Review: Captain Harlock Space Pirate Dimensional Voyage (whew!)

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SteveH
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Review: Captain Harlock Space Pirate Dimensional Voyage (whew!)

Post by SteveH »

The following is an opinion piece. It may conflict with your opinion, and may even contain knowledge that runs contrary to 'accepted works' information. The world will no end if we disagree. Honest.

Unlike many here, I'm not really 'into' the manga scene. I'm not following the latest American/English releases, I don't have a clue what's NEW and HOT in Japan, it's just not my thing. Yes I ate up the various translated releases in the '90s, and of course I bought the Japanese volumes of different series (Yamato, Fist of the North Star, Dr. Slump and so on), but other than that, just not my bag of fish.

Mind, I DID get hooked on One Punch Man (America release) so I guess I qualify as a dabbler, but I've passed on so many things, mainly due to lack of money. I should have bought Queen Emeraldas but I just couldn't do it.

Which brings me to Captain Harlock Space Pirate Dimensional Voyage, published by Seven Seas. I knew this existed from various discussions way back when, and there's been some very nice promo illos that made me feel very interested. So, I scraped up some money and bought the first two volumes.

Hurm. Probably not going to buy Volume 3. MAAAYBE V.3 but that's the last unless something changes radically.

It's a joint effort by Harlock creator Leiji Matsumoto and someone named Kouiti Shimaboshi on art chores. Matsumoto's story is basically a retread of the Space Pirate Captain Harlock anime series from the '70s, heavily salted with his 1999 obsession of "everything happened, all of it, plus space aliens from beyond space doing things", in other words, a misguided attempt to make a 'unified' Matsumotoverse.

So it's Harlock Vs. the Mazon (not Mazone), with character designs taken from the 'Outside Legend' anime, the 'Harlock Saga' anime, the CGI Harlock movie and heaven knows what all else. Maybe even a bit of the Cosmo Warrior Zero anime. And of course everything else that has Harlock in it. Galaxy Express 999, My Youth in Arcadia, Gun Frontier and so on.

Shimaboshi's art is... huh. I guess contemporary? Is this the current style? Long and lanky and One Piece-ish with giant breasteses that would make Shirow blush? For what should be such a prestige high profile comic the art seems very amateur. More Dojinshi than professional. The staging is uneven. Some shots he seems to be trying to emulate a scene from the Space Pirate anime but his 'flow' can't equal what Rin Taro managed to accomplish on a tiny budget with not anywhere enough time. There's an introduction for Tochiro in v.2 that's pretty much a direct lift from Endless Road (OK, Orbit if you must thank you Discotek :) ) SSX episode 1, and the introduction of series protagonist Tadashi Monono.

Backgrounds tend to be minimal. There's a distinct lack of 'Matsumoto Dials' to be seen. I keep getting pulled out of the story by distractions in the art, odd poses, poor anatomy (even allowing for Matsumoto stylizing) and just...the boobs. Queen Lafrasia (here spelled Lafresia) with a giant rack? That's just not right.

The translation seems O.K. at best. Both volumes have things that pop up that make me question the ability of the person/persons working the job. The big one in V.1 is a scene where Yatteran has fielded a large number of aircraft plamo, flying by remote control, dropping bombs to create a diversion for escape (see also Outside Legend).

Here's the problem. The planes shown are OBVIOUSLY WWII Japanese carrier attack planes. Fixed landing gear dive bombers, Yatteran built 99 of them, and from the look I would guess they were Aichi D3A 'Val' dive bombers. It's a total Pearl Harbor reference. But they translate it as Junkers JU 87 Stuka, a German WW II dive bomber/attack plane. It HAS to be an intentional change as they reference carrier launching and the Stuka was never carrier based nor could it have been. Besides which, the art looks NOTHING like a Stuka. So WTF?

I wonder if it was a Japanese mandated change.

There was some other boner in V.2, some massive grammar or spelling fail but I can't be arsed enough to try and find it right now.

I just don't know. I *think* what Matsumoto was after was to ride the coattails of the Yamato 2199 'revamp revival' concept but the Yamato 2199 production crew was SOOOO on point, so skilled and careful in their crafting that their project turned out brilliantly. This new Harlock manga is just a slog. Retreading ideas that were old in 1999 with uneven art. I am not impressed.

I just hope that the publisher isn't counting on sales figures from this to push the upcoming 'classic' Harlock manga release. They're really two completely different animals. (and heck, if memory serves the Space Pirate manga didn't really end so much as stop. A sad and common problem with Matsumoto).

I guess my advice is to not buy this manga blind. Find a store that carries it and flip thru, see if it pushes your buttons the right way. I'm not sorry I bought the two volumes but they very much on the 'read and shelve it' list, having it just for the overall collection and not a burning need to keep reading. I loves me some Harlock and this... well, It's got the NAME and once in a while a page will turn out really good but...naaaa.

** two stars out of five.

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Re: Review: Captain Harlock Space Pirate Dimensional Voyage (whew!)

Post by davemerrill »

I hadn't seen this Dimensional Voyage manga other than ads; my initial impulse, after years of Maetel Legends and Harlock Sagas, has been to ignore the reboots and the retreads and the remixes. After your review, it seems that this is a wise decision, because this doesn't really look like something I'd enjoy. Seems as if Matsumoto has the same problem he's always had, of creating these terrific iconic characters, and then not really having interesting or coherent stories to put them in.

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Re: Review: Captain Harlock Space Pirate Dimensional Voyage (whew!)

Post by usamimi »

It's funny, I read vol 1 & liked it a lot more than I initially thought I would? I thought I'd be pretty critical of it, but then I actually had fun reading it as sort of a weird almost fan fiction thing. And honestly, I thought the artist did a fairly decent job adapting Matsumoto's style (though I do agree that none of the women really needed a boob job.... :roll: ). Dunno if I'd keep up with it or buy the whole series, but it's definitely not the worst reboot/offshoot/AU thing in a franchise I've ever read by a long shot.
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SteveH
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Re: Review: Captain Harlock Space Pirate Dimensional Voyage (whew!)

Post by SteveH »

davemerrill wrote:I hadn't seen this Dimensional Voyage manga other than ads; my initial impulse, after years of Maetel Legends and Harlock Sagas, has been to ignore the reboots and the retreads and the remixes. After your review, it seems that this is a wise decision, because this doesn't really look like something I'd enjoy. Seems as if Matsumoto has the same problem he's always had, of creating these terrific iconic characters, and then not really having interesting or coherent stories to put them in.
Yeah, that's a thing I probably should have mentioned. Damn the inability to edit posts! 8-)

I did not ENJOY reading this manga. I should have. It should have been pushing all the buttons. It was flat. It was rote. When they did the bit where Harlock and Tochiro whip out their copies of the 'Arcadia of my youth' book I didn't go "Oh cool!", I instead felt "OK, yeah, of course. Hey where did they keep those rather large tomes?"

I contrast that with the sheer beauty of the Space Pirate anime, that amazing shot in the first episode where Harlock is standing on the 'dart board of death' awaiting a firing squad and WHOOOOOOM the Arcadia rises to occult the setting sun RIGHT BEHIND HIM DAMN Rin Taro you f**king brilliant bastard... :D

This manga really feels like cut 'n paste fanfiction. Made from 100% 'memberberries.

I guess if you stumble across some kind of deal where you get this along with a ton of other manga as a cheap digital download, it's worth at least looking at. Heck, it may well qualify for the first manga Stupid Comics or something.

Matsumoto is not well served if he is surrounded by people who can't say "no" to him. He needs an editor with balls who can say "stop this crap, Leiji! It didn't work in 1999 and it sure isn't working now!" I mean, we're all (or maybe just I am) still waiting for Galaxy Express 999 Eternal Fantasy to get finished!

*sigh* I wonder what Matt would have to say about this manga.

SteveH
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Re: Review: Captain Harlock Space Pirate Dimensional Voyage (whew!)

Post by SteveH »

usamimi wrote:It's funny, I read vol 1 & liked it a lot more than I initially thought I would? I thought I'd be pretty critical of it, but then I actually had fun reading it as sort of a weird almost fan fiction thing. And honestly, I thought the artist did a fairly decent job adapting Matsumoto's style (though I do agree that none of the women really needed a boob job.... :roll: ). Dunno if I'd keep up with it or buy the whole series, but it's definitely not the worst reboot/offshoot/AU thing in a franchise I've ever read by a long shot.
Well, that's fine. I'm glad someone likes it. :)

It's just a weird thing to me. Here's a manga that, one might assume, is targeted at me but no, I'm not the target demographic, or so it seems.

Would this appeal to a 'current generation' fan who never had the least bit of interest in the works of Leiji Matsumoto? Would this make a new fan seek out the classic works? I'm not so sure.

And for Daryl Surat and others, my objection isn't to the boobs and booty going on, it's just the absurd unbalanced design. And how it really doesn't work for Matsumoto's stuff. I seriously call it an attempt to appeal to the One Piece generation.

And the fact that they aren't using the Space Pirate TV anime design for Kirita (wasn't that Kirata? anyway.), who was an awesome dude.

Geeze, they're gonna have to do yet ANOTHER death for Tochiro to put his soul in the Arcadia's main computer, aren't they? Because none of the existing versions of that death (Space Pirate, GE999 movie, SSX) are really going to be able to be shoehorned into the story. I wasn't paying attention, was there some exposition on how he ended up in the Steampunk Arcadia for the CGI movie?

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Re: Review: Captain Harlock Space Pirate Dimensional Voyage (whew!)

Post by usamimi »

Yeah, I think it's targeted towards new readers for the most part? Since it's running in a shounen magazine. Though I know a few older fans who have been enjoying it. Much like every popular older thing, there's always gonna be a reboot/retelling/AU thing for future generations that's not always targeted towards people my age, and I guess I just accepted that a long time ago. /shrugs

As for the Harlock CG movie, yeah they did a flashback explaining Tochiro's death and all that. I'm assuming that's mandatory for every Harlock thing ever made at this point. :lol:
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Re: Review: Captain Harlock Space Pirate Dimensional Voyage (whew!)

Post by SteveH »

OK, update: Volume 3.

Um. I'm tapping out, friends. It's just not for me.

This volume, NOTHING HAPPENS. There's lots and lots of standing around and saying IMPORTANT THINGS and dramatically speaking of WEIGHTY ISSUES and oh so many 'rememberberries' calling out to this and that and the other thing.

I don't have any of my books but I seem to recall that the whole bit of the Pyramid at the Bemuda Triangle was about stopping time and stuff. In the TV episode they crashed the Arcadia into the Pyramid and discovered, like, old cars and planes and ships and stuff, then they fought a Mazone and busted the place up. It was something like that. Also The Arcadia fought and destroyed the IJN Battleship Mushashi.

This manga, they crash, Harlock and Tadashi go in, they discover a 'dead' body, naked of course. Harlock says stuff about not desecrating the grave because of his code, Tadashi gets a little tonguetied about naked sexy Mazon and how maybe they should bring her back to the ship to, you know, examine and stuff, and Harlock shuts that down. Then they leave. The End of that chapter.

Oh, there was almost conflict. The Earth Army Dude got a fancy spaceship and basically calls out to Harlock "Fight Me!" and Harlock, in the fine tradition of decades of Captain Harlock kicks his ass but doesn't kill him HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAAHAHA no, no, sorry, I mean to say he says "Hey, chill, I'm leaving. see ya!" .

But here's what broke me. We get a 'guest appearance' by Diver Zero (another Matsumoto manga with a tie to the Harlock works. But he's no longer a little kid with a computer soccer ball companion, he's tall and buff and hot in a BL way) who says something like he hates the Earth and the Machine People but he'll protect the Earth with his life, because Tochiro's daughter, Mayu lives there. It seems to be subtext that he loves her.

So we get to the next chapter and there seems to be some hope. We see what seems to be an orphanage, and a little girl that looks like a modernized Mayu from the the '70s and boy we dodged a bullet there but GREAT BIG NOPE. The voice talking is of the real Mayu, 14 year old hottie decked out in skin tight Daisy Duke short-shorts, a set of thigh-high stockings (with the traditional Japanese approved 'Absolute Territory' of bare skin between stockings top and shorts) and an oddly frilly (LEATHER frills mind!) biker jacket that is ALMOST long enough to be a dress but not. She seems to in in charge of what may well be the Church of Harlock, Savior. Meanwhile, Harlock is having a chat with Tochiro in the Computer, Harlock says "your daughter is living on Earth" and Tochiro says "hey, she's supposed to be living with Emeraldas" and boom, that is where the discussion ends.

ARGH! NOTHING HAPPENS IN THIS DAMN THING! It's all setup with no payoff. Nothing but 'Memberberries. Plus Mayu Lolicon for added squik.

Oh, at the end Harlock has a confrontation with a 'shadow soldier' that is supposed to be dramatic as all f**k but man, it's lame.

I have better use for $12.99 USD. Vol. 4 won't be coming home with me unless some major positive change happens in my life. I honestly feel kind of insulted by this thing.

But I guess I'm not the target market. Even tho only someone like me, who is as invested in the work for decades, can understand all the namechecks and data bombs, are the only kind of people who can actually appreciate what's going on. To anyone else, a new fan, it's probably nothing but lists of things they know are supposed to be important but have no idea why.

Props for using Diver Zero. Minus bazillion points for Lolicon Mayu. I'm out.

Now, it's kind of OK

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