#1 A dark fantasy tale about time-travel
Once upon a time, the youthful knight Takeru was tasked with defeating the Dark Lord Lucifon and saving the world from his evil ambitions. He gathered a band of brave adventurers, sought out Lucifon’s lair, but was then defeated after being betrayed by the dark elf Marlene. His friends were slaughtered and Takeru was left to rot in prison while the world fell under Lucifon’s control.
Takeru has since become a wreck. For years he has mourned his friends and blamed himself for the many mistakes made during his quest. Until… he is offered a second chance.
Marlene has come to regret her betrayal and proposes to Takeru a solution. With her magic, she can send his current self back in time, so he can relive the war as an adult and help his younger self defeat Lucifon. The only catch is that his childhood self can never find out his true identity, or the magic will cancel out and Takeru will return to an unchanged future. Naturally, he accepts.
Takeru dons the disguise of a masked warrior, adopting the name Eto, and more-or-less supplants his younger self as the leader of the war effort. I really enjoyed this setup, largely because “Eto” is such a tragic character. He wallowed in his guilt for years and is so determined to do everything right this time, but that just means that any setback he faces hits that much harder. So many years of running through what-if scenarios, only to still watch his friends die.
The fantasy universe that The Wheel of Time is all set in is kept straightforward, but that works just fine for a short story more about the drama of individual characters.
#2 Intense fantasy battles
The Dragon Knight series finds its origin in a series of Japan-exclusive games, with The Wheel of Time being based on its fourth entry; a strategy-RPG hybrid. This is reflected in the anime’s battles, which have a neat tactical layer to them.
Eto uses his existing knowledge of how the adventure went last time to plan out elaborate strategies that utilizes the skills of his followers to the max. While not on the scale of something like Alderamin, the tactics are exciting to watch unfold and made diverse by just how many pieces are in play. Rangers, magic users, cavalry, artillery, even flying beasts of war, it’s very cool stuff. However, the timeline soon diverges from how Eto remembers it, which leaves him susceptible to being caught off-guard.
Plot armor is scarce throughout the series, so any battle comes with the risk of losing some of Eto’s followers. This is made extra impactful by all of these characters being unique heroes with cool designs. You see how they come to join the group, some of them get actual dialogue, and you always see them participate in battles or hanging out with their party members in the background. Some of these deaths are suitably dramatic, whereas other can come very suddenly. This keeps the battles very tense and makes most victories Pyrrhic at best.
#3 Surprise! It was hentai all along
The above may have given the impression that this was an adventure series comparable to something like Ruin Explorers, but The Wheel of Time is actually a hentai franchise that has sporadically existed since 1991. This makes it one of those rare anime that matches erotic content with an actually worthwhile story.
Eto has several romantic encounters throughout his quest as he befriends female adventurers and rescues beautiful maidens. These are naturally some of the most well-animated scenes in the OVA, starring the very best of an already well-designed roster of characters. The stylish, old-school aesthetic of the show also really gets to shine during these scenes, so fans of ’90s OVAs and retro fantasy may want to check this out.
The erotic content amounts to only a few minutes per episode, so it’s easy to skip these scenes if you just want to get back to the story. However, you may want to take a peek at least once to make sure you aren’t missing out.