Rune Soldier - Volume 1: Enter The Klutz Review
Known in Japan as Loiue The Rune Soldier this adventure series takes place in a magical land of adventurers, sorcerers, elves and ogres.
Three female adventurers - Genie, Merrill and Melissa are expert treasure hunters, who raid whichever ancient ruins they can find. Their only problem is that none of them are experienced magicians and so their attempts at breaking into places with magic seals are futile, that is until they decide to hire such a person capable of helping them.
Looking for female adventurers proves to be difficult, especially seeing that none are brave enough or experienced enough to head out on such missions. But wait! There is one such person. Loiue is a magician in training but he suffers from arrogance and stupidity, always ready to go into battle without question. His attitude worries the girls who think it would be a mistake to let such a person join their group. They don’t have much choice when they are forced to take him on their adventures and they’ll soon find out that Loiue will cause them more trouble than they need.
Rune Soldier is one of many shows that seep through the hundreds of anime releases without much fuss made over it. I actually picked this up knowing nothing about it, on the basis of the trailer and I’m pleased to say that I wasn’t let down. Rune Soldier is a little gem of a series that will likely remain overlooked.
From the beginning, the show gets straight into things and by the end of the first episode we have our four main characters together and ready to go. With little in the way of character development for the first few episodes, it comes down to situational comedy as we gear toward character background. Things start off in Loiue’s favour as he is the main focus, with only the virginal Melissa getting an equal amount of story time.
Comedy is the main ingredient and one that prevails throughout the first four episodes. The set up is that out hero, Loiue isn’t quite what the girls had in mind. Because they originally wanted a female magician the girls feel lumbered with Loiue so they torment him while slowly coming to accept the fact they’re stuck with him. Loiue shouldn’t be pitied, as though he receives the brunt of their remarks he isn’t without his drawbacks. Much to their surprise he is a volatile person who breaks out into a rage every time he is hit, often resulting in frenzied fights with the locals or ogres, should the occasion arise. He also manages to shrug off most of their comments in laid back fashion.
Enjoying the series depends on how much you like Anime comedy shows, though most of this is physical comedy that translates well overseas. As far as the style of comedy is concerned it doesn’t differ greatly from a dozen shows both past and present but it’s the charm of the series and its characters, along with timing that makes it as enjoyable as it is.
Anime like this are in abundance and you can argue that Rune Soldier doesn’t offer much in terms of originality but for a fantasy anime it’s fresh. I’ve seen more mature shows of this type that tend to follow more serious storylines and aren’t always the better for it. Some are even based on computer games, such as Final Fantasy: Unlimited and fail to be anything other than boring, but Rune Soldier is good old fashioned fun, featuring interesting characters and a storyline that I hope will fully develop in future episodes.
It’s not just about comedy though. The series features action and adventure but focuses predominantly on introducing us to the main players in the first four episodes, Along the way we also meet Loiue’s friend and perhaps admirer, Ila and a young elf named Celicia. In-between introducing the extra characters our main heroes get themselves into all kinds of trouble and that’s where the action kicks in.
I particularly like the interesting approach that director Yoshitaka Koyama takes with regards to Loiue. In episode four, there is a wonderful introduction to his brain. After Louie gets struck on the head by an ogre in the Elf forest we are taken inside his skull and witness his brain activity becoming more erratic, as the blood pumps faster the camera comes back out, Louie’s eyes become white and the character launches into an attack. It’s not only funny but also an interesting side to the character that we should see develop further.
Rune Soldier features an interesting soundtrack that comprises of an eclectic mix of rock, country and pop themes along with various others that all add a fun element. The opening song “Twinkle Trick” is one of the catchiest anime pop songs that I’ve heard in a long time and because I didn’t stop playing the intro sequence I went and ordered the OST.
What’s great about DVD is that we can enjoy both language tracks. Rune Soldier features a lively Japanese voice cast and of course I recommend to anyone that they listen to this first of all. Katsuyuki Konishi is a fine Loiue, making his character laid back but stupid without overdoing it. Louis comes across as an endearing fellow really and is extremely likeable. His supporting cast are all uniformly excellent and it’s not just this show but any anime in which you should listen to the original language track because only the Japanese actors seem to get so into their characters and are so passionate about performances.
When it comes to the English voice cast I can say that they do a good job. Each character’s voice isn’t as memorable as their Japanese counterparts but at least the dub is enjoyable. The voice actors seem to have taken a slightly different direction in displaying attitudes but they keep a sense of fun and retain the mood of the series.
Rune Soldier was produced in 2001. For a relatively new show the animation is of good quality. Character designs are interesting and the personality of each is reflected by their garments.
Loiue looks perfectly suited to his heroic threads; Merrill is young and hot-headed and dresses like a teenage girl, albeit in a Lara Croft kind of way. Her adventurous personality shines through. Melissa dresses accordingly to her religion and Genie is the strong, silent warrior who looks like a barbarian.
The series is incredibly colourful and cheery and like so many new anime it is coloured using a computer process. As a result the characters and backgrounds are well defined and the bold colours leap out but this new process is something that some fans don’t seem keen on. I’m not sure why but to me it’s only inevitable that anime would continue to be produced using newer technological methods. The series doesn’t suffer for it.
ADV are perhaps the finest distributor of anime in the U.S. Once again they present a nicely produced DVD with an eye-catching, reversible cover and some neat packaging extras that includes some temporary tattoos and two puzzle cards that when put together with future cards will form a large illustration.
The animated menus are very colourful and each one features a character from the series.
Volume 1 includes the following episodes:
Episode 1 - The Hero Descends
Eager to find treasure, Merrill, Melissa and Genie look for an ancient ruin but upon discovering it find a magic seal is blocking their way. Realising they need to employ the services of a magician to gain access they head to town in search of one.
Ila introduces them to Loiue, a trainee magician who is eager to join the girls for adventure but Genie is quick to show her disapproval. Picking a fight with her Loiue confuses his magic runes which results in a bar explosion. The next day, Loiue tries to find Melissa in the hope that she and her friends will accept him but Genie and Merrill are out to make sure this doesn’t happen. Meanwhile Melissa is in the middle of a ritual that will determine who she will serve, when suddenly Loiue drops in, literally!
Episode 2 - First Time
Louie gets into trouble for rudely interrupting Melissa’s ritual but she is now convinced that he is the man whom she is to serve. Reluctantly she accepts him into the group despite Genie and Merrill’s intervention, but Louie finds himself doing less of the magic he was supposed to and more of the baggage handling. After reaching the ruin Louie manages to break the seal but upon entering they discover it has already been raided and is now inhabited by ogres.
Episode 3 - The Big Melee
As Louie fights the ogres he flies into a rage and accidentally breaks his magic wand. When he goes back home, Ila tells him that he will need a branch from a 500 year old oak tree. The nearest forest with such a tree is Tartious, a place where demons dwell and not many adventurers return from. The girls do not like the idea of following Louie into the forest.
Back in town, a rival gang of adventurers try to convince Louie to join them but he suspects their true motives and deals with them in his own special way.
Episode 4 - The Phantom Forest
The girls have decided to help Louie find his oak tree but it’s not long after entering the forest that Louie attracts a group of demons with his summoning whistle. The girls take on the demons while Louie ends up fighting a wild boar, and soon after defeating it he is determined to eat it for dinner.
The group eventually find an old oak tree but are soon interrupted by an Elf girl named Celicia. She promises to get them a much better oak branch but the girls have a hard time trusting this stranger. Louie finds himself attracted to the Elf and insists that she isn’t luring them into danger. After being caught as a result of trusting Celicia, the gang find themselves locked up in the Elfish prison. Louie comes up with a ridiculous plan to escape but it’s the only shot they have…
The transfer for this looks excellent. Colours are brilliant and detail is strong. There is the occasional softness in background shots and some slight rainbows to match but this happens rarely and overall the look is as good as you’d expect from a show this recent.
Although the packaging lists English 2.0 and Japanese 2.0, the English track is in fact 5.1.
First up is the Japanese audio. Presented in the original 2.0 track the dialogue, music and sound effects are crisp, there are no problems whatsoever.
The English track on the other hand sounds a little different, aside from the obvious language change the dialogue and effects have a heavier sound. At times the dialogue sounds tinny, not as natural as the Japanese dub and has too much bass.
Clean Opening and Close
The opening and close sequences, sans overlaying credits. It’s always nice to get these as you can appreciate the quality animation on offer.
A selection of current ADV titles: Wild Arms, The Samurai, Saiyuki, Zone of the Enders and Noir.
Volume 1 of Rune Soldier has started off very promising, being hilarious and exciting. Fingers crossed that future episodes will see us learning more about the main characters and it will be interesting to see if a major story begins to unfold. I'm glad I stumbled across this show and for the time being I shall look forward to checking out Volume 2.
Last updated: 17/04/2018 19:11:17