Maetel Legend -

Anime/Manga Reviews

Mania Grade: B+

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  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: B+
  • Menus Rating: B
  • Extras Rating: B
  • Age Rating: 13 & Up
  • Region: All Region DVD
  • Released By: Central Park Media
  • MSRP: 29.99
  • Running time: 90
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Maetel Legend

Maetel Legend

By Chris Beveridge     March 17, 2002
Release Date: March 12, 2002

Maetel Legend
© Central Park Media

What They Say
From Leiji Matsumoto, creator of Star Blazers, Harlock Saga, and Queen Emeraldas!

So it begins. The most beloved and mysterious of Matsumoto’s creations, Maetel, finally returns to tell her story. The princess of a dying world, young Maetel faces starvation and death. Only machines can survive in the new environment, and one by one, an evil scientist transforms her loved ones into soulless mechanoids.

Once he captures Maetel and her fiery twin sister, Emeraldas, he will rule the world. Maetel must choose whether to become a machine to save her life, or to abandon her home world to fight for freedom.

The Review!
AFter having seen the Galaxy Express movie, which takes the origins of Maetel and shows the conclusion to them while avoiding much of what brought things to that state, I was definitely intrigued by this title to see how it all came about. Suffice to say, I'm definitely impressed and continue to be ever more a Matsumoto fan.

For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. Even though it's fairly recent, the OVA world still tends to avoid doing anything beyond stereo and rarely anything pro-logic. The soundtrack here is good but it's all forward soundstage based with some decent directionality across it. Dialogue is nice and clear and we noted no dropouts. English language viewers make out a bit better by getting a 5.1 track in addition to to a 2.0 track, which does a very nice job of separating the music and giving it a much sharper and cleaner feel.

With this being released in 2000 when Matsumoto was getting everything back into gear, the production values for this are great. The look of his classic designs tied with the lushness of new animation techniques has worked quite well and breathed a new kind of life into his characters. While the designs do retain their sharp familiar edges, the colors bring things much more to life. There was little to pick flaw with in these two OVA episodes included here, as each looked spectacular on our setup with no cross coloration and hardly any jaggies except during a few panning sequences. Colors looked rich and full without being over saturated and the general feel is great.

A nice classical look with more of a manga feel highlighting the two leading women here of Maetl and Esmeraldas, this cover looks pretty slick and sure to catch the eye of any Matsumoto fan who'd walk by. The back cover provides a few animation shots and a decent summary of what to expect. Features and extras are clearly listed, though CPM once again continues to be the only company that under-lists their running times instead of padding them out. The reverse side of the cover provides the chapter listings for the two episodes and te cast list for the main characters of both languages while showing some black and white artwork.

The menus are standard fare with selections along the left and animation playing along the right, though the animation plays with English dialogue, causing us to make selections as quickly as possible to get away from it. Access times are nice and fast and the layout is pretty simple and straightforward.

The main extra that we checked out here is the seven pages that talks about Matsumoto's history and how things developed over the years for him. Though brief, it does give the new fan some interesting information about how long he's been involved in all of this, which definitely adds something. The other extras are your typical CPM extra fare though.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
As often happens in anime, we often see the endings before the beginnings. Not an unusual way to do things to be sure, but when we see the beginnings of stories that are classics twenty or more years afterwards, they run the chance of being poorly done or not fitting in with the established continuity. Or they end up becoming a perfect addition to everything.

Well, I'm the first to admit to not being a master of everything Matsumoto and figure there's plenty of continuity things in here that will annoy the hardcore fan. But after seeing the Galaxy Express 999 movie from 1979 earlier this year and now this, seeing the story come full circle in this way, I'm really impressed with how this is all done.

The story opens with the world of La Metalle being hurled out on its long thousand year orbit, far away from the warmth of the solar system. The people of the world are dying as their artificial sun is going out, food is becoming increasingly scarce and the population is withering away. Hope is one of the last things most people have, but even that isn't truly believed in as there's little to show them how things could change. But things do change, and rather quickly, as the Queen has decided to follow the advice of her master engineer, Hardgear.

Hardgear has created the perfect way to transform a humanoid into a mechanoid while supposedly retaining everything that made them who they are. He of course was one of the first to do so, and has a solid legion of those who believe alongside him. With no other option to her or to her people, she takes the mechanization process. It's surprisingly simply (at least in this telling) where a small piece of technology is inserted into the brain, which then allows itself to begin replication of human parts as mechanoid parts over time. There's also an interesting piece of subcode that forces the persons allegiance to be to that of Hardgear before anyone else, but nobody knows that until they undergo the process.

The Queen's process is also a bit different in that it's not as fast as most everyone elses. While thousands and thousands of people in the population undergo it quickly and become fully mechanized, she continues to retain parts of her humanity. A good part of this is due to her strong ties to her two daughters, both of which have refused to undergo the change, even though their mother has ordered it for the entire population, them included.

It's the two children of course who are among the main draw here and in other parts of the Matsumoto universe. Being the title, Maetel of course is the primary daughter here with a good amount of the focus given to her and her relationship with her mother and the mechanization of their world. Maetel's a bit of a pacifist but will pick up a gun when necessary. She even goes far enough to have a special electromagnetic gun created that will more easily take out a mechanoid. The other daughter is Esmeraldas, the one who will grow up to become one of the more famous pirates in the unvierse alongside Harlock. She's also in her formative stage here and is much like her sister in not wanting to give up her humanity to become a mechanoid. She started to take steps to ensure her own survival with getting a weapon made that would suit her (and follow her for the length of her career) here. The two work well together in keeping their beliefs strong and in trying to convince their mother that she's chosen wrong in becoming a mechanoid and ordering it for everyone else.

This then leads into the various plots and plans of Headgear as he has the population building underground cities and moving there and converting those who've tried to escape. His plans continue to move forward while the two girls make their own plans to escape as well as trying to help their mother. And yes, there's even a good wine sipping moment that must be present in every show that these characters inhabit.

Over the course of the two episodes, we get plenty of decent action and lots of good dialogue sparring moments in addition to the usual villain telling all segments. There's also plenty of family arguments over the entier mechanization process, but those tend to range all over the map depending on how far along the Queen is. At the end of the show, I found mself really getting into everything and enjoying it quite a bit. The character designs are great and I just love having a young Esmeraldas, with little of the physical and emotional scarring yet to happen, doing what she does best in surviving. And she manages to get a lot of smiling in as well, which is something of a rare treat. Having something of a lighter and somewhat happy Maetel is also illuminating, after years of reading and experiencing the older and more tempered character.

This show turned out to be a fairly good surprise, and one that I'd definitely recommend to anyone looking for something a bit retro in design but with newer animation styles. And for a taste of what's one of the true classics of the anime medium that really needs to be made unedited and bilingual here someday. Very recommended.

Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Trivia Game,Meet the Cast,About Matsumoto

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.


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