Movie: This is a collection of the first four episodes of the Cosmo Warrior Zero series. Set in the futuristic universe of Leiji Matsumoto, renowned for such series as Space Cruiser Yamato (ie: Star Blazers), Galaxy Express 999, and Captain Harlock, it focuses on a Captain given the mission to bring in a rogue pirate after the end of a long, bitter battle between Humans and Machine Men from another sector of the Galaxy. The rogue Captain is, of course, Harlock himself who has a nasty habit of destroying Machine Men facilities and ships. In order to maintain the uneasy peace that has formed between the two species, Captain Warrius Zero must succeed in his mission at any cost or risk plunging the galaxy back into another devastating war. The series itself was shown on Japanese television between 7/01 and 9/01 and has 13 episodes.
Episode 1: Return to the Karyu: This episode introduces us to Warrius and some of his crew, along with Harlock. Initially set right at the end of the war, it shows the human race in tatters and the Captain serving on a freighter in space. When Harlock attacks a ship, Warrius intervenes, unsuccessfully at that, but earns a spot in charge of an updated version of his old ship, the Karyu.
Episode 2: Marina's Impact: In the second episode, we learn more about the female first officer, Marina. She obviously holds some secret, having giving up the fast track for this assignment, but the story doesn't reveal it all at once. The big focus of this episode is the battle between the human and the machine crew over equality of treatment. If you changed the setting, you'd see the moral behind the story in a thousand other settings but the point is a main theme of the series.
Episode 3: The Glow of the Battleship Karyu: In what amounted to a test of the newly outfitted Karyu, the crew must battle some pirates who are attacking a space station full of Machine Men. We later find that the ship was not the only one being tested and all passed with flying colors. This episode also introduced the very powerful St. Elmo's Fire gun which seemed an awful lot like the Wave Motion Cannon on the Yamato series.
Episode 4: Grenadier, Way of the Warrior: While in need of repairs from the previous episode, the ship lands on a planet that has a lone mercenary who's still fighting the war against the Machine Men. He's also protecting a group of small children and Captain Warrius attempted to talk him out of his stance. Failing that, the Captain recruited the mercenary, Grenadier, for his mission.
Picture: The picture is presented in full frame and usually looked clear and bright. The problem with that is the subject matter requires a darker look which is typical of the older Matsumoto series. After the first few episodes, it looked like the series ran out of money or was trying to experiment with different styles of anime techniques which didn't work all that well with the subject matter. A friend swears it had something to do with a strike and/or a rush to make a deadline for the summer replacement slot-both of which made sense to me-and that later episodes look more stable.
Sound: The show gives you the choice of having a stereo soundtrack in either Japanese with English subtitles, English, or English with English subtitles. All were clear with few problems but the Japanese track appeared to have the edge here.
Extras: There were 4 minimal character biographies, a textless opening, 1.5 minutes of bloopers, 4 trailers, scene access and a paper insert. Not a lot but enough to give consumers a bit more value.
Final Thoughts: I liked this one. The story itself seemed engaging and it left plenty of room for future plots. The characters are all somewhat stereotypes of others in the Matsumoto Universe but that's okay as it'll make them all accessible to fans. I wish all the Harlock related material were released domestically on dvd but I'm patient. The story itself seemed opposite Matsumoto's usual premise which always revolved around an outsider facing overwhelming odds in that Warrius and crew are supposedly supported by the large governing body rather than waging a one ship war against it. Sure the story's been done to death elsewhere and the anti-war message got a bit preachy at times but overall, I recommend this to fans of spaceship oriented anime.