The crew of the Arcadia has some of their stories told as the stakes slowly get raised.
What They Say:
2977 A.D. Mankind has developed the technology to head into space. They've created robots to cultivate foodstuffs on other planets and live in an age of unprecedented gluttony. Mankind receives all its food from the government and is kept in check by the government’s use of hypnotic signals emitted from the television. So even high-ranking government officials have tossed their duties to the road and live a life of horse-racing and other indulgences.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The previous batch of episodes we watched for Captain Harlock focused a lot on the Mazone and how much they've infiltrated the Earth and surrounding planets over the centuries and millennia before their current wave of attacks. Some of it fell a little flat and made you wonder why they didn't bother to conquer the planet when it was easy. But it did up the scope of things and the scale on which the Mazone operate, which is admittedly interesting in general since it paints them in a much broader way.
This batch of episodes continues to deal with the Mazone, but not quite as directly as they're back to smaller player and individual actions instead of the bigger scale. This allows for us to connect with the characters better since the tales are more personal and it helps to flesh out the crew and one or two of the Mazone as well. A lot of time has been spent on Daiba, so it's definitely a plus to see others dealt with. Kei's story naturally revolves around some romance as she ends up reconnecting with her former fiance as he's trying to keep her fathers research going, research that he was one involved with himself. He's attempting to sway her to working with him now in order to fulfill her fathers dreams, but those were dreams that he himself held in disdain years ago and used to gain favor wit the Space Development side of the government. As unsure as she is, and with as many memories as she has of the good times with him, she can't help but to shake the feeling there's something more going on here.
To my surprise, the chief engineer character, Maji, gets quite a bit of screen time in this batch of episodes. His past comes to haunt him in the present as we find out how he came on board the Arcadia in order to find his daughter. The diminutive man had always figured his life as one alone outside of the crew of any ship, especially in service with Captain Yamanaka, but when he finds a beautiful woman who's interested in him, he pursues that over other things. With a young daughter, he's as happy as can be even with the Mazone making themselves known. What throws it all into a tailspin is that his former captain informs him of the real nature of his wife, but only after she ends up dead and burned away.
This leads to an interesting angle on the half human half Mazone child they have, Midori, but it's often relegated to the sidelines or treated in an unusual manner. With the Mazone being plant life in humanoid form, a cross species child is something that you have to believe shouldn't happen. But rather than really figure out the ideas of it, it's talked about briefly as an impossible thing and that it's not even worth classifying or thinking about. Maji's going with Harlock once the truth is revealed makes sense, and certainly works for Harlock and Maji both, but it all comes back to the present when they discover Yamanaka lost out in the Horsehead Nebula and there are hints of Midori's whereabouts after she was abducted by other Mazone.
There's a lot to like with these episodes since we get to know more of the crew better and both Daiba and Harlock play to the background. Miime gets the last episode of this batch which explores how the Mazone manipulated her world and where it stands now and there's some regular background talk about the nature of the Arcadia which teases about it being alive because of some of the things it does and how Harlock talks about it. The references to his old friend continue on as well which helps to personalize the ship and adds a bit more mystery to Harlock's past, something that's always good with a character like this. This batch of episodes was quite a lot of fun and engaging to watch with the stories it tells and its approach to the characters. This brings the first half of the show roughly to a close and sets the stage for the real batter to come, going by the way it ends. And that's something to look forward to I think after all the setup.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.