Article: Dungeons, Dragons and Anime
Series clarification: Dungeons, Dragons and Anime I hate to admit it but I have hobbies other than anime, chief among them RPGs. So when I can watch anime that fulfills this sword and sorcery craving I am happy. Since anime falls somewhere in the geek cluster of hobbies (people who's intellect surpasses their popularity, before you flame me remember that otaku, the title which you proudly call yourself is the Japanese variant of the same word)some of you out there probably enjoy them both. Thinking about the subject I came to the realization that several fantasy anime titles are kind of confusing because they often contain a TV series and a oav series, which are very different but under the banner of the same title. So as a service to the anime fans everywhere I decided to help clear up the confusion.
To talk about fantasy of the dungeons and dragons kind in anime the first title an otaku reflexively turns to is The Record of Lodoss war. It is about as close to a typical fantasy game as say the dragonlance trilogy or the story Drizzt do Urden(and if you don't know who produces those books I'll just say It's really really close). The Record of Lodoss war has all the Rpg clichés any fantasy gamer can name. In the first episode of the oav you see the six heroes fit the basic D&D class roles(If your brain dead it's Parn/Shiris/Orson/Spark/Garrack=fighter Deedlit/leaf=elf Etoh/Leylia/Neese=cleric Slayn/cecil/ Aldo Nova=wizard Ghim/Grieves=dwarf woodchuck/Ryna=thief Marr=halfing) Fighting against not all that original villains (An Goblins, A black knight, dragons, An mad wizard bent on resurrecting the God of destruction). The stereotypes in Lodoss war however, do not stop the show from being interesting since the story is well thought out and very connected to a story arc. This means you never feel like you are watching a typical episode of Lodoss. The record of Lodoss war comes in two versions(three if you count the original manga) and a follow up called the legend of crystania. The TV series can be confusing if you watch both versions without some clarifying information. The Oav which came first is the short version of the whole story. The TV version is a more complete version of the later part of the series picking up the story after the events in Oav episode 8. The legend of crystania happens after the events in Record of Lodoss war(any version) but to make sense of how it ties in to Lodoss you have to watch the TV version.
Another series that a fantasy in anime article is Slayers. Slayers is merry adventures of a girl named Lina Inverse. While the main character, Lina, is a girl, her personality alone takes the show completely out of Cutesy shojo territory. She is very self confident(even arrogant sometimes), has a quick temper, and the firepower the level whole cities. There are two different Slayers storylines, Slayers (Distributed by Central Park Media) and Slayers special (Distributed by ADV). The main difference between the two is who is traveling with Lina. In the main Series Lina has a big cast of friends, the most important being ,Gourry, a dumb as bricks blonde swordsman with a magic sword Lina wants. Also important is, zelgadis, a heartless mystical swordsman(he actually likes that title) who is part demon and part golem, and ,Amelia, a spunky, justice obsessed princess. There is even a few more character to round out the cast which change depending on what season you are watching. They wander around fighting and overeating and save the world about twice a season. This is in contrast to the Slayers special line which is covered in movies and Oavs. There Lina is a bit younger than she is in the TV series and is a bit less powerful (she can't destroy the world yet). She only has one traveling companion, Naga, who is a wizard like Lina, except she has less in the magic department and more in the chest department. Lina finds Naga annoying and wishes she would go away.
The final series covered in this article is Magic Knight Rayearth. Rayearth is the story of three girls, Hikaru, Umi, and Fuu and their dealings with the magical land of Cefiro. The three girls are the best of friends(this can not be stated enough), become magical warriors and wield their power to save the world. As with all series in this article, Rayearth has both a TV series(distributed by Media Blasters) and a Oav series(Distributed by Manga Entertainment). Practically everything else is different, the cast of characters, the word they fight in, even the names of the magic knight's giant robots. The TV series follows the CLAMP Manga at least somewhat faithfully while the Oav is almost unrecognizable from the Original Manga. The girls are practically the same (even though they have different hobbies depending on the series). Other than that other only other characters that remain relatively the same are, Clef a wizard who is largely an expository mouthpiece, and Mokona, a white ball of fluff that looks cute and can only say the word "pu". The other characters that appear in the Oav change drastically. In one case one of the magic knight's allies and Fuu's would be boyfriend0, Ferio, changes in to a blackhearted villain. The fights also have a different atmosphere, as when they are fighting in their giant robots they are naked. So be prepared for a shock when you watch the Oavs.
So that's it for the first edition of Series Clarification. I hope that cleared up some of your anime confusion