Original version posted January 16, 2013 on Geek le Femme
We see a lot of manga being made into anime and anime being made into manga. It is much rarer, at least with English titles, for a book to be made into an anime. However, that is just what happened with Emily Rodda’s fantasy book series Deltora Quest.
Emily Rodda is an Australian author with a knack for creating engaging middle grade fiction (for ages 8-12) with grand quests, likeable characters, and clever puzzles. It follows the adventures of Lief, Barda, and Jasmine as they travel across the land of Deltora gathering the magic gems that will help them defeat the evil Shadow Lord. There are also two series, Deltora Shadowlands (3 books) and Dragons of Deltora (4 books) that tell more tales of their exploits. I enjoyed those as well, but the eight books of the first and original Deltora Quest series remain my favorites. I’ve lost count of the times I’ve read them. Emily Rodda takes what could be a fairly straightforward fantasy adventure story and places it in an interesting and original world. There is a lot of word play, fun with names, and many times the characters have to rely on their wits rather than their swords. There are a lot of pictures that show up in the books to illustrate these riddles and wordplay so the reader is trying to figure it out along with the characters.
With Deltora Quest‘s popularity came the possibility of adapting it to film. Emily Rodda was interested, but she didn’t want to have major changes made to the story. A single movie would be too short to fit all 8 books. Finally a Japanese company called Oriental Light and Magic offered to make it into an anime. Apparently she and her kids, “Love Japanese anime, and want any adaptation of Deltora to be cool.” And so, voila! We now have an anime of Deltora Quest! I’ve been watching the anime for the past couple of days and I’ve been enjoying myself. The anime is a little less intense than the books and sometimes the dialogue is a bit redundant or silly, but it’s still a pretty good adaptation. (Alas, while there is an English dub, one must watch it off the internet because it’s only in English in Australia and due to the differences in DVD regions, Australian DVDs don’t play in US DVD players.)
So, if you haven’t read the books or watched the anime, I recommend both! Like many book-to-film adaptations, I still like the books more, but the anime version doesn’t make me want to tear my hair out, and that’s a win as far as I’m concerned. So sit back and enjoy!
(For further reading, here’s an interview with Emily Rodda about Deltora Quest on the Sunday Profile.)
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Author’s Note (06/29/2018): Since writing this review, I discovered that a manga series was released in 2010. The manga follows the anime in visuals and plot more so than the books… but that’s okay. I do wish the manga series had been longer because they spread the books over multiple manga volumes at first, then rushed to squeeze the rest of the plot in. But it was still a satisfying read.