Lost Universe is often seen as the Black Sheep of the “Kanzaka” anime adaptations. Due to a number of reasons, the show simply didn’t reach as many people as it could have. This is indeed a shame, as the series is a charming, fun show that makes up for its faults in other areas.
What is it?
Lost Universe is a spacefaring adventure from Slayers creator Hajime Kanzaka. The series focuses on Kane Blueriver, a spacefaring mercenary that commands the legendary Sword of Light. He attracts attention from the Nightmare crime syndicate, as he travels between planets in his Lost Ship Swordbreaker. The Swordbreaker stands as the final hurdle to Nightmare’s goals of unleashing the power of evil lord Dark Star. Along his journeys, Kane crosses paths with Millie: a girl who desires to be the best in the universe at everything.
While the premise sounds grand, the series begins as an episodic cluster of jobs and misadventures, as it traces the adventures of Kane, Millie, and Canal, the sassy projection of the Swordbreaker’s AI. Much like The Slayers before it, the show begins simply but quickly escalates into darker territory. At the same time, the cast still never abandons every shred of humor, as jabs and jokes are made, and absurd situations continue to crop up through the series.
Why Was It Passed Up?
The show gained a lot of infamy for its quickly declining production values. Among older fans, “Yashigani” became a mark of both shame and one of the bigger in-jokes until the show’s run ended. To get people up to speed, “Yashigani” is short for “Yashigani Hofuru”, the title of the show’s fourth episode. The animation quality of the episode was was so dismal, so dire that the episode was re-animated for home video releases of the show. For reference of just how dire the quality became, I’ve provided a short clip below:
While the episode was fixed, the damage was done, and the stigma of poor quality haunted the show.
In addition to the poor animation, the show simply wasn’t as strong or a tightly written as the Slayers Trilogy, which finished running just one year prior. And, given the short window of release, combined with the fact that many of the show’s boosters call it “Slayers in Space,” comparisons were bound to be made.
Why This Show?
Despite its shortcomings, Lost Universe is a solid show with good writing. The dialogue is often well-written, and the jokes are often genuinely funny. In particular, the clashes between Canal and Millie are filled with priceless jabs.
The action sequences are fun, and the characters are both vibrant and lively. If taken as a show on its own, instead of as the Slayers offshoot it’s often seen as, the experience is highly enjoyable.
Lost Universe is a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts. Despite its faults, the show is a fun experience that does so much right, and simply shouldn’t be ignored. With Nozomi’s recent low-priced re-release, it’s the perfect time to give the show a look. After all, there are far worse ways to spend $40 on anime.