Deltora Quest – Collection 1
Set in the fictional realm of Deltora, a
land not unlike that of Middle Earth, Deltora Quest follows the
Frodo-esque attempts of Leif, a humble blacksmith’s son, to locate seven
fabled gems and restore them to their rightful place within the magic
Belt of Deltora (‘One belt to rule them all’). This will end the
tyranny of the evil Shadow Lord, who resides on Dread Mountain, and
allow the rightful ruler of Deltora to take their place on the throne.
Based on the million-selling series of
children’s fantasy books written by Australian Emily Rodda, the anime
version of Rodda’s tale makes such a laughably cursory attempt to
disguise the parallels with Lord of the Rings that it’s
astonishing the tetchy Tolkien clan hasn’t come a–knocking, lawyers in
tow. Dark Lord/Shadow Lord, Mount Doom/Dread Mountain – Deltora’s
Shadow Lord even takes the form of a giant flaming eye. Before he sets
out on his quest Lief is adorned with a magical sword and a cloak of
invisibility, and is joined on the journey by his trusted companion
Samwise, I mean Barda, and the mysterious Jasmine, who has the ability
to communicate with trees.
The astonishingly brazen plagiarism doesn’t
exactly speak volumes for Ms Rodda’s powers of imagination, and means
that you know exactly where the series is going from the opening minutes
of episode one. Apparently the novelettes are marketed at 8 – 14 year
olds, but I would imagine anyone over the age of ten would have a hard
time sitting through more than a few minutes of this without thinking
‘You know what, why don’t I just watch Lord of the Rings
instead? The storyline is the same and both the emotional texture and
production values are superior.’
At one point in the final episode Jasmine
laments ‘It just feels like this flatland goes on forever.’ I initially
thought she said ‘It feels like this plotline goes on forever,’
and by that point I couldn’t have agreed more. Derivative, flashy but
ultimately empty, Deltora Quest has some enjoyable moments, but
it’s nothing Tolkien didn’t do infinitely better half a century ago.
Video & Audio
Another big oversight is the lack of
Japanese audio. I know the source material is Western, but so what? It
wouldn’t break the bank to include two audio tracks, and though the
voicework is decent enough an English two-channel audio track is hardly
the ideal way to experience an anime series.
On a more positive note the animation is
excellent. Character designs are nicely varied, backgrounds are lush
and the attention to detail impressive. Aside from some oddly jittery
motion sequences, visually the series can’t be faulted.
A smattering of trailers for other animated
fare such as Ben 10 and Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.