Dark Warrior vol. 1
Mike Toole rates it:
Ah, here’s yet another new English version of something dredged up from ADV’s back catalogue. I’d originally just glanced at the box and written this title off as some sort of chop-socky Fist of the North Star knockoff, but it’s really not like that at all– there’s more of a science-fiction bent to it, and it doesn’t feature the main character doing special moves that cause his enemies’ heads to explode– well, not in the first episode, anyway.
Anyway, it’s all about Joe Takami, a well-to-do young software developer in Silicon Valley. Only he isn’t really Joe Takami. Indeed, through a series of chance encounters, curiously inaccurate memories, and Joe’s own keen powers of observation, he figures out that he doesn’t know who the hell he is. You’d think that a person would notice this sooner, but hey, maybe Joe was having too much fun porting Diablo to the Playstation or something. Either way, he finds out that his memories and experiences don’t quite fit together with what he finds in the real world, and this sets off big alarms in his head.
Like all good antiheroes, Joe is being manipulated by the shadowy and enigmatic Bad Guys, a fact that’s driven home cruelly by his discovery that his presumed best buddy, Lloyd, is one of them. But Joe doesn’t find this out until after a pair of unusual cyborg-seeming people pursue and attack him, pausing occasionally to physically dismember peripheral characters and wise-ass cops. Eventually, Joe is cornered, and ends up hulking out and getting rid of his assailants. He later is forced to confront Lloyd, who not only is much more powerful than he is, is still trying to befriend Joe and convince him to stand down. Llyod’s enhanced body is much, much bigger and badder than Joe’s, but Joe has something that Lloyd doesn’t: black hair! Um, that’s totally irrelevant, actually. Anyway, you’ll have to check out the tape to see how Joe deals with Lloyd. Needless to say, it’s pretty damned messy. Oh, and there’s a naked girl in there somewhere, too. Can’t say I remember where or why…
This is, without a doubt, the worst animation I’ve ever seen in any OVA release. The characters seem to lurch around drunkenly, often pausing to jerk their arms or exhibit odd facial tics. And that’s really unfortunate, because the story, while generic, is told fairly well. As for the dub job, it’s my opinion that a good dub should make even fairly nitpicky anime fans forget that what they’re watching is an English adaptation of a work that was originally in Japanese. Director Tristan MacAvery and the cast (particularly Brett Weaver’s Joe) succeed at doing this, with the usual ADV suspects delivering nicely understated performances. There aren’t any outstanding voice characterizations, but there isn’t a necessity for them, either. It’s quite pleasant, really.
Good animation would have made this show more interesting, but as I stated earlier, the animation is anything but good. That, coupled with the absolutely average story, keeps Dark Warrior strictly in the middle of the pack, stuck among other middling titles like Green Legend Ran, Big Wars, and Psycho Diver. Considering ADV’s increasing penetration of the mainstream retail market, you’ll no doubt be able to find this at the local Blockbuster. I say give this one a shot, if you don’t have any late fees pending and all the copies of Jerry Springer Presents: When Animals Attack Cops… UNCENSORED! are checked out.
Added: Friday, October 10, 2003
Related Link: ADV Films