"Few characters are as memorable as he: tall, black-cloaked, face scarred, eyepatch over his right eye, and ever-ready with his saber-rifle. He is the epitome of Leiji (Reiji) Matsumoto's male hero, an SF version of the wild-West lone gunslinger.
" The Space Pirate Captain Harlock
is coming back in a new CG movie
, a decade
since his escapades were last animated
, and back with Toei Animation
, who first brought his one-eyed scowl
to the small screen 35 years ago
. If this is all news to you, read on for more of the mysterious man who fight's for no one's sake.
Who is this Captain Harlock? The name may sound German, but in an interview, Akira "Leiji" Matsumoto outlined the origin of the character
: the character was originally an English pirate who called himself "Captain Kingston," yet he received secret orders from the Queen of Spain to search for Napoleon's treasure. Mind you, Matsumoto was a kid at this time, and the later name "Harlock" came from "hārokku," a little made-up word that he would chant while he walked home from school.
This rough creation first showed up in Matsumoto's first paid job creating manga, which followed from a contest he entered. At age 15, Mitsubachi no bôken (the adventures of a bee) was published by Manga Shônen
, and somewhere in that publication, Harlock appeared in 1953. But it would be another 24 years until he was the star of his own universe.
In 1977, Space Pirate Captain Harlock
was first published as a manga
, and would run for five volumes. The next year, the story was released as an animated series by Toei, and had a run of 42 episodes, setting Harlock, "a man of passion and activity" against "a corrupt and complacent government."
This series is now available on Hulu
and Crunchy Roll
, but this is relatively recent. Before that, there were various distribution schemes
, including a Robotech
-like Frankenstein's monster of a show, creating a 65-episode show from Space Pirate Captain Harlock and another Matsumoto creation, Queen Millennia
, which had its own 42 episodes, plus a full movie. [See: fansubbed Episode 1
Next came the movie Arcadia of My Youth
, which told of the origins of Harlock, in a time where aliens have invade Earth and Harlock's crew battle against the oppression of the Illumidus
. [In parts on DailyMotion: part 1
, part 2
, part 3
, part 4
] Later in 1982, the movie was followed up with a 22 episode series, Arcadia of My Youth: Endless Orbit SSX
, with Harlock and his crew exiled from Earth. The series somewhat
segues into Galaxy Express 999 and the original Harlock series, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, except that there are some significant contradictions between the series. [YT: English fansubs of ep 1 part 1
, part 2
; ep 2 part 1
, part 2
] There was a US comic adaptation of Captain Harlock
that tried to connect these series, but is considered by some to be non-canonical.
It wasn't until the late 1990s that Harlock returned, in an as-of-yet incomplete adaptation of Das Rheingold, titled Harlock Saga
. In manga form, there will eventually be 9 volumes, though only 8 are available in Japanese and translated to French, and fewer available in English. Bandai Visual produced 6 episodes in 1999, and US Manga Corps did a less than stellar job translating the series that wasn't even that interesting to begin with
. With that, you might not suffer that much by seeing the episodes dubbed in French. [On DailyMotion: episode 1
, episode 2
, episode 3
, episode 4
, episode 5
, and episode 6
(Space Pirate) Captain Herlock - The Endless Odyssey
(yes, Herlock, the spelling of the captain's name changes a bit from translation to translation) finds Earth in a pretty good place, until an ancient civilization that used to rule the universe wants to regain its control. Enter Harlock/Herlock, for 13 episodes of adventures. [Fansubs on Rutube: ep 1
, ep 2
, ep 3
, ep 4
, ep 5
, ep 6
, ep 8
, ep 9
, ep 10
, ep 11
, ep 12
, and ep 13
] This was the last we saw of the true Harlock, until the teasers and trailers for the forth-coming CG music, but we're getting ahead of ourselves....
In the nebulous world(s) of Captain Harlock, there were a few spin-offs, some with tenuous relationships to the original space pirate. Gun Frontier
wasn't a dramatic space opera, but rather a series of comedic western stories, with Harlock and Tochiro Oyama swapping roles of lead and side-kick (or maybe it's a western version of the Space Pirate
. The manga
came out in the early 1970s, and was turned into a 13 episode anime series in 2002. [The series is on Hulu
] There was also the Galaxy Express 999
, a rather epic 21 volume manga
, and later 113 episode series [on Crunchy Roll
, and a few on Hulu
] and three subsequent movies (Bonjour Galaxy Express 999
[YT playlist, English subs], Adieu Galaxy Express 999 [review part 1
, part 2
], and Eternal Fantasy
[unsubbed]). Then there was the relatively short manga
[YT, English subbed, split in parts], Queen Emeraldas
, focusing on the privateer Emeraldas, and her ship, Queen Emeraldas.
So, you're generally up to speed with Captain Harlock, and you might realize there were a few ... conflicts. You're looking for continuity in the Harlock Universe. Here's the short version: forget it.
There shall be no schizophrenic doubling back here. I'm here to tell you that any exercise in trying to fit all the Harlock stories under one umbrella is rather like trying to fit all the penguins in Antarctica under one umbrella, which is to say 1. futile, and 2. pointless.
Or, it's all part of Matsumoto's plan
Matsumoto stated in an interview that he thinks of the universe as a sphere, or a ball, where time overlaps. He regards the past as the distant future — which is to say that if you keep going forward eventually you'll come back to the beginning again, meeting your deceased friends along the way. It's a lovely concept, and it goes a long way towards explaining the worlds he has created, and the world that Harlock lives in.
However it runs, all roads lead to Harlock
(source: Animerica Magazine July 1996 Volume 4, Issue 7
). Even Danzig was a fan, telling Narduar that his look is not based on Captain Harlock, but he did make his own Space Pirate shirt
, as seen on the cover of Walk Among Us
, and later Rob Zombie was seen sporting Harlock's skull and crossed bones
Not much is known about the forthcoming Captain Harlock movie, except budgeted at $30 million, the most expensive ever in Toei Animation
, a vague Fall 2013 release date for Japan, and a few of the people slated to be involved. The 45 second teaser trailer
is the first official public clip, though clips from a 2010 pilot were shown first at Tokyo's International Anime Fair in 2010
, which has a strict no photo policy. A 3:22 long camera recorded trailer clip
was posted online in 2010, which might have been (one of) the clip(s) shown at early previews. Leiji Matsumoto's official Japanese website
is dated, and the most recent Harlock press release from Toei Animation is from 2010
, so the future of Harlock is fairly vague at the moment.
Until then, there are volumes of manga and hours of anime, plus the TV Tropes page for Captain Harlock