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Leiji Matsumoto is the master of creating epic stories. "Captain Herlock" is a prime example of his talent.
The Legend Returns
Review by Matthew Anderson
13 Episode OVA series
Running Time: 100 minutes (4 episodes)
Rating:PG-13 (Violence, partial nudity)
Captain Herlock. A Space Pirate. A Noble hero. A Dangerous Man. He lives in the sea of stars, afraid of no man, no alien. He does not even fear the gods of the universe. He lives by his own code.
After defeating the Mazone invasion, Herlock and his crew scattered to the four winds. Years later, most of his crew has been imprisoned or are in hiding. The age of the space pirates is now over.
Just when it seems that peace in the universe is at hand, the mysterious Noo appear. With their legion of the undead, these creatures bring hate and fear to all they encounter. They cause the Earth to disappear, sending the universe into a panic.
Herlock sets out to rescue his old crew from the police and save the universe once again. He also has to bring aboard the one person that can help, the young and brash Tadashi Daiba.
The race is on to save the universe before the police capture Herlock and his crew.
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: The video is not so great, at least on our Samsung DVD player. There is edge enhancement and wrinkles all over the place. You would think that anime recorded digitally would look fantastic. On our Pioneer, it was a little clearer, but you still noticed the edge enhancement.
AUDIO: Both the English and Japanese 5.1 are pretty evenly matched. The Japanese track is a little softer than it's English counterpart and has more trebel. There is a fuller soundstage on the English track.
EDITS: Primarily the clean open and close animation was used. On episode 1, the original opening was replaced with the main opening for the rest of the series. There were no edits to the remaining episodes or episode titles.
EXTRAS: The original Japanese opening for episode 1. That's it. I don't count previews as extras.
STORY: Leiji Matsumoto is the master of creating epic stories. "Captain Herlock" is a prime example of his talent. It is a story of trial, redemption, and war. All the characters are complex people with their own demons to exorcise. Thanks to the work by Millennium Actress scribe Sakayuki Murai, he captures the spirit of the original TV series, while infusing the legend with his own style.
ACTING: With the Japanese cast, is excellent. While Makio Inoue is still the best voice for Herlock, Koichi Yamadera (Spike from Cowboy Bebop) comes damn close. Finding a good use for his restrained delivery, he gives Herlock the intensity and strength he was lacking in "Harlock Saga".
The English cast does a fine job, but just not as strong as the Japanese cast. Lex Lang is a decent Harlock, but his voice just isn't deep enough.
FAN SERVICE: You get to see the lovely Key naked in the first episode. You see many references to the original TV series, "Galaxy Express 999", "Yamato" as well as "The Cockpit".
Captain Herlock (Harlock), is one anime property that never seems to die. With so many spin-offs, side stories, and alternate versions, it is very hard to imagine a world with out him. While some Herlock stories have been wonderful (Arcadia of My Youth), some of have been down right dull (Harlock Saga). Geneon has seen fit to release "Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey/Outside Legend), and I am so glad they did.
Sadayuki Murai is a master storyteller. Like "Millennium Actress" he can tell a story full of sadness and heartache, yet still make you feel good by the end. He also doesn't rush into things, giving you time to re-enter the world. It's a good thing too. With so many different "continuities" it's easy to get lost in the "where does this take place" argument.
For the record, Captain Herlock takes place many years after the defeat of the Mazones in the original TV series and a few after the death of Tochiro in "Galaxy Express 999". Both visual and verbal references to the two are scattered throughout the anime, for sharp eyed fans to catch. One can argue that "Harlock Saga" falls in somewhere between the end of the TV series and before "Galaxy Express 999", but personally, I don't think it is.
The animation is down right wonderful. It's crisp and clean, with a polished look that even "My Youth in Arcadia" could not match. The level of detail is wonderful supporting the awesome character and mechanical designs. Some of the CG enhanced animation do look like cut scenes form a video game, which is a little distracting. That being said, everything else is top notch.
In our review of Harlock Saga, I complained that Koichi Yamadera was way too wimpy for the voice of Harlock. Well, Koichi has done a much better job this time around. His Herlock is manlier, stronger, and more driven than before. The energy and passion in his voice almost makes me forget the superior work of Makio Inoue.
Lex Lang is an excellent actor, and he blows the hell out of the work by Matt Hoverman in "Harlock Saga". While he may lack the depth of Yamadera's interpretation, he gives a great reading.
In order to be fair, there are a couple things I must point out. First, while the story and the script is wonderful, there is a lot of down time. If you are expecting tons of action, you won't find it here. Second, the presentation is way under par. The video quality is average, and the lack of extras is disturbing. I think that the addition of character bios or a Herlock timeline would have been beneficial. If you are more than willing to overlook these annoyances, then you are a true "Captain Herlock" fan.
Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey is a welcome return of this anime hero. Thanks to the work of the cast and crew, we have a fantastic addition to the Leiji Matsumodo universe. Like good food, Herlock is not something you rush into and devour. You must take you time and savor every delicious piece. That way, you can truly appreciate how wonderful this series is.
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