Dragon Quest: The Adventure of Dai (Episodes 38 – 50) Review

Oh yes, that’s right. Before we get to a few more stand-alone anime reviews and then the next bigger series / story arc we have another chunk of DQ: Adventure of Dai episodes to get through! What adventures await? … Actually, to be fair, these episodes were mostly good it’s just the series has started to outstay its welcome, which given a new opening starts the next batch I’m assuming we’re not as close to the end as I thought / hoped…

Synopsis:

With Maam back to the party, Dai and his friends set for Popp’s homeland to look for a sword strong enough for Dai to use, while Leona holds a summit with the world leaders to discuss the creation of a united front against the Dark Lord’s Army.

*spoilers appear from here on out!*

The Good:

Who had “Giant Walking Castle with Arms” down in their predictable enemy list?

This batch of episodes had one thing definitely going for it: it was full of nicely animated fight scenes (with one exception…) The first few episodes form a small arc where the armoured Myst-Vearn reveals that Sovereign Rock Castle is actually a gigantic walking weapon and rides it into the town where the World Leader Summit is taking place and attacks. At the same time Dai is getting a new weapon forged for him out of the super tough and rare “Orichalcum” metal so in classic Shonen fashion he’s unable to help his allies for the first few episodes. Instead its Hynckel who manages to land a blow on his old mentor Myst-Vearn, angering the mysterious masked man when his face is nearly revealed. Dai of course makes it back in time and shows off the power of his new sword, the “Sword of Dai”, by slicing the titanic walking castle in two. This angers Myst-Vearn even further but Kill-Vearn, the assassin of Lord Vearn himself, arrives and convinces Myst to leave with him…

Dai and Popp decide to follow them and end up meeting the brand new and improved Lord Hadlar, who has become modified using the same Super-Human experiments seen in the last batch. His power is overwhelming and manages to crack Dai’s new sword (ALREADY), their clash leaves Hadlar weakened but Dai missing in the frozen tundra they were battling on. Hadlar returns to Dark Lord Vearn and is rewarded by the man in person, for the first time ever. He is given five chess pieces made of Orichalcum which he then turns into five powerful warriors … also made entirely of Orichalcum. Meanwhile Dai is recued and returns to his blacksmith alongside Hynckel, the two of them beginning some special training in preparation for facing off with Hadlar and Vearn. In fact Maam and Popp also do some special training, the latter learning an ultimate spell he can use…

Hadlar delights in actually having a purpose and aura of threat again.

After a brief appearance of magician Zaboera, who is put behind bars by Hym, one of Hadlar’s new Orichalcum warriors, we get everyone gathering in one place and getting ready to head off and fight their foes head on, only for all five of the “Hadlar Royal Guard” to appear at the docks and wipe out all the heroes gathered there that aren’t our main party. This leads to a full-on fight between our heroes and the Orichalcum guards that ends with some heavy damage on the Royal Guard side thanks to Popp’s new spell, but otherwise both sides leave and go back to rethink their strategies. Then just before the end we see Dai’s Dad and fellow Dragon Knight Baran appear and attack one of the Royal Guard who had spotted our mouse-like comedy character Chiu and started attacking him. This was after Kill-Vearn had already been sent after Baran earlier in the story. Forgot to mention that…

So there were some good scenes, especially early on, but nothing on par with the Dai v Baran fight from last time…

The Bad:

Dark Lord Vearn is revealed! … and he’s an old man with a third eye in his forehead. …. Bit of a letdown, but hey-ho…

I do like the design of both the new super-Hadlar and his Royal Guard, but can’t help but think the sudden addition of five new powerful warriors to the story is only serving in stretching the plot even thinner, which is even more obvious as everyone keeps saying the only thing left to do is attack Vearn’s HQ head on but are taking a while in actually doing it. As I mentioned in the first paragraph there is at least enough of a story left that they’ve given the show a new opening and that both frightens and confuses me…

The big battle between Dai and his party against Hadlar’s Royal Guard was ruined somewhat by overuse of CGI. A little bit of CG to add camera work and flow to a battle is fine, it worked great in Dragon Ball Super: Broly, worked brilliantly in the previous batch of episodes when Dai faced Baran, but here? Here it looked like I was suddenly watching a computer game cutscene for a few minutes before it switched to back to traditional 2D animation. I don’t know why it was suddenly so obvious, maybe the amount of characters, possibly the fact that the Orichalcum warriors were supposed to be all shiny and therefore it didn’t look right when they were suddenly 3D images, I don’t know. But it didn’t work at all in my eyes.

Overall Thoughts:

And with this picture of Myst-Vearn I realise that all five of the pictures I took (including the thumbnail at the top) are of the villains. I guess that’s what happens when the main cast go through so little in the way of character development (plus who doesn’t like cool villains in armour?!)

This batch of Adventure of Dai episodes had some strong fighting and managed to redeem Hadlar after his constant failing but the introduction of five new powerful foes and a flat refusal to move the plot along made the whole show feel like the breaks were suddenly put on. Not bad, but not as that great either…

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