Orphen – Anime Review

Japanese Title: Majutsushi Orphen

 

Related: Orphen 2: Revenge (sequel)

Similar: Slayers

Scrapped Princess

Fullmetal Alchemist

 

Watched in: Japanese & English

Genre: Fantasy Action Adventure Comedy

Length: 24 episodes

 

Positives:

  • Fun experience with likeable characters.
  • Many humorous moments.
  • Aged decently well.

Negatives:

  • Ending a little strange.

Orphen was the first anime I bought that had more than one DVD to it. The store had the entire series except for volume 5, and with Orphen on the way out, I couldn’t find that fifth DVD anywhere. I remember walking into an EB Games (GameStop in America) in Brisbane, over nine hundred kilometres from home, and seeing volume 5 in the bargain bin for five dollars, but it was a VHS – yes, Orphen is rather old. I didn’t care; I bought that brick and I enjoyed the hell out of it back home. And though I may have since sold the DVDs to adopt a digital library, I still have that VHS (it’s elevating my monitor to a better height, actually – probably still works too). Suffice it to say, Orphen will always be a classic to me.

This anime follows a sorcerer called Orphen on his quest to find the dragon Azalie that terrorises villages as it roams the land. The dragon seeks the powerful Sword of Baltenders, currently owned by Cleao, a spoilt, yet feisty, rich girl with a crush on Orphen’s bad boy looks and charm. Apprenticed under Orphen is Majic, a dedicated student who is probably too nice for his own good. Through an encounter against Azalie, the three end up travelling together to solve this dragon problem.

The characters and the humour keep me returning to Orphen every few years. Orphen is a former student of the Tower of Fang magic academy (they aren’t pleased at his departure) and fancies himself their greatest ever student. He’s lazy, sarcastic, and I love his attitude. The trio play well off each other, Majic as the poor guy who has to do all the work and Cleao is way out of her depth, but still brings genuine heart to Orphen’s bitter life. These three feel like real friends.

The group is pursued by two small trolls, Volkan and Dortin. They bring most of the humour to proceedings. Volkan hates Orphen because of his smug attitude and losing to him in a wager (to be fair, Orphen probably did cheat with magic). He concocts various (terrible) ideas to beat Orphen and get rich in the process, dragging his brother, Dortin, into failure every time. I laugh whenever Volkan and Dortin are on screen, brought to life superbly in the English track.

Orphen’s angle is one of fun. The dialogue is more colloquial, though not too modern, rather than “fantasy speak,” as one would expect in a European fantasy. The characters occasionally throw in smarmy phrases that didn’t existed in the medieval, which works when the series is built from the ground up to be this casual fantasy. I mean, the world has ice cream…somehow.

Orphen may not have anything spectacular to show, it may not have the depth of epic fantasy, and it may not be the most complex narrative, but it is certainly an enjoyable series. I still laugh to this day when I watch Orphen, and I doubt that will ever change.

Art – Medium

Fittingly fantasy art style, similar to Berserk, just without the naked monsters. The animation is good for its time, but lacks the high motion seen today. Still, what is animated is done well.

Sound – High

You have to watch Orphen in English. The Japanese falls short in every aspect: Majic is obviously voiced by a woman, Volkan and Dortin sound like women trying to add gravel, and the English has dozens more jokes woven into empty spaces found in the Japanese script. For example, in episode one, Orphen is accused of being lazy (which he is) and he turns to Majic for back up; Majic says Orphen is working, but adds under his breath (in English), “I don’t know what you’re working on, but you’re working,” in a grumbly, sarcastic sort of way – the Japanese has nothing in its place. It’s the small things and the right voices that make the English far superior. Good soundtrack that balances the humour and fantasy.

Story – Medium

A sorcerer and his friends hunt a dragon. Simple, yet enjoyable fantasy adventure.

Overall Quality – Medium

Recommendation: Despite my overall medium rating, Orphen is easy to recommend. It is a fun experience that I have watched several times. Avoid the rubbish, repetitive sequel.

(Request reviews here. Find out more about the rating system here.)

 

Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)

Positive:

CharmHilariousPositive Recommended English Voice Track

Negative: None

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