... EVER
CONS: Bland English dub alters the opening themes, occasionally dimwitted heroes, impressively bad final battle
Deltora Quest is one of the few anime that despite having so many problems, so many pitfalls, and one of the most predictable stories I've seen in quite so time, that I can say I enjoyed watching every single episode of.
The 2007 adaptation of Emily Rodda's Deltora Quest series is so remarkably unremarkable, so vanilla, that its pure simplicity stood out when watching it. Now, I may be a bit biased due to having read this book series as a child, but I could not remember the slightest bit about it for the life of me when I came around to watching this.
A brief synopsis
is that The Generic Dark King (Literally the Shadow Lord) took over the kingdom, and only The Chosen One (Lief) can rebuild the legendary artifact that is the Dark Lord's one and only weakness using the Seven Gems of Deltora. The entire quest is to reobtain these seven gems, and each 'arc' of the story is based on the events surrounding each one of them.
While the story's outline is the most cliched premise in fantasy anime history, the actual writing is very well done. There is a large amount of Chekhov's Gun in play ALL throughout the series, almost every element they introduce is followed up upon or plays a great importance later on in the story. Never does it feel like the story is simply wasting time for time's sake, it always has a purpose in the grand scheme of the adventure, even the so-called "filler" episodes serve a purpose in the end. The plot twists feel real, and often times unexpected yet very clever, and looking back at it give the last third of the show a lot of legitimate tension and suspense. The pacing is very well done, as each Gem arc never feels like it drags on once, even in 64 whole episodes.
The visuals are very standard, and in some ways reminiscent of the original FMA series in terms of style. The most striking choice however, is the CGI models for the 7 Gem Guardians, which on one hand look pretty pathetic, but on the other hand give a real sense of 'impact' on screen, like they're much more than just another goon.
The voice acting is actually pretty alright, atleast in the English Dub, although Jasmine's voice can be fairly irritating to listen to. The standout in the sound department is easily Thaegan's Riddle song, which they play several times throughout the series and is easily the most catchy song I've heard in an anime.
The Characters of the show are easily Deltora Quest's greatest downside, although in some cases, I actually enjoyed just how terrible they were.
Leif is the generic "Justice triumphs all!" hero type you see in every fantasy story, who has a soft spot for damsels in need and doing the right thing even if it causes trouble for everyone; ala Morty from Rick & Morty.
Barda is the 'strong bodyguard' type who serves two purposes, 1. Story exposition, since he is the most wise and can tell the heroes what's going on or what they should do. 2. To lose every single fight he starts in order to make whatever enemy they're fighting appear so much more powerful. No seriously, I don't think Barda wins a single fight in the whole show on-screen.
Jasmine is Rodda's own pet character, as she's a clear Mary-sue whos purpose is to leave the party every few episodes like the lone-wolf she is, and then swoop back in to save Leif and Barda from whatever threat avails them. Not only is she Jesus reincarnated into a little girl, but she has two animal mascot characters, Fili and Kree, who she can speak to and also act as a deus ex machina half the time to solve whatever problem the protagonists run into. It doesn't take a genius to notice how biased the story is to Jasmine, and honestly she can come off as rather irritating most of the time.
Deltora Quest is a rare occurrence where a show so average and generic actually transcends the boundary of 'so boring it's bad' to 'so bad it's actually really good'. The characters chemistry just works, and even the most mundane of scenes is made entertaining by using overused dialogue and story cliches. Despite the odds being against the show, Deltora Quest proved that despite how boring a show may seem on paper, can actually turn out to be one hell of a memorable and enjoyable ride.
This will be my first review. Deltora Quest is an anime adapted from the eight book series Deltora Quest, written by Emily Rodda. I grew up reading all of her books (multiple Deltora Quest series, Rowan of Rin, etc.). They were a fantastic read, sucking you into a mysterious world with more interesting characters. However, this adaptation fails to capture the books essence.
I will start with the plot. A mysterious, powerful being named the shadow lord breaks the peace in the land of Deltora by sneaking a servant in to break apart the magical Belt of Deltora, a belt of seven Powerful gems which
combined, kept all evil (for the most part) out of the lands boundaries. He separated the gems and hid them in the seven most dangerous places in the land so no person could collect them and make the belt whole again. Thus the land is under his evil reign and everyone is living poorly and being treated as slaves.
Many years later (around 16), a boy named Lief is told about the belt by his parents and journeys with a family friend/bodyguard named Barda and a wild girl he quickly encounters named Jasmine, to collect all seven gems and put them in the belt so they could save the land of Deltora and set everyone free from the hand of the shadow lord.
Not too difficult of a plot. The books and anime vary little in this regard. However after this, they start to diverge in quality.
I will start with the good: The art style. While the animation isn't great, the art style and colors are very unique and sets it apart from other shows. You might not like it, but I did. It fits in very well with the tone of the show (which is a lot different then the books).
Second: Soundtrack. While it isn't the best of all time, it fits and has a couple of standout moments, especially in the english dub (I watched the dub until the last 13 episodes, which were filler and only subbed). The openings and ending are also good, ranging from good to spectacular ("In this life"). The english dubbed has an instrumental op, and it is also decent.
Third: The Story. Very well told and paced even though it isn't the most original plot.
Now the bad: Animation. It was a very small budgeted project and the animation is very lazily done. The fight scenes (save a couple at the end of the canon series) were boring and comical to watch how badly done they were. The seven guardians were also all CGI, which I didn't mind that much, as it gives them their own feel, but they weren't done well either.
Second: The voice acting. I don't know how to tell the japanese voices, but the english ones were at best monotonous, and at worst, cringe-worthy (Jasmines voice in particular made me want to choke her a few times). The rest range from ehhh to okay. The only standout is one of the villains, sorceress Thaegan (pronounced Taygen). She is very good.
Third: Characters: The characters are very different from the books. Lief went from being a smart clever protagonist to being a cliche anime character who can't think properly when a female is involved and makes stupid mistakes, and then repeats them. Barda went from a father figure who is caring and dependable to a man who as flat as a board and barely helps and just lectures. And Jasmine went from a powerful girl who is self-reliant and stubborn to a stubborn girl who tries but fails to be self-reliant and complains all the time. She verbally fights with Lief for half the show. The shadow lord went from being a scary and intimidating villain, to being just a forgettable antagonist who barely does a thing. Thaegan was a lot better than he was (fun fact: all appearances but her first episode were not canon, but they were fun nonetheless).
(Fourth: The tone. This is biased but the show makes it lighthearted and more accessible to kids, which isn't a bad thing, but the books got dark many times and I feel that the books were better).
All of that aside, I really enjoyed this show. It might be a guilty pleasure, but this brought me nostalgia from my younger years and it is a shame I didn't know about this show earlier. The story, while not super unique, is very well told and it is a treat to follow the trio around collecting the gems. I would not recommend you watch it unless you read the books. But the books were great! So read the books and then watch the anime to see for yourself.
Score:8=I liked it and it had some great elements, but I wouldn't rewatch it.
I dont normally do reviews but i think ill start with this. This anime is great for beginners. As someone who loves the books, i can say without a doubt that this might be the most faithful anime adaptation ive ever seen. The amount of detail that is kept from the books is outstanding and you can really feel the love and care that went into adapting the series. A good portion of dialogue is line for line out of the books. Some story events are told in a slightly different order, but this helps the pacing as the visual medium required a different approach.
One example of this is the backstory of jarred and endon is told in episodes 15 and 16, where in the books it takes the first half of the first book. This allows us to become more attached to the main 3 characters and get a couple gems under our belt (pun intended) before worrying about the past. I also really like all the filler with thaegan and oacus even though it wasnt in the book.
Some things that weren't so great was the treatment of Nerida. I understand wanting to tone down death of human characters on screen being that its a kids show, but her death served to prove the seriousness of the diamonds power. The mech battle at the end also completely threw me off. The shadowlord is never pictured in all 15 of the deltora books, and this gives him an untouchable mistique of menace. He is described in additional material as a normal human sorcerer, though it is implied that he may have "trancended" his mortal body at some point. To quote the book of deltora " defeated, but not destroyed the shadow lord retreated to the shadowlands. To his anger and envy, a thousand years is the blink of an eye." It is very important that the shadow lord is never destroyed, which is why leif must never take the belt off. To destroy him in a fist fight just to have an end battle cheapens the subtext about falling complacent. The victory in the books was a moral battle. As soon as the belt was restored to the heir, the shadowlords reign ended. My other complaint is the cgi. I know this was a time when cgi in anime was still in experimental stages, and it definitely shows. The guardians and ak baba look so janky they stand out from the show and break immersion. The music also was nothing special in the english, but actually very good in japanese. But as far as watchability i prefer the dub over the sub as all the names in the series are more or less European in origin.
Now lets talk about the 10 or so japanese only filler episodes that take place after the conclusion. Episode 65 should have been the actual conclusion of the show, because it showed the moral victory much more clearly. The couple episodes with leif shunning his responsibility are also really good, since we didnt get to see book leif deal with as much self doubt about being king. The quest visiting the places theyve been before to clean up and rebuild were very good for world building, and the grey guard with a heart episode was surprisingly touching.
All in all a great way to get into anime. Nothing too risky story character or violence wise, and all around decent fun. Hopefully id like to see a sequel one day covering the pyrran pipe and 4 sisters arcs with a better budget now that technology has advanced.
Let's take a quick jog around memory lane and remember those anime you used to watch and enjoy as kids. Feel the nostalgia and see if your favorites made the list and discover more that other children enjoyed.