With children’s television dominated by cartoons such as Ben 10, Dreamworks’ Dragons: Riders of Berk and Marvel’s Iron Man: Armoured Adventures, nothing can be more unique than an action-packed fantasy series. We’re talking about the animated DELTORA QUEST series which is an epic dystopian story that will entertain young fans.
Directed by Mitsuru Hongo (World Trigger, Outlaw Star, Spirit of Wonder), DELTORA QUEST is based on the first Deltora Quest series written by Australian author Emily Rodda. Deltora Quest follows the journeys of Lief, the son of a humble blacksmith, who sets out to fulfill his father’s quest to restore the Belt of Deltora.
In this epic quest to save Deltora from the evil grips of the Shadow Lord, Lief is joined by ex-palace guard Barda and Jasmine, a wild girl from the Forests of Silence. Their quest is to find the seven gems of the Belt of Deltora: the topaz, ruby, opal, lapis lazuli, emerald, amethyst, and the diamond. Each gem has a special power hidden in ominous locations around Deltora, and in order to find these gems, the three friends must face numerous obstacles and perils.
Their adventure is no easy task — the trio must form crucial allies; slay monsters; and tackle obstacles filled with twists, betrayal, and word games in order to survive. Once the Belt is complete and the proper descendant of the first King of Deltora, Adin, wears the belt, the evil tyranny of the Shadow Lord will be forced back to the Shadowlands. For a children’s literature series, this is a true fantasy series complete with demons, magic and dragons, and it is (without a doubt) one of the best children’s fantasy series out there.
Staying true to Rodda’s story, production house Oriental Light and Magic and SKY Perfect Well Think must be commended for producing a near accurate series of Rodda’s original content.
Unfortunately, the Western dub series has been heavily criticised for deleting scenes, adding fillers, altering the characters’ characterisations, and ‘dumbing’ it down for children. While it is common for fans to prefer the original Japanese version of any series, the dubbed version of Deltora Quest worked a lot better as a children’s animated series than the standard Japanese anime series.
If we make a quick comparison to many of Deltora Quest’s rivals back in 2007 such as Code Geass and Death Note, Deltora Quest does not fare well at all due to its limited production budget.
While the original screenplay (written by Oketani Arawa, Reiko Yoshida and Natsuko Takahashi) had all the right ingredients of Rodda’s story, the art direction (led by Hiroyuki Nishimura and Junya Ishigaki) was frustratingly displeasing. As if it was produced back in the ’80s, the art direction didn’t accompany the original anime as well as it should. However, because the English version reduced its seriousness in various ways (via screenplay and voice-acting), the art direction surprisingly accompanies the dub version a lot better than the Japanese version, ultimately making it more bearable to watch.
Deltora Quest’s approach to animation is rather entertaining, and sometimes questionable as well. The series mostly employ traditional animation but it also experiments with CGI as well, especially in many of the scenes featuring Lief’s enemies. Throughout the anime, we see Gem Guardians such as Gellick the Toad and Glus the Slug whom have been animated on a magnificent visual scale that is almost 3D-like.
No doubt that it is an odd directorial decision to utilise both traditional and digital CGI styles — both styles contrast with one another, often clashing and distracting viewers’ attention away from the storytelling on the foreground.
Because the level of art is average, it is these CGI animations that captivate viewers every single time. The final battle between Lief and the dark side (Dain, Fallow and the Shadow Lord) demonstrates this CGI entertainment as the production team went beyond their usual standards to achieve an epic finale filled with 3D animation and well-directed cinematography.
Overall: Amongst youth television cartoons, DELTORA QUEST is a fresh breath of air that stands out from the pack. Deltora Quest’s storytelling has the potential to succeed as a live-action series that could have been in the same league as Merlin or Game of Thrones. The animated series may not be what we expected but fans’ inner geeks should be satisfied to see Rodda’s books in visual form. For an Australian literature series to be produced into an anime series, this is a feat not many indie series can achieve.
DELTORA QUEST COMPLETE COLLECTION (FATPACK) is now out on DVD. You can view more info on Madman Entertainment’s site [here]