Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick Vol. #3 - Mania.com



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Info:

  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: TV PG
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: ADV Films
  • MSRP: 29.98
  • Running time: 100
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick

Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick Vol. #3

By Brett Barkley     March 23, 2006
Release Date: March 14, 2006


Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick Vol. #3
© ADV Films


What They Say
From a sea of stars to a sea of sand, Ahab's journey knows no bounds!

As Ahab and his crew finally arrive on Planet Moad, Lucky's home planet, they are greeted by none other than Moby Dick himself. Facing off with his old adversary, Ahab is once again humbled and barely escapes with his life.

The situation on Moad seems much worse than Lucky let on, as the crew finds the planet on its dying breath. As they march across a scorching desert to meet with the Moad Civilian Movement, tempers flare and friendships are tested in the sweltering sun. To make matters worse, the Federation forces, lead by the fearsome android Murato, pursue them at every turn.

The Review!
Another stage in the long journey to find Lucky's brother.

Audio:
Hakugei "Legend of the Moby Dick is presented in Dolby 5.1 in English and Dolby 2.0 in Japanese with English subtitles. The English track is very nicely done, utilizing the rear speakers for a strong ambient feel. The music and sound effects really come across much bolder, and the slight echo effect used with the dialogue gives the genuine impression of conversation within the cold metal hull of a space ship. I was very pleased with the strength of the sound on the English language track.

Understandably, the Japanese Dolby 2.0 comes across flatter in comparison. But while it doesn't have the same underlying rumbling bass that has almost become synonymous with ambient noise inside space ships, or convey the subtle echo effect quite as nicely, the Japanese language track has a very moody feel I really enjoyed. Perhaps this had more to do with the voice acting, but I thought the darker, more somber tone on this track suited the series' cold environments very nicely.

I found no genuine issues or distortions on either track and feel both have their strong suits. While I favor the ambient noise and general sound quality of the English track, the dialogue and mood of the original Japanese audio would be difficult to beat.

Video:
Originally airing in Japan through 1997 to 1999, Hakugei-Legend of the Moby Dick is presented in it original standard Full Screen aspect ratio of 4:3. I thought the transfer looked great and no issues of aliasing or blurriness. I also found the colors were reproduced nicely in most cases. However, on the second volume I did note some scenes featured color that was very oversaturated and much darker, but these were relatively few in number. In this series, the depths of space are not presented in flat blacks, but rather a dazzling range of blues. The various surfaces used throughout the series are presented in fuchsias and oranges, all of which are clean and well done. In the episodes throughout this disk, I was very impressed with the range and subtleties of the colors, particularly in lieu of the series' age.

Packaging:
The Hakugei-Legend of the Moby Dick Vol. 3 disk has a very nice sense of design. Blending elements that pay homage to the source material, the bulk of the disk cover consists of a sketchy, water colored image of Sara and Dew, with the Moby Dick bursting from the ocean in the background. Immediately, I was reminded of older mariner etching work traditionally done on whale bones, which I felt was a very nice touch for the cover art (additionally, this style, to a slightly varying degree, is reflected throughout the series, most notably in the opening and closing animations). This art is placed against a solid white background with the title along the top. Along the right side of the cover, as a design element juxtaposing the more traditional with the futuristic aspect of this series, is a hand-painted rendering of the shadowed Moby Dick gliding effortlessly through the depths of space, the cold metallic tones of a futuristic space station are found just below. All in all, I absolutely loved this cover and felt it will truly draw attention. I do have one concern with these covers, though, as it is VERY difficult to distinguish between the volumes at a glance.

The disk spine features a sample of the art from the cover, again set against a white background. The series title and disk number are bold and very clearly legible along the upper half. The disk reverse is much darker in color, featuring a primarily black background with some subtle blue design work throughout. A beautifully-painted image of a great whale bursting forth from the waves is found in the upper left of the cover, an angry Lucky Luck as taken from the series itself is placed in the upper right hand side of the reverse cover, with a brief summary of the series, as well as disk extras occupying the space below. Seven screen captures are found to the right of the disk information, below the capture of Lucky. Additionally, this disk features an insert with a repeat of the front cover on one side, and some series background as well as the third part of the interview with director and series creator Osamu Desaki. I really like the feel of this disk design in general. Not only is it well designed in an aesthetic sense, but it is functional as well.

Menu:
Borrowing a design sense from the front cover, the menu features a cropped version of that art, with the bar along the right side serving to hold the menu options. The menu clearly displays the disk's four episodes by number, with a Preview of Volume 4, Languages options, and Extras listed below in descending order. A clip from the series' opening song is looped throughout. I was pleased with the menu's clarity and ease of use.

Extras:
Hakugei-Legend of the Moby Dick Vol. 3 offers some of the more common extras, but there are also some stand-outs. The disk features Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation, Character Sketches, Pilot Storyboards, The Space Whalers' Lexicon, Previews, and Credits. Of these, I found the Concept Artwork and Character Sketches to be the most interesting. I was most pleased character sketches, which are nice, but I would have liked to have been able to scroll through them at my own pace, though this is only a slight complaint and some may prefer the disk's pace. The Space Whaler's Lexicon could be useful to those new to the series. Though I was most excited by the prospect of the Pilot Storyboards, I found these to be unfortunately disappointing. While they feature some great art, the images are far too small, occupying typically less than half of the screen, the other half only occasionally featuring text. I would have preferred a side-by-side comparison with actual captures, rather than what was provided, however, hardcore fans of this series' art style will likely enjoy the storyboards

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Originally airing on Japanese television from April 1997 to May 1999, Hakugei "Legend of the Moby Dick is based very loosely on Herman Melville's famous novel. While taking huge liberties with the source material, Hakugei does retain some of the original's essence beyond the shared titular and character names, namely a giant white whale. Except, it's not really a whale.

After the slow pace of last volume's flight to Moad, I had fairly high expectations for this volume, hoping the pace would begin picking up a bit. To this end, the first episode certainly met my expectations, featuring the tumultuous reunion of Ahab and the Moby Dick. However, the following three episodes seemed to drop right back in to the patterns established last volume. The viewer still doesn't get a feel for the characters, as no personalities really emerge from the cast. Naturally, Ahab continues to dominate the series' screen time, but it's still next to impossible to get a handle on his character. At times he is a possessed madman, other times he conducts himself like a child. Sometimes he's capable and a leader, other times he simply prefers to take a nap. But most disappointingly, Ahab's character epitomizes the series to this point. At times the series features drama, attempting to capture the essence of the source material "it certainly started out that way. However, most of the time things simply happen with little reason and even less contribution to the main plot. Just as the lead characters (at some point, though I'm not certain when) have developed the propensity for suddenly breaking in to song, major plot points are introduced in equally awkward ways. And, much like the impromptu musical numbers, the main cast appears to give plot points as little consideration, simply taking it all in stride.

In episode eleven, the first episode featured on the disk, and also the strongest, the crew of the Lady Whisker has a chance encounter with the Moby Dick upon entering Moad's atmosphere. Exhibiting his obsession with the Moby Dick, Ahab urges the Lady Whisker after the giant whale, subsequently getting the Lady Whisker destroyed. Interestingly, the crew take being stranded on a doomed planet very much in stride. Further, as the Lady Whisker is lost beneath the waters of Moad, so too is Dew. Separated from the rest of the crew and trapped on the bottom of the ocean, he is revived by the Moby Dick, choosing to later explore the inexplicable connection between the two. However, much like losing the Lady Whisker, the whale hunters are fairly quick to accept Dew will probably find his way back to them at some point. So much for the codes of the Whale Hunter, I guess. Though I had a number of issues with different plot points in this episode, it was still the strongest, and the art at certain points, particularly those dealing with the Moby Dick are just beautiful (which is quickly becoming my favorite aspect of the series).

Episode twelve begins what I would consider to be yet more filler in the series as the shipwrecked crew of the Lady Whisker must now travel a very great distance to find Lucky's brother. As they gladly traverse the wasted ruins of Moad, Ahab inexplicably turns over leadership of his crew to Lucky. Meanwhile, Sara discovers Dew, who she believes to be her long lost love, Harry, the one she has been waiting for. After much walking and an impromptu musical number, the crew discovers a bus they can use to drive the many miles to Lucky's brother "and the trip begins with yet more singing. Murato makes a brief appearance, planning on following the crew to capture Lucky's brother, and Lucky reveals yet another surprise when she is able to contact her brother psychically. This episode did little to expand the story or our understanding of the characters. Though we get yet another revelation about Lucky, it just seems a little too convenient. The rest of the episode tended to drag on.

As episode twelve dragged on, episode thirteen builds directly off that theme. Opening on the bus and its wayward travelers, the first scene is a lengthy sequence in which Ahab relates a dream to the rest of the crew. Eventually, they find some shelter and over the course of dinner, the subject of food arises. It seems the crew is running out of supplies they took from the Lady Whisker. Obviously, they'll need to replenish their food reserves. But considering no one has seen any living plants, aside from a poisonous flower, nor any animals, aside from some scavenger birds, just where they'll find their food becomes the question. Cue yet another of Lucky's revelations. It seems, yet again, she was not entirely honest with the crew. Actually, as it so happens, the planet Moad is scheduled for destruction in nine months (which is why the Federation is trying to gather and relocate all the citizens "what Lucky employed Ahab and his crew to fight against), but even if they manage to survive, the food stocks they have won't last much past that date. At this point, any logical person would be a bit bothered that his newly-appointed leader has not only repeatedly lied to him, but also brought him to a dying planet to fight in a battle without a means of leaving. Any logical person would naturally be bothered by this, but the crew once again seem to take it all in stride.

This episode also introduces an old man, referred to as "Old Koba." The introduction feels a little forced, as does the interaction between Koba and Lucky. However, the character of Koba is clearly introduced to establish the means of restoring Moad. Tracked by Murato and his Federation henchmen, Koba is eventually cornered. When the crew comes to rescue him, he instead chooses to make a futile attempt to take both himself and Murato out in a final, fantastic explosion. His parting gift to Lucky will clearly play a pivotal role in the restoration of Moad, I just wish his character could have been introduced in a less ham-fisted manner. As such, his character is very clearly a plot device.

Completely dropping any of the elements or plotlines from the previous episode, episode fourteen opens as Lucky gives the crew a tour of the ruined Capitol of Moad. Meanwhile, Murato continues to track the group. When Lucky's brother psychically guides them to an old train station, the group meets Lucky's ailing brother, Shiro. After introductions are made, the group embarks on the Lasala express. At the single point on the track in which the train surfaces, Murato's crew attacks and he and Ahab actually engage in combat. When Murato's android strength gains the upper hand, Ahab is rescued by a psychic blast from Shiro, and the group narrowly escapes. This episode not only introduces Shiro and his crew as more central cast members, it also introduces an interesting personality conflict between Shiro and Ahab, which I imagine will likely play a larger role in future episodes.


In Summary:

I get the sense volume 3 of Hakugei "Legend of the Moby Dick represents a period of flux for the series. Throughout this disk, I noted a rising tone of almost goofy humor, and a shying away from serious issues (being lead to a dying planet without food or a means of escape and without having been told the whole truth, for instance), instead relying on unrealistic character reactions. In this regard, the series takes on an almost fantastic and carefree child's adventure aspect, which directly conflicts with the gravity of the source material. I'm interested to see which path the series commits to, and am hopeful there will be less of what feels like filler in the episodes to come. In the final analysis, however, I can only give this disk a lukewarm rating, as it does little to flesh-out the characters and advances the plot in a manner I found to be too slow.

Features
Japanese 2.0 Language,English 2.0 Language,English Subtitles, Character Sketches,Space Whalers Lexicon, Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation

Review Equipment
34" Sony FD Trinitron Wega HDTV KD-34XBR910 and Sony Dav-FR9 progressive scan Home Theatre System with 114 watts per channel to each speaker and 115 watts to each of the subwoofer's two woofers.

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