Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch 01 (“Back to the Vaults” Manga Review)

Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch 01 (Manga Review)

Update: This is a “Back to the Vaults” review.

I’ll never forget when I watched the Record of Lodoss War OVA series. While I found the former soldier Parn to be a bit weak, I loved the elf Deedlit. However, the OVA series had some modifications, so I bought some of the manga adaptations of the source novels. When I recently moved, I unearthed my copies of the Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch manga adaptation from the now defunct CPM (Central Park Media) Manga. So I decided to read them and give them a review.

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The Story, in Brief

Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch 01A high elf named Deedlit helps a blind, human bard escape from an attacking goblin troop. Elsewhere, the human soldier Parn attempts to warn his home village of an impending goblin attack. They ignore him, so Parn and his cleric friend Etoh confront the goblin swarm. They defeat them after the dwarf Ghim arrives and lends a hand. However, Parn is severely injured, so they take him to the sorcerer Slayn for treatment.

Meanwhile, the Grey Witch Karla aides Emperor Beld of Marmo in his invasion of Kanon. Meanwhile, a recovered Parn as well as Ghim, Etoh, and Slayn arrive in the Alania capital of Alan. Parn sees ruffians attacking a young woman and so interferes, not realizing she’s a high elf who’s in no danger. Deedlit is initially troubled by Parn’s actions, but soon realizes he meant well. Over dinner, Parn opens up about himself and piques Deedlit’s interest.

The next day at breakfast, Slayn tells the group about the destruction of his former mage school by another mage named Wagnard (Vagnado), who worked for the kingdom of Marmo. A thief named Woodchuck provides information about a small, Marmo force in a nearby, abandon manor. Parn’s party agrees to let Woodchuck join to recover a stolen treasure.

After defeating the dark elf, ogre, and other troops, the party recovers the treasure and gets a reward. Ghim notes the portrait of Karla. The party learns that Marmo has destroyed Kanon. Parn doesn’t understand why war hasn’t been immediately declared. They decide to get to Valis, but the fastest way is to go through the enchanted Forest of Never Return. Thanks to Deedlit, they make it through.

The Good: Deedlit

The good thing about Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch 01 are the interesting characters. It goes without saying that Deedlit makes the largest impact. This is aided by Ochi-san’s art style which makes Deedlit very expressive. This makes her stick out as a character, more than other characters in the manga.

In addition, it feels to me as if the Ochi-san structured things to give Deedlit more of a focus. I have yet to read the source novel, so I don’t know how that was done. But in the manga, most of the story seems to have Deedlit at the center. There’s her obvious interest in Parn. Then there’s her teasing of the dwarf Ghim. However, when it comes to the action, she’s pretty much at the center of things.

The exception is early on when Parn first sets out. And the other exception is Slayn checking into the destruction of the mage school. That aside, as a big Deedlit fan, I’m okay with her central role in things.

The Okay: The Story

I wish I could say the story of Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch 01 is good. Sadly, it is just okay. I think for me, the pacing is not the best. As I said earlier, I’ve not read the source novel. So maybe this problem exists there as well. However, the manga adaptation almost felt like it relied on prior reading of the source novel. As such, things move forward at a rather rapid pace. It isn’t detrimental, but I did notice it.

That aside, the basic premise of the story seems interesting enough. You have some powerful sorceress (Grey Witch Karla) aiding some invading army for some reason. She’s so OP, one would think she could take on all of the armies in Lodoss by herself. We get that she’s somehow tied to Ghim’s personal quest.

After rereading the volume, I realize some things happen because the plot needs them to happen. One violation of this is Woodchuck joining the party by having a side quest for the party to do. It isn’t horrible, but it just smacks of convenience to get a thief into the party.

Then there’s the Forest of Never Return (as localized by the manga–apparently, fandom uses Forest of No Return). It is a land of fairies (and apparently, the elves too). But the only peril is getting lost. So in the end, it seems much ado about nothing. I seem to recall the OVA series made a big deal about the forest, but I could be mistaken.

Final Thoughts and Conclusion

I’m pressed for time, so let me wrap up my review of this manga adaptation with some final thoughts.

  • Obviously, CPM Press (and Central Park Media) have been defunct for ages. The version of the manga I have came out in 2004. Unfortunately, it is flipped, which sucks. Sadly, no one ever license-rescued this manga series.
  • I’ve mentioned this throughout the review, but the adaptation of this manga was pretty bad when it came to names. I’m not that worked up about it though as it was a different time. As to the rest of the text, without access to the Japanese, I couldn’t say how many liberties were taken, beyond stripping out Japanese honorifics.

In the end, Record of Lodoss War: The Grey Witch 01 is a story I want to like a lot, but I find myself not getting that gripped by it. Maybe that’s why I had it and the two other volumes sealed up for nearly 10 years. šŸ˜… But I don’t regret buying it, especially for Deedlit.

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