Ruin Explorers is a four episode OAV from 1995 that still works as a high fantasy with a sense of humour.

Like many examples of high fantasy it is set after the fall of a golden age.  Exploring the (hopefully) treasure filled ruins keeps the heroines Fam and Ihrie more or less gainfully employed.

After a fashion. 🙂

Based on an earlier 2 volume manga, Ruin Explorers works well at the length.  It is formulaic in some respects:

  • Episode 1 is a humourous introduction to the cast of characters, including the quirky supporting cast, but introduces some key plot elements;
  • Episode 2 focusses on the relationship between Fam and Ihrie with the obligatory breakup and reconciliation, whilst revealing the real threat;
  • Episode 3 is when the heroines get their game faces on to prepare for the real fight; and
  • Episode 4 is the big finish.

Having said that Ruin Explorers is one of the times when the formula works, and works well.

Although Ihrie initially appears to be a swordswoman (with some reasonably sensible armour for a change), it turns out to be a little more complicated than that.  The complication is also very funny so I won’t spoil it here.

Similarly Fam turns out to be not so powerful as a Wiccan or spirit mage, and again her efforts to improve add to the fun.

To make the formula work two of the supporting characters are actually better than the leads, and are there to provide the necessary training montage in episode 3. Rasha is the sorceress who trains Fam, Migel the swordsman who trains Ihrie.

Then there’s Galuff and his dog Gill. These two almost have to be shout outs to the Dick Dastardly and Muttley from the Wacky Races, and they are hilarious to watch.

As is the running gag of someone setting off a pit trap and the entire party plummeting to their not-doom. 🙂 This happens at least once in each of the first three episodes.

The only real downside is I suspect that Ruin Explorers was either a shonen or seinen series, and this is reflected in the character designs and the relatively frequent fan service.

This early DVD (about 1998 I think) has multiple angles on the end credits which may confuse more recent DVD players – my new BluRay player was flickering between the angles on a couple of episodes but these are easy enough to skip.

Ruin Explorers tells a tight story, in a fun way, and is worth chasing down if you haven’t seen it.