When I was growing up, my favorite cartoon was Dragon Warrior, a Japanese cartoon brought to America by Saban Entertainment. It was based on the Enix role-playing games (known as Dragon Quest in Japan), which involved groups of heroes going on lengthy quests to slay monsters. When I first saw the commercials for the DW cartoon, I was skeptical, as other game-based cartoons, such as Captain N and Video Power, were pretty lame and disparate from their source material.
Still, I decided to give Dragon Warrior a try, and I loved it. Freaking LOVED it.
The love was two-fold: first, the artwork was fantastic. The character designs were done by Akira Toriyama, creator of Dragon Ball Z, and his inimitable style was unlike anything seen on television at the time.
Second, the source material. This was no whimsical kid’s show with compartmentalized episodes with morals at the end, like He-Man or BraveStarr. No, this was a grand, high fantasy epic that followed the continuing story of Abel in his desperate quest for his kidnapped love Tiala. Everything from the video games was here: graphic sword fights, freaky monsters, mysterious legends, and even some sensuality (though this was significantly reduced in the localization). There was also plenty of humor as the characters bounced their personalities off of each other. The English dubbing, which I find miserable in most anime, was stellar, too. The actors really threw themselves into their roles, and it was astounding to hear such true performances in a cartoon.
The characters and adventures all grew in complexity with each week, but sadly, the show was cancelled after only thirteen episodes. Copyright issues or some such thing. It might also have had to do with the god-awful time slots the show kept getting. I remember setting my alarm for 5:25 a.m. every Sunday morning just so I wouldn’t miss an episode.
The mystery of what became of Abel and his friends after episode thirteen gnawed at me for years. The show and its characters really meant a lot to me, and I felt cheated that I couldn’t see more of them. Then, one day, I happened across some recordings of the original Japanese series on the internet. I swept them up without hesitation. They didn’t have English subtitles, so I can’t fully understand the dialogue, but the general plot is clear enough, I think. I’ve decided to share the series on my YouTube channel as a curiosity, and for any other fans like myself who grew up knowing only the beginning of this grand adventure. Just follow the link above.