Anime News Network just posted the news that the MMO based on Kazushi Hagiwara’s fantasy manga Bastard!! has been canceled in development. For those who haven’t read Bastard!!, it is basically a shonen manga action story heavily influenced (though to a lesser extent as it goes on) by Dungeons & Dragons and the British Fighting Fantasy Gamebooks from the ’80s. It’s also got tons of references to heavy metal music and hair metal of all kinds.
Bastard!!, next to the more literal but fairly bland Record of Lodoss War franchise, is probably the most direct Japanese incarnation of Dungeons & Dragons. Where Lodoss War errs in the direction of a LoTR rip-off, Bastard!! errs in the direction of Frank Frazetta sinewy barbarians (actually he’s a wizard) and naked women rolling around on the hoods of cars, er, I mean on the backs of dragons. It eventually segues into a very metal/Gothic demons-and-angels plotline. Unfortunately, I can’t imagine how it would have worked as a MMORPG. Like most manga, it is just too character-centric to imagine the nigh-omnipotent main character being taken out of it without it losing its core identity. The world of the story *is* fairly well-developed with classes like symbiotic bug-users and people who fight with metal wire nanofilaments, not to mention all the knights and angels and golem-robots, but it would work better as a one-player game. As for the D&D elements in Bastard!!, the original manga (first printing) includes several images directly traced from old D&D modules, such as certain dragons, and a shot of a vampire totally lifted from Ravenloft. (!) I’ve never actually heard the creator say he played D&D, although he *did* say in an issue of the old VIZ comics edition that he played Fighting Fantasy books, so maybe he just had some D&D books lying around for reference material. Still, it’s a unique series, even if it is pretty cheesy and has lots of…
…lots of 18+ mature readers cheesecake for the sadly too common pruriently inclined male gamer/manga reader. Er, I guess this post was NSFW, sorry everyone! -_-;;