Saturday, February 10, 2007

So I was about to write up a great big "yay, Captain Herlock: Endless Oddssey" rave about said thirteen-episode OAV series, and then the last minute or so of show dropped a big ol' pile of WTF in my lap. Somebody fell asleep during "Introduction to Foreshadowing 403" at screenwriting school. Not only did it come out of far left field, but it underlined just how useless and passive one of the core characters had actually been in the course of the series.

Don't get me wrong, Captain Herlock is 90% of a really cool series... argh! Can I digress for a second to express just how annoying that officially-endorsed misspelling is? It's stupid - the character is clearly being called Harlock, same as he's always been, and every other translation has *always* used "Harlock". Er, except for that one company that used "Warlock". Anyways, there have been more than a half-dozen different companies that have turned out Matsumoto anime and manga in English with the Harlock character, so the trademark issue is almost certainly not a valid factor. What the heck was Geneon thinking?

Ahem. Right, the semi-compromised coolness of "Captain H[e]rlock". The animation is top-notch, if a tad dark and murky at times. The usual gang of Harlock cronies are about, and it's a real nostalgia-trip for those who remember the old TV series with any sort of affection - and I did like what little I've seen of the old Fuji subs, which is to say, about a dozen or so episodes. The villains are nigh-Lovecraftian in their Elder Godness, full of menace and honest creepy-crawliness. It's an honestly dark show, bordering on outright horror. Rin Taro's talent for set-pieces and striking composition is here in full form, and there's a lot to keep attention riveted fully to the screen. On the other hand, I have to wonder who hired Nobuteru Yuuki for this project, as his "natural" character-design style is not at all similar to the classic Leiji Matsumoto look, and the clash is expressed in a certain plasticity and rubberiness around the eyes which takes a bit away from the presentation.

I guess I've seen much, much worse anime from the Leiji Matsumoto oeuvre. I just wish that ending had been handled better than it was. Maybe another episode? Better foreshadowing? Some more adjustment to the character dynamics to lay a better foundation? Something.

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