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Gokudo Vol. 1: Swordsman Extraordinaire (1999)

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Studio: Enoki Films
Genre: Anime, Fantasy Anime, Swords and Sorcery Anime
Running Time: 125 min.
Languages: English, Japanese
Subtitles: English
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Where is it written that heroes have to be heroic? Gokudo is the perfect adventurer, reckless, greedy and ambitions. Unfortunately, that makes him one imperfect crown prince and an even worse hero. With his flaming sword, a tomboy looking for excitement and the prince of his rival kingdom, he sets off on a quest to uncover all the great treasures of the world. He'll succeed, or he'll make a total fool of himself trying!

GreenCine Member Reviews

An anti-hero comedy fantasy? It's better than you think! by JTurner1 June 23, 2005 - 6:02 PM PDT
4 out of 4 members found this review helpful
As a 26-episode fantasy comedy Anime series, Gokudo is outrageously wacky, offbeat, and howlingly hilarious, crammed to the bone with more laughs than one would expect. If there were any title to rival Slayers for its humor and zaniness, Gokudo would be a worthy candidate, in that it refuses to take itself seriously while moving along at a zippy, roller coaster pace.

The title character of this tale is the most unlikely kind of hero anyone would ever want to meet--he's selfish, greedy, obnoxious, and has only two goals on his mind: money and hot babes! Gokudo is unabashedly an anti-hero, all right, and so one gets the impression that we're not supposed to identify with him. And yet, in spite of his disreputable qualities, there is actually something about Gokudo who is very likeable--perhaps because his personality is so over-the-top that one cannot help but laugh at him. The most comparable character to Gokudo is Lina Inverse, but unlike our favorite flat-chested sorceress, Gokudo has almost no redeeming qualities whatsoever--and yet he is all the more amusing for it. (He also tends to break wind in more than one location--particularly dealing with major baddies.)

His motley crew is an equally interesting bunch--there's Rubette, a tomboyish princess who shares Gokudo's temper and feistiness (somehow I know that these two are destined for each other), Niari, a lovesick womanizer of a prince who falls for every woman around, a gender-changing genie, a pregnant male panda(!), a pair of Chinese witches... and especially an annoying little midget from Hell, Ikkyu. With the exception of the genie, they are all some of the most self-serving, argumentative group of heroes you'll ever see--and yet the continuous laughs they provide throughout are precious.

The misadventures that Gokudo and his "friends" continually get into literally bounce off the walls with non-stop silliness and unpredictable plot twists. The story is divided into five "parts": In the first, Gokudo is sent to rescue a damsel from a castle with the promises of a rich reward and the life of a king as the prize. Then he decides to get involved in a desert trek that builds to a showdown with a mechanical giant. After that, we visit the kingdom of the Buddhas and Gods, where they manage to pick up a pint-sized brat of a goddess as an unexpected ally. The fourth arc, which is arguably the LOOOOOOOONGEST of the show, involves Gokudo and his friends switching bodies and exploring the underworld. In addition to being slowgoing, this arc makes the grievous mistake of recycling a sequence that may have been entertaining in one moment (the pop-idol quartet musical number) but now tedious in the next. The last arc involves a trip to some kind of native paradise where they face off with a pair of powerful gods and, of course, the final confrontation with the most unlikely antagonist imaginable--a manipulative old hag. Although the unexpected twists of the plot hamper the entertainment value at times (and the animation and music being little more than cheesy, low-grade quality), GOKUDO is nonetheless a showstoppingly funny fantasy farce which should be a hit with comedy-fantasy-adventuregoers.

While people are bound to be, well, opinionated about dubbing in general (an argument not uncommon with Anime series and movies), I have to say that this particular English language track produced by New York-based Headline Sound is loads of fun. Daniel Kevin Harrison simply is Gokudo, the loud-mouthed, crude, impulsively selfish anti-hero of the piece. He sinks his teeth into the role with demonic, zany glee, and one of the primary reasons why the dub works is because of his performance.

He shares terrific chemistry with Angora Deb, another one of my favorite NY actresses, who plays Rubette. I have heard Deb in various other roles for dubs, my favorite of which is Leaf from Record of Lodoss War: Chronicles of the Heroic Knight, but this is the first time I got a chance to experience her playing a lead, and she does so with glorious hamminess. One of her best moments is the episode where Rubette sings "red, red, red"; I was in complete stitches. Ed Paul also does a great job with Prince Niari; he sounded very suave and sexy while very courageous and daring at the same time.

The rest of the cast includes Greg "Ghim" Wolfe (credited here as Chunky Mon) as the Male genie, Jessica "Excel" Cavello as her female counterpart, Georgette Reilly as Ikkyu, J. David Brimmer as two basso-voiced heavies, Pete "Wagnard, Hiroyuki Miyazawa" Zarustica as the Panda, and various incidental roles performed by Rachel "Martina" Lillis, Billy "Parn" Regan, Lisa "Deedlit, Lina, Azalyn, etc." Ortiz, Megan Hollingshead, Meg "Pirotess" Frances, Liam "Hideaki Asaba" O'Brien, and others from the New Yawk dubbing crew. Add to this an equally entertaining adaptation provided by director Bill Timoney and, for a few episodes anyway, Rachel Lillis (which occasionally "Americanizes" Japanese jokes and strays from the original subtitle script, but not by much), and you have one heck of a dub to check out.

The 6-DVD set provided by Media Blasters is adequately packed and not only less expensive than buying each volume individually, but saves the customer a lot of storage space. The visual and sound transfers are both excellent, but the extras are paltry on the first few discs; the real meat is in the form of interviews with the English leads for Gokudo and Rubette on the last disc.

While Gokudo may probably wallow in the shadow of other shows of its kind (namely, of course, Slayers), those who give it a try will find it to be deliciously silly, zany, laugh-out loud fun.

A Blast! by shmuck April 13, 2003 - 9:37 PM PDT
10 out of 11 members found this review helpful
This is a series that doesn't take anything, especially itself, seriously! Very low-brow, non-stop, quick hitting slapstick comedy. I couldn't stop laughing. If you think Slayers is too plot driven try Gokudo.

This anime breaks all the rules. Gokudo is a mercenary to the core. He's a hard person to like and sympathize with even though he's the main character. Throw in your not so standard witches, princes, princessess and drunken lecturing genies and away it goes.

I can't decide if the anime itself just takes some getting used to strange cut scenes and random transitions, or just get better. But this first series seems a little slow, though it picks up quickly.

GreenCine Member Rating

(Average 6.98)
81 Votes
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