Prince Marth, heir to the throne of Aritia, has fled his homeland and the invaders bent on conquering the entire continent. Together with the Aritian Knights he hides and bides his time in the friendly island kingdom of Talus. Though criticized for constantly daydreaming or being in a bad mood, he has found a friend in Caeda, the princess of Talus. Together they indulge in hayrides and shopping trips, or just standing upon the parapet and looking out over the land. However, despite how pleasant life is, he cannot forget the circumstances that separated him from his land and forced his beloved sister to sacrifice herself for him.
With the recent release of Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon in English, this OVA is perhaps more relevant than it has been in over a decade. Some quick backstory: in 1990, the first Fire Emblem game was released for the Famicom (and was remade for the Super Famicom in 1994). Since games back then had simpler stories and characters, extra care was taken by Fire Emblem’s creators to make supplemental media to flesh out the game. This OVA wasn’t meant to stand alone or take the place of the game, but to help players understand a little more about what was going on. I’m sure it
helped them at least somewhat in the 90s, and hopefully it can help new players of the DS remake as well.
Still, it would be a lie to say that this OVA has many memorable qualities. While the plot is more detailed than that of the game, especially when delving into character motivations and reactions, in the end it’s still quite a simplistic story of a prince versus his kingdom’s enemies. Character development is even more minimal, but that’s not surprising considering how many characters are introduced in a short time. In a lot of respects, the OVA actually seems to fail at its purpose; you’re likely to walk away from this knowing very little more about the game than you already did. Still, this little bit of knowledge is an improvement over the no knowledge that comes from playing the game by itself, so players of both the original and the remake are advised to give this a watch.
Fire Emblem was a game franchise virtually unknown outside of Japan until Super Smash Brothers Melee came out. That game featured two Fire Emblem characters, Marth and Roy, as playable fighters. Creating an interest in the franchise that was great enough to get the seventh title, Blazing Sword, and most subsequent titles released internationally.
So, why was the franchise only released outside of Japan at that point? My theory is that the games were simply considered too difficult. Yes, Nintendo had a lot of really hard games, some unfairly so. But Fire Emblem is the most difficult franchise developed by Nintendo itself. The games feature
permanent death for party members. That's right, no phoenix downs, revives, Yggdrasil leaves or anything like that. Except for one single use item that you get later in the game. No or few opportunities to grind and battles that are difficult enough that a single tactical error can easily get one of your team members killed. Maybe I'm wrong about that and there's another reason. If someone knows for certain I'm sure that person will politely correct me.
Oddly enough, the first Fire Emblem related thing to be released outside of Japan was an OVA. It's a simple, two episode work developed by KSS Inc and Studio Fantasia in 1996. The OVA is based on the first/third title in the series. (the third was a remake of the first.) So, how does the anime hold up?
Our tale covers the first couple missions of the game. Marth, is forced to escape from his homeland, Altea. It moves to Marth and his men at Talys with princess Sheeda. They're planning a counter-attack against the army that forced them into exile when they're forced into battle with pirates for Talys' sake. Knowing that the encounter will make their presence known to their enemy, they make their way back to their continent, planning to join the princess of Aurelis in her opposition to the hostile Doluna kingdom. Upon arrival at the mainland they encounter and defeat yet another group of pirates. The group hears about a nun named Rena who was abducted by thieves and they go out to save her.
I will give the OVA credit on several counts. For one thing, it does do a good job of covering those early missions. It also expands a bit on Marth's back story, providing information about his childhood that you really don't get in the game. I also like that the second episode spends a lot of time giving you Nabarl, Rena and Julian's perspectives which helps build them up as characters who you have some investment in and also sets up what happens with them later.
That being said, there are some issues with the two episodes. While it is nice to see the character interactions, they do move into padding at times. For example, the first episode has a montage of Marth and Sheeda just playing around in Talys. The second opens with Nabarl killing a group of people who are attacking him for no apparent reason. There weren't more important things to cover? They glance over the prologue scene pretty fast. Wouldn't the time have been better spent expanding on that? Even if they were set on adding in some extra details, they could have put something more substantial in.
The game has a lot of characters, even in the early missions covered by this. As such, some of them get better developed than others. Marth and Sheeda are well developed and fleshed out. Nabarl, Rena and Julian are as well. Then you've got characters like Cord, Bord and Barst who have one line of dialogue among them and characters like Cain, Abel, Oguma, Gordin, Doga and Jeigan who appear and speak on occasion but don't get fleshed out by any means. Although Oguma comes pretty close. In all fairness, developing five characters pretty well is about the best you can expect from an OVA that, taken in total, is less than an hour long. There are some very strong interactions too. The way Sheeda recruits Nabarl in particular is just great. Slightly different from the game, but in a way that actually works a bit better.
The art is probably the biggest weak point. It's pretty standard art for anime in the mid-90s. There are some nice little details like the pegasus animation and the way they differentiate the killing edge from other swords but it's largely pretty generic.
They did get some great voice actors for this. Marth is voiced by Midorikawa Hikaru, who also voiced Zelgadis and Heero Yuy. He also reprised his Marth role in the Smash Brothers games. Sheeda is voiced by Tange Sakura who was also Cardcaptor Sakura. Koyasu Takehito, who has appeared in a hugwe amount of anime, voices Nabarl. Oddly enough, both he and Midorikawa Hikaru played Dio Brando in different Jojo adaptations. With Koyasu being the actor in the main series and Midorikawa voicing him in one of the films. All of the actors do their work very well. The music is less well done. A lot of it is pretty generic and lacks impact, leaving little impression.
While there is arguably some ho-yay in the games this was based on, there isn't any in this. Of course, a lot of that comes from Rickard's character who doesn't appear in the OVA. So, the ho-yay factor is a 1/10.
This is one that's firmly for fans of the series. It expands on some details, fleshes out some characters really well and gives you a nice look at the first three chapters of the game. That being said, there's really no reason to watch it unless you're a fan of the game. It simply doesn't stand alone very well. So, if you're a fan of Fire Emblem check it out. If you don't care about the franchise, it's not going to be worth your time. For myself, I give it a 7/10. Next week, let's take a look at one more Nintendo based OVA. To be specific, Super Mario Brothers.
I'm a big fan of the Fire Emblem games, so when I heard that there was an anime about Marth, I dropped everything and went to watch it.
I then noticed it was a two episode OVA and I was pretty disappointed, but I'd still watch it for my love of the series.
The anime even tells things that Shadow Dragon, (The DS remake of FE1,) didn't. Like the possibly non-canon fact that Marth's hairband is his sister's crown.
The OVA follows Marth, the prince of Altea, as he tries to retake his home from the forces of Dolhr.
Just like in
the games, he meets warriors on his travels and recruits them on his adventure.
The thing about this anime-- While you may read that it's a completed OVA, it doesn't finish the Story. Not even close. I don't know if it was canceled, or they made a two episode, cliffhanging OVA to convince you to buy the game and finish the story, or what, but it ends as if there were more episodes to come.
I rated the story to be good because it has a good, simple premise. It's like a classic war story, I dig it.
The art is good for the 90s, the sound is not. Sounds really bad.
I swear that I heard a sound clip of Link's falling scream in episode 2. Re-used Nintendo assets?
While I liked it, I feel I only did because I already liked the games.
If I didn't know about Fire Emblem and just sat down to watch this, I can confidently say that I would think it sucked.
This OVA tells the story of the very first Fire Emblem game, and features Marth (Mars in the OVA) as the main character. From Super Smash Bros. fame, Marth's game was not released outside of Japan, that was until 2008/9, where a remake was made for DS, which saw international release. This OVA, strangely, was dubbed into English before Math made his maiden appearance in Super Smash Bros. Melee. Ironically, his name was translated as "Mars" in this release. The final thing to note, before I start fully reviewing the OVA, is that it only lasts 2 episodes. It was cancelled before any additional episodes
were made, as such the story only just reaches the introductory stages before the series ends.
The actual OVA is quite old, and the animation style is very indicative of the era. This aside, it is quite well done. The sound also leaves a lot to be desired, old compression technology means most copies of this OVA still in existence are distorted with VHS-encoded sound. Expect a few drops in pitch and tone while watching this OVA. Encoding aside, the sound is very noticeable, with the Fire Emblem Main Theme having an excellent rendition in the OVA.
As mentioned before, being only 2 episodes long, the story is nothing more than introduction. There is no "middle" or "end" to the OVA, only a "beginning". But the bits that are there are well done, they give a good impression of the setting, and many of the characters are given more story than they are in the game, which is a nice feature. The characters are likeable, and each have their own traits. They differ from the game slightly, as some are stronger than their in-game appearances would imply.
Overall, it's a must-see for Marth fans, since it gives a few glimpses to his role in the Fire Emblem franchise. This OVA does more in 2 episodes than most of the dialogue in his game, thanks to his game being a NES-era game (with only bare-minimum amounts of text). But aside from fans of the series(or people who just want to know a bit about fire emblem), the OVA is too short to be considered a full plot.