Reviewby Carl Kimlinger, Jun 18th 2008
Convinced that the black cross worshipped by the Black Cross Religion will one day annihilate the galaxy, Cleo suddenly has more important things on his mind than a mano-a-mano duel with Vetti. He and Michel pool their resources to woo aristocrats to their cause, but know that ultimately they will have to join forces with Vetti if they want to save the human race. In the meantime Vetti and Ralph unravel the mystery of the prophecy, heading to the one place in the galaxy that holds all of the answers. Cleo follows, and when he catches up, learns that he and Vetti have a hidden connection. But too late. Vetti's animosity knows no logic, and soon Cleo realizes he has no choice but to face the Emperor in one-on-one combat—with the lives of all humanity in the balance.
Though Glass Fleet never lived up to the promise displayed in the middle episodes, enough of their narrative threads persist into the climax to make it marginally more interesting than the utterly forgettable first half of the series. Vetti's emotional abuse of Rachel reaching its inevitably tragic conclusion, Michel confronting the emotional scars left by her violation at Vetti's hands, and Cleo's slowly thawing personality leading him to make an uncharacteristically selfless decision—all reasonably interesting developments that can trace their genesis to the mid-series climax, during which the writers, obviously feeling their oats, decided put the cast through the wringer.
Unfortunately what came out the other side of the wringer wasn't that different from what went in. The midpoint-climax wasn't a turning point in the quality of the series so much as a flash of narrative sass with a few far-reaching echoes. Outside of the resolution of issues raised during the middle episodes, this volume is exactly the kind of pedestrian, painfully uninspired dullness that dragged the remainder of the series down to the level of a (bad) space opera pastiche. The writers prove surprisingly willing to off major characters during the big battle, but the transparent character-building sequences preceding it fail entirely to make that matter. The simplistic politics are as dispiriting as ever (no more “savior” nonsense, please), and the characters as flat as road-killed armadillos. The episode dedicated to Eimer last volume still can't make the supposedly touching scenes centered on her work, and the inevitable deepening of Michel and Cleo's relationship can't overcome the pair's deadening shallowness long enough to make viewers care about their fate.
At the very least no one can accuse Glass Fleet of having inappropriate visuals: they're every bit as uninspired as the content. Using the age-old wavy-fade transition before flashbacks is the perfect way to complement their cringe-inducing sentimental intent, and the pan-from-the-lovers-to-a-burning-fire gambit is as moldy the dialogue leading to the scene. The lack of detail in the design of the giant spaceship that ends the climactic battle matches perfectly the pulled-from-the-ass spirit of its arrival. The limp animation of the hand-to-hand combat (thanks largely to the embarrassingly clunky 2-D artistry) is perfectly suited to the utter lack of interest it inspires, just as the stunningly preposterous costume design and busy-but-unappealing art parallel perfectly the preposterous posturing of the leads and busy-but-unappealing plotting. Even the score—equal parts larger than life symphony and simple, personal instrumentals—is used with a brain-bludgeoning obviousness that is as insulting as the series' redundant explanatory dialogue. Indeed the only inappropriate stylistic turn that the series makes is using slick 3-D ship designs to add unseemly amounts of pop and dazzle to the predictable space battles.
There isn't much to be said about the dub that hasn't been said before. It's excellent work from Funimation, a company that has more than once elevated dubs above even their originals. That the end result is so bland is no fault of theirs—squeezing emotion from Glass Fleet is like squeezing water from a rock: no amount of skill can make the hackneyed, predictable, and often plain bad drama of this last volume work. Watching the fine cast struggle gamely with the awful, too-faithfully preserved dialogue is simply excruciating.
This disc's one extra is a short but enlightening interview with director Minoru Ohara.
Glass Fleet stumbles with sad predictability to its conclusion, its mid-season flash of life unable to prevent it from ultimately becoming one of the innumerable anime series to be relegated to the memory junk bin, forgotten almost entirely within hours of their completion.
Overall (dub) : C+
Overall (sub) : C+
Story : C
Animation : B-
Art : C+
Music : C
+ Occasionally garners interest when tying up narrative loose ends from the mid-series climax.
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