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The surprising American origins of Fire Emblem

Posted on September 4, 2011 by (@Patricklous) in Features

In late 2003, Nintendo of America decided to finally release the Fire Emblem games internationally with their localization of Fire Emblem: Rekka no Ken. Renamed as simply “Fire Emblem”, this game marked the first time that most people outside of Japan had their first taste of Intelligent Systems’ strategy-RPG series. Or at least it was the first time they’d played it.

You see, five years before Marth showed up in Super Smash Bros. and seven years before any Fire Emblem game was actually localized, an animated adaption of the first Fire Emblem game was produced to tie into a remake that had just been released for the Super Famicom. In 1998, this two part, straight-to-video Fire Emblem feature was picked up by A.D. Vision, a recently closed American producer and distributor. Hopefully this means that there won’t be any lawyers chasing me down for posting these clips here.

ADV were responsible for distributing and dubbing a number of popular anime series over the last twenty years like Neon Genesis Evangelion, so a lot of the English voices in their version of Fire Emblem should sound awfully familiar. Overall, the dub is quite well done, and it’s a shame that the actual OVA itself isn’t that great. The animation is decent enough, but the plot is fairly bare bones. And despite the Fire Emblem series lending itself to epic fight scenes, it seems that the OVA’s budget was only large enough to cover a few short battles here and there.

Though it still looks much better than this

It’s probably worth pointing out that when it comes to anime, the “direct to video” label doesn’t have the same negative connotations that come with that phrase and such classic films as Bambi II and the 41-Year-Old Virgin who Knocked Up Sarah Marshall and Felt Superbad About It. Generally OVAs have a higher budget and less filler content than televised series. I say generally because Fire Emblem still has more than its fair share of filler. And despite having a sizeable budget, it clearly wasn’t enough to save the series from being canned after only 2 episodes due to weak sales.

There’s a running joke in the Smash Bros. series that all of Marth’s lines are spoken in Japanese, but he did actually have an English voice courtesy of Spike Spencer —though I suppose he didn’t play Marth so much as “Mars”. Yep, due to the vague spelling of his name in katakana, the prince of Altea’s name was originally translated as Mars. Technically this is incorrect, given his current “canon” name, but it does make more sense for him to be named after the Roman god of war. Anyway, Mars has to lead a rebellion against an oppressive kingdom who killed his father and kidnapped his sister. Honestly, it’s difficult to picture anime Mars as a strong leader since he always seems to have some kind of derpy expression on his face.

On his quest for freedom, Mars is joined by a number of knights, archers and mercenaries, though none of them really have any personality. Which is understandable, given that the whole series was cut short. The one with the most (read: any) character development is Princess Sheeda, Mars’ love interest whose defining character traits are riding a Pegasus and being annoying. For whatever reason, her name was changed to Caeda when Fire Emblem: Shadow Dragon was localized.

One character who didn’t really appear in the original game was Marth’s father, Cornelius. In the anime he shows up in a number of flashbacks and generally acts like a massive jerk.

He also wields the game’s iconic Falchion sword, which appears to have the effect of turning him into He-Man.


Anyway, that’s enough about the characters. Like a lot of anime from the mid-90s, Fire Emblem is filled with a lot of slow panning shots and inane dialogue, so I’ve edited the first episode down to about six minutes. And then I filled it with out-of-place music and dumb references. Enjoy!

The second and final part of the OVA combines the second and third chapters of the game. As their journey continues, Mars and company free a town from a bunch of hilariously dubbed pirates, search for a missing priestess and cross blades with Navarl, a mercenary with such boring lines that I ended up just replacing all of them with quotes from Castle of Shikigami II, even when they had nothing to do with anything. Enjoy?

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