El-Hazard: The Magnificent World (神秘の世界エルハザード Shinpi no Sekai Eru Hazādo?) is a Japanese anime franchise written by Ryoe Tsukimura and directed by Hiroki Hayashi. The series was produced and animated by AIC.
There is also a manga adaptation, which is published in English by VIZ Media. The series was formerly distributed in the US by Pioneer LDC, now known as Geneon. While Enoki Films held the rights over The Wanderers spin-off television series, Geneon opted out of using more "Americanized" names per the company's suggestion, instead keeping with the original Japanese.
The distribution rights to the three El Hazard series (Magnificent World, Alternative World and Wanderers) were acquired from Geneon by Right Stuf entertainment, announced during a Right Stuf press release on May 18, 2010. The series will be distributed by Right Stuf's publishing label Nozomi Entertainment.
The series began as a seven episode OVA series entitled, El-Hazard: The Magnificent World. It was popular enough to be remade into a twenty-six episode TV series, The Wanderers, set in an alternate timeline. A second four episode OVA series, El-Hazard: The Magnificent World 2 and El-Hazard: The Alternative World, a thirteen episode TV series with a follow-up special later released on laserdisc, are continuations of the original OVA timeline. There is also a Sega Saturn visual novel videogame inspired from the TV series, with several possible endings.
The story focuses on four people from our world (High school students Makoto Mizuhara, Katsuhiko Jinnai and Nanami Jinnai, and History teacher Masamichi Fujisawa) who are mysteriously transported to the fantastical world of El-Hazard, which is threatened with a massive war between the human nations on one side and the insectoid Bugrom tribe on the other. To add further complexity, the quartet's transportation has a side effect, in that each of them gains a unique special ability. For instance, Katsuhiko gains the power to communicate with the Bugrom, and subsequently uses his power to become the Bugrom's military leader while his sister can see through illusions. The hard-drinking, chain-smoking Fujisawa, on the other hand, gains superhuman strength and athletic ability, but only when he's sober. Makoto's power comes much later but he learns he can control the ancient technology of that world which range from minor gadgets to the most powerful weapons.
The central conflict in El-Hazard: The Magnificent World focuses on Makoto, who along with Nanami, Mr. Fujisawa and human residents of El-Hazard fight against Jinnai's conquest, but other, more sinister machinations lie below the surface. The Wanderers is a simplified version of the original OVA storyline, stretched to twenty-six episodes and eliminates or alters several of the OVA's major characters. El-Hazard: The Magnificent World 2 sees Makoto and the others continuing on in their lives in El-Hazard, when Mr. Fujisawa suddenly runs off, having gotten cold feet the night before his wedding. El-Hazard: The Alternative World follows up with the actual wedding, but the cast is then thrust into another world for a second time; the militant world of Creteria.
El-Hazard's causal loop
At the crux of the El-Hazard plot line is a causal loop, or an example of the predestination paradox. The first OVA begins with Makoto meeting Ifurita for the first time on Earth. After giving him a warm greeting, revealing that she somehow knows him, she sends him to El-Hazard. Later on in the series, Makoto discovers Ifurita entombed in a labyrinth, where she had been kept since ancient times. Upon this second meeting with Ifurita, Makoto is puzzled by the fact that she does not recognize him, nor does she treat him with the same demeanor she evoked in their first encounter.
Over the course of the series, Makoto manages to free Ifurita from her enslavement to Jinnai (the "master" of the Power Key Staff, and therefore her master.) In response, Ifurita comes to love Makoto, but events involving the Eye of God (see below) force her to drift through time and space for ten-thousand years until she is eventually entombed under what would later become the site of Shinonome High School. The series then returns to the beginning, this time from Ifurita's perspective. After warmly greeting Makoto, she sends him to El-Hazard in order to trigger all of the events that, from Makoto's perspective, had yet to take place. Soon after, Ifurita is reunited with an older Makoto who has transported back to her with her key, enabling them both to return to El-Hazard together.
The Eye of God
The Eye of God plays a prominent role in both the OVA and The Wanderers. In both continuities, it is the ultimate superweapon, created by an ancient civilization. Its basic design is that of a giant metallic orb that floats in a geosynchronous orbit within the world's atmosphere, and thus is often compared to the Death Star of Star Wars fame.
The Eye of God is a dimensional weapon that sends all it destroys into a vortex leading to an unknown destination. In the first OVA series, its use in ancient times is responsible for pulling the Phantom Tribe from their own world into El-Hazard.
In the OVA continuity, the Eye of God first needed to be unsealed by the Muldoon priestesses before it could be operated via the Stairway to the Sky, a tall metal tower that almost reaches the height of the Eye's orbit. Two female members of the royal house were required in order to activate the weapon, but the Phantom Tribe attempted to get around this barrier by creating a machine that would require the use of only one. The Phantom Tribe also sabotage the Eye, causing it to go out of control when the Princesses Rune Venus and Fatora use it to destroy the Bugrom. It's stopped by Ifurita, who synchronizes with the device and is ultimately lost in time and space for ten thousand years as a result.
In The Wanderers, the Eye is controlled from within rather than from the Stairway to the Sky, and the character Ifurita acts as a key to controlling the weapon. Jinnai attempts to use Ifurita to control the Eye, but once connected, Ifurita's true purpose as the Demon God is revealed, and she attempts to destroy El-Hazard. Makoto stops the Eye from going out of control and is temporarily lost, but finds his way back to El-Hazard at the end of the series.
In The Alternative World, another Eye of God appears, but this one is a shattered version of the original and does not seem to need a princess and three priestesses to unseal it. Its origin is not explained.
Notes and trivia
- In the English dub, Jinnai names a group of Bugrom Groucho, Harpo, Chico, Zeppo, Gummo and Margaret. These are references to the five Marx brothers and their long-suffering foil, Margaret Dumont. To further the in-joke, Jinnai's dub actor R. Martin Klein is credited under the alias of Bob Marx.
- Tenchi Muyo! and El Hazard are considered sister series, and characters from both series have made several cameo appearances in the other. A short list: Fujisawa appeared in a few episodes of Tenchi in Tokyo (as Tenchi's teacher) and even makes a reference saying Tenchi must've gone to an alternate world when Tenchi disappeared on a school field trip, Ryoko and Tenchi are featured on a magazine cover in a later episode of The Wanderers it's believed to be episode 20 of the Wanderers when Jinnai is having flash backs of his childhood he's sitting on his bed reading and manga of Tenchi, Jinnai and Alielle make an appearance in the Tenchi spinoff series Magical Project S, while (badly) hidden elements from Magical Project S can be seen in the El Hazard TV series.
- In the English dub, the Bugrom language is garbled French.
Guardians of Order released a role-playing game based on the first OVA series in 2001 and with rules based on the company's Tri-Stat system. The gameplay is reminiscent of the company's more generalized anime-inspired game Big Eyes Small Mouth, but features some modified mechanics and additional skills to better fit the El-Hazard universe. For example, it is possible to create "Relic characters" that are similar in nature to Ifurita, and earthling characters have access to the attribute "Unknown Superhuman Power" which allows the Game Master to pick special attributes or powers that the player must discern over the course of gameplay.
A note contained in the book suggested that the game would receive a supplement in 2002 based on characters and events from El-Hazard: The Magnificent World 2, but no such supplement was released.
- EL-HAZARD: The Wanderers - Nozomi Entertainment's Official Website
- Official AIC El Hazard Website (Japanese)
- Hazard - The Magnificent World 16 (OVA) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia