Disgaea: Complete Series

“Whoops, I kinda went over budget” – Enta

Whilst video games have a low batting average when it comes to being adapted into other media (what with Sonic SatAM, Gungrave and the manga adaptation of Breath of Fire IV being but a minute drop in a sea containing the likes of Sonic Underground, The Super Mario Brothers Movie, and the collective works of Dr. Uwe Boll) it’s not by any means a brush with which to tar any endeavour of the sort.

Oriental Light and Magic (Pokemon), however, have decided to bask in the tar and, for good measure, jump into some feathers. Thus willing this mess of an adaptation into existence.

If you do not know what Disgaea is about then you should just skip to the end of this review because this should not, under any circumstance, be your introduction to the Disgaea franchise as watching this series as a fan is a disservice and having your first impression of the franchise be this anime is an outright tragedy. Five minutes searching Ebay will allow the purchase of any one of the three Disgaea games for about the same price as this set and It’s almost certain that it will be far more entertaining with a better bang for your buck ratio to boot.

The trailer for Netherworld War Chronicle: Disgaea (The full official title of the series, not that anyone uses it) that came packaged with Disgaea 2 was, quite simply, a trailer for an anime based on the first game with all the fights and bizarre, often self-referential humour that makes Disgaea one of the best Strategy RPGs around. The final product couldn’t have been more different, short of the series being a live-action movie starring Raul Julia and Denis Hopper. May they rest in peace, or, better yet, have awesome Bowser vs. M. Bison battles in Video Game Valhalla.

The characters are rarely on model and often look as if they haven’t gone through more than one check-through, moments in the game that would have been awesome in the hands of a competent studio are diluted to suit the budget and the overuse of CGI as a cop out from having to animate anything more technical than basic character moment will boot you out of the moment so fast you will think you’re watching Sonic X.

To make matters worse, OLM couldn’t trust the viewers to hold out for main characters for more than one episode and threw in characters from halfway through the game, tossed the entire story on its side and proclaimed that they had no intention whatsoever to even try to be the story of the game outside of the vaguest outline. Characters are often introduced and left for dead within the same episode, the generic class units are reduced to bit part cameos and often only consist of showing up for five seconds only to get blown away by Laharl’s poundland CGI fireball.

The fact that the anime is only thirteen episodes long means that the story has to be truncated even further, leaving plot lines hanging at best and answered very awkwardly at worst. The ending to the series in particular managed to take everything that was great about of the game’s ending and somehow turn it into a confusing mess that ultimately fails to end anyone’s storyline effectively. This sort of nonsense is usually the realm of Gonzo but somehow OLM got screwing over the audience out of a show’s airtime down to an art. Berserk was a case of them running out of manga to adapt; they don’t have the luxury of such an excuse here.

The only thing that’s anything close to being of any worth is the English voice acting and that’s only because Barbra Goodson, Sandy Fox and Michelle Ruff (Laharl, Flonne and Etna) pick up where they left off from the game’s voice work and go for another round that, whilst it’s nice to hear them again in those roles, can’t do much to mitigate the damage that has been already done. The Japanese voice work didn’t even register; it wound up being mixed into the big muddy puddle that is the rest of this anime.

The DVD’s have no technical errors (as if MVM could do much of anything to make things worse) and the only real extra of note is a series of conversations between Laharl’s Japanese voice actress, Kaori Mizuhashi, and Sohei Niikawa, the creator of the game, as they talk about the game and it’s adaption into an animated series. It’s interesting to hear their thoughts on everything beforehand (The talks took place prior to the production of the anime) but I doubt they could have seen just how badly everything could have gone so wrong.

This series is an utter waste of five hours that, ultimately, sells everything that is great about Disgaea insultingly short. Why did MVM, having taken a bath trying to sell good anime such as Sailor Moon and Yu Yu Hakushou, think that getting this was anything even resembling a good idea? Sure, they’re running out of straws to grasp, what with Gonzo going the way of the Dodo and all, but this comes off as pathetic.

With a bigger budget and twice the airtime, this show could have been salvageable but, as Shigeru Miyamoto once put it, “A good [product] is released eventually, a rushed one is bad forever” and thus is the fate of this anime.

In Summary 
This is the Superman 64 of video game anime. If you want to save your sanity, solve my maze by not buying it! 

2 / 10