You know how the ideal review is as unbiased as possible? Well, forget that here because this video is something I watched when it was on television many years ago. I adored it then and, even under the effect of fond memories, I have to say it's still pretty good stuff.
It is the thirty first century and Ulysses is the captain of a powerful and large space ship. On their way back to Earth they find god. Unfortunately the god's they found are the Greek pantheon. And the introduction comes when, in defence of himself and his son, he is forced to battle and defeat a monstrous robotic beast. It seems that the beast was actually a gift to the people of the planet, a gift from the gods, and Ulysses has profaned them for daring to fight back. And the Greek gods, for those who don't know their mythology, really know how to hold a grudge.
And before you know it Ulysses, a modern man of the 31'st century, has his very own divine curse to deal with. Taken into a galaxy where the gods have unquestioned rule, the path back to earth wiped from memory and his crew taken from him. With the sure promise that the gods will put many obstacles in his path before he can return home...and they don't feel any need to play fair. Fortunately Ulysses is no pushover, and with two children (who were in suspended animation when the curse struck), he will face all dangers and return himself and his crew to the planet earth.
Damn but it's a cool plot. It's entirely un-original though, being lifted from the Odyssey by Homer, one of the seminal classics of ancient Greek literature. In its time the book was, I believe, both an epic tale of adventure and a model of a truly heroic man that all should aspire to. And, by all appearances, there's a lot of good stuff in there and a real sense of atmosphere and depth. Add in the fact that this is actually a Japanese French co-production and it's even more unusual.
While the core story may be inherited there's an awesome amount of detail and design added. The re-interpretation of the ancient myth's into sci-fi terms is very (very) well done. The gods, legends and monsters are a wonderful combination of high tech and magic. Or perhaps high tech and another form of tech so high that no mortal can understand it. Meanwhile the world has a lovely degree of reality, with social structures, environments and technical artifacts designed in loving detail. And, not only are they detailed, but they look very cool. The design work on this piece, and the sense of a realistic but very different world, is superb.
And then there's the cast and another dose of good stuff. Ulysses himself really does come across as a man of strength. Fearless, capable and no dummy yet also loyal and compassionate. For an anime of this period it's a very solid performance. Although when I was young I liked his toys more. With jet-belt, energy shield on his arm and a combination energy gun sword in his other hand he's quite the action hero. The other cast members are perhaps a bit more typical but they're good too. Ulysses son, Telemachus, is clearly on the path towards becoming a hero but still has quite a way to travel. The alien Yumi is a young girl with some psychic powers who provides the `empathy' (typical female role I guess) the team might otherwise lack. And, finally, there's the robot Nono who does a lot of comedy relief work but is better than you might fear.
The final thing to mention is that the plot has some nice outcomes. In addition to the depth it manages to combine both episodic encounters and a continuing quest. And, given a universe to explore, each encounter can be very different from the one before. And the challenges can be varied, mysterious, and actually rather moody at times. Even better is that it does not focus on Ulysses fighting the gods, he simply wants to leave while they try and manipulate all events against him. Thus the gods are both awesomely powerful and yet quite devious. And Ulysses find himself meeting allies, or at least others who have suffered from the wrath of the gods, rather than simply fighting one monster after another.
The production is, obviously, rather dated. However, I will take a risk and say it is still eminently watchable. The lovely design goes a long way towards making up for the restrictions in the animation. Indeed the show has a lot of style which helps make it look much better than it is. It would be nice if the detail was a bit richer, the color a bit more complex and the action smoother but it works as it is. Within the first 10 minutes I hardly noticed the age of the animation. although, when you do see them try something ambitious and mostly succeed, you do get reminded. It must have looked great when it was made though to have aged so well. In addition the English adaption is not too bad either. The core voices are good, especially Ulysses himself, although `extras' and crowds tend to be abominable. The sort of whiny theme song, and some of the electronic mood music, is a little bit embarrassing but still carries a certain energy. It's certainly much better than a lot of, far more modern, English language productions I've suffered through.
None of my regular sources have a review of this title. Given the age of the series I don't expect one to appear either.