Earth has ended a long war with an alien race of machine men, however both sides live under a stalemate-mutual truce situation. But a fuse is lit on this situation by the space pirate Captain Harlock, whose attacks on the machine men threaten to end the truce and reignite the war. Captain Warrius Zero has been appointed leader of a crew made of Earth and machine men, and is assigned the near-impossible task of capturing the legendary Harlock. However, as Zero goes about his mission, he is beset with malfunctions, mutinies, spies, and above all a secret truth that could change everything about the truce. Written by
Q. Leo Rahman
The major problem with this 13 episode series is the same that plagued the Harlock "Ring" series. There are major plots holes that just possibly might pass if you saw this on a weekly basis but when it's all together in a 4 DVD set, yikes! One example of the poor planning is a sequence that is supposed to take 40 seconds lasts 5 minutes (it even starts with an on- screen countdown)! I am not familiar with the manga that the story came from so it hard to say if the problems originated there.
The animation is wildly uneven and looks like it was rushed out by several different animation studios. They experiment with a thick line brush look on some shots but then cut to the same character drawn in the most crude and scratchy G.I. Joe cartoon way. The extensive use of video effects to assist the animation doesn't work either.
This is not to say that there are not good portions to the series. Episodes 5 and 6 on the Gun Frontier planet work really well. And there are some classic Matsumoto moments sprinkled throughout. The contrast between Zero and Harlock creates some interesting scenes. Unfortunately the attempted story is too big for the limits of this particular series and the whole thing runs out of steam before the finale. As usual, the subtitled version is much better than the English dubbed version.
If you manage to find the four DVD set at a rental store, check out the two "special episodes" on disc 4. These are true gems of the "Zero" series. These seem to have been done at a different time and the budget is good on these episodes. The artwork is well done and the story is very good.
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