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Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick, Wild Arms collection


a bi-weekly column by Don Houston, John Sinnott, Chris Tribbey, and Todd Douglass

Have you been enjoying the anime remakes Samurai 7 and Gankutsuou: The Counte of Monte Cristo?  Well there's another anime coming to region 1 that's based on a classic work:  Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick.  Chris Tribbey has an early look at this tale of obsession this week.  We also have capsle reviews of the latest releases including the Wild Arms boxed set, Area 88 Vol. 3, and the Aquarian Age set.  Holly has returned with another set of bargains, and there's out table of the upcoming releases for the next two weeks.  Have anything you'd like to see us cover?  Drop us a line via e-mail.

The Latest Anime Reviews:
(Click on the links to read the full review.)

One of the series that continues to impress offers up the third volume with Area 88: Target 03. This time, the pilots must deal with a sniper, a hidden enemy airbase, and the logistical nightmare of cut supply lines as Shin Kazama earns his pay again and again, determined to make it out of the hellish world of mercenary combat to regain all that was taken from him by a ruthless rival in the real world. While only one more volume is set for release, this would be a grand feather in the cap of ADV Films if they sponsored a second season.

King Yuri has to face dragons, killers, bandits, and runaway sand bears in the fourth volume of Kyo Kara Maoh. This series is a good solid show and it continues to be fun.  They wisely avoid many of the pitfalls that fantasy shows often fall into, and manage to tell an entertaining story.  If you've followed the show this far, you'll be pleased with the current volume.

In the second volume of the series everyone has routinely looked at as a shining example of an anime series done right, Cowboy Bebop Remix 2, continues the misadventures of Spike, Jet and crew as they pick up their last regular crewmember and combat a host of troubles that'd send any other bounty hunters packing. The revised 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround soundtrack helped make this a title worth a double dip for any fans although the relative lack of extras didn't exactly impress us this time. Still, the show has the kind of replay value and timeliness that most anime series would kill for so it was easy to see why we rated it as highly recommended.

The latest offering of a whole series in a single boxed set, Wild Arms: Complete Collection, managed to revive our interest in the series recently. Set in the far flung future, the series followed gunman Sheyenne Rainstorm, scientist Kiel Aronax, and ancient Isaac, as they searched for Sheyenne's adult body. He finds living as a child hampers his style with the ladies, even if he is one of the only men alive capable of wielding the ancient technology of the "wild arms"; weapons that use a person's aura to wreak havoc on anything in their sights.

Another recommended title would be DearS: 2nd Contact, a show where beautiful love slaves from outer space seem intent on recapturing a missing Ren, just as she learns how to tend to her duties by the impatient but talented Miu. Those of you that appreciate fan service shows will enjoy this one a little too much if you let it as Ren and Takeya come to terms with their master/slave relationship.

Still ugly, nonsensical and outright confusing, the second volume of Shuten Doji, Go Nagai's tale of a young demon boy finding his way, is nonetheless entertaining. When our boy Jiro finds himself in space in the first of two episodes on this DVD, we get a nice horror-action mix aboard a ship, where crew members are eliminated one by one. But the enjoyment is short lived, as the second episode brings us back into the muddled world of otherworldly demons who attack at random and are slaughtered outright. The story of Shuten Doji has been tough to follow since the opening minutes, so enjoy this one for the gore and violence.

Another title that relies on fan service action (too heavily this time) would be Girls Bravo 3, where girl shy Yukinari continues to deal with his severe case of gynophobia as the gals from another planet shower him with love and affection. Getting in the way as always is rival Kazuharu who seeks to claim all the cuties for himself in a show that offered magic, hot springs, a school pool with skimpy swimsuits, and a ping pong game to determine who gets to sleep with whom.

The Get Backers series comes to an end with volume ten, and John was sorry to see it finish.  A fun and usually light-hearted series, the concluding chapters wrap up the major story lines in a satisfactory way, but also leaves a lot for a subsequent series.  The characters are developed well over the stories are a lot of fun.  This is a series that more people should check out.

The dreaded sophomore slump hit Daphne in the Brilliant Blue 4 as the show narrowed its focus from the cunning and talented mercenaries of the Nereides agency to second stringer Daphne as manpower shortages force her to take charge in situation after situation in a series that parodies mainstream movie hits a little too closely this time. Rent it before making a decision on purchasing but it still had some cute moments worth reliving.

Suzuki Mika goes to Okitsu High School everyday.  Thought she's really short, she's not a student, she's a teacher.  That's pretty much the set up for Doki Doki School Hours, the first volume of which has just been released.  If you think it sound a lot like Azumanga Dioh, your right, the are very similar.  The humor in this new series is a lot more sexual in nature, mostly involving the two homosexual 10th graders in Mika's class (one of each gender).  The jokes start repeating themselves even in this first volume, which bodes ill for the series, but the premier disc is worth checking out.

Another boxed set that combines previous releases all in a single, value priced, bundle, Aquarian Age: Complete Collection was offered up recently too although the material wasn't all that great this time. Warring factions of supernatural beings have competed for eons against one another and now the prophecy that suggests a winner cane be had is about to be set in play. Will Kyota, Junichi, and Shingo fight for the right side, the wrong side, or become victims of the ensuing battles in this magical show based on a card game?

Bandai has decided to release the entire Avenger series in one fell swoop, all 13 episodes come on three DVDs in a pretty cool metal box.  This story of a mysterious girl and her companion "doll" who fight their way across the surface of a post-apocalyptic Mars has some good animation and a nice soundtrack, but the show never really engages the viewer.  It's hard to really care about the characters and the unbeatable main character makes the action scenes predictable.  A good effort that just falls short.

After a break of five months, E's Otherwise returns with the fourth volume.  This disc starts a new story arc where Kai starts on a quest, and discovers a group of psychic children being used by a church.  While some of the individual episodes are fairly entertaining, the series continues to meander about.  It hasn't really developed a solid story yet, just jumping from story to story without any meaning or purpose.

Lastly, Ghost Stories 1 was an uneven mix of clichés, generic situations, and weak humor as the cast awakens a horde of dangerous ghosts intent on causing trouble unless they are trapped once more in their vessels as a previous generation had done. The English language dub was an experiment gone awry as the cast was allowed to adlib their parts in hopes of generating some spontaneity but the results were decidedly mixed according to fans and critics alike. Only die hard ghost story fans will want to watch this one but stick with the original language track unless you've made it a point to celebrate with alcohol or other intoxicating substance.

Be sure to take a look at recommendations by DVDTalk’s twisted cast of reviewers in their Best Of Anime 2003 and Best Of Anime 2004 articles.

Upcoming Releases

Scheduled for release on November 15, 2005

Animal Treasure Island $29.98 Discotek
Area 88 Vol. 3 $29.98 ADV Films
Cardcaptor Sakura: Clow Book Set 2 $99.98 Geneon
Dragon Ball Z: Great Saiyaman: Crash Course $19.98 FUNimation
Elfen Lied Vol. 4 $29.98 ADV Films
Fafner Vol. 3 $29.98 Geneon
Fullmetal Alchemist Vol. 6 $29.98 (SE $49.98) FUNimation
Gantz Vol. 9 $29.98 ADV Films
Kodocha Vol. 3 $29.98 FUNimation
Maburaho Vol. 5 $29.98 ADV Films
Mermaid Forest Vol. 3 $24.98 Geneon
Salaryman Kintaro Vol. 3 $24.98 ArtsMagicDVD

Scheduled for release on November 22, 2005

Bottle Fairy Vol. 1 $24.98 Geneon
Cowboy Bebop Remix Vol. 3 $29.98 Bandai
Daphne in the Brilliant Blue Vol. 5 $29.98 Geneon
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex 2nd Gig Vol. 2 $24.95 (SE $49.95) Manga/Bandai
Kiddy Grade Set 1 $29.98 FUNimation
Kiddy Grade Set 2 $29.98 FUNimation
Mobile Suit Gundam Seed Movie III $29.98 (SE $39.98) Bandai
Panda-Z Vol. 2 $14.98 Bandai
s-Cry-ed Vol. 3 Anime Legends $39.98 Bandai
Samurai Champloo Vol. 6 $29.98 Geneon
Star Ocean EX Vol. 6 $29.98 Geneon
Tenchi Muyo GXP Set 1 $29.98 FUNimation
Tenchi Muyo GXP Set 2 $29.98 FUNimation
Trigun Limited Collector's Set 1 $89.98 Geneon
Wolf's Rain Complete Collection $149.98 Bandai

Holly's Anime Bargains - Presented by Holly Beeman

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Steel Angel Kurumi: Complete Collection: $22.99, [review] retail price: $59.98 - nearly 62% off!

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For more anime deals check out the Official - ANIME Bargains! - Thread.  Updated daily by yours truly!


Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick

2005 has been a stellar year for anime remakes of classic tales on DVD. FUNimation's Samurai 7 and Geneon's Gankutsuou: The Counte of Monte Cristo are among the best releases of the year, at least with the early volumes. Now ADV has its own anime homage to a well-known story in Hakugei: Legend of the Moby Dick, with volume one streeting at the end of November. Made in 1997, Moby Dick may not look as swank and sharp as the more recent Samurai 7 or Gankutsuou, but with some great characters and a decent English dub, it makes up for the dated animation and the slow-paced start to the story.

Director Osamu Dezaki not only directs, but also handles all the storyboards (yep, Captain Ahab looks like a bigger, more fuzzy version of Black Jack). He has fun with this version of the future, with a robotic parrot, strangely-tattoed giants, and unique space ship designs. He also has fun with the original story, following the Moby Dick tale in only the loosest sense. Because this is anime, instead of the 1800s ocean settings of Herman Melville's story, this Moby Dick takes place in space during the year 4699. There is no Ishmael, Queequeg or Captain Peleg, and no, Dezaki didn't force actual whales to wander through space. Instead, old, adrift space ships are the whales, and Captain Ahab and his crew of outlaws are known as whale hunters, when really they're just space scavengers.

This version of Moby Dick has a young boy named Lucky Luck, instead of a middle-aged Ishamel, as the main character and narrator. Lucky stows away on Ahab's ship, and after being discovered and tested, is kept on as a whale-hunting apprentice. Lucky tells the crew he just wants to be a whale hunter, but his quiet mission is to get Ahab and his crew to help him save his home planet from "the most horrific beast in the universe," Moby Dick.

The action in this first volume is a little sparse, though the characters are engaging, and the story takes some nice, surprising turns in the third episode. It may take a while to get us to the great white whale, but this first volume is Recommended

What do you think about the column?  Like what you see?  Don't like it?  Have a comment or suggestion?  Drop us an e-mail and let us know!


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