Well, I’m putting the finishing touches on The Alchemist of Middlesbrooke, so let’s revisit one of my major inspirations.
Incongruous among the better-known works of Ryo Mizuno — well not entirely without humour, the aforementioned Lodoss War along with Record of Grancest War are fairly straightforward, unironic High Fantasy stories — Rune Soldier could be described as “Lodoss War, but it’s Realmgard.”
First things first — translation being what it is, the series is variably called Rune Soldier, Rune Soldier Louie, or Louie the Rune Soldier. The most direct translation of the original Japanese is something along the lines of “Magic Soldier Louie”.
Like Ryo Mizuno’s other works, Rune Soldier was originally published as a series of Light Novels — essentially, a series of stories aimed at a YA-level and meant to be printed and read in serial. Again, not entirely dissimilar to Realmgard, though I think my stories are too short to technically qualify as Light Novels.
To my knowledge, the original print novels were never translated into English. The manga adaptation, however, was, though is now out of print, though not particularly difficult to find used.
Like I said at the top of this recommendation, Rune Soldier is essentially Lodoss War‘s dumb little brother. Rune Soldier technically takes place in the same world as Lodoss War, not that it really affects the story in any meaningful way. One of the main characters is a priestess of the war god first introduced in Lodoss War — though the name is variably translated as “Myree” in Lodoss War and “Mylee” in Run Soldier.
Basically, it’s a more adult version of Realmgard.
And it is fairly adult.
More so than I remembered while I recently rewatched it. Obviously, there’s nothing there that’s keeping me from including it among my recommendations, which I try to keep at a PG-13 level or lower. There’s enough mature content and jokes that it’ll probably raise some eyebrows. But realistically, it’s not going to be a dealbreaker for most people. Fair warning, though.
You can tell what you’re getting into just from the theme song, which features several background characters singing along in an inexplicably modern recording studio.
Where Lodoss War was the completely, stone-cold serious story of an epic adventure to save the world, Rune Soldier is the heartwarming story of a constantly-broke all-female group of adventurers attempting to recruit a competent spellcaster into their group — the direct inspiration, as it happens, for my Middlesbrooke group of adventurers.
Unfortunately, the best they can get is the title character, a hero chosen by the gods who literally comes crashing down upon them from the sky. Well, technically, he falls through a roof.
Six of one, really.
What ensues is an hilarious sequence of misadventures — given that the characters primarily skew female, perhaps we could say “Ms. adventures”?
No? Well, I think it’s funny…
While Louie is technically a spellcaster, he’s also 1) approximately the size of a fridge and 2) kind of an idiot. This means that he prefers to solve his problems by punching them rather than with his magic.
Basically, the plot and the humour, of Rune Soldier is driven by Louie gravitating towards the dumbest possible solution to whatever problem the group happens to be facing, whether this be ineptly magicing it, punching it out, or beating it up with the carcass of a giant wild boar (no, seriously).
Now, Louie is a hero chosen by the gods — though, clearly, the god in question has a soft spot for boisterous idiots with hearts of gold. So there is always a certain decree of straightforward heroic day-saving and overcoming the forces of evil, but most of the individual storylines are fairly small-scale and low-stakes.
And, of course, it’s the sort of show where the day will be inevitably saved in the most ludicrous way possible.
On a final note, it’s worth pointing out that Rune Soldier is probably one of the most directly influential works on the current state of Realmgard. In many ways, The Alchemist of Middlesbrooke owes a clear debt to Rune Soldier and its “Three–Female–Adventurers-and-an-Idiot” format.
My other recommendations are available here.
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