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Being a Brief Discussion of Anime Dubs: Hakugei - Legend of the Moby Dick Preview
By Way Jeng
November 08, 2005
If anime demonstrates nothing else, it shows us that old stories can always get a new treatment. Classics drive many shows, and Hakugei - Legend of the Moby Dick (hereafter simply Legend of the Moby Dick), released by ADV Films and dubbed by ADV Studios, gives viewers another chance to see a series in that venerable tradition. The first three episodes show some limited promise for the series. It's definitely a strong contender for fans of older anime art styles, but fans looking for a quick story and a lot of action may want to consider other shows instead.
Kira Vincent Davis plays Lucky Luck, a young boy who wants to join Captain Ahab's group of whale hunters. It's scratchy and rough enough to work as a boy's voice, and also shows the character's enthusiasm well. A few scenes don't come off quite as well, mainly because the excitement and energy rarely deviate from a relatively high level even when it might be appropriate. There are a few moments when a slower pace through the dialog might have helped add some vocal variety, and the character's awe and surprise feel particularly weak.
John Swasey takes on the role of Captain Ahab. It's a fun performance that matches a stereotypical pirate well. The dialect and accent go close to becoming too much a couple times, but it doesn't go too far over the top. This set of episodes doesn't show Ahab in any extremely emotional moments, and it should be fun to see how Mr. Swasey handles the scenes yet to come.
Stephanie Nadolny plays Atre. This performance works well. It has the attitude and confidence to make the character work. Fans may want to pay special attention to the second episode, which contains the strongest work of the first three.
John Gremillion plays Speed King, one of the more excitable characters in the cast. This performance utilizes one of the highest registers in the show, and Mr. Gremillion sounds comfortable with the voice. It matches Speed King well.
Rob Mungle's performance as Cook sounds solid. There are no moments of weakness worth noting in this first set of episodes.
Vic Mignogna plays Dew. The performance has a smooth quality that sets it among the best in the cast. His foley sounds especially good, and Dew has a lot of it falling or getting into fights. The best moments come at the very beginning of the first episode.
Chris Patton voices Academias, the resident expert on all scientific matters. It's a good performance. Mr. Patton shows an even cadence throughout the episodes, and he has no weak moments worth mentioning.
David Born plays Doc Christiansen. This performance sounds somewhere between problematic and fair. It tends to sound a bit overwrought much of the time. It's not so much a case that the character's emotions go overboard so much as the characterization itself tends to exaggerate and go a bit too far.
George Manley and Illich Guardiola don't have a lot of lines as Barba and Mutz, respectively, but the performances do a good job of bringing the characters to life. Neither shows any particular moments of weakness, though so far they haven't had a chance to shine.
On the whole, the Legend of the Moby Dick dub is fair. It doesn't contain many moments of outright weakness, but neither does it achieve brilliance. Characterizations throughout the cast sound relatively good at first, but they feel a bit shallow by the end of the first few episodes. They rarely show deviation from a single style of delivery, and as such they don't exhibit the complexity or depth one might expect. The characterizations manage to portray some facets of the characters well, but the lack of vocal dynamics can't help but disappoint. The extras and minor supporting cast members range anywhere from problematic to good. A few of the voices don't match the characters particularly well, but the problem doesn't manifest outside of nameless extras. A few voices carry an affected tone, which isn't particularly problematic but limits the natural feel of the dub. Cadence generally sounds good through the entire cast.
The core story and animation for Legend of the Moby Dick are a bit of a mixed bag. The character designs use a dated style, but in general the art and animation look good. The story leans towards the predictable, and may start too slow for most viewers' tastes. The majority of the first two episodes introduce Lucky Luck, an archetypal young boy in search of adventure, as he tries to land a place in Captain Ahab's crew of whale hunters. The show introduces other hunters already on the crew, and also gives a bit of back-story about how so many space ships came to be abandoned and named whales. It's not a bad start for a series, but neither does it provide the immediate hook or action to pull a viewer into the story. There's a little bit of mystery and plot at the very beginning, but it's not quite enough to make up for almost two straight episodes of character introduction with hardly any plot developments. The music for the show follows the same trend. It's enjoyable, certainly fun to listen to, but it conjures the atmosphere of a carefree sally through a fantastic world rather than an exciting epic associated with names such as Captain Ahab and Moby Dick.
It's hard to say if Legend of the Moby Dick will go on to do great things from these first few episodes. It manages to get some elements right, particularly in its slow moments of wonder. Viewers looking for a series to pass a casual afternoon will probably want to keep it in mind, but those looking for action-packed excitement will probably want to wait until the show begins its plot in earnest before making a final decision.
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Copyright 2005 by Way Jeng