Amon Saga (1986)

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This 1986 OVA sword-&-sorcery adventure’s main draw-in point is to act as a showcase for the famed illustrator Yoshitaka Amano’s style and characterization, coming after his collaboration with author Hideyuki Kikuchi on his original series of Vampire Hunter D novels but before his work on the Final Fantasy video game series. Indeed, Amon Saga borrows very heavily from the established Vampire Hunter D imagery of a dying earth inhabited with satanic or undead creatures, and even features a cameo by a character who is essentially the titular Vampire Hunter D in everything but name.

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Comparatively, Amon Saga is a much more standard and thoroughfare fantasy presentation to Vampire Hunter D’s vampire science fiction. The story revolves around a young loner, rendered in Amano’s flowing and feminine style,¬†determined to reap revenge on a villainous warlord. There are no surprises or meaningful twists in this very traditional pulp story but it benefits from an array of interesting set-pieces and attractive animation influenced by Amano’s style. The Dracula-esque villain’s fortress is mobile and seated upon a giant turtle which stomps across the landscape. Old, frail wizards duel with their shimmering familiars. The main characters fights off skeletal horses. There is a “dragon ape”.

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Overall, Amon Saga is an entertaining and mindless bite of mid-80s anime pulp, retaining much of Hideyuki Kikuchi’s murky, gothic atmosphere and cartoonish fantasy violence while cleaning up a bit by shedding some of the original Vampire Hunter D’s latent misogyny (playing around with helpless princess tropes instead). A minor and seemingly forgotten affair that would probably be totally forgotten outside of Amano’s namesake, that laden with all of the typical fantasy cliches and awkwardness but worthwhile as a low-stakes viewing.

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