Matsumoto has created two series that have left their mark on Japanese
animation. His Star Blazers saga introduced many impressionable
American youths (yours truly included) to the world of Japanese animation
when it was dubbed and broadcast in the States back in the late 70's.
But Matsumoto's most famous creation is Captain Herlock, a space pirate.
Though there have been many anime shows over the years that take place
in the Herlock universe, (often with different continuities,) the good
Captain himself has been missing from the screen for a good while.
That has been remedied with the release of The Endless Odyssey, a 13 part
OVA that finished up in December of 2003. Geneon (formerly Pioneer)
is releasing the series in region one under the title Space Pirate Captain
A pirate ship attacks a refugee ship, only to discover that it was a
trap. The refugee ship is wired to explode, and damages the pirate's
vessel. The entire crew is arrested, including the skipper, Kei Yuke.
With Kei captured, the newspapers announce that all of Herlock's old crew
have been captured. Herlock himself has been missing for a while,
but with all of his crew has been incarcerated, it is the end of piracy
on the known galaxy.
A parallel story concerns a young hoodlum, Tadashi. Tadashi's
father was on a scientific expedition to the hourglass nebula Five years
ago. They found something mysterious there, and when they examined
it, the other four members of the expedition died. One day
Tadashi comes home sees his father killed by the animated corpses of his
four dead companions. When the murderers see Tadashi, they decide
to kill him too, but a mysterious stranger enters. The corpses tell
the newcomer that they are known as "Noo." Unsure who the new person
is and what he might do, the Noo leave. It turns out that this new
character is none other than the missing Captain Herlock. He tells
Tadashi that he knew his father, and leaves him with an offer. "If
you want to become a real man, come aboard my ship."
is an offer Tadashi can't refuse, and he tracks Herlock to his ship, the
Arcadia. As he boards, the sensors track the craft occupied by the
Noo as it head towards Earth. When the ship gets in range, it fires
a weapon that causes the Earth to totally disappear.
Herlock realizes the Noo are very dangerous. He finds some more
information about them and is determined to stop them from entering our
Universe. But to do that he'll need a crew, and his old one is being
held under high security on the prison planet Panoptican.
I haven't seen the previous Herlock series, so I was a little worried
that I would be lost. I wasn't. They do make some vague references
to previous events, but it isn't anything that isn't explained or very
important to the plot.
The story moves along at a good rate. While the first episode
was surprisingly dry, the series picked up in the subsequent chapters.
With only thirteen episodes to tell the story, they are moving at a good
clip, but still have time to developed the characters.
It appears that the story is going to revolve around Tadashi quite a
bit. Herlock is a tall, quiet, forceful, character who does well
playing the hero, but who doesn't lend himself to close scrutiny.
He won't change during the course of the show, and that would make him
a dull lead character. Young Tadashi, on the other hand, learning
to become a 'real man' is much more interesting. Seeing Herlock in
action through Tadashi's eyes makes for an interesting story.
This was a good start. There is a good foundation and enough action
to keep you watching. I'm looking forward to seeing how this series
The audio tracks for both the original Japanese and the English dub
were in DD 5.1. There were optional subtitles for the dialog or just
for the signs if you were listening to the dub.
I viewed this DVD with both the Japanese and English dubs. There
was good use made of the soundstage, with a lot of effects and dialog coming
from one side or the rear. Unfortunately this was not always appropriate,
and sometimes is didn't work well at all. In one scene, for example,
the screen is taken up with large talking heads of various people, and
their comments are sent to the rear speakers. It was really odd seeing
someone in front of you and hearing them speaking from behind.
Teh main problem was that the Japanese language track had the rear channels
way too loud. There were several instances of music being only heard
in the rear speakers, which would have worked well, but the levels were
so high that the music tended to drowned the voices from the front.
The front and rear channels did not mesh well for this reason. The
English language track did not have this problem, and was better for it.
The English dub was very good, with very good acting from the talent.
There were not any phony accents (a pet peeve of mine) and the dialog matched
the mouth movement. Because of the problem with the rear levels,
I found myself enjoying the English dub much more than I usually do.
I was very surprised at the low quality of this transfer. The picture was not very
good, especially for a recent show. There were a large number of digital
artifacts, especially aliasing. Aliasing (when diagonal lines have a stair-step effect
instead of being smooth) plagues a lot of animation, but this was much worse
than usual. There were only a few scenes where aliasing was not present. There
was also the problem of smaller objects shimmering when the camera was
moving over them. This is a result of poor encoding, and it was very prevalent.
These errors became distracting.
If that wasn't bad enough, the picture was very soft, almost making
it look like it was out of focus (though not quite that bad.) The
lines were blurred, and not sharp and clear like they should be.
The disc was also dark. Details were lost in the shadows, and
dark rooms were much murier than they should have been. This show
would have looked much better had it been a little brighter
This DVD deserved much better.
The picture on this disc was blurry and indistinct.
The original Japanese opening and three trailers (Texhnolyze, Fighting
Spirit, and Master Keaton) were the only extras.
This show has gotten off to a very good start. The characters
and situations are alluring, and the show has a good pace. The audio
quality wasn't that bad, though the high levels on the rear channels in
the Japanese mix was a little disturbing. The real weakness this
disc has is the picture quality. It was far worse than it should
have been. The disc is still watchable, but Geneon should have put
a some more effort into this DVD. Still, the quality of the story
makes up for the defects, so I still recommend this DVD, but with
a warning about the image quality.