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"Glass Fleet" Vol. 5: Gone with the Wind

Let us now have a few words of sympathy for the poor FUNimation writer-producers tasked with translating/adapting Glass Fleet for the English-speaking market. Bad enough they had to meet and master the great, gushing torrents of bland, meaningless, personality-free verbiage that inundate this series. More challenging, I suspect, was a maintenance of fortitude in the face of an insurmountable challenge, viz., Cleo’s ceaseless invocation of “the wind” when talking about himself. Now, there is nothing wrong with a “wind” metaphor, and it can sometimes lend itself to poetry. But English-speakers need to be careful when using that word poetically, especially when they try personalizing it. Because “wind,” among other things, is an old euphemism for flatulence—for the farts, if we want to speak frankly. What, then, were the poor FUNimation people to do when the original script had Cleo saying things like “Would you like to ride my wind?” Except, perhaps, to make miserable *snerking* noises and take long pulls from the whiskey bottle?

But that’s Glass Fleet for you: a bunch of gassy characters tootling around the universe, laying a vapor trail of bean juice behind. Viewers of Glass Fleet Vol. 5 will likely find themselves opening a window and changing the subject after watching it.

To be fair, in the four episodes on this volume the story does finally manage to acquire something like forward momentum. The main heroes all finally escape from Vetti’s various prisons and rendezvous at B.B.’s castle; blessedly, what looks like the beginning of yet another round of boring alliance negotiations is interrupted by an elite squad of Vetti’s soldiery. Cleo, meanwhile, has become convinced that the galaxy truly is in danger of being sucked into the “Black Cross” star and even says he’s willing to join with Vetti if that’s the only way of saving humanity from the impending stellar collapse. And, finally, it looks like we’re tipped to the Space Pope’s true (if misguided) villainy: he welcomes the coming galactic ragnarok as the promised apocalypse that will usher in paradise.

But there’s still no genuine fun to be had. Watching these episodes is like watching a city council meeting where the participants are passionately and vexatiously at cross-purposes about a re-zoning ordinance: the characters may care about what’s going on and argue meticulously about it, but no one else gives a fig. The action sequences, such as they are, are stiff and badly animated. And on the few occasions when the story tries to be inspirational, it trots out Cleo with an invitation to ride or feel or otherwise get caught up in his “wind.” Were these invocations to catch you in a silly mood they might send you into a fit of uncontrollable giggling; but the rest of the show is so grim and lacking in (successful) humor that you’re only likely to roll your eyes when you catch the unintended meaning.

I’ve resisted judging the voice acting on this series: Actors are rarely to blame for the words they must speak, and, anyway, this series doesn’t seem to have much interpretive room for interesting creative choices. Overall, Jason Liebrecht has done best as Vetti, but villains usually provide the most room for fun. Poor Laura Bailey, on the other hand, is asked to play the tight, humorless, hectoring, mannish Michel Vauban, and is correspondingly tight, humorless, hectoring and mannish in a way that goes right through my head. Travis Willingham, God bless him, may be having a hard time keeping a straight face while reading some of the things he’s asked to say. At least, I hope that’s the reason his Cleo has started sounding more and more like Patrick Warburton at his most deadpan-absurd.

The nasty things I’ve said notwithstanding, Glass Fleet by this point isn’t so much offensive as just embarrassing: more of a pocket frog than a pants ripper. The politest thing would be to merely ignore it. That is easier for the reader than for the reviewer to do, but it would be my heartiest recommendation.

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