As one of the more mysterious and sufficiently badass women residing in the vast Leijiverse, her boundaries as a side-character rarely failed to aggravate me in her various cameos as the sincere fanboy I identify myself as. I'm talking about the space pirate Emeraldas who had to wait for 1998 to come before she finally got an OVA of her own. I just finished watching it and hopefully this review will provide a considerably more objective assessment than my rampaging fanboyism logically would allow.
The Leiji Matsumoto pattern has made it clear that a young and ambitious male protagonist is likely to emerge whenever a story needs to be told and Queen Emeraldas proves to be no exception. This time, the tale concerns Hiroshi Umino who ironically gets more screen-time than the titular character herself. Basically, the story is comprised of a series of coincidental encounters these two characters have with each other and the opponents they more or less face co-operatively as Umino aspires to grow stronger and explore the universe in the liberal spirit he shares with Galaxy Express 999's Tetsuro.
I'd like to make it clear that this OVA seems to exist in order to provide some background information on a popular heroine and as such does not bother too much on developing its narrative. There is a troublesome lack of continuity present and it seems like Umino's repeated meetings with Emeraldas are just random plot devices created to establish a friendly relationship based on coincidence. All in all the story is not particularly strong but comes off as decent.
For the first time I got to witness a Leijiverse title with detailed scenery, fluid movement and wonderful character designs. A most welcome delight! Queen Emeraldas applies a few instances of horrible CGI but generally maintains a great and stylistic approach that qualifies to the contemporary standards.
Emeraldas was apparently deemed awesome enough to get her own theme song and, musical appeal aside, it does match her personality and epic characteristics quite a lot. The rest of the soundtrack is decent but seems to be a lot more timid.
As far as voice acting goes, the two protagonists are portrayed in praise-worthy manners and Emeraldas in particular has the virtue of being voiced by the same woman who starred as Oscar from Rose of Versailles.
Sigh. Assigning a 7 to the "character section" of an anime in which one of my favourite characters of fiction resides doesn't quite seem right. However, as much as I'd like to call Queen Emeraldas character-driven, even that term feels strangely out of place. There's nothing particularly wrong with the characterization, it's just that there isn't any in abundance. We get to witness Emeraldas's inner feelings; her motives and a past that has shaped her as the cynical heroine she has become. But those who watched Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express already knew those things about her and little of the material is actually new. Then there's the modernized Tetsuro and a few diabolic villains that create a diversity that's not as amazing as expected.
All in all, the characters in this OVA aren't bad at all (look at the 7 damnit!) but given that most titles in the Leijiverse seem to be character driven, it certainly doesn't reach the standard.
Despite my harshness I'd like to emphasize that I greatly enjoyed this title as an opportunity to watch one of my favorite heroines show off in a story that seems to be designed in favor of her awesomeness. It quite accurately falls into the "Guilty pleasure" category with a heavy focus on space battles and fencing but still reaches at least mediocre heights of story-telling and disappointing yet sufficient character portraits. Recommended to somewhat initiated Matsumoto fans but might not work quite as well as a gateway drug.