Friday, April 8, 2011

Space Pirate Captain Herlock Anime Review

Space Pirate Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey: Outside Legend
Uchu Kaizoku Kyaputen Harokku
Complete Collection - 13 episodes
405 mins. - 5 discs (including bonus features disc)
$44.98 (2006)
ISBN 013023253797
English/Japanese Audio - English Subtitles
Director: Taro Rin (aka Rintaro)
Studio: Madhouse

Synopsis: Humanity has settled among the stars and the space pirates are almost gone.  Those who gave inspiration to the universe with their fierce independence are all dead or imprisoned by the united space government.  Harlock's crew disbanded years ago and has gone their separate ways.  The man himself has been missing ever since, while Kei Yuki captains her own ship the Jolly Roger with many of his former crew (including first mate Yattaran).
The return of Captain Harlock!  Ahem, "Herlock" (for copyright purposes)
Tadashi Daiba lives on the Planet of the Rubbish Heaps with his father.  Professor Daiba is a revered scientist obsessed with researching an ancient mystery.  When Tadashi comes home to find his father murdered and four demonic corpses floating outside of his window he vows revenge!  He encounters Captain Harlock who tells him "If you want to become a real man, come aboard my ship."
Tadashi's father warns him about the evil, extra-dimensional Noo
They must reunite the crew of the Arcadia and solve the universe-threatening mystery of Tadashi's father.  On a research mission five years ago the Professor and his scientist colleagues awakened an evil from before the universe began.  Commandeering the Fata Morgana research vessel and apparently the bodies of Daiba's colleagues, the Noo are unstoppable and like unto fear itself.  Can Harlock and crew prevail or will the Noo return the universe to unending chaos? 
The Noo want to enter our dimension and torture all sentient life
Pros: Original story and a damn good one, seamless blend of CGI graphics and regular 2D animation (after the utter crap CGI of Harlock Saga, seriously, watch it again to appreciate this), bonus features disc with storyboards and creator/director interviews (Leiji Matsumoto interview is awesome, he explained where the name Harlock came from), Kei naked in the first five minutes = awesome
The beautiful Kei takes a bath
Cons: The Noo were some pretty badass villains and I would have liked them to be tougher to beat by Harlock & crew, more main characters should have died or at least gotten scars (all the pirates and common folk seem to have gnarly scars), Kei with a knife wandering the Arcadia would have done more damage (at least kill one of the random pirate extras!)
The Arcadia comes knocking with a huge bayonet!
Mike Tells It Straight: This show is an instant classic!  Fear not faithful otaku - Captain Herlock is the same Captain Harlock we've known for years.  Apparently the translation from Japanese to English is interchangeable and actual pronunciation could be between the two letters (a and e) to make it sound more exotic.  The most frustrating and fascinating aspect of the Harlock stories is their constant reinvention by Matsumoto.  Everything is the same yet nothing meshes perfectly against one another.
Tochiro returns to the Arcadia once more
This show finally gives us a full-length Harlock tale with the perfect blend of 2D/3D graphics.  A surprising mix of horror and suspense permeates an otherwise epic space opera.  Those veteran anime watchers who grew up with Harlock will love the nostalgic treat of seeing their old favorites in a new story.  New viewers get an awesome introduction to these legendary characters. 
Tadashi Daiba reluctantly joins Harlock to seek revenge for his father's death

TO BUY and Recommendations: