a.k.a. Waga Seishun no Arcadia
Crash landing on Earth, which is now under Illumidus occupation, Captain Harlock is stripped of his rank and ship, condemned to watch his people subjugated by an alien race. A tiny ray of hope lies in a pirate radio broadcast named The Voice of Free Arcadia, encouraging Earthmen to believe in a better tomorrow free of oppression. Harlock knows the charismatic voice of this broadcast all too well. Her words will go straight to his heart and, with the help of new friends, the soon-to-be legendary captain will summon all of his courage and fight against all odds to free his Arcadia.
summary by Kjeldoran
Highs: Moving prequel to Harlock’s past; conflicts of interest a plenty
Lows: Implausibility transcends science fiction; doesn’t answer everything
A cult film for many, this huge theatrical release depicting the past of Matsumoto Leiji’s most famous character is a great way to get accustomed to Captain Harlock and friends but also stands quite nicely on its own, since this story about a revolution has its fair share of heartrending moments and character development. The art is a touchy subject but, while it considerably shows its age, the roughness in animation is merely the result of earlier techniques, and the artwork of many backgrounds is simply breathtaking. The beautiful symphonic music adorns the technical aspect well.
Even if it is widely considered a classic in Japanese animation, there are a lot of irritating things about Arcadia of My Youth. Though it takes place a thousand years in the future, modern science cannot substantiate all the farfetched events. I do not care much about the laws of physics, but breaking the very laws of reason is a big turn off. In addition, this movie does not go back far enough. Some relations are already established in its time frame, and a few characters simply appear out of convenience as if this prequel to the 1978 series Space Pirate Captain Harlock and its offshoots needed a prequel of its own.
Even if it forgets to tie all the loose ends and doesn’t go as deep I as would have hoped, Arcadia of My Youth succeeds at drawing interest in the Matsumoto Leiji universe and its timeless inhabitant. As long as you can stomach manifestly old animation and a few implausible turns of events, this movie should leave an impression on you regardless of how much you know about the Harlock sagas.
Arcadia of My Youth can be downloaded legally in the United States HERE.