Anime OVA review: Maetel Legend

Cover of "Maetel Legend" DVD release, featuring Maetel and Emeraldas.
Cover of “Maetel Legend” DVD release, featuring Maetel and Emeraldas.
Welcome to the willowy world of Leiji Matsumoto, creator of Captain Harlock, Queen Emeraldas, Galaxy Express 999, and Space Battleship Yamato. Maetel Legend is a two-episode original video animation (OVA) series which tells the origin story of twin sisters Maetel and Emeraldas, two of the major characters encountered in Matsumoto’s Harlock universe.

Maetel and Emeraldas are princesses, daughters of Queen Prometheus of the planet La Maetel. Once pleasant like Earth, the planet is knocked out of its orbit by a black star and sent spinning off into space. As it moves farther from the Sun, it grows colder, and food becomes more scarce.

Professor Hardgear, an advocate of cybernetics, proposes a radical option to save the people of La Maetel: transform everyone into mechanoids. The princesses are dead set against this idea, but the Queen decrees that everyone must undergo the transformation. Maetel and Emeraldas refuse and must now find a way to escape their dying world to fight for freedom.

Now, I am a big fan of Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999, so this series was interesting because it showed some of the early history of Maetel and Emeraldas. However, I was disappointed with how the series was handled. Many of the choices made by the people of La Maetel made no sense in the context of their level of technology.

I could never figure out why the people of La Maetel didn’t just move to other planets like the rest of humanity was doing. They could have ridden the 999 (said “Three-Nine”) or taken one of the many ships being sent out by Earth. They even showed groups of mechanoids attacking some of the ships being sent out by Earth, so they had access to the Earth ships as well as those they used to attack them.

Of course, some people will simply point to Hardgear and how he’s a stereotypical mad scientist and therefore doesn’t have to act rationally. Okay, sure, I can accept that, but what about the rest of the people on the planet? The Queen seemed to be generally capable, yet didn’t seem to grasp the easiest solution to the problem.

The animation quality is reasonably good, but wasn’t anything special. It is somewhere between a feature film and a television series and used a lot of the same animation- and budget-saving tricks such as reusing shots in multiple places and panning across a scene without animating anything in it.

The music used in the series was arranged by Masamichi Amano, and borrows heavily from classical scores just as many other Matsumoto series do. It works well with the flow of the story, but really isn’t anything special.

Overall, this was only an average release, and while I do own it because of my love of the series mentioned above, Maetel Legend isn’t ever going to be my favorite series. It’s worth a watch, though.

Release Date: December 6, 2000 and March 7, 2001 (Japan)
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Language: Japanese
Original Title: メーテルレジェンド

MySF Rating: Three point zero stars
Family Friendliness: 90%

Content:

Alcohol/Drugs: 1 (social and megalomaniacal drinking)
Language: 1 (very occasional mild expletives)
Nudity: 0
Sexuality: 0
Violence: 2 (robot apocalypse, humans being replaced by machines)


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