AKA: Mahotsukai on the Rocks, Chivas 1-2-3, Shibas 1-2-3
Year Released: 1999
Distributor: Unlicensed (DVD formally available by ADV Films)
Running Time: OVA, 2 episodes, 27 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 17+
Related Films/Series: Sorcerer Hunters, Sorcerer Hunters OVA
For Fans Of: Bastard!!, Slayers, Is It Wrong to Try to Pick Up Girls In a Dungeon?, Rune Soldier, Dungeons & Dragons (live-action film), Gestalt
-The English dub was used for this review.
-The main character’s name will be addressed as Chivas. In ADV’s DVD in both the English dub and the subs, the character was addressed as Shibas (the Japanese pronunciation of that name) most likely because ADV didn’t want to get sued by a certain liquor company known as Chivas Regal.
-Sorcerer on the Rocks is based on Sorcerer Hunters, but there’s no need to watch that TV series to know what’s going on.
-Kira Vincent-Davis was misspelled in the credits as Kira Vincente-Davies.
-Two of the characters are named after alcoholic beverages. There’s Chivas Scotch (see notes) and Gin Fizz.
-Gin Fizz is played by Monica Rial in the English dub. She’s done a ton of work with the former ADV Films such as Hyatt from Excel Saga and Tomayo from Angelic Layer. However, newer anime fans might know her as the dub voice of Yona from Yona of the Dawn and she’s the current voice of Bulma in the recent Dragon Ball Z/Super media.
-Sorcerer on the Rocks was animated by Daume who have also animated the Please Teacher series, Strawberry Marshmallow, and Shiki.
-Hilarious in Hindsight: Chivas throws a sword at a monster’s chest? Well how about that? Someone’s been wanting to be Prince Phillip from Sleeping Beauty so bad.
Dear recent anime fans, I get it. Older anime can be a tough sell for you to watch. Several series and movies aren’t as easily available to stream compared to what’s playing on Crunchyroll, Netflix, Amazon, or other legal streaming services. Not only that, but I’ve noticed this disdain for anything that came out over a decade ago if it’s not Evangelion, Cowboy Bebop, the Dragon Ball franchise, or Full Metal Alchemist. That disregard for older anime is fallacious and close-minded, but I believe people should try to check out some older and lesser-known series. I hope to have made quality reviews whenever I cover these series and movies as something different while also going with the flow with how I do things in Iridium Eye.
While I still stand by what I said in how people should check out older Japanese animated features whenever possible, I do confess that there are obscure anime works that could strengthen that disdain.
Sorcerer on the Rocks takes place in a fantasy world in a place called the Spooner Continent (No, really). There have been monsters and evil magic users running amok, so various heroes known as Sorcerer Hunters have been called to stop them. Many of them in the past have been valiant and think about the people they’re called to save. Then, there’s people like Chivas Scotch. Chivas is an incredibly selfish, yet powerful mage warrior who will only save people for the right price whenever he’s not getting drunk, going to brothels, or just being a wretch at any time of the day. His party includes Gin Fizz who is a kindhearted woman who dreams of being a hero, but she often takes the brunt of Chivas’s abuse. There’s the swordsman Genmi who’s willing to save people, but he has an open crush on Chivas much do his master’s chagrin. The last member of the party is Kiss who is a perky werewolf girl that is loyal to her master to a fault despite all the bad things he does. They take a job from Count Cuttlefish who wants them to slay a monster that’s been wreaking havoc in his red light district kingdom. However, there are many setbacks including Chivas flaking out while only doing the job for the money and an underlying plan to this job.
I wasn’t too familiar with the Sorcerer Hunters universe before watching this spin-off OVA, but I do appreciate how they made it an independent story. Sure, the original group from that anime gets mentioned in passing, but I never felt like I was lost in finding out about the world. It does seem like a typical fantasy paracosm, but the straightforward presentation is easy to follow for the most part. Some of the comedic moments did work like how Fizz regrets working for Chivas. One internal monologue involves her wondering what she would do, but she thinks working for a comic artist as a last ditch effort would be a fate worse than death before screaming out loud. The English dub had some good voice acting even though it’s not mind blowing. Jay Hickman (Ryuya from Air and Nagare from Nadesico) does a believable job in playing this insufferable jerk known as Chivas. Hilary Haag (Asuna from Children Who Chase Lost Voices and Nene from Bubblegum Crisis 2040) just nails it at playing this bubbly werewolf character. Brett Weaver (Gunther from Attack on Titan and Cremin from Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood) did a hilarious job in playing this valiant solider with a big man crush. It was strange seeing so many people who would eventually be featured in bigger series as part of this OVA.
Sorcerer on the Rocks might be an anime to watch if you have some alcohol to dull the pain. The animation is average at best with typical dated 90s styling. The music is forgettable and the ending theme was just mediocre. The characters have incredibly silly names (yes, I know about the names of the other characters in Sorcerer Hunters and how ridiculous they are, too). You have two characters named after liquor (got any jokes about this for the Drunken Anime Blog, Irina?), a bounty hunter named Million Dollar, and the client’s name is Count Cuttlefish, for crying out loud. The plot is incredibly predictable with certain characters obviously being villains and not just Cuttlefish. He looked like a typical fantasy villain, his benevolence had obvious ulterior motives, and he’s named after a freaking cephalopod. Next to snakes, that genus of animals is so horribly cliche to use as a villain motif. Here are some examples of other antagonists with monikers and those who are literal cephalopods: Doctor Octopus from Spider-man, Davy Jones from the Pirates of the Caribbean series, Ursula from The Little Mermaid, Kraken from Power Stone, and The Octopus from The Spirit. That’s just the stuff that came at the top of my head when it came to those animals. I also found Chivas to be way more unlikable than what was intended. I get that he’s supposed to be a total douchebag, but he abuses Fizz in disturbing ways, only cares about the money, and gets into fights just because he can. No, I don’t give him a free pass for saving people just because he’ll “never betray them”. It just makes the situation with the others in his party look like Stockholm Syndrome to me.
This 90s OVA is skippable. There are a few funny moments here and there, but they don’t salvage everything in Sorcerer on the Rocks. The English dub was competent with everyone involved, but don’t expect it to blow your mind. The animation was too average and I saw some shortcuts going on with the action scenes. Chivas is way too unlikable that what was intended as he comes off less of a jerk anti-hero and into villain protagonist territory. So many plot points were too predictable for me. Sorcerer on the Rocks certainly isn’t one of the better pieces to come out in the 20th Century.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 1 point if you’re a Sorcerer Hunters fan.
Add 1 point if you like protagonists who feel like they can do whatever they want.
Subtract 1 point if you can’t stand ecchi content in anime.
-Good English dub voice acting
-Some funny lines from time to time
-Immense Protagonist Centered Morality even for a character like Chivas
Final Score: 2/10 points
Content Warning: This anime is not for kids. There’s some swearing in it, but that’s the least of people’s worries. The violence gets bloody at times especially in the flashbacks. Chivas does drink a ton as he goes from bar to bar. The sexuality is the biggest issue. Gin Fizz and Kiss are in the nude at a few times and Chivas forces them to work at a strip club just so the party can get some money. Fizz has her breasts groped multiple times including by Chivas who’s soul takes over her body in a scene that predates Your Name. Genmi is a flaming homosexual who fawns over Chivas to an uncomfortable degree and it’s played for laughs. There’s a disturbing element to Chivas as he chains up Fizz’s neck and yanks her down early in episode 1 and abuses her like slapping her around or telling her to strip. That’s domestic abuse right there, and I don’t know how anyone couldn’t see that.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Sorcerer on the Rocks is property of Satoru Akahori and Daume. The DVD cover is from My Anime List and is property of ADV Films.