What Is It?
Gokudo is a 26-episode comedic adventure series based on the light novels of the same name. The show was directed by Kunihisa Sugishima, and animated by Trans Arts Co. (Beast Player Erin, Prince of Tennis).
Gokudo is the tale of Gokudo, an adventurer whose lust for women is rivaled only by his desire for treasure. He’s the farthest thing from a typical hero, willing to go as far as to throw his own friends into harm’s way to get what he wants. He’s a rude, lazy coward that’s the first one to flee from danger, and the first to reap the glory of a victory.
Gokudo’s life is forever changed, when he pilfers a wallet from a mysterious fortune-teller.
Again. He is not a good person.
That said, he quickly finds that the old seer was carrying little more than a giant rock in her pouch. In a fit of rage, he hurls the rock into the nearest wall, freeing Djinn, a genie that was sealed within it. In typical genie fashion, Djinn offers Gokudo three wishes. Gokudo quickly pounces on this, proclaiming that he desires “all the wealth, honor, and gorgeous babes in the world.”
See? totally sensible.
Djinn, though, has other plans for the adventurer. Djinn is a bit of a passive-aggressive fellow, who begins to lecture Gokudo on the virtues of humanity, and the true meanings of happiness and wealth. And, as one would expect, it doesn’t take long for Gokudo to want to get the hell away from him. Their meeting sets the gears of fate into motion, though, and pushes the duo into an adventure filled with evil kings, tomboyish noblewomen, and otherworldly beasts that will push all of Gokudo’s skills to their limits.
Why Was It Passed Up?
Gokudo‘s first volume dropped on October 30, 2001. During that month, 64 titles hit the market, which included a combination of big titles and niche favorites. The lineup included the following:
- five Dragon Ball Z SKUs (including three boxed sets)
- Sailor Moon S, Volume 5
- Sailor Moon Movies Boxed Set
- Tenchi Universe Boxed Set
- Serial Experiments Lain Boxed Set
- Revolutionary Girl Utena: the Movie
- Mobile Suit Gundam volumes 2 & 3
The month was, frankly, stacked with content to the point that Gokudo didn’t even register as a blip in the collective consciousness. This is a series that didn’t start seeing actual reviews until 2002, months after it hit the market. By that point, the damage had been done, and the show had been deemed a failure by consumers and fans, alike.
Why This Show?
Gokudo is a show that takes the common fantasy conventions and gleefully tears them apart. The premise, while strictly high fantasy in its roots, often delves into the delightfully twisted. The show’s cast is brimming with personality, from the preachy Djinn to Rubette, the noble lady that will cut you if you piss her off.
Make no mistake, though. The show’s real star is Gokudo. He’s an amoral dick who will do anything to further his own agenda. This may sound like an exaggeration, but it really isn’t. As an example: early in the show’s first episode, Gokudo comes into possession of a magic sword that returns to its master when called. Rather than use this to actually do some hero stuff, he proceeds to head to item shops across the countryside, so he can sell the sword, and call it back when he’s at a safe distance. It’s no wonder why Djinn drinks so much.
Gokudo’s character is made that much more incredible by his actor. In the Japanese version of the show, Gokudo is played by Akira Ishida. Ishida is best known for doing sarcastic, snarky, and generally villainous characters, like Xellos in The Slayers. He has a knack for playing self-centered jerks, and Gokudo proves to be no exception. Ishida dives right into the role, playing Gokudo as a truly detestable character, that viewers simply can’t look away from. He manages to inject an odd charm into the character, that just makes it fun to watch him live the life of a douche, while receiving the occasional smack-down from reality.
Gokudo is the rare fantasy comedy that manages to achieve both of its descriptors. The humor is genuinely funny and the story, while on the simplistic side, works very well given the cast. The fantastic cast, strong acting, and fantastic writing come together to create a fun, fluffy experience that will make even the most jaded fans smile.
Basically, though,this is The Slayers, if Xellos were the main character, embodied in a human adventurer. Yep, it’s twenty-six episodes of Akira Ishida being a dick, and that is just plain awesome.