I was very unsure about reviewing Dragon Knight – The Wheel of Time. Partly because it was my first feature review of a hentai series, but also because I had to gloss over the rest of the Dragon Knight series. These are interesting OVAs worth talking about, but so unrelated to The Wheel of Time that I didn’t want them distracting the rest of the review.
So what exactly even is Dragon Knight?
It was originally a series of RPGs for Japanese home computers like the MSX and NEC series, starting with 1989’s Dragon Knight. It was a simplistic RPG about exploring mazes, fighting monsters, and rescuing beautiful maidens. It was popular enough to spawn 2 sequels in the subsequent years, both RPGs with a focus on dungeon-crawling and maiden-saving. The series then concluded in 1994 with Dragon Knight 4, a strategy RPG on which The Wheel of Time is based. I am ignoring the can of worms that is the 2017 gacha game for simplicity’s sake.
3 anime were spawned from this video game series, of which The Wheel of Time is the final one. However, these are all largely unrelated. Each OVA was made by completely different studios, they were years apart from each other, and all of them have a unique tone that makes them feel like completely different franchises. Incidentally, you may sometimes find The Wheel of Time being referred to as Dragon Knight 4-Ever… that’s only because it was based on the 4th game. You don’t have to watch any of these OVAs in any order and there is no adaptation of Dragon Knight 3.
The first anime was simply titled Dragon Knight and was made in 1991. It is an actual adaptation of the original video game, starring the hero Takeru who arrives in a kingdom exclusively populated by women. Just like in the game, Takeru explores a labyrinth, battles monsters, and rescues beautiful women. Though featuring a fair bit of nudity, this OVA is mostly a comedy and that’s supported by an English dub where Takeru is voiced by Doug Smith… the voice-actor famous for the English dub of Golden Boy. It’s as hilariously bad as it sounds.
In 1995, a year after the game series concluded, we got Dragon Knight Gaiden, though it’s more popularly known as Dragon Knight: Another Knight on the Town. It’s unrelated both to the original Dragon Knight and also not an adaptation of the actual video games. It stars a different version of Takeru that is less of a bumbling idiot, but who still has a perverted side to him. It’s a short story about him arriving in a town and uncovering a dark conspiracy as he attempts to help a little kid reunite with their missing sister.
Gaiden is not exactly a serious story, but the fantasy world is a fair bit grimmer than the lighthearted setting of the original OVA. Its longer runtime—50 minutes compared to Dragon Knight‘s 30—also permits Gaiden to tell a more interesting story with villains that get some decent build-up. It’s a nice balance of comedic and serious moments. Gaiden also features actual hentai scenes, whereas its predecessor mostly implied them.
And that would bring us to the final installment that I just reviewed this Monday. With 4 episodes totaling 2 hours of content, The Wheel of Time is the longest entry in the franchise and a huge departure from the tone & setting of the original. A dark fantasy story with a tragic protagonist, large-scale fantasy battles, and an increased amount of “romantic” scenes make this an ambitious OVA, to say the least.
All in all, it’s an interesting franchise to look back on. Sadly the Dragon Knight games were never very popular in the West and, to my knowledge, haven’t been remastered or re-released since. Developer Elf Corporation went belly up in 2015 and between the many studios that worked on the OVAs, only Pink Pineapple is still in operation since Arms filed for bankruptcy in 2020. It’s unlikely we’ll ever see another Dragon Knight anime, so cherish what little we did get. If you’re into anime fantasy and don’t mind (or even enjoy) things getting a little lewd, then all 3 entries in the Dragon Knight saga are well-worth looking into.