Captain Herlock, Space Pirate Vol. #2 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, March 26, 2004
Release Date: Tuesday, April 06, 2004



What They Say
The vast fleet of the Space Sheriff Station attacks the Fata Morgana, the research ship of the space archeological team that perished five years ago that now contains the Noo. However, just as the Solar System fleet before them, the Noo turn the fear of the fleet's ships against each other and the Space Sheriff ships slaughter each other!

Only the Arcadia remains to prevent the Noo from escaping, but can Captain Herlock and his crew hold off against their fear and the injured commander of the Space Sheriffs who is still determined to eliminate the Arcadia?!

The Review!
While the universe falls prey to the ultimate evil, Herlock and company take them on directly before stopping off for some R&R.

Audio:
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.

Video:
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.

Packaging:
The cover art, which doesn't appear from a Japanese DVD release, has the trio of images together with face shots of three of the main characters from these episodes. It's not the most attractive cover I've seen and not as good as the first volume, particularly since it feels even more cramped with this layout due to the very heavy/lengthy title of the series. 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 very small box 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.

Menu:
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.

Extras:
The only extra included in this volume is a clean version of the opening 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)
Having fallen in love with the first volume of the series, I had some fair expectations of the remainder of the show. Not so much in plot though, but in terms of how I expected it to continue on in style and feeling. Watching the various Herlock related shows over the past few years, there's simply a tone and vibe that the properties give off that to me, make me feel like I'm watching something bigger than normal and something that doesn't operate within the normal bounds of anime.

Not necessarily an operatic style piece, but something where it can get close to dialogue being tossed out the window and the characters simply using facial expressions ? or lack thereof ? to tell the story. While watching these episodes and seeing Herlock move across a few different stages, the impression that I get is one of watching characters of myth moving about and doing their thing. Characters that don't require a lot of depth or tons of characterization to be who they are. The icon level sort of thing where they may be called stereotypes, but they're the ones that started it all. Watching Herlock do what he does just fascinates me.

With three OVA episodes here, there is definite movement forward but the typical Herlock style pacing is firmly in effect, so there's a lot going on but it's all so tied together that it's difficult to say too much without spoiling a lot of it. The bulk of the first two episodes deal with the continuing violence across the galaxy now that the previously sealed evil is back in force. Their use of fear to control everyone has set strife and wars all over, especially with the fear caused by the disappearance of the Earth itself. But even with countries and nations fighting against each other, the fear caused by them gets even closer, such as some grueling scenes where a husband comes home and makes wild accusations at his family before killing them. Or even more chilling, a pilot returns in his aircraft only to pop the window and have his maintenance crew armed and demanding to know if he's the one before they kill him. All of the evil is done with the eerie "Noo" word being stretched out in a haunting fashion.

The Noo have spent much of their time now setting up their activities on Pluto, a place that has some significant history in this timeline that we see through the Space Sheriff character who has lost much of his family to violence in space. With him leading the attack against the Noo base there, we get to see some of his knowledge of the place as well as his history where he had his own first encounter with a younger and more limber Herlock years ago. Herlock is also coming to this place to see what the fleet will do against the Noo, to see how the Noo plan to attack and try to cope with what's considered humanities finest at the time.

The best moments come when Herlock himself is in the fore, such as when one of the Noo members comes onto the Arcadia itself and tries to get both Herlock to fall under her spell of fear and to get any member of his crew to fall as well and turn against the captain. Anyone whose seen any Herlock over the years will know that such a feat is impossible with the way the Arcadia is presented and those aboard her, which makes the Noo's mental attack on the crew fascinating to watch, as well as providing some really powerful moments. Particularly in an age where we constantly see teams that work together that are all working their own agendas as well and find themselves easily tempted to give in to such things.

I also must say that as the show progresses, I'm still missing Tochiro quite a lot but am finding that the First Officer character for this round is becoming quite a lot of fun to watch. His obsession with models is a great quirk for someone of his mental stature and provides him with a different outlet for expression. And I will continue to say that I'm really interested in the Yuki character, but that's partially due to the way I simply adore the willowy designs of all the Matsumoto-verse women ? grandma characters excepted. I just want to rub their huge noggins.

In Summary: (
Though only three episodes, there's a sizeable amount of characterization for those around Herlock as well as a lot of glimpses into the larger picture as some of the mysteries start to become revealed. Herlock as a character continues to be one of the most fascinating ones I've found in all my years of watching anime, due to both his simplicity in viewing life and the way his design simply exudes strength and confidence. There aren't a lot of anime characters that as an 'adult' that you say you would really want to be, but Herlock is certainly one with many qualities that I wish I had more of, and that's definitely part of the draw.

This series moves forward beautifully in closing up the first half of the storyline and setting the stage for what's to come. Though you can see several aspects of it pretty easily, there's more than enough mystery still left to keep one guessing. I can't wait for more.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Clean Opening

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.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.



Mania Grade: A
Audio Rating: A
Video Rating: A
Packaging Rating: B
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B-
Age Rating: 16 & 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