Emeraldas is a character from the Captain Harlock anime series, and here she's given her own mini-series in which to be a bad-ass like Harlock. Unfortunately, Leiji Matsumoto (creator of Harlock, Space Cruiser Yamato, and other anime classics) tends to favor style over substance when creating characters. How else does one explain a female version of Harlock, down to the facial scar?
Hiroshi Umino, the actual protagonist of the film (actually two animated episodes combined on one disc), is a starship stowaway searching for the great inventor Tochiro in the hopes of building his own ship and living the free and powerful lifestyle. Unfortunately, Hiroshi's not much more than a kid and takes a pounding at every turn. Circumstances eventually introduce Hiroshi to Emeraldas and he becomes a key element in the battles between Emeraldas' ultra-powerful starship (which apparently operates without a crew) and the Arfessian Armada, which terrorizes the spaceways. Emeraldas' main beef with the Arfessians seems to be their use of her skull-and-crossbones insignia, but the trivial nature of the dispute doesn't stop her from wiping out whole fleets of starships.
In the end, the climactic duel between Emeraldas and the Arfessian queen seems pointless, since the villain with the most screen time is the fleet commander. Hiroshi's quest is left unresolved, but at least he learns the rather simplistic moral that friends are to be valued. Despite frequent references to the Harlock series, it's uncertain where this story fits into the Harlock mythology and the whole thing seems rather incomplete. Throw in some repetitive monologues by Emeraldas, and some rather jarring juxtaposition of computer animated sequences with hand-drawn animation, and the end result is a bit of a mess.
Simply put, the transfer is darn near perfect. There don't seem to be any flaws in the film, and the various star fields and computer generated space sequences look great. The sound, too, is darn good, and the quality between the Japanese and English tracks is remarkably consistent. Often you'll find that the mix between dialogue, effects, and music is different on the different language tracks, but no such disparity exists here. The only flaw I found was the fact that the subtitles were in plain yellow without outlines, which can be a problem when yellow is shown behind the letters. But other than that, it's a great looking disc.
There's not much to talk about here; the extras consist of a few pages of text outlining the biographies of Hiroshi and Emeraldas, plus a few stills taken from the film itself. Strange that ADV would take info and pictures from the film, package them separately, and bill them as "extras."
Fortunately, ADV rescues itself by including a load of previews, including: Tekken, Slayers, Legend of Crystania, Sonic the Hedgehog, Queen Emeraldas, Sakura Wars, Battle Angel, Bubblegum Crisis: Tokyo 2040, Burn Up W, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ninja Resurrection, and Those Who Hunt Elves.
Chris Holland, 6/2/00