Of course, we started of with the first El Hazard OVA, El Hazard: The Magnificent World. A mysterious shrine is discovered beneath a highschool. When Makoto, a highschool student wanders in at night, a strange woman (who appears to know Makoto) emerges. She sends Makoto and two other students (the money-loving Nanami and the unscrupulous Jinnai) and one of their teachers (alcohol- and tobacco-loving Fujisawa) to a mysterious world. This world is El Hazard, a world divided in two parts by a great river. One side is home to the coalition of Roshtaria, a group of kingdoms united under the banner of the royal family of Roshtaria. The other side is ruled by Diva, queen of the Bugrom (basically, giant insects). Of course, there is a war between the two camps.
Fujisawa, Makoto and Nanami end up on the side of Roshtaria. It turns out that Makoto looks a lot like the recently dissapeared princess Fatora. He is forced to cooperate with the other Roshtarian princess to keep the other rules from growing too suspicious and breaking up the coalition.
The unsavoury Jinnai ends up with the Bugrom, and he quickly rises to the rank of warlord...
Every human in El Hazard has a superpower. Fujisawa has super-strength (when sober, which isn't often...), Nanami can see through illusions, Jinnai can speak Bugrom and Makoto can interface with the ancient technology that's left by the ancient civilisation of El Hazard, which destroyed itself via various weapons of war.
Those weapons of war are still around: in the sky circles the ominous Eye of God, a war sattelite that can use a trans-dimensional beam weapon. It is under the control of the Roshtarians, but there are several checks and balances that prevent them from using the Eye of God lightly. Another type of weapon are various 'bioroids' (for lack of a better description), who were built by the ancients for battle. One of these, Ifurita, is awakened -- and she is the one who sent Makoto to El Hazard in the first place!
- Fun fantasy romp;
- A good causal loop!
- Jinnai's maniacal laughter made klik giggle ('Cutely evil', she called him).
- Has a tendency towards a 'harem'-anime.
All in all, it's a fun ride, not too long (only 7 episodes), not too heavy on the fanservice, but not too well-drawn either. A 6.5.
Next was the second El Hazard OVA, aptly named El Hazard: The Magnificient World 2. This is a four-episode series, set right after the first OVA series.
Basically, it's more of the same: Jinnai finds another 'awesome weapon' and the gang has to defuse the situation through various misadventures. Character designs are 'upgraded' (apparently Shayla-Shayla wore too much clothing in the original), but the story isn't.
- Tighter storytelling.
- Bad artwork;
- Heavy-handed fanservice;
- Un-original storyline.
See it if you must (the two El Hazard OVA's are sold in a single box), but it's not worth it to seek it out on its own. A 5.
There was an El Hazard TV series, 25 episodes long. From the descriptions I found on the internet, it's like a retelling of the OVA series. We haven't seen that one, but we did see the second El Hazard TV series: El Hazard: The Alternative World.
It's more of the same, only in a different dimension/world. The gang (plus two new characters, one of which is voiced by Maaya Sakamoto!) ends up in another world, though at different locations. Various trials and meanderings lead up to an apocalyptic ending which is almost indistinguishable from the previous two. The upgraded character designs are retained for this incarnation of the El Hazard franchise, but the artwork is much, much better. There are some new ideas, but in the end this series treads where it has already gone twice.
The story ends after the twelfth episode, the thirteenth episode is just an afterthought which provides only fanservice.
- Decent artwork;
- Maaya Sakamoto!
- Some fresh ideas are introduced.
- Storytelling goes no-where (it could have been told in half as many episodes);
- Heavy-handed fanservice (mostly by the hands of Fatora).
Probably fine if seen in isolation, but falls flat when watched in sequence with the first El Hazard OVA. A 6.