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A festering heap of adequacy
You do get sick sometimes of reading reviews criticizing a work for not being something it never planned to be. It puts me in an awkward position of admitting that I don't really know what the directors of El Hazard were going for.

It's got too much innuendo and fanservice to be a series for kids. It's also got too much mickey-mousing, face-faulting, and egregiously cute animals to really come across well to an older audience. This is especially pronounced in the first three episodes. The much-lauded dub is very shonen, with rather overdone vocal performances that, at the least, get a little wearisome. At worst it overplays and sinks some rather good lines.

If there's one thing I noticed about this show that made me not love it, it is the writing. It's not bad. It's functional and it carries the story along. But that's pretty much all it does. I was never surprised by anything anybody said. It's dialog that you'd expect of this set of people put into an action-adventure cartoon and that's all it is. It never moves you, never surprises you, never makes you see hidden depths, never makes you laugh or cry. It's just what's required to tell you what's going on. There's some lines that only make sense if you assume the speaker has suddenly become a complete idiot.

Animation is average. It's not bad, but there's moments where even main characters lose their facial features from a medium distance. The Bugrom are the worst victims, seldom getting individual animations. Backgrounds are better, if very Nausicaa-ish. The show uses a LOT of slow plans over background shots, and for good reason.

Music is a plus. The opening theme has the colossal balls to rip off the original Battlestar Galactica theme with added arabesques. The incidental music is pretty and atmospheric and the closing theme is an embarrassingly catchy ear-worm. The generic 90s electronica used for the battle scenes is rubbish, but you'll never notice.

So, would you buy this for ten dollars? Yes. It's an enjoyable show if you're not looking for something that will blow your mind. It's a simple fantasy-adventure with a ton of anime tropes that haven't really been stirred in quite enough, and which are left floating around to get your attention. It's not bad. It's not brilliant. It's a show I'd recommend, but with caveats.

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