The Noo, source of all evil in the known universe and believed trapped since the beginning of time, have decided to break out of their prison. Daiba Tadashi, a young ganger from the Planet of Rubbish Heaps, runs into the Noo after they killed his father. He is saved by the last of the space pirates, the infamous Captain Harlock. Harlock sets off to find the Arcadia, free his captive crew and extinguish the Noo. But before he does that, Harlock makes Tadashi an offer, “If you want to be a real man, you will board my ship.”
summary by Ender
Highs: Grand adventure; generally good animation, art and music; Captain Harlock
Lows: Heady plot; some animation glitches
When people ask me to name an anime character that will always be timeless, the first image that pops into my head is that of Matsumoto Leiji’s Captain Harlock. Thanks to director Rintaro (Galaxy Express 999, Metropolis) and a “stellar” (get it?) animation team from Studio Madhouse, Captain Harlock returns to the silver screen in one of the best presentations of an old-school anime mythos.
Matsumoto got to pen the story concept himself, with some help from Kon Satoshi‘s head scribe, Murai Sadayuki. This epic adventure draws the viewer in from the get-go. I found myself at the edge of my seat wondering how Harlock and company were gonna pull all this off. And when they finally do, it is one heck of an achievement. Harlock is the type of stoic character you do not see in anime nowadays; perfectly calm and without fear, he lives life the way many of us can only dream about. He is a romantic-era hero sailing through the universe with an eye patch, a gun and a cocky smirk, and you can’t help but root for that kind of character. All this set to a uniquely “pirate-esque” score by Hattori Takayuki (Martian Successor Nadesico). I must warn viewers that this is not a simple adventure, so do not take it as such. Much of the screenplay seems to combine elements of Carl Sagan with H.P. Lovecraft. It’s not mind-boggling, but it does require you to figure out what is going on.
The art and animation is a wonderful mix of Matsumoto’s classic, romantic style with new-age computer graphics and lush designs. It’s the best combo of old and new. Madhouse spared no expense… well, some expenses. Occasionally, a still cel or repeated frame rears its head. Though not enough to offset the whole story, this can be annoying, especially when it occurs after, say, a lavish battle sequence.
For those of you who are either fans of Matsumoto’s works or have yet to see one, this is the perfect series for you. As long as you like legendary stories and timeless heroes, then you are set to sail.