Dragon Warrior: Legend of the Hero Abel

From the success of Dragon Quest I, a 43-episode cartoon series followed (32 episodes in the first season, 11 in the second). Produced by Japan's Nippon Animation Studios in 1989-'90 and released in the U.S. by LBS Communications the following year, under the title Dragon Warrior.

The thirteen Dragon Warrior episodes mimicked the video game format by being titled as "Levels." The first episode was entitled "Level One: Ariahan Village," the second was "Level Two: Departure," the third was "Level Three: Leebe Village," and so on until "Level Thirteen: Najimi Tower."

Introduced in Level One was 16-year-old Abel, who was compelled by circumstance to seek and destroy Baramos, a huge, horrible winged creature who bore the "Voice of Doom." Baramos had threatened to expose mankind to the apocalyptic fury of the Great Dragon by means of a magical amulet called the Red Stone. It's likely that Abel would have steered clear of all this had not his closest childhood friend, 15-year-old girl Tiala, been the latest descendant of the family charged with guarding the Red Stone - making her subsequent kidnapping by Baramos all but inevitable.

Various good and bad characters arose in the series, but outside of Baramos and his coward-bully servant Moor, most of the regulars characters were "good." There was Abel's close pal MocoMoco, who was larger than Abel but not quite as athletic. Then there was Daisy, described by a Dragon Warrior press release as a "macho miss," who was then introduced in "Level 4: Girl Warrior Daisy." And for humor's sake, there was Yanak the wizard, a mustachioed, pipe-puffing old soak with not a few eccentric character flaws.

Written and produced with traditional Anime flair, and blessed with a solid premise aimed squarely at the 11- to 14-year-old market, Dragon Warrior should have been at least a modest success. Sadly, the series was vanquished after six months because of generally weak timeslots (most independent stations, overloaded with product in 1990, shunted the series to the least accessible of the Sunday-morning hours) and an overall drop of public interest in the original Nintendo video game.