Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick Vol. #6 - Mania.com

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  • Audio Rating: A-
  • Video Rating: B+
  • Packaging Rating: A
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B-
  • Age Rating: 17 & Up
  • 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. #6

By Brett Barkley     November 30, 2006
Release Date: July 18, 2006

Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick Vol. #6
© ADV Films

What They Say
The Great Space Show of 4701 is about to begin! With less than two months until Moad's destruction, Ahab and his crew are still without Dew, without a plan and without so much as a hope for survival. To make matters worse, the Federation has declared all-out war on the inhabitants of Moad, and won't rest until no one is left standing. After a brutal air raid decimates the Moad Resistance Movement, Ahab is forced to make a few unlikely allies to unlock the secret of Dew's mysterious connection to Moby Dick. With the fate of Moad in his hands, Ahab prepares for the greatest whale hunt of his life. Secrets will be revealed, friends will be lost and a new legend will be born in the final volume of Moby Dick.

The Review!
With this sixth and final volume, Hakugei-The Legend of the Moby Dick arrives at port, but maybe just a little late.

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 crowd effect, as well as the slight echoes used to enhance the dialogue when inside a structure or ship, work quite nicely. 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.

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.

The Hakugei-Legend of the Moby Dick Vol. 6 disk retains the nice sense of design found in the following volumes. Blending elements that pay homage to the source material, the bulk of the disk cover consists of a sketchy, water colored image of the Moby Dick as it crashes through the water, with the Captain and Lucky looking on from the foreground. 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. An image of the King Kuron floating space station and Dew's head occupy the top 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 left of the disk information, below the headshot of Dew. Additionally, this disk features an insert with a repeat of the front cover on one side, and some series background as well as the sixth part of the interview with director and series creator Osamu Desaki. Be warned, however, I'd recommend reading the interview after watching the series, as the interview does contain spoilers. 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.

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, Languages options, and Extras listed below in descending order. A clip from the series' opening song is looped throughout. I found the menu to have clear, clean layout, and to be easily navigable.

Hakugei-Legend of the Moby Dick Vol. 6 offers some of the more common extras with a few standouts. The disk features Clean Opening Animation, Clean Closing Animation, Character Sketches, The Space Whalers' Lexicon, Previews, and Credits. Of these, I found the Character Sketches to be the most interesting. The included character sketches are very nice, though 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 pacing. The Space Whaler's Lexicon could be useful to those new to the series, or just trying to keep up.

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.

The first episode of volume six, episode twenty-three, finds Dew and Sara having fled the company of the others once the rebels leARned of Dew's upcomcing role in Moad's destruction. While searching for the two androids, the Captain comes to the conclusion that it's time to get back to the reason he came to Moad in the first place; to seek revenge on Moby Dick. As Sara and Dew find shelter from the driving blizzard in a long abandoned structure, Sara reveals her fears that Dew is indeed not Harry, the man she once loved. Her life support fading, as she has been unable to find her life source, the plant known as "Poisy" due to the blizzard conditions, Dew sets out on a desperate mission to recover a specimen of the plant eighty miles away. Pushing his enchanced android frame to its max, he retrieves the plant, but arrives too late. Returning to the structure, he discovers Sara's system has shut down, and that their shelter is not without other occupants. Having fled the Federation forces they have long since abandoned, Madame Ohara and Murato have taken refuge there as well. As Dew attempts to force Ohara to tell him of a way to resurrect Sara, the new President's forces bring about a full aerial bombardment on Moad

As episode twenty-four opens, the surface of Moad is literally ruined by the bombardment, the crew of the Lady Whisker manage to revive an old Moad mining vehicle, making the perilous journey initially to the resistance headquarters, then to the West in an attempt to bring back the Lady Whisker, then again back to the headquarters. Meanwhile, Federation forces close in on Ohara, Murato, and Dew. Recognizing the power of the Federation forces aligned against her, Ohara seeks a meeting with Shiro. As the small group escapes a Federation invasion force, Dew strikes a bargain with Ohara to lead her to Shiro in return for restoring Sara's life force. The Captain and the others meet up with Dew, Sara, Ohara and Murato as the Federation bombards Shiro's compound. As the resistance takes a number of causalities, Shiro unleashes the full power of his might, destroying a huge number of the Federation's airships, but at the same time receiving massive wounds.

Episode twenty-five, the third on this disk, opens as Lucky and the crew of the Lady Whisker return to find Shiro dead. Lucky manages to telepathically communicate with Shiro one final time, as his soul departs. Meanwhile, the Federation forces close in and begin arresting the remaining stragglers. In order to avoid the same political pitfalls of the previous President's administration, the new President makes a Federation-wide announcement, spinning the destruction of the planet Moad as "the Great Space Show of 4701." In order to stave off any potential sympathizers to the cause of the Moad resistance, he misleads the people of the Federation in believing the resistance has happily acquiesced. Having passed out from the shock of losing her brother, Lucky is in a near-coma state. As the Federation forces bombard the reistance base, Shiro's spirit occupies Lucky's body, addressing the Captain, and bequeaths him the responsibility of protecting Moad. The Captain and his crew narrowly escape the resistance's base, due in no small part to the intervention of Murato. In exchange, the giant robot asks that the crew's doctor help Ohara, whose immune system seems to be shutting down. In what appears to be an absolute continuity error, the crew's doctor proclaims the culprit in Ohara's collapsing immune system was the over-polluted air on planet Earth, combined with the shock of breathing the clean air of Moad (which makes no sense, as the planet has been over-mined and stripped of virtually all life, save for the occasional Poisy and the carrion birds we saw several episodes ago). As the Moby Dick synchs with Dew, the countdown to the destruction of Moad begins, and before her weakened frame gives out, Ohara reveals the true link between the Moby Dick and Dew. And in this episdoe's example of the series' standard of Deus Ex Machina, the Moby Dick flies close enough to the oceans to the West, that it causes a great tidal wave, one that actually manages to raise the Lady Whisker from the bottom of the ocean without drowning everyone on the shore.

With only seven days until the destruction of Moad, the crew celebrates Christmas as they work feverishly to restore the Lady Whisker. The final episode of the series begins as the Captain mulls over the situation on Moad. Desperate to find a way to destroy the Moby Dick without breaking his promise to Shiro, Ahab puts a great deal of pressure on Dew who, as revealed last episode, shares a more in common with Moby Dick and its origins than previously believed. Fully restored (amazingly, in only a couple of days!) the Moby Dick begins to track down the Moby Dick. But the Captain has other ideas. Fixing the Lady Whisker's course for King Kuron, Ahab and Dew set off to destroy the Moby Dick on their own, thus sparing the lives of the crew. As they attack the great white ship, the ship's first-rate defense system blasts the Ahab out in to space, while the adaptable exterior of the ship actually absorbs Dew into its surface. As the Captain flails in space, he is rescued by Murato (who can apparently now fly), and, while staging another attack, they two are actually swallowed by the Moby Dick. Meanwhile, back on the ship, the crew manages to figure out Ahab's password, thus permitting them to alter their course. Inside Moby Dick, Ahab awakens to find Murato's body being absorbed in to the wall of the great ship. As Ahab attempts to free Murato, the giant robot's body begins to disintegrate before his eyes. The two say a tearful goodbye, and Ahab continues on his way. When Ahab makes his way to the ship's brain, he is confronted with a terrible option. In order to deactivate the ship's planet-destroying beam, Dew must die. Dew, no longer in control of his body, attacks Ahab, blowing him out an exhaust vent. As Ahab and Dew continue their fight on the ship's surface, the crew members join in the fray. Aiding the Captain in his efforts to shut down the Moby Dick, Dew actually attempts to take his own life. And with less than a minute left before the planet's destruction, the Moby Dick is vanquished, and the ruined planet of Moad is spared.

With the destruction of the Moby Dick, Hakugei comes to a close. I genuinely had a great deal of mixed feelings about this series. Initially, I felt this series had so much potential, but after twenty-six episodes, most of it simply went to waste. Basically, the core story of Hakugei-The Legend of the Moby Dick could have been better told in half the episodes. As such, the majority of the series felt like filler. Antagonists were introduced, their threat to the crew amplified, then they simply died from, say, lung disease. One major character died, then returned by the grace of nothing more than a conveniently forgotten mystical rite, and a cultural predilection to be raised from the dead by the kiss of a virgin. As is hopefully apparent from the above, much of this series felt as if it were written stream-of-conscience, with characters dying for no reason, returning for less reason, spending an episode going in one direction, only to go in another the next, and yet another again the next, and all the while the repetitive coincidences don't just stretch the viewer's disbelief, but utterly obliterate it.

In all of this activity as it occurs over the course of twenty-six episodes, one would think the viewer would actually get to know the characters. Unfortunately, however, this was not the case. Aside from Ahab, and maybe Lucky, the viewer never really gets to know any of the other characters. There is no chance to connect with anyone else, as only the Captain and Lucky, and her cause, are ever really explored.

However, all is not totally lost, particularly in the English dub. John Swasey seems to really have fun with the part of Captain Ahab, genuinely breathing life in to the character. He actually manages to take this cliché of a character, and somehow bring a depth and personality to it that actually surprised me. Additionally, Kira Vincent Davis and Andrew Love both turned in great performances and Lucky Luck and White Hat respectively.

In Summary:
Like the bulk of the five volumes that preceded it, Hakugei-The Legend of the Moby Dick is filled with a great deal of the unbelievable and utterly superfluous filler. During most of the content in this volume, the crew find themselves wandering back and forth across Moad, always intending to do something, but not really doing anything until the last episode. And, as can be seen throughout the series, when things do happen, it often feels too predictable and easy.

While the high-concept for the story is great, Hakugei-The Legend of the Moby Dick stumbles a bit throughout the series. Through the course of its twenty-six episodes, the story suffers from pacing issues and often relies too heavily on coincidences or Deus Ex Machina. Fans of the source material, or those looking for a trendy modernization of Herman Melville's classic, will be disappointed to note, beyond names, there is little in common with the source material. If a viewer is looking for a well-paced, high action series, or a series with a large amount of well-developed characters and character interaction, this probably isn't the best-suited series. However, fans and followers of Mr. Desaki's work will likely delight in Hakugei-The Legend of the Moby Dick, as it was a true labor of love for the creator.

Japanese 2.0 Language,English 5.1 Language,English Subtitles,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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