Captain Herlock, Space Pirate Vol. #3 -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: A

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  • Audio Rating: A
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Captain Herlock, Space Pirate

Captain Herlock, Space Pirate Vol. #3

By Chris Beveridge     June 04, 2004
Release Date: June 01, 2004

Captain Herlock, Space Pirate Vol. #3
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.

What They Say
The Noo captures Tadashi and Maji, the Chief Mechanic for the Arcadia, and forces them to fight a huge monster in hopes of luring Herlock to rescue them. While that part of the plan is successful, the spiritual battle leads to Herlock?s victory and the Noo defeated! Unfortunately, the victory is short lived for the Noo possesses Kei?s unconscious body and begins using her to sabotage the Arcadia. Tadashi, feeling guilty for putting Kei in this situation, tempts the Noo with his own body and engages the Noo in a spiritual battle to save Kei and the Arcadia- will he have the willpower to defeat the Noo?!

The Review!
Herlock comes up face to face with the Noo again as their plans for re-conquering the universe race forward.

With the series featuring an original 5.1 mix during its Japanese release, it gets well duplicated for the English track here as well. With several of my favorite actors being in this series on the Japanese track, plus enjoying Yamadera as Herlock as much as I do, we went with that track when we watched this the first time. The mix for this series is one of the best 5.1 mixes I've heard for an anime OVA series yet. The directionality is masterfully used for all aspects, from music to dialogue and to sound effects. There is a lot of directionality and effects thrown to the individual rear speakers but also some great fight sequences that shift across the forward speakers to wonderful effect. There's also a substantial amount of bass to it as well. This is a fantastic mix.

Originally released in 2002 and finishing just before the end of 2003, this series is a very fresh and vibrant looking piece of animation. The transfer is stunning throughout the bulk of it with rich colors and a wide variety of dark colors and blacks that maintain a solid feel. Aliasing is non-existent as well as cross coloration, giving the show a very smooth feel. The only problem we had with the transfer is during a few scenes, usually with a lot of red or orange areas, where some color banding was noticeable. Other than that, this was a real pleasure to watch.

After not caring too much for the previous cover, this one gets back to some of the material I like with a shot of Kei resting her head on her arms which are on her knee set against an obscured backdrop of blacks and oranges. With the typical design of a female in the Matsumoto universe, her long lochs are all over the place and sometimes thicker than her legs, but I have to say I continue to devour this style the more and more I see it. The back cover provides a short summary of the shows premise and a number of shots from the episodes as well. The episode titles and numbers are clearly listed as well as the basic features and extras. The more detailed technical information is limited to a small area along the bottom; something that I wish Geneon would move away from and adopt a fuller technical grid. While both the back and front covers are deep in black color, the spine itself is white, and like the front and back covers, does not provide a volume number anywhere. The insert has another look at the front cover on one side while the reverse side has a shot from the show and a list of the three episodes and their chapter stops.

Providing a great thematic and atmosphere menu, the folks at Nightjar have captured the Herlock feel perfectly with the mix of parchment blowing in the breeze, the lettering style and the hazy smoke flowing around all while some of the instrumental moody music from the series plays in 5.1 with it. There is something so simply distinctive about the type of menus that they make that you can notice it immediately and then start to take in all the little details that they pay so much attention to. This is a menu that's simply fun to leave looping while doing other things.

The only extra included in this volume is a clean version of the closing sequence, something that I'm certainly not complaining about since I continue to enjoy seeing the uncluttered openings and getting to take in the animation here fully. There are so many details that you notice this way.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
From the moment that the skull and bones flag comes across the screen and that bit of instrumental music kicks in, I find myself once more all set to be wrapped up in this little universe. There's something so appealing and engaging about it and its style that all my attention just gets drawn right to it as it starts along. After two very enjoyable volumes with the classic anti-hero that is Herlock, the plot moves along well here and has fun with a few more coincidences.

From the last, we saw Tadashi taking his destiny in his own hands by swiping Kei's gun and going after one of the Noo that was leading a procession down the creepy streets of this mining town that's been taken over by them. Of course, a gun against the Noo is a pointless venture but it backfires badly enough that Kei gets herself taken out. The chaos ends quickly with Tadashi being captured by the Noo's minions but Kei's whisked away by a few of the shipmates from the Arcadia. This ties in with the attack on Herlock and the old lady at the restaurant where the possessed locals are out for blood, though a few people manage to seem like they're not under the influence and have kept away. All in all, this world is not looking like the best place to be at the moment.

For Tadashi, he's kept with the group of possessed that the one planet based Noo is herding deep into the main rock nearby the town. As we learn, there are hints of something dark and sinister inside that started recently with the howling sound of the Noo name. Old tales of some sort of religious temple hidden deep inside that massive rock have also kept on over the years, but it's something that's never been discovered or really given much thought, though there have been incidents of people hearing things while deep in the caverns there. Since we're deep in there once again, we get to deal with the tiny miner leader Maji again as he watches the strange procession move along in a very precise way.

One of the big revelations that we get in this volume, though it's not exactly something that really changes things much, is that we learn about when the Noo were really in power in the universe. The explanation, as given by the resident genius onboard the Arcadia, is one that's fascinating how it's explained until it starts to play with some fake mathematics and it starts to lose you, much as it loses some of the characters watching the display go on. These episodes are good for expanding what we do know of the Noo though, particularly as the planet side one interacts more and more with the people he's got under his control and begins changing his identity to suit his needs.

Several things do start to come to a head here though and the evolution of the secondary cast members continues at its own pace, which means little by little and mostly with Tadashi and one or two others. Herlock himself is not a character that's meant to change and evolve as it goes on, but rather the solid stationary figure around which everything else revolves. Herlock's interactions with the Noo in this volume play out differently than his last encounter, but each time it seems like each side learns something new about the other. Herlock continues to be a fascinating character and quite the enjoyable one, particularly in an age where most of the male leads are either too whiny or just plain too sinewy to really give off a strong or truly confident feel. It's weird saying it, but Herlock just really feels like a "man's" show.

In Summary:
The mystery of the Noo and their plans gets explored more here and the crew of the Arcadia gets itself a bit more fleshed out this time around as Herlock works towards honoring his promise to his friend. The visual style is still highly appealing and the quality of the work just flows across the screen. I love the imagery and designs used here and am simply hooked on this show. I can easily see it all being resolved in the next volume but wish it wouldn't end as I want more and more of this.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Textless Ending

Review Equipment
Panasonic PT50LC13 50" LCD RP HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.


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