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Content rating: 5
Posted 2001-07-06 by StupendousMan
Endorsed by Cacophanus on 2001-07-07 13:45:00
"Harlock Saga" is a six-episode adaptation of the Ring Cycle
to the world of Harlock; in short, Wagner in space.
On second though, "adaptation" seems a bit strong; "Harlock
Saga" would be better described as "inspired by". I can't
say that I was favorably impressed.
Brief background: Harlock and his crew of 3 (yes, as far
as I could tell, just 3) humans fly a giant battleship-
shaped spaceship through the universe. They call themselves
"space pirates", but the only reason seems to be the
Jolly Roger painted on their bow. American TV used to show
episodes of this or some related show back in the late
seventies or early eighties. I can't remember any details
from back then, I'm afraid. This disc contains a story
based loosely on the Teutonic legends which form the
basis for "Das Rheingold", an opera by Richard Wagner.
Let me start with the strong points: the producers use
samples of Wagner's music in the soundtrack, and the Moscow
Philharmonic does a fine job. I really liked the start
titles, which show spacecraft slowly approaching each other
to a low, ominous rolling theme. Unfortunately, it all went
downhill from there.
The character of Emeraldas appears for the first 20 minutes,
then leaves for good. Why? Don't ask. A young man is
picked up off Earth about halfway through the adventure,
and then proceeds to do absolutely nothing for the
remaining ninety minutes (except fall over several times
when the ship is struck). The characters Meeme and Freya
look exactly alike -- yet one is a Niebelung and the other
a goddess of the Aesir. Why? Their identical appearance
doesn't advance the plot or cause any crucial
misunderstandings. Perhaps the art department was running
late on character design and decided to save a little money...
Worst of all is the ending. It was pleasant to watch the
first five episodes, but I found myself wondering "How are
they going to wrap all this up in the next half hour?"
I _knew_ that there was a lot more to the entire Ring Cycle
than we'd seen so far. Well, in the end, the producers
punt on about three quarters of the full opera, turn the
dramatic showdown between the Arcadia and the Bad Guy's
fleet into a non-event, and reveal the god Wotan to be ...
a guy who drinks wine and yells at his subordinates.
Feh. I won't even mention Harlock's plan to return
a powerful artifact to a group of people (who are now dead)
on a distant planet (which has been destroyed).
One more thing: several times in different episodes, the
DVD seems to have lost a bit of the Japanese audio track:
when a character off-screen spoke (as indicated by the
subtitled English on the screen), there was no sound
at all from the TV set. I do think that someone was
supposed to be talking, because no other action
was going on and afterwards people responded as if
words had been spoken. Wierd.
Equipment used when writing this review:
Panasonic 19-inch TV, mono speaker
Sony DVD player
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