I’m going to start off this review with a disclaimer: If you’re thinking about using this OVA as a starting point for getting into Captain Harlock, turn away right now. With that said, for anyone who’s already a fan you’ll probably enjoy this OVA just because it’s loosely Harlock related and that you’ve probably come to expect very little from anything beyond the original series anyway.
First off, the few good things the series has:
1. The story. Despite the shortcomings of basically everything else, the story itself is actually quite good. The series has great pacing, fun characters, and an interesting overarching plot.
2. The action
sequences. Although a little uninspired the fighting throughout is some of the best in Harlock. There are cosmo guns, gravity sabres, cloaking fields, energy shields, lasers, missiles, space battles, and a giant robot horse.
Now, onto the bad:
1. It’s not actually about Emeraldas. Despite what the title may have lead you to believe the series is actually about a young boy named Hiroshi who dreams of building his own spaceship. Emeraldas acts as his watchful guardian and that’s about it. If you were thinking you’d get to finally see a series with some focus on Harlock’s most alluring and mysterious ally you were wrong.
2. Being an OVA you might assume its self-contained, well it’s not. The series doesn’t end on a cliff hanger or anything but it’s pretty obvious the plot was intended to continue on.
3. The animation sucks (kind of). The first two episodes are pretty solid but the studio was switched halfway through and the latter 2 episodes are visibly worse. Especially the characteristic Leiji Matsumoto eyes which the second studio never seemed to get right. The series also has a penchant for 90’s 3D animation which I assume was all the rage at the time but now looks hilariously bad.
4. The dialogue is terrible. By the end of this 4 episode OVA I estimate you will have heard Emeraldas say “I am Emeraldas” about 14 times. I don’t know what happened but the show really fell flat in this regard.
Ultimately this is a series that you should only watch when you’ve exhausted all other Harlock options. In that regard it’s enjoyable enough, I certainly didn’t hate it but it leaves a lot to be desired. The real tragedy however is simply pondering what could have been. Emeraldas was a fairly underdeveloped character before this OVA and she continues to be afterward but it’s obvious they were setting up for something big. I’ll let you see how it plays out but there’s a lot of foreshadowing and then it seems to end before it even really gets started.