Capricorn box cover

© 1994 Johji Manabe / Tairiku Shobo / EUBEC


Available on VHS from A.D. Vision.
45 minutes
Version I Watched: Subtitled in English
Objectionable Content: Violence

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I knew virtually nothing about this anime when I rented it other than it was by Joji Manabe, also responsible for works like Outlanders and the Caravan Kid manga. I should warn you now, this review does contain numerous spoilers, if only to demonstrate the inanity of this anime.

The story takes place on a foreign world called Slaffleaze inhabited by these animorphic beings (they walk and act like humans, but have the features of animals). The inhabitants are in a bit of a panic due to the appearance of Capricorn, a strange planet in the sky. And it certainly doesn't help matters when they're ruled by a tyrannical king and bullied by the armed forces.

Now, while the setting, characters, and premise are a little on the fanciful side, this could have begun an interesting little tale. Unfortunately, this doesn't happen. The story suddenly leapfrogs straight into a somewhat "epic" adventure beginning with a human from Earth, Taku, appearing on Slaffleaze and getting immediately embroiled in a plot to rescue this mole-like fellow who was arrested as a traitor (why exactly, I have no idea). The problem is everything just keeps snowballing with plot elements flung at the viewer before they have a chance to digest them. One minute Taku is trying to rescue that mole fellow, the next he meets Mona (the dragon girl on the box cover), who then proceeds to discover clones of her race (she is, apparently, the last of her kind), and then suddenly we discover that this guy named Zolba (a military leader, who goes on to imprison the king and take control of Slaffleaze) has plans to invade Capricorn, which in turn just happens to be Earth, and then Taku discovers that he's the Guardian of Capricorn and proceeds to turn into a huge dragon to fight the evil Yappi, until Mona summons some sort of Yappi god and turns the evil Yappi against Zolba and his army, and this is supposed to be coherent storytelling? All of this happens in a scant forty-five minutes without any sort of break in the flow to allow the viewer to catch their breath. The pacing is horrendously quick, there's about zip in the way of proper character development, and it felt exactly like picking up a book and beginning half-way through.

As for the production qualities, Capricorn's art and animation are a little dated, but not terrible. It reminded me a lot of the Outlanders anime in terms of art and character designs, which should come as no surprise given they've the same creator.

Capricorn could have been so much more had the pacing been improved tenfold. The rushed story line and almost nonexistent character development, however, severely detracted from the viewing experience. For epic tales of fantasy, pick up Record of Lodoss War or The Vision of Escaflowne. Capricorn just doesn't cut it.

The Verdict: * 1/2 (very poor)