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Space Pirate Captain Harlock

Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

Japanese animated tv series (1978-1979). Original title Uchū Kaizoku Kyaputen Hārokku. Based on the Manga by Leiji Matsumoto. Toei Animation. Directed by Rintaro. Written by Shozo Uehara and Haruya Yamazaki. Voice cast includes Makio Inoue, Chiyoko Kawashima, Haruko Kitahama, Noriko Ohara, Hiroshi Ōtake and Keaton Yamada. Forty-two 25 minute episodes. Colour.

In 2977 a complacent Earth is ruled by an incompetent dictatorship who watch horse racing during Cabinet meetings (see Politics); their only opposition is Captain Harlock (Inoue) and the crew of his space galleon (see Spaceships), the Arcadia. The ship was created by Harlock's late friend, the Scientist Tochirō Ōyama (Yamada): its Computer possesses his Uploaded mind. When the Earth is invaded by the Mazone – evil plant Aliens resembling beautiful dryads – the government, fixated on Harlock, assume the destruction is his work.

The scarred and intrepid Harlock dresses snappily with a skull and crossbones embossed black top, long red gloves and a red-lined black cape – though this flamboyance hides a contemplative personality. His crew includes Miime (Ohara), a blue-skinned alien harpist; science officer Kei Yuki (Kawashima) and first mate Yattaran (Ōtake). They are joined by hotheaded teenager, Tadashi Daiba (Kamiya), who hates the Mazone for killing his father.

Though full of action the series lacks narrative force: for over half of its run the main plot generator is Ōyama's orphaned daughter Mayu. Earth's military regularly use her to lure and ambush the captain; later she's kidnapped by the Mazone and taken to the Horsehead Nebula: the Arcadia follows, resulting in Space Opera adventures as Harlock searches for her. Conveniently the Mazone's invasion of Earth is put on hold as their immense fleet pursues the Arcadia. There are many space battles and traps set; numeric superiority in the former help the Mazone not one jot, whilst Harlock's response to the latter is simply to walk into them. Eventually he defeats the Mazone's ruler, Queen Rafflesia (Kitahama), in a swordfight. Harlock himself is the show's most memorable feature, reflected in the "Lars of the Stars" episode of Steven Universe, where Lars Barriga becomes Captain Harlock in all but name. The show sometimes utilizes theories popularized by the likes of Erich von Däniken, such as the Mayans being aliens, the Bermuda Triangle etc., as signs of the Mazone's previous visits to Earth.

The franchise's continuity is inconsistent, with even "Harlock" sometimes being spelt "Herlock" (see below). Subsequent anime releases began with the short film Captain Harlock: Mystery of the Arcadia (1978; original title Uchû kaizoku Captain Harlock: Arcadia-gô no nazo), a widescreen expansion of a television episode. The film Arcadia of My Youth (1982; original title Waga Seishun no Arukadia) covers the Captain's origins: the 22-part television series Arcadia of My Youth: Endless Orbit SSX (1982-1983; original title SSX, Waga Seishun no Arukadia – Mugen Kidō Esu Esu Ekkusu) is a sequel. The 6-part OVA series Harlock Saga: Der Ring des Nibelungen (1999; original title Hārokku Sāga Nīberungo no Yubiwa) is based on Richard Wagner's Das Rheingold (1853). Space Pirate Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey (2002-2003; vt Space Pirate Captain Herlock: Outside Legend – The Endless Odyssey) is a 13-part OVA. Space Pirate Captain Harlock (2013; original title Uchū Kaizoku Kyaputen Hārokku; vt Harlock: Space Pirate) is a 3D CGI film. Captain Harlock and other characters also appear in the film Galaxy Express 999 (1999), as well as some of its related anime. The 13-part television anime Gun Frontier (2002), despite having lead characters called Ōyama and Harlock, is a western (with samurai) and tangential at best. In France Harlock was renamed Albator to prevent confusion with Tintin's pal, Captain Haddock. [SP]


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