Junko Noda as Goddess
Enter our (for lack of a better word) 'hero'. We find Gokudo in some random medieval dive, trying hard to brush off an old foretuneteller who's warning him that the Magic King is out to kill him. To really set the tone for the series, we watch him: 1, con a free meal out of her; 2, nick her coinpurse; and 3, make good his escape by way of a vile burst of flatulence on his way out the front door.
The joke's on him, though... not only does her purse turn out to contain a rock (instead of the gold or gems he was more or less hoping for), but when he throws it against the nearest wall a genie (not so imaginatively named Djinn) pops out. Gokudo promptly wishes for fame, gold, and 'hot babes', which only results in the genie launching into a moral lecture about the human condition and why the former shouldn't squander his wishes on such base desires.
And that's just the first few minutes of the episode. To give you a better feel for the blitzkrieg pace of the show, we then proceed quickly thRead More
We learn that his cellmates include Rubette (a bona fide princess who's a lot more interested in a good swordfight than in waiting for Prince Charming to show up), Asuga (that landlord's daughter he was paid to rescue, but blew off instead) and Mora (a mysterious 'hot babe' with a preternatural awareness of magical traps). While searching for some way of out of the Magic King's parlous castle, they run across Seigi, your typical 'Prince Valiant' style caricature... handsome, gallant, charming, noble, and bland. While Asuga swoons, Gokudo's ready to vomit, and it's only through further manipulation by Mora (mainly by appealing to his endless greed for gold) that he agrees to help the others kill the King. Oh, yeah, and Gokudo's actually a 'prince' himself. Well, sorta. Fortunately for him, this revelation is made by someone in a position also to revert him back to his male self.Read More
In the final episode of this three-part arc, our heroes converge on the throne room (only after contending with a hall of enchanted mirrors and Gokudo's abortive attempt to throw in with their enemies). The Magic King apparently didn't get the memo that Gokudo's rotten to the core, though, because he attacks the party with a knockout gas that only affects people with 'a good heart'. While his mates fall into a drugged stupor, Gokudo merely laughs and cuts loose with his very own 'gas attack', which, erm, 'revives' the lot of them. (I did warn you this wasn't an intellectual programme, right?) In the end, this whole epic combat turns out to be a marital spat between the Magic King and his 'lovely' wife... the same wrinkled crone that Gokudo ripped off two episodes back, who's also the genie's boss.Read More
Starting off a new adventure (and ditching Seigi and Asuga, thankfully), this episode has the rare distinction of killing Gokudo in the first few minutes, as he gets accidentally shoved off a cliff by Rubette, who had been dogging his steps since he escaped from the Eschallato empire. (For the curious, he used his last wish to get Djinn to turn him back into a commoner after a frightening bout with the strictures of royal life.) But he's still interested in getting filthy rich, so it's not hard for one of the three princesses of Parmette - after resurrecting him, natÃ¼rlich - to convince him to sign up for something called 'the King's Race'. Not that Gokudo has a clue what he's getting himself into. Highlights include a confrontation with the 'Dumpling King', a restaurateur-cum-martial-artist whom Gokudo (unsurprisingly) gipped out of a sizable meal at some point in the past.Read More
Here's another good example of what's endearing about Gokudo. Take your basic fantasy premise (Parmette is a land awash with magic, but something has gone terribly wrong with the natural order of things), focus on a ridiculous consequence of same (the mythical beasts of the region have lately been metamorphosing into preposterous hybrid monsters, like the 'fearsome' sand parrot), and then do an anachronistic take on the situation (the kingdom derives most of its revenue from tourism, with people travelling thousands of miles to gawk at Parmette's weird creatures... which are now so silly-looking that no one wants to see them and the royal coffers are dangerously close to emptying).
Of course, this episode also manages to work in a wisecracking unicorn, a Sphinx that gets so annoyed at Gokudo that she demands a 'moon drop' instead of asking a proper riddle, and a little demon masquerading as a monk of wisdom called Ikkyu, who is so taken with how evil Gokudo himself is that he actuallyRead More
As those of you who read my review of the first volume may recall, when we last left our â€“ ahem â€“ 'heroes', Gokudo had somehow stumbled into a three-man race with the prize being the Parmettian Empire. Summoning Princess Coco to help him solve the riddle of the Sphinx, it soon becomes obvious (even to someone as thick as Gokudo) that she knows more than she's letting on. She finally spills that Parmette, whose biggest tourist pull and source of income is its wealth of exotic monsters, is in serious trouble ever since the kingdom's magical energy mysteriously started draining away.
Apparently the Goddess has disappeared, and the way Coco tells it, Gokudo's destined to be the one that brings her back and saves the empire. As you might imagine, both the audience and Gokudo himself have cause to be sceptical in the light of such an outrageous claim... but when the demon Ikkyu returns just in time with moondrop demanded by the Sphinx, the entire party is granted permission to enter the royaRead More
Well, the title pretty much sums this episode up, but this wouldn't be much of a summary without a few details, so here we go... in that dumb-luck way of his, Gokudo manages to chance upon the sacred relic first, but is more than a little intimidated when he discovers it's guarded by a huge dragon! Fortunately for him, this is merely another of the alternate forms of Djinn, who has been moonlighting as a security guard to make a little extra dosh on the side. (In another of the show's trademark schticks, the core characters of Gokudo sometimes seem to vanish for a little while, but they always tend to return at a dramatic moment in an alternate guise. Funny, that.)
Rubette and her unicorn arrive on the scene and after a brief reunion between her and Djinn, it's revealed that the reason Gokudo can't summon his magic sword is because it's been sealed up in the sanctuary with all of the other royal treasures... so it's only natural that our 'man of action' will want to go get back what'sRead More
And so the show gains yet another recurring character... the handsome rogue, Prince Niari, who's defining trait is his womanising nature. Apparently tempted to the mortal plane as he was bored with the girls in the Magic World, he swans into the Parmettian palace, kidnaps all three Princesses, and lays waste to the place after smashing the royal relic that everyone had spent so much time hunting. (Yes, just as the DVD case advertises, Niari is 'tall, dark, and evil ta boot'.)
But all is not lost for Gokudo and Company! They manage to find the Goddess after all (who is typically small, cute, and fairie-like), but unfortunately she seems to have forgotten everything, including the fact that she's a goddess. While at first it seems the only way she can regain her powers is if a foreign hero sacrifices his flesh for her, Gokudo's having none of that, so the gang end up chasing after a different solution (and get a snazzy new form of transportation â€“ Pegasus â€“ into the bargain). While they'Read More
And so we begin the third story arc of Gokudo. Frustrated at having come out of his desert race with no more than a dusty old box, he pops it open and is instantly turned into an old man. Niari works out that the box is the property of the Princess Otto, related to the Dragon God and therefore (alas for Gokudo) immune to both his and the Djinn's magic. Though Niari seems keen to dump Gokudo altogether, Djinn cajoles him into accompanying them to the island of Inaho (where the Dragon God is worshipped)... primarily by mentioning how beautiful the princess is alleged to be.
On the way there, Djinn explains that the Magic World and the realm of the gods are mortal enemies, so he, Prince Niari, and Pegasus will have to camouflage themselves as humans during their visit. (So for a while at least, Djinn will assume his pretty-girl guise again and Pegasus will take the form of a rather scrawny looking guy.) Of course, getting to Inaho proves a real hassle, especially when you factor in the apRead More
As Gokudo and Co set off - mercilessly leaving Niari behind to keep Princess Otto company - they are soon met by Nihi, a priest of the Hanishi (the followers of the Dragon God), who apologetically explains that Lady Nano (the Sun Goddess) is in a foul mood and that the suddenly stormy weather merely reflects this. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when they arrive on the scene she is nowhere to be found and they eventually discover that she's barricaded herself in the nearby Cave of the Gods and that darkness will hold sway until her mood shifts.
Gokudo, knowing he only has a week to succeed in his mission, is less than impressed with this news and tromps off to the cave to try and bust the goddess out. Of course, the first thing our heroes do is make a terrible faux pas when they devour the food the villagers have been laying out as tribute to Lady Nano. (Yes, even Djinn, whose initial harsh lecture dissolves into hearty participation the moment she spots the unattended flagons of wine sittingRead More
Still hoping to find the magic sphere in the capital of Inaho, the gang chance upon Niari at the seashore... who apparently escaped the clutches of Princess Otto (lovestruck daughter of the Dragon God; see episode nine), but at the cost of being turned into a merman. With a little help from Lady Nano, he gets his legs back (but not his clothes!) and the core party is once more assembled and ready for action. Clues indicate the magic sphere may be found at a shrine near the foot of the mountains, but when they arrive they find the place ransacked, and the White Fox (the shrine's occupant) clearly abducted. Giant footsteps leading away from the shrine suggest the involvement of the Buddha... which is a major problem since Niari, Djinn, and Pegasus are magical creatures and thus considered sworn enemies of the followers of the Buddha.
When a spectral projection of the White Fox (taking the form of a gorgeous girl) appears before our heroes, there's the usual - and predictable - split of rRead More
Before the fight can really get going, Ah and Ng use their arms flapping in synchronisation to hypnotise Gokudo & Co. Upon waking up, they realise Lady Nano's been abducted, so Djinn and Pegasus revert to their true forms and fly off to locate her while the others continue on foot to the capital city. Through the usual fakery, they manage to convince the locals that Niari is an amazing physician, and the team gets invited up to the royal palace to have a look at the sick prince (Sukyo).
The gang is invited to stay the night, but of course, not all is as it seems. The healthy prince (Hanayo) takes Gokudo aside and explains that the Emperor is interested in Rubette and wants to broker a deal for her. Predictably, Gokudo OK's this plan and goes off to tell Rubette she's been summoned. Of course this only leads to Rubette having to wipe the walls with the Emperor when he tries to lay his greasy hands on her, followed directly by guards pouring in to defend him.
Only care of a distraction bRead More
The capital city of Inaho burns as Indra and the Dragon God battle one another while searching for Gokudo, while Djinn and Pegasus finally manage to rescue Lady Nano. Meanwhile, our hapless 'hero' is having no luck finding his way out of Inaho, and after another brief run-in with the ineffectual Ah and Ng he gets cornered by Indra and (despite Niari's best efforts) soon thereafter by the Dragon God as well.
In the ensuing Mexican standoff, Djinn and Pegasus return with the Lady Nano, who tries to snatch the magic sphere away from Gokudo. Our lad is having none of this, however, and in the tussle the two of them accidentally tear it in half! This, as one might imagine, is a Bad Thing... primarily for the assembled immortals, however, as it means that gods can no longer live amongst humanity. The heavens crack open and hoovers up Lady Nano, Indra, and the Dragon God.
So this would seem something of a result for our heroes if it weren't for one pesky little detail... Gokudo is still ageinRead More
We next find the gang enjoying some rest and relaxation on a place called Demon Island (nice holiday spot, no doubt), but this is Gokudo after all, so don't expect much of a breather; the fourth major plot arc of the series is set to start... rather spectacularly, in fact, with the lot of them getting sucked into a strange magical vortex before losing consciousness.
Gokudo awakens to the concerned gaze of Ikkyu, doubly suprising as Ikkyu not only seems not to recognise him, but the little demon no longer appears to be evil, either! While taking tea with the priest (Master Tei) whose home he finds himself in, the true horror of the situation becomes apparent to Gokudo... he no longer looks like himself; in fact he's the spitting image of Rubette. Yes, we have come at last to the infamous 'body-switching' plot arc that may provoke snickers of appreciation or snorts of vexation in equal measure, depending upon which Gokudo fan you speak with. To give you the basic run-down, we soon learnRead More
So the gang are all still where we left them back in episode 14... which is to say, amidst an identity crisis as all of them have inexplicably switched bodies. The unsightly creature Rubette has accidentally turned herself into cannot speak, and she's having no luck communicating her plight to (the not-very-observant) Gokudo. He in turn - hoping to find some way to revert Ikkyu back to his original evil self - uncorks a phial he nicked from Master Tei and instead gets a neurotic talking panda for all his trouble!
They soon stumble across Rayuka and Shikinka and fall for their 'drugged food' trick just as readily as Djinn did before them. Upon waking, the two are reunited with Djinn, who recognises Rubette despite her monstrous guise. However, before Gokudo can really get his fill of teasing her, they are struck by the disturbing realisation that the witch sisters have in fact imprisoned them and shrunk them down to doll size... apparently in preparation for feeding to their 'pet'.
The smaller part (no pun intended) of their troubles is resolved when the lot of them end up falling into some magical hot springs (no, not those magical springs) and have all of their bodies revert back to normal size and shape. Alas, the body-switch curse hasn't lifted, and it's only after Rubette threatens drastic measures that Djinn's magic is used to alter her form into a cute female iteration. The downside of this is that the panda, enamoured of her new shape, tries it on with Rubette. Spurned, he decides to go off and take over the world (as you do), though not before revealing that only a chosen few can enter Horai Mountain and that they'll need the counsel of Jiki the Sage.
Our stalwart adventurers discover Ikkyu masquerading as Jiki the Sage, allegedly under orders from the Queen of the Magic World (you know, 'granny') to round up Djinn, Niari, Rubette and Gokudo as they can't get back into their correct bodies until they're all in the same place. Rather inconveniently, aboutRead More
Abruptly, the Chingensai Sisters are number one in the Hellish music charts and perform live from the Yama Palace Stadium, introduced by MC Ikkyu. When Gokudo ('Gon-Gon' to the adoring crowd of demonic creatures) comes back on stage there's a complete ruckus and the audience rushes forward for autographs, leaving them no choice but to more or less fight their way out into the surrounding forest. Just the sort of place where you might run across a huge, talking tree named Jyoka the Sage, right?
Inside her trunk we learn some more about Jyoka from the witch sisters. She is the Tree of the Sages and once every 900 years she bears a miraculous fruit. Anyone who eats it becomes a mortal sage, invincible to everything... but if an unqualified person drinks the nectar, who knows what will happen? Of course, Gokudo is quite taken with the idea of being invincible and has already taken a sip before anyone could stop him. He then starts to burn up until he eventually collapses.
When he finally dRead More
Using Gokudo (in the pop star persona of Gon-Gon) as bait, the gang manages to infiltrate the secret monkey encampment ruled by Gokuu (or, as is currently the case, Niari - who has been unable to escape the watchful eye of Gokuu's gorilla-esque, shrewish wife). After a close call, Niari is rescued and things are beginning to look up for our heroes. (Niari even takes the opportunity to magically alter his body from monkey to man-form.)
Unfortunately, there's been an imposter lurking in the ranks, and it soon becomes apparent that what they had taken for Gokuu is in fact Sanzo the Monk in a copy of Gokudo's body (the real one sequestered away at some undisclosed location). He's been watching the lot of them ever since they unintentionally brought destruction down upon Inaho (in episode 13), and has lured them all to this place to serve his own dastardly ends. A battle naturally ensues, but the gang is outclassed by Sanzo's trickery... not to mention a magical 'damage redirection' spell.Read More
Well, you'll remember from the previous review that when we last left our heroes, they were still suffering from the 'old body switcheroo', had just been sent to 'Hell' by the evil monk Sanzo, and upon arriving had run across Pegasus and Djinn (the latter still stuck in Prince Niari's body, natch), both unable to communicate anything more than the word 'Teralarian'. More importantly, though, this marks the beginning of the series' fifth plot arc... not to mention introduces a key character for the four episodes on this volume: Nanya, royal servant of Queen West (the White Tiger Goddess).
We learn via flashback that Nanya rescued Djinn from Hotoke troops (who believe him to be Niari, and thus the enemy of their king, Yama). He in turn saves her from the next wave of Yama's forces, and inevitably she falls in love with him. Alas, their escape path takes them through the Teralarian Desert, which causes Djinn to become delusional... and so it happens that when Gokudo & Co run across the trRead More
As if this isn't weird enough, the gang also crosses paths with the magical talking panda from before, who's not only pregnant (from gobbling down a magical blue egg, or so he claims), but proceeds to give birth on the spot to a baby that is actually the demon lord Gokuu in a 'youthified' version of Gokudo's body. (Great stuff, ne?) Soon after, they finally reach Queen West's outpost and she begins to spin her own tale of woe. In order to explain all this, the episode resorts to super-exposition, so hang on tight...
Apparently Sanzo switched the real King Yama with an impostor, turned Horai Mountain into Hell and then lured our heroes in to help him destroy the Hotoke. Why them? Perhaps because the gang unwittingly laid waste to the Hotoke back in Inaho. Queen West tried to stop him, and it was this conflict between their rival powers that caused the soul/body mix-up in the first place. However, she has a backup plan, and hands over a key to something called 'the Saviour Device', whichRead More
Our heroes do eventually find and confront Sanzo, who at first endeavours to convince them that Queen West has been lying to them and that he has the power to put their souls back in their correct bodies. Naturally this is a misdirection ruse as he then tries to capture the lot of them in some more of his blue stasis eggs. Gokudo, Ikkyu and Gokuu manage to escape, however, and accidentally set free the genuine King Yama by cracking his egg open in Sanzo's dungeons. With his assistance, they discover the location of the Saviour Device and manage to activate it before Sanzo can stop them... which only results in every last one of them getting sucked into the bizarre alternate realm contained within it.Read More
As we approach the end of the Sanzo plot arc, the show gets a bit weird. (At least, weird for Gokudo.) This episode sees Sanzo engaging in a full-blown philosophical debate with Miroku (the denizen of the Saviour Device) over the latter's purpose. From what I gather, Miroku was designed by the gods as a last-ditch 'system reset', only intended to be activated at the very end of the universe (if ever).
Of course, the down-to-earth Gokudo argues that Miroku can be whatever he wants and shouldn't feel constrained by whatever purpose he was designed for, and the latter takes him up on this advice by entering Gokudo's body and helping the gang fight Sanzo, who has taken advantage of the opportunity to fuse with the Saviour Device and gain the powers of God.
Just as things are beginning to look bleak for all of reality (as Sanzo's avatar begins to descend from the heavens and encroach upon the mortal plane), our heroes manage to beat back their nemesis with a little help from Jyoka (the TreeRead More
Nanya is still jealous of Gokudo, thinking Djinn ('Jade') is in love with him ('her'). Since mer-tigers such as herself must eventually return to their animal forms, Queen West has informed her that the only way for her to remain with Jade is if she kills a human female and takes her body as her own. However, when she tries to knife Gokudo (still in Rubette's body, you'll recall), this snaps Djinn out of the Teralarian curse and he intervenes.
In other news, the evil monk Sanzo (apparently still not dead!) resurfaces to fight our 'heroes' once more, but is eventually banished for good by a tag-team effort by Miroku and Jyoka. And, as will come as absolutely no surprise to fans of Gokudo, once everything is sorted out Queen West reveals herself to be none other than 'Granny' (that is, the Queen of the Magic World)... and she returns the gang back to their correct bodies. (Too bad, then, that Gokudo's is still infant-sized.)Read More
Which brings us handily to the sixth and final plot arc of the series. Team Gokudo make a beeline for the country of Yanu to find the Spring the Life, which allegedly should be able to age Gokudo back to his previous self. Of course, by the time they get there, they discover that thanks to an religious putsch by the followers of the Fire God (Ryu Gee), the Moon Goddess (Negana Luna) has been disembodied and her Spring of Life has been converted into the Spring of Fire.
Luckily for Gokudo, all that's needed is for someone to host the avatar of Negana Luna so she can reclaim the Spring, so naturally Gokudo volunteers Rubette! After some interesting comedic shenanigans, our 'hero' prevails and does get his normal body back at last... by way of a very amusing scene involving (the now-naked) Gokudo and his Magic Sword. All is not happiness and light, though; the local gods haven't settled their ongoing feud and Ryu Gee comes to vanquish Negana Luna, gobbling up Gokudo in the process.Read More
Ah, the inevitable 'dreamscape battle' episode. The premise here is that both Rubette and Gokudo are fighting for their own souls and control of their own bodies. Attempting to possess them are Negana Luna and Ryu Gee, respectively. In an amusing show of 'turnabout is fair play', Rubette and Gokudo instead possess the gods within them and can now tap into their magical powers. Just when all seems OK in the world, the gang are transported back to Eschallatto by Granny... or is it?Read More
And to tie things up well and good, in this final episode we engage in a bit of full-circle-ism with our heroes getting to revisit early 'throwaway' characters Seigi and Asuga, not to mention Indra (you remember, the guardian god of the Buddha people from episode 11) coming back to take his revenge upon the gang for their destruction of Inaho a few discs back. Despite Granny's intervention (taking on yet another of her 'I feel pretty' forms), Gokudo, Rubette, and Niari (who finally regains his full repertoire of magical tricks) manage to make short work of their adversary, and look set to embark upon new adventures of their own.Read More