Ozma 2: Truths

Crunchyroll, you tease, you said this was coming out tomorrow.  Oh, OK, I forgive you~

Anyways, let me say what must be said first.  I know that a lot of people are talking about the seemingly tiny animation budget this series is getting, plus how jarring the art is (though this is of a course a whole other issue).  Understand that I am quite thick-skulled when it comes to visual stuff, I really am, so that my opinion is only my opinion.  As I see it, the first episode had decent animation.  Now, sadly the anime industry doesn’t take a page from Jesus and save the best for last: the first episode usually has the best animation and then there’s a drop.

Well, the second episode of Ozma is not a drop, it’s a cliff.  It’s really, really bad.  Not only is the animation lacking (so much so that sometimes I thought I could almost see the voice actors recording the dialogue inside the studio) but the character designs are off the great majority of the time.  For those people who were turned off by the animation and the art in the first episode, there was never any hope (though some silly kids will keep watching for some reason).  But for those who endured the animation because they liked the retro art, this episode is going to make things more difficult.  This episode’s visuals are the worst I’ve seen this year, and I’ve watched 24 episodes of Persona 4 (where the crew had some kind of rebellion and for some time there the characters wouldn’t even move their mouths on screen).

Loving those Leiji Gauges.

It reminds of sumo.  I’m a sumo fan.  I watch every makuuchi bout of every tournament.  I do this even though there’s rampant cheating and many of the guys are wildly inconsistent and not up to the standard of their predecessors, because once in a while there’s a great match that makes it all worthwhile.   If I weren’t a sumo fan, you couldn’t get me to start watching it now, though.  In the same way, I would never ever try to convince someone to sit through this episode.

Now, for those who survived the art and animation and are still with me, let’s talk about the episode.  This is your basic “ship is in the danger beneath X” episode, which Leiji is very fond of.  The ship is under the sea, or under the earth or within a hollow planet or something, and they cannot get out because the enemy will destroy them.  But if they stay under X then the ship will break to smithereens and the crew will die.  In this case, the Bardanos is under the sand, about to fall apart, when it’s saved by the fact that Gido (a.k.a. Charlock) decides to call off the hunt so as to allow the mysterious child Maya to live.

If you're expecting some of the awful visuals you're out of luck. Don't be lazy, go and look through the first 3 minutes of the episode.

The question is: can this kind of episode be justified in a six-episode series?  I actually think the answer is yes, provided that you give us something to chew on.  If this series is going to have an “episodic” episode, it has to be episode 2.  Episode 1 for the setup, episode 2 for the little adventure, and then from 3 on the rising tension leading to the climax and the end.  We still have over an hour and a half to play with, so it’s fine.

The problem is we didn’t get fed.  No deep inquiries into the characters’ psyches, no real world-building to speak of.

There are only a couple of things I can comment on.  Look at this picture:

I don’t know how it is in country, but in Japan people are extremely punctilious about this sort of thing.  The doctor is being outrageously unsanitary.  I remember in this connection a chapter (or maybe it happened in more than one chapter) of Otoko Oidon, where Nobotta works at a ramen shop and keeps putting his thumbs in the ramen by mistake when serving the bowls.  The customers always end up abstaining in disgust.  The point here is that the doctor is dirty, and the captain isn’t far behind since she has no problem with this.  The detail of the fingers is not some fluke, it’s deliberate.  Make of it what you will.

Also, the map below is not just for decoration:

It’s a map of Germany in German (Deutschland, duh).  And old at that.  The only reason for it to be there is that it has some importance to the captain.  Since her character is squarely in the tradition of Harlock, it makes sense that she would come from Germany, which would explain the map.  For an in-depth look at Harlock and Germany see my post [here].

But there’s so much more here.  We can actually pinpoint the date the map presents us very accurately.  We see the large territory in yellow with the words “Herzogtum Warschau”, that is, the Duchy of Warsaw.  This entity only existed between 1807 and 1815, it was created by Napoleon I in his glory and it perished when he fell.

Here’s a map of central Europe in 1812 [click for bigger size].

Now let us remember where the Harlock Clan is from: Heiligenstadt.  There is more than one place in Europe called Heiligenstadt, but my contention has always been that Harlock comes from the city of that name which today is in the north of Bavaria, between Bamberg and Bayreuth.  Here’s where the big map above is really useful: both Bamberg and Bayreuth show up on it so we can locate the small-sized Heiligenstadt even if it’s not written in.

Let’s mark the location of Heligenstadt with a red star and shrink the map to the size of the one in the Ozma scene:

Finally, let’s use our excellent Photoshop skills to superimpose our Heiligenstadt map on the Ozma one, rotating ours so that it will fit the angle of the map in the scene.  We make our map transparent so we can see both at the same time.  Here:

The red star aligns perfectly with the doctor’s gold pendant.  Go up and look at the doctor’s screencap again.  I repeat: the star aligns perfectly with the gold pendant.  This is the real thing, folks.  I did not stretch or manipulate anything to make it fit.  I just worked on a hunch: as soon as I saw that she had that gold pendant I wanted to know what would be immediately behind it on the map, and the word “Heiligenstadt” just popped into my head.

If this is not deliberate, then it’s an amazing coincidence (divine fanservice?).  Either way, I consider it further proof that the Bavarian Heiligenstadt is the one true home of the Harlock Clan.

Now let’s hope these guys get cracking in the next episode (I mean both writers and animators!!!).

~ by Haloed Bane on March 24, 2012.

20 Responses to “Ozma 2: Truths”

  1. So Gido the Charlock had a decent command of tactics this episode. Also it just me or is Miikun freakishly large?

  2. This is like a forensics post, lol. Leiji Forensics. Well I have no idea what this even implies for the doctor’s pendant, but I’m still watching. The visuals were lacking but that was a damn good looking starry night.

  3. I’m totally with you here. That said, I was fine with an episode like this until you reminded me that there are 4 episodes left…

  4. Niiiice. Excellent work, ak.

  5. As soon as I caught the old map of Germany presented in such detail, I knew that it wasn’t there by coincidence. Now your forensic work tells me why heh heh… And if you look at how the captain and the doctor are standing in the picture (hint, hint), well, it’s not really hard to see where this is going.

    Not bothered by the animation as much as some. In fact thoroughly enjoyed the old school submarine warfare transplanted to the sand setting. Almost felt like watching “Das Boot” again.

    Our delicious captain is a true stoic. Not only does she accept the doctors contaminated glass, but even at temperatures approaching 50c the cape and the scarf stay on.

    • Oh yeah, that just shows you how behind the times Leiji is. He missed a perfect chance to have the heroine get butt nookie. Maybe in the DVD?! 😀

    • As a Leiji newbie, I totally missed the significance of that map. It might be worth my while to keep up with some of AK’s posts if I continue watching this one.

      It’s interesting to note that while having the crew strip down would probably have been more realistic, it likely would have also ruined the seriousness of the scene. Then again it might have been an interesting challenge to try and animate a scene like that without making it come across as either sexy or comical.

      That being said, couldn’t they have had a few people remove their jackets or loosen their collars or something?

      • Hmmm, I guess it’s a textbook example of the Stoicism of Leiji’s heroes. I don’t remember Harlock ever loosening his collar, he just takes the heat. Then again, maybe these clothes are made of some space fabric that’s really light and refreshing and we just don’t know. It is possible.

  6. Divine fanservice is a good concept, but I remember that Martian map from V2 Panzer Serazard, so yes, everything is possible. I guess you’ve found the needle in a haystack. Really impressive.

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