Space Pirate Captain Herlock-Volume 1: The Legend Returns (2002)

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Released 16-Mar-2005

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Main Menu Audio & Animation
Storyboards-Episode 1 Storyboards
Credits-Original Japanese Opening for Episode 1
Gallery-Production Art Gallery
Reversible Cover
Trailer-Full Metal Alchemist, Gundam Seed, InuYasha, Saiyuki
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2002
Running Time 100:42
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Rintaro
Kristi Reed

Madman Entertainment
Starring Kôichi Yamadera
Tomokazu Seki
Case Amaray-Transparent-Secure Clip
RPI $29.95 Music Takayuki Hattori

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Titling
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, next episode preview

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

"I have touched the gates of hell."

    Space Pirate Captain Herlock (or Harlock, as he used to be known) has been around for many years. First appearing in Reiji (Leiji) Matsumoto's manga in 1953, he has gone on to appear in numerous animated productions. He starred in 1978's Space Pirate Captain Harlock and in the animated feature Arcadia of My Youth. Several OAVs have appeared and Herlock has also played a role in another Matsumoto story, Galaxy Express 999. And now Herlock's back in the good ship Arcadia again, with 2002's 13 episode OAV, Space Pirate Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey: Outside Legend.

    Most of the original characters are back, including Kei, Yattaran, Dr Zero, and, importantly, Tadashi Daiba. Tadashi's father, Professor Daiba, is an expert on demons and dark magic and, as the only survivor of a research mission on the distant frontiers of space, carries a terrible secret. When the professor is murdered by his colleagues' possessed bodies, Tadashi finds his way on board the Arcadia, vowing to avenge his father's death and become a true man. But while Herlock sets about reuniting his crew and the government closes in on him, an ancient force, older than the universe itself, begins to stir . . . and Herlock is bound to confront it.

    This is my first encounter with Captain Herlock and I am very intrigued. The first four episodes (collected under the title, "The Legend Returns") have set up an interesting storyline and I am very interested to see where it will go. The OAV has been designed to stand alone, repeating old ground from earlier stories and changing some of them in the process (from what I understand, Herlock's creator is notoriously indifferent to continuity), so that newcomers and old fans alike can feel instantly at home in the Herlock universe. I have heard some grumblings about the current Herlock being vastly inferior to older incarnations, so perhaps as a newcomer I have an advantage in being able to enjoy the series without any preconceptions.

    The animation is beautiful, combining cel animation with some subtle 3D computer imagery. Character design is also interesting, mixing the usual tall, thin, angular characters with short and round characters similar in appearance to those in My Neighbours the Yamadas. It's an odd juxtaposition but works well and seems to be faithful to the original character designs.

    I'm beginning to think that I might be hooked and I'm looking forward to getting hold of the older series and some of the other Herlock releases. Definitely, Madman: more Herlock please!!

    The first four episodes are included:

    • "Blues of the Rubbish Heap"

    • "For Whom the Friend Sleeps"

    • "The Voice Calling for Noo from Afar"

    • "Yattaran's 30 Second Bet"

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality


    This is a high quality video transfer from Madman. The series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio of 1.33:1.

    The transfer is nicely detailed although blacks can be a little noisy. Line work is very fine, giving the series a slightly soft look. The soft look is deliberate, I feel, and not an issue with the transfer. The colour palette tends towards pastels, and every now and then scenes are lit in gorgeous purples and blues. Light is an important visual aspect in Herlock, and characters and other elements often have a soft, ethereal glow around them.

    Interlacing is apparent (how visible will depend on your monitor) and fine lines occasionally exhibit mild aliasing (for example, 4:14 and 67:28). I noticed some very mild juddering in pans which would suggest an NTSC-PAL conversion (the running time on our disc is the same as NTSC releases), but if this is the case, the conversion has been done very well. I noticed no other artefacts. Top marks to Madman.

    English subtitles are yellow and translate the Japanese well. A second subtitle option translating signs and computer read outs only is shown in a white font. I personally prefer the white subtitles and wish that Madman would use it more often.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts


    Audio is also excellent. Herlock includes two Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in English and Japanese. I listened to both.

    Dialogue is clean and audible in both tracks. Music is mixed at a lower volume in the English track. The score is composed by Takayuki Hattori and aims for a rousing, orchestral space opera sound that reminds me a little of John Williams' Star Wars scores. It's an excellent score, although it tends to push the patriotic piracy feel a little too far.

    Both tracks have a very active surround presence. Discrete dialogue and sound effects can be heard from every speaker (see 21:54 for example) creating a highly immersive and enjoyable experience. The subwoofer rumbles nicely in support of the music, space craft, and fight scenes.

    The English dub is not terrible at all, but as always I prefer the Japanese original.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


Main Menu Audio & Animation

    Animated intro, subtly animated menu with audio.


    Episode One is presented with a multi-angle storyboard option. It should be noted that the story-board angle is not available until the feature is selected from the menu.


    A different Japanese opening for episode one, with the sounds of an orchestra tuning up as the title moves into frame.


    A standard production art gallery. Not self navigable.

Reversible Cover

    Points to Madman for giving us these.


    4x3 trailers for Inuyasha, Gundam, Full Metal Alchemist, and Siayuki.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Japanese Region 2 release contains only one episode per disc.

    The Region 1 release contains four episodes, but only includes the original Japanese opening and three trailers. Other reviews suggest that the Region 1 disc has a much greater problem with aliasing and digital artefacts than ours. It sounds like Madman have done a better job at encoding Region 4, making it the clear winner.


    Space Pirate Captain Herlock starts well and is gearing up to be a great series.

    Video is very good and audio is excellent.

    Extras consist of storyboards and other light options.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Adam Atkinson (read my bio)
Sunday, February 05, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S336, using Component output
DisplayLG Flatron Widescreen RT-28FZ85RX. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V357
SpeakersDB Dynamics Belmont Series: Fronts: B50F, Centre: B50C, Rears: B50S, Sub: SW8BR

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