Who knew the first officially speed-subbed anime would be such a humongous hoot? Though I have a few questions…
The story that this episode tells is basically the sort of fantasy story I would have been writing in seventh or eighth grade. The good thing about the creators is that they know that, too, so they managed to stuff every single shounen fantasy cliche imaginable in the space of 22 minutes. It has it all: Jil’s ridiculous fighting abilities. Promises of marriage, which is regularly sent-up by multiple characters–and is conveniently forgotten by Jil at a crucial point. A very, very obvious Star Wars homage. Former enemies becoming self-sacrificing friends. And most of all, the vision of all his friends helping him out as he is about to die–quite literally, too. The only thing missing were Monty Python references during the battle with the Black Knight.
I was initially confused by the OP, however, which showed very modern scenes; so for most of the episode, I was supposing that this was either the dream, or the MMORPG session, of some teenage boy in our world who needs to be woken up by his Childhood Friend Character or dragged to school by his mother. Perhaps the OP is just a conceit, a way of getting some of the female characters into sailor suits and the like. (Zero no Tsukaima 1st season did that with Siesta in the OP–never mind she does appear in a seifuku in season 2.) To tell the truth, I was all set for the hilarious denouement of looking at a gamer being woken up from a fantasy, which would have been doubly appropriate since The Tower of Druaga is, in fact, originally a game.
In either case, this was a great way to start off Gonzo’s grand experiment in legal streaming/downloading. (I downloaded a copy for $2 from Crunchyroll, and this is the source of the screenshots. Please do the same if you can so Gonzo will know that fans support this.) The show started with literal bangs and was supremely entertaining. They can’t really pull off this trick again, of course, so I’m curious to see how they will take it in the future; will it be straightforward action, or will this turn out to be the Abenobashi of the fantasy/RPG genre? We’ll see–legally. :)
Note on the translation/subtitles: the subtitles are in grammatically correct English, hooray! The OP and ED are not translated, though, which is a small disappointment. As I don’t know Japanese, can anyone give any word on the accuracy of the translation?