Dragons have always been a central part of mythology. What's more cliché than the brave warrior going off to defeat the dragon? It's the prototypical fairy tale, embodied recently in the summer action flick Reign of Fire. However, other cultures have a different take on dragons, and Dragon's Century is really a unique one. This OVA series consists of two episodes: A.D. 1990 and R.C. 297. After seeing the first one, I can safely say you've not seen anything quite like this. In twenty-five minutes, we get extreme gore, a bit of cute and sweet, angst, and more. Though it's too short to really get deeply involved, it's a nice piece of craftsmanship, and I deeply regret not getting a hold of the second episode when I had the chance.
In 1990, according to the show (which comes from the late 80s), dragons mysteriously started appearing around Japan. The armed forces, nervous about the creatures and their intent, have taken on a "kill 'em all" approach to the scaly beasts. Enter Riko. She's a lonely teenage redhead who's deeply troubled and desperate to find something or someone that moves her. As she's walking in downtown Tokyo one day, a dragon is shot out of the sky and drops to the pavement below. Out of the dragon's arms falls an egg, which hatches as its dying mother watches. While the militia takes down the beast, Riko escapes with the youngling. She raises it and takes care of it for a short while until the leader of the anti-dragon unit notices her in a videotape of the incident.
As it turns out, though, certain deaths around the island nation that caused the panic haven't been caused by the dragons at all. There's a rift that's opened up, allowing both the dragons and some demonic counterparts into our world. The dragons are actually here to try and help stave off this dark invasion, but if they are eliminated, the demons will have free reign. As Riko's dragon grows, it tells her these things, and she eventually must join him in a battle against the evil sprites that will determine Tokyo's fate.
Although the animation in Dragon's Century isn't spectacular, it is par for an OVA series. Meanwhile, the story itself is quick and lively, and it moves back and forth between violence, pathos, and lightheartedness very well. The pacing is good, and the characters developed for such a short show. That really is the only catch to this thing. You're diving into this interesting world, and then you're over almost as soon as you start. I really wish that this had been a bit longer, because that's my main problem with it. Because this show has never been licensed, it's virtually impossible to find--the second part, in particular. What I do know about it is that it continues the story in a far-flung apocalyptic future, but with the same dragon. Beyond that, I'm clueless. One other quick note: there is some significant gore in this piece with a couple quick sequences that are almost out of a tentacle flick. Beware if you don't like ultraviolence.
If you can find this short piece, I really suggest you give it a look. It has aged amazingly well and is one of the only shows whose grade has gone up over time. Although short, this one packs a decent wallop.
Dragon's Century: A.D. 1990 -- graphic violence -- B+