Everyone who's heard of Star Blazers, raise their hands. Good. Now those of you who've heard of Captain Harlock or Galaxy Express 999? Alright, quite a few less, but I still see some hands. How about Emeraldas? I see just a few of you out there. Well, no matter. If you raised your hand to any of the above, you've seen the work of Leiji Matsumoto, a great animator and storyteller that has created within his characters a new world and a unique spirit. Many of his different shows have the same characters working within the same universe, so each individual show has crossover appeal. With the release of Queen Emeraldas, Matsumoto has brought his 25-year-old creations into the new millenium with gusto.
Queen Emeraldas is about its title character, to be certain, but it starts off as the story of a young stowaway, Hiroshi. He happens to have picked the wrong ship at the wrong time, though, as the vessel gets attacked by a cruiser bearing the skull and crossbones insignia. Just about the time the vessel can take no more, the ship Queen Emeraldas appears. Emeraldas (conviently the pilot of the above-named ship) saves the day, warning the attackers to remove all signs of the skull and crossbones from their hull. Only two ships in the universe have the distinct right to display the insignia--the Emeraldas and the Arcadia. As you can imagine, the Afrresian empire that's fighting along the shipping lines is none too happy about her appearance, and they would like to get rid of her as soon as possible. All this is seen through the eyes of Hiroshi, a brash little boy who desperately wants to become a man. As the story unfolds, Hiroshi eventually becomes a part of Emeraldas' life as he tries to make something of himself, reminding her of Harlock and the days long ago when she was in love with Tochiro, the genius engineer that created her ship.
Let's get out of the way why someone wouldn't like this title. Matsumoto's designs are rather "retro" now, and some people may dislike them since they don't fit into the cute cherubic designs that are typical today. People also might feel a bit lost if they know nothing about the Harlock universe. However, if you're willing to stick it out, this show is fantastic. A lot of shows attempt to be cool through their characters, but the character of Emeraldas is an embodiment of style and charisma (much like Harlock). You can't help but like it when she comes on screen--you know something major's going to happen. Even if that doesn't grab you, there are major space battle sequences that are thoroughly enjoyable...and if that's not enough, there's plenty of personal interaction as well. I've not enjoyed a show like this for a while--one that gives you action, a dash of romance, a little melancholy--and it is a keeper. Rent it if you are worried about not enjoying the show because of its look, but I think you'll find it's a worthy addition to one's library. Word has it that this is just the first two OVAs in a continuing series...I hope they release the rest soon.
DVD USERS NOTE: Please note that this DVD does have a couple of errors that may affect you. Those of you who watch the dub will likely experience no problems. However, on the first chapter of the second episode, the French and Japanese soundtracks are switched, so you must change this once at the beginning of that chapter and then again when the second chapter kicks in. It's a pain, but it can be dealt with. The other thing of note is that the subtitles during the credits and the very ending which directly follows it are completely off. The gorgeous look of the disc makes these seem small, but they will definitely throw off some people...so be warned.
Queen Emeraldas -- mild language, violence -- A