It is a place that dwells in the memory of those who still dream of its ancient glory. A world revered for its beauty, mystery and danger, on a planet of endless adventure. Such a land is known as El-Hazard. If your spirit has wings to travel, even across the breadth of a thousand million nights, imagination will guide the way and the gates of El-Hazard will always be open to you.
When he awakens a beautiful woman entombed in a mysterious chamber discovered under his high school, Makoto Mizuhara finds himself (along with several other people) catapulted across dimensions to the world of El-Hazard. Once the site of an unimaginably advanced civilization that destroyed itself in an apocalyptic war, it is now home to a culture in the Arabian Nights Days, sprinkled here and there with the remnants of ancient ultratechnology.Once there, Makoto and his teacher, Masamichi Fujisawa, find themselves on the front lines of a Bug War between the human lands and the Bugrom, a civilization of immense insects. Makoto's life is complicated by his uncanny resemblance to a missing princess, whom he is drafted to impersonate. Meanwhile, Makoto's friend Nanami Jinnai is dropped in the middle of a desert; his arch-enemy, Nanami's brother Katsuhiko, finds himself among the Bugrom.As Makoto, Mr. Fujisawa and Nanami struggle to help Roshtaria, their new home, defend itself, Jinnai falls into the role of a military messiah to the Bugrom and begins leading them to victory after victory. Only the threat of the Eye of God, an unimaginably powerful weapon controlled by the royal family of Roshtaria, prevents the Bugrom from overrunning the human lands, but when Jinnai finds a disturbingly familiar superweapon of his own, matters begin to come to a head.Meanwhile, the visitors from Earth learn that the transit to El-Hazard has changed them in unexpected ways, even as they discover that there is a secret, third side to the war. Add to that the revelation that there is more to Jinnai's superweapon than just a means of massive destruction. Plots revolve within plots, and victory may become defeat. Throw in a time loop, lovers separated, family reunited, a trio of elemental priestesses, an indiscriminately amorous teenaged lesbian and some broad comedy leavening the drama, and you have the makings for one of the better anime "miniseries".El-Hazard is noteworthy for being one of the first anime whose English dub is considered superior to the original Japanese voice work. In fact, the director and other members of the production team consider the English cast to be the definitive voices of the characters, far superior to their Japanese counterparts. The animation is first-rate, and it has a lush orchestral soundtrack that perfectly evokes the "Arabian Nights" feel of the world.An OVA, El-Hazard was remade/expanded into a TV series called El-Hazard: Wanderers. This series generally followed the same plot outline, but there were significant changes to some of the characters, including a severe tuning-down of the lesbianism (though the hints are there if you look) and the exclusion of the Phantom Tribe. The OVA version itself had two sequels: El-Hazard: The Magnificent World 2 (short and not bad, though not the equal of the original), and El-Hazard: The Alternative World (which was Cut Short, running to only 13 of its planned 26 episodes).There is also a manga, which is mostly the storyline of the first OVA with some of the characterization from the first TV show.
Big Lipped Alligator Moment: An In-Universe example occurs in the first episode when Makoto and Fujisawa are first stranded in El-Hazard and a... mumbling dolphin-headed mowhawked bear-thing... comes wandering out of the bushes, runs past them and dives back into the bushes, leaving the two gobsmacked humans staring and verbally wondering what the hell just happened. Subverted in that it does serve a purpose to the audience: to let them know that this isn't Earth anymore.
There was also Galus posing as a well meaning prince in the first OVA.
Bishōnen: Makoto and Galus (in his human guise) are actually the only male characters who qualify.
Nahato, though young, as well.
Blatant Lies: Alielle says that "I haven't been able to think of anyone else since [Fatora] was gone!" Of course, while Fatora was imprisoned, she had been busy trying to get into Shayla Shayla and Nanami's pants.
Blessed with Suck: Fujisawa's opinion of the condition required for his power to work: sobriety.
Broken Heel: When Ifurita attacks the palace in episode 4, one of the palace maids trips and falls while fleeing from her.
Canon Immigrant: The silly version of Ifurita The Wanderers became as popular as the serious original one, so a radio drama taking place in the OVA's continuity imported her in under the name of "Ifurina".
Card-Carrying Villain: Jinnai is evil and proud of it! In the Wanderers continuity, at least. In the OVA, he averts this. He is less interested in "evil" and a lot more interested in "conquest" and "killing Makoto."
The Chessmaster: Jinnai, especially in the OVA, is a rather capable politician and leader despite coming across as a complete buffoon. While his plans appear amateurish and simple-minded to the viewer, they usually work quite well. To add to that, he apparently launches a number of military campaigns that result in quick and easy conquests with an army that had utterly failed to be effective for centuries before his arrival. While the viewers don't get to learn much about what exactly he's doing, he apparently makes an excellent tactician, and this is why he comes so close to conquering El-Hazard.
Cute Monster Girl: The Bugrom are basically humanoid beetles that stand, on average, twice the size of a human being. Queen Diva, on the other hand, is a beautiful woman with pink hair, diaphanous wings, cute antennae and small black spots on her forehead that are presumably extra eyes. At the end of The Alternative World, she actually takes Jinnai as her mate.
Cut Short: The Alternative World was chopped at 13 of 26 episodes; the last two episodes were horribly rushed messes of trying to resolve a half-dozen subplots at once. And some of them don't even get mentioned, let alone resolved (like the Literal Cliff Hanger that Amazing Vanishing Love Interest Guy was left in before he, well, vanished).
Didn't Think This Through: Jinnai suggests that the Bugrom population has become too small, and that Queen Diva needs to make more little Bugrom. The Queen agrees, but needs Jinnai to help. Jinnai is horrified by the implications.
Dragged into Drag: Londs and Princess Rune meet Makoto and Fujisawa during the time of Fatora's abduction and decide to use Makoto's likeness to her to their advantage, in order to assure their allies that the Eye of God could be used at any time should the need arise. When Makoto refuses to go along with it, they imprison him and Fujisawa in the tower until he reluctantly agrees to do it.
Elemental Hair: The three great priestesses of Mt. Muldoon: Shayla is easily identifed as the priestess of fire, thanks to her flaming red hair. Miz Mishtal, who presides over water, has lavender hair. And while Afura Mann's a brunette, her blue/sea green attire shows she controls wind.
Engrish: "El Hazard", being a Spanish prefix appended to an English word, does not make any sense in context to describe an Arabian Nights world. It's often assumed the land's name, and by extent the title, is supposed to be "AlHazred".
Hidden Depths: Interestingly enough, Jinnai actually exhibits a strong paternal instinct for his subordinates at times. He shows this in different ways depending on what continuity of El-Hazard it is, but it actually seems to be a genuine quality of his...
In the first OVA, he is generally respectful of his Bugrom soldiers, only insulting them for doing something genuinely bone-headed and making a point of memorizing the names he gives them. He even seems keen on accompanying them into battle on some occasions, when he really never had to, though this may be to more properly direct them. It still involves risking his own neck alongside theirs, which is rare for any sort of general, let alone one so megalomaniacal. All this makes him seem like a Father to His Men (or, rather, women as the Bugrom are most likely female, being soldiers in a hive-like system.) He even dresses up in the style of a Bugrom in the second OVA for presumably no other reason than to strengthen camradarie with them!
Idiot Ball: Afura Mann grabs it in the OVA when Ifurita attacks Roshtaria's palace. Ifurita takes out Miz and Shayla by using their own attacks against them. She then explains to Afura (the only one left standing at this point besides Makoto) that her power allows her to absorb and learn any attack thrown at her. Afura then immediately attacks Ifurita with her Badger's Slash attack which not only fails to hurt her, but then allows Ifurita to learn it herself, which she then uses to defeat Afura. She might have seen that coming.
Insect Queen: Queen Diva is the ruler of the Bugrom Empire. As such, part of her duty is to ensure there are a sufficient number of troops for their army and to sustain the Bugrom Citadel, which requires that she mate with someone. So, when Jinnai notes the shortage of troops and suggests she lays more eggs, she takes him upon the offer.
Intimate Marks: Both Ifurita and Kalia's activation modules are located directly above the cleft of their buttocks. Each must be inserted with a keystaff to turn them on, and is every bit as suggestive as it sounds.
I Thought Everyone Could Do That: Nanami and Phantom Tribe illusions; she often doesn't realize that she isn't seeing what everyone else is. For example, we discover her powers during a scene when a female Phantom Tribe assassin approaches the group disguised as a scantily-clad blonde bombshell; since her true form is a blue-skinned Kiyone Makibi expy, Nanami doesn't notice anything odd about the men's dropped jaws right away. Later on, in Roshtaria:
Nanami: (ecstatic) How cute! A wedding between the Royal House and the Phantom Tribe!
crowd murmurs in confusion
Londs: (chuckling) Lady Nanami, surely you jest? This is Galus, her Royal Highness' fiance.
Nanami: I surely doth not. His skin be blue.
It Makes Sense in Context: The plot proper of the first OAV begins when a beautiful woman comes out of that mysterious capsule and lovingly embraces Makoto by name and neither he or the audience has any idea of why how she knows that or why she is acting that way. At the very end, you see that same event from her point of view and it makes perfect sense by then.
Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Dahl from The Alternative World is a horrible pervert and Harem Seeker who takes all the women in Cretaria for his harem, while callously brushing aside the woman who does love him, and using his army to tax and terrorize the colonies. However, he did actually care about Gilda; he pushed her away because she was a member of the Royal Family of El-Hazard and he didn't want to bring her into the mess surrounding the Eye of God.
Joker Immunity: El Hazard without Jinnai and the Bugrom would be boring, so they escape all the time.
Love Dodecahedron: More or less; Makoto is rare in that he decides who he's interested in rather quickly and makes it pretty damned obvious to the other girls. The sequels tried to Tenchi Muyo! things up a bit, throwing three other love interests at him to complicate his life. Then again, the girl he's interested in isn't actually present in the sequels, which take place before the final scene of the original in which Makoto is reunited with Ifurita.
In The Wanderers, Makoto makes it pretty clear he's interested in Rune Venus early on, and it's not so much about Nanami and Shayla-Shayla competing for his affection, but coming to terms with his decision.
Mistreatment-Induced Betrayal: Ura is Fatora's armor-cat, and at first only serves Makoto because Makoto is Fatora's body double. Then when the real Fatora shows up and starts treating Ura like trash, Ura quickly decides that he likes Makoto better.
The Mole: Galus poses as a nobleman and Rune Venus' fiance, but is actually the leader of the Phantom Tribe.
Money Fetish: Nanami doesn't want to spend the money she earns from her restaurant in The Alternative World. She just wants to roll around in it!
Moral Dissonance: The end of the original OAV in regards to the Bugrom. Apparently, mass genocide is perfectly OK!
Don't forget that the Bugrom wanted to conquer El Hazard. It was self-defense.
And it wasn't really genocide. The Bugrom weren't destroyed, just sent to another world (though one wonders what kind of problems they're going to cause for the new world they were sent to, especially given the Phantom Tribe's situation...)
Mr. Vice Guy: Alielle is a sweet girl but also a nympho who constantly sexually harasses girls.
Princess Fatora is just as horny, if not more so, but isn't a nice girl. She's just a self-important Jerk Ass.
Name's the Same: OVA Ifurita and TV Series Ifurita are very different characters, in both personality and appearance. Though, in a shout-out, TV Ifurita's personality shifts to one more like her OVA counterpart when she's taken control of by the Eye of God (she gets better, though.)
Rival Turned Evil: Jinnai. Well, he was always evil, it's just that in El Hazard he became professionally evil.
Road Sign Reversal: Subverted that while Jinnai sabotages a sign to get the heroes going onto a dangerous path, Mr. Fujisawa knows all along they are taking the tough path, but takes it anyway because he relishes the challenge.
On one occasion, Ura(a cat-like animal that can envelop Makoto's torso and act as a suit of "living armor") exclaims "It's a job...", much like the dinosaurs-as-living-appliances would in The Flintstones.
Stable Time Loop: Across dimensions even. Ifurita's actions at the end of the OVA send her to Earth's past, where she hibernates in an underground chamber beneath what will eventually be the site of the school; the discovery of her chamber and her subsequent awakening set off the chain of events which result in her being sent to Earth's past.
Unwanted Harem: Makoto collects the interest of nearly every girl in the series.
Villain Decay: In the first OVA, Jinnai is perhaps the most competent enemy that Makoto and co. face, and is almost unstoppable when he gains control of Ifurita. In the second OVA, he's lost none of his competence, but because Ifurita is gone and his army has been annihilated, he and his forces suffer from Lowered Monster Difficulty and are far less effective. After this, he tends to be treated as a joke rather than a serious threat.
Villainous Rescue: Jinnai saves Makoto and Nanami from Galus and Nahato at the climax of the original OVA, wanting to stop Galus under the pretense of "A true ruler doesn't destroy the land he wishes to conquer!"