The young and beautiful Lemnear's home village is destroyed and her brother is taken away. Lemnear swears to kill the evil wizard Gardin who is responsible for the disaster. With her allies Lemnear goes on a journey to take her revenge. She doesn't know, though, that there is someone above Gardin...
After reviewing the original Transformers Movie from 1986, I decided to look at the next movie animated and directed by the same man that gave Transformers its legendary animation. Transformers was the first movie animated by the now rather infamous Satoshi Urushihara. Never again would he work on ANYTHING kid friendly, and devoted the rest of his career to drawing complete smut. That descent into total perversion began with his directorial debut in 1987: Legend of Lemnear. Urushihara had just left high school and worked on the Transformers movie instead of going to college. Fortunately for him, it was a huge success and his artwork won enough praise to land him the job of animating and co-directing this low budget OVA the next year. It was here that he found his life's passion: drawing tits.
Story and characters: 2/10
SPOILERS! Yeah right! As if you actually care!
The story is very minimalist, and the OVA's total run time even uncut is only 40 minutes! What little story Lemnear does have, was completely ripped off from other popular 80s movies! The protagonist is a female barbarian warrior who is attempting to use a magic sword to get revenge on a wizard for destroying her village and slaying her parents. Basically, the plot is copy/pasted from Conan the Barbarian from 1982. In addition, Lemnear flies around on a Pterodactyl like creature taken straight out of the movie Heavy Metal from 1981. In fact, Lemnear's character appearance was also stolen from the main character of Heavy Metal! Lemnear begins by having our title heroine walk into a saloon and order a drink, which soon leads to an absurdly cliche bar fight against some bounty hunter thugs that come in after her and start trouble. Unfortunately, this is Lemnear we're watching, so there isn't any cool dialogue like: Thug 1 "I didn't hear what the bet was" Lemnear (spits) "Your Life!" (shoots bad guys). That's what the bar fight would sound like if you were actually watching a GOOD movie! Instead, Lemnear just throws some kicks, threatens the bad guys with her sword, and they all leave. After talking to an old man, Lemnear leaves the saloon and 2 minutes later is knocked out by the evil wizard she was searching for and taken to the sex dungeon of some fat guy with hypnosis powers. I guess because the bad guy in Conan also had hypnosis powers. Lemnear gets hypnotized, stripped, and felt up by the fat guy, but then the evil wizard shows up and helps Lemnear! He frees her from her hypnosis, which allows her to stab the fat guy in his large belly and kill him. The wizard did this so he could lure Lemnear to his flying fortress and kill her himself. Even though he could have just killed her right there when she was under hypnosis and totally helpless. Lemnear uses her pterodactyl to fulfill its reason for being in this movie and fly to the floating skull fortress. There Lemnear discovers that the wizard is only a part of the main villain's body, which he detaches and uses to do his bidding at a distance. The main bad guy is called the "Gold Champion" and after literally 15 seconds of back story about how he hates humanity because he was thrown into a forest as a kid, he transforms into a dragon and impales Lemnear! Due to the power of complete bullshit, Lemnear regenerates her wounds and uses the pterodactyl to fly above the clouds and gather sunlight into her sword. This allows her to shoot a beam of sunlight at the Gold champion's forehead jewel...which kills him instantly. The End! Seriously, it just kind of ends right there!
Although it doesn't look all that impressive today, you must take into account the extremely limited budget of this OVA, along with the fact that this was 1987. For an anime made in 1987 with an absolutely shoe string budget, this actually looks pretty good. There are plenty of anime from the 1990s with much larger budgets that look worse than Lemnear.
Music and audio: 2/10
Unlike some other terrible 80s OVAs like MD Geist, Lemnear does NOT even have the benefit of a rockin soundtrack. Instead we get rather bland and repetitive music that really doesn't add anything. The best song in Lemnear is actually a ripoff of the opening rift from the Transformer's theme "The Touch", but it never quite gets to the singing part and just cockteases you instead. The English dub is HORRIBLE as you would expect from Central Park Media, but the Japanese is available for free on Youtube if you are curious what the original sounds like. Normally, I would recommend watching the hilariously bad English dub, but for some reason the audio quality suffered horrendously for the English dub version and sounds REALLY fuzzy like it was recorded on VHS. Probably because they DID use VHS to transfer the audio. Some viewer's might find this SO annoying that the Japanese version would be better then having to listen to anything "shot on shitteo"!
Legend of Lemnear is 40 minutes of pure 1980s cheese, but with almost all the fun sucked out. Nothing is creative or well written. The action scenes are short and poorly executed. The ONLY thing this anime has going for it is tits...lots and lots of tits. This may be the first anime I've reviewed that actually got spared a 1/10 rating simply for having lots of appealing mammary glands. I will also begrudgingly admit the animation was decent given its budget and time period. Unfortunately, Lemnear isn't even one of those old anime that is so bad it's funny like Mad Bull 34 or MD Geist. Lemnear is either really boring, or showing tits. Those are the only 2 modes it has. I would laugh at the English dub, but the fucking VHS audio recording for the English version just makes me cringe instead! I wouldn't really recommend watching Lemnear, unless you have a group of friends that simply love to watch REALLY bad movies!
For most of us in the western world the Legend of Lemnear first appeared as yet another 1990s pulp produced OVA however it was actually from the mid-1980s with the delay simply being the product of waiting for a decent localisation to reach our shores in the days before fan-subbing and the internet made almost all releases available in a matter of days after they were released in their native language. The Legend of Lemnear certainly holds its own appeal despite the era it comes from being associated with large numbers of dubious quality OVAs arriving due to it having a rather dark tone and a strong female protagonist who has ties to another female character featured in the far better known animation Heavy Metal. That is not to say however that this is a classic that has flown under the radar for most.
The story starts off appearing to be a fairly basic revenge story with a warrior seeking out the people who were responsible for the murder of her family in a high fantasy setting with plenty of swords and magic on display from the get go with the opening scenes definitely paying more than a passing resemblance to the opening episode of Berserk. From there the story develops into a matter of prophesies and a set heroes of legend in a rather clichéd manner which has been done before and better. What set this apart from the myriad of other OVAs of this period are its slightly darker undertones than most OVAs of this era; an early antagonist being a slave trader for example, its avoidance of over the top violence which was such a staple of this era and the aforementioned female protagonist. However sadly what could have been a very refreshingly different OVA falls rather rapidly into many of the tropes which gave this era of OVA such a bad reputation. Despite its relatively short running time at just under 45 minutes there is a decent slab of fairly pointless nudity crowbarred in and even an attempted rape which serves no real point in the story beyond establishing that these people are the bad guys in the crudest manner possible. It also suffers a complete lack of character development and all but the simplest plot exposition but due to its relatively short running time the paper thin plot does not feel like it out stay its welcome or is particularly harmed by its lack of meaningful development.
The artwork has not aged well compared to things such as Black Lion which I reviewed recently but it is not terrible and looks far more like a western cartoon from this era than an OVA which may be a plus for those who are put off by the stereotypical view of this period of anime release. It does make the world feel rather gritty and oppressed which is the ultimate aesthetic that is attempting to be conveyed and it has to be said that the character detail is quite solid throughout. The soundtrack is actually pretty good considering the time period Lemnear comes from with a decent if a little tacky synth, electric guitar and drum machine beat running through out keeping the action moving without ever feeling intrusive. I wouldn’t say that either the art or the soundtrack are particular selling points but they are of a standard which doesn’t either impede on the viewing experience or make the OVA feel like the straight to video release it actually is. Sadly the same cannot be said of the English dub which is, as to be expected of this era, utterly terrible. Thankfully you can get it in a subbed version these days which definitely would be the recommend way to watch the Legend of Lemnear unless you want the true 90s OVA experience for some reason.
In summary the Legend of Lemnear isn’t a quite lost gem from the 1990s / 1980s but with its short running time the throwaway plot can be overlooked and someone wanting a definitely watchable high fantasy adventure which rather pleasingly doesn’t suffer from terrible animation or sound quality should consider getting hold of a copy. However for those out there who are not prepared to forgive an OVA such as this for its 1980s quirks then avoid it like the plague as you’ll just find yourself getting ever more irritated with the whole thing.