Anime: Captain Harlock aka: Space Pirate Captain Harlock
A space pirate... sailing the sea of stars...
"Under this flag, I live in freedom."
— Captain Phantom F. Harlock
Space Pirate Captain Harlock is a recurring character created by Leiji Matsumoto in 1953.Harlock's creator, Leiji Matsumoto, was never a stickler for continuity, so it's impossible to give a coherent description of Captain Harlock's history. Nevertheless, his character has always been clear: Captain Harlock is a man of honor who, betrayed by either a corrupt or Vichy Earth, chose to sail the Sea of Stars as a Space Pirate to remain true to his ideals. Although he has left behind an Earth which hates and fears him, Harlock remains willing and able to fight for his homeworld in its times of need. Nevertheless, he's not motivated by patriotism; he swore an oath to fight for only what he believes in.Captain Harlock has appeared in the following series:
Arcadia of My Youth (1982) - The Earth is defeated and occupied by the warlike Illumidas. Harlock and a few others are the only ones left on a conquered Vichy Earth willing to carry on the struggle. Notable for being the one adaptation where we actually see Harlock losing an eye.
Arcadia of my Youth - Endless Orbit SSX (1982) - A sequel to The Movie involves Harlock and the Arcadia searching for paradise. Cut short by due to poor ratings, resulting in a bit of a Gecko Ending.
Harlock Saga (1999) - A six-episode OAV based on a recent manga by Matsumoto, in turn based on Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.
Gun Frontier (2002) - Harlock and his best friend in Tochiro in the Wild West. No science fiction here, but the funniest series starring Harlock so far.
Space Pirate Captain Herlock The Endless Odyssey (2002) - A 13-episode OAV, and a near-sequel to (or a near-remake of; it zig-zags) the original Captain Harlock anime.
Harlock: Space Pirate (2013) - An upcoming CGI movie reboot.
Harlock and his crew have also had significant cameos in the Galaxy Express 999 TV series, movies, its side-story series Space Symphony Maetel and the Queen Emeraldas OVA.Funimation currently has subtitled episodes of the original anime series as streaming video on its website.Discotek has now announced a subtitled dvd release of the original series for North America in one box set.For more information, visit The Captain Harlock Archives.Not to be confused with Captain Haddock or CaptainGARlock.
The Captain Harlock animes contain the following tropes:
I've many times seen, in various articles, publications, websites, etc., the idea put forth that the various stories featuring Captain Harlock and assorted attendant characters don't fit into any proper chronology that could make any sense at all. After this declaration, which is significant and utterly true, the writer will then proceed to elaborate on some form of overarching continuity, as if they had suddenly been struck with a flat iron and were unable to remember their own prior assertion. Failure dogs their heels throughout the ill-fated attempt, and finally catches them and eats them. They have blown it.''
Cool Starship: Besides the Arcadia and the Queen Emeraldas, we also have Harlock's old command, the rhinoceros-beetle-meets-Yamato Deathshadow, and Mr. Zone's...photon-powered ship.
Cosmic Horror Story: Several incarnations have hints of this, but it's played straight in The Endless Odyssey.
Crapsaccharine World: Earth in the original series is like this. No one on Earth has to work because of the fabulous luxuries available to them due to robot workers. As a result, humans do nothing but drink and relax while they're being invaded by the Mazone.
Crossover: Harlock and company frequently cameo in Galaxy Express 999, with a full-blown crossover in the Space Symphony Maetel series. Harlock has also appeared in at least one manga adaptation of Space Battleship Yamato, where is is established to be Kodai's older brother, believed killed in in the Gamilus attack early in the story.
Darker and Edgier: The various Harlock stories have gotten somewhat darker in tone over the years, most notably with Endless Odyssey. If the trailer circulating the internet is indication, this goes double for the 2012 CGI film.
Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: At the beginning of Endless Odyssey, Harlock says point blank, he doesn't care to save Earth from the Noo. It's implied he views this as indirect revenge upon the leaders and population that ostracized him; some of the crewmen state that Harlock took to space because he is just 'waiting to die,' so...maybe he really doesn't care. Either way, it distracts The Noo from Daiba's presence. Birdie number one. Number two comes from the entire crew, when the Noo are unable to possess Harlock or anyone else. They're simply too badass to fall for the scare tactic.
Also happens in Cosmo Warrior Zero, in a fashion: when he's told he brought an outgunned and nearly crippled ship against Harlock, Zero has a face saying 'Did I Just Flip Off Cthulhu and LIVED?!'.
Within the extended sphere of Matsumoto's other works, Harlock has another distaff counterpart in Ozuma's Bainas.
Doppelgänger: Harlock's old ship the Deathshadow once refurbished by the Illumidas, which can predict his every move due to his old tactics stored on its outboard computer, and even gave him a Heroic BSOD.
Expy: Matsumoto claims Harlock and his predecessors were inspired by a childhood friend of his.
Harlock - at least from the manga Diver Zero (1975) onwards, bears a more than passing resemblance to CL Moore's scarred outlaw Northwest Smith (even down to the pulp-era western-in-space setting and the blood-brother relationship between Harlock and Tochiro mirroring NW's friendship with Venusian Yarol.) Hardly surprising since from 1971-77 Matsumoto illustrated the Japanese translations of the stories over the three volumes of Smith stories (along with works by Michael Moorcock and Andre Norton) and not only does Harlock come to resemble the illustrations for Smith (prior to which his art style was VERY different) but some of the scenes he chose to draw bear a strong resemblance to screenshots later included in the SPCH TV series. If any further evidence were needed, he also illustrated the Jirel stories by the same author - Jirel being a feisty red-haired warrior maiden...
Gonk: Several characters, including his best friend Tochiro. In fact, sometimes it seems that humanity has evolved into two distinct races in the Leijiverse: a race of beautiful Noodle People and a race of hideously deformed midgets.
Guns Akimbo: Episode 4 of Mugen Kido SSX contains a spectacularly silly example - wherein our ONE-EYED hero manages not only to aim his pistol and his sabre-rifle in opposite directions, but also hit both targets simultaneously...
Gunship Rescue: The Arcadia in the first episode of the original series.
Hard Drinking Party Girl: Mimay subsists on alcohol, although she does get flushed while drinking. Harlock himself is often seen with a glass of red wine, and never appears to be drunk.
Harp of Femininity: Apart from advising Harlock, Mimay's favourite pastime is to play the harp while wearing a very feminine dress.
Haunted Technology: The main computer of the Arcadia, which houses the soul of Harlock's dead friend Tochiro.
Implied Love Interest: It's hard to tell just what Harlock and Miime's relationship is. They spend a lot of time together, and she seems to exhibit jealousy when she sees Harlock with the Mazone spy, but they're never shown doing much aside from talking, drinking or playing music.
Multiple-Choice Past: A few different explanations are given for Harlock's past: In Space Pirate Captain Harlock, he and Torchiro know each other since grade school, build the Arcadia, and then meet Emeraldas for the first timeMy Youth in Arcadia, however, states that Harlock and Tochiro meet for the first time in the military, but Harlock apparently knows Emeraldas already. One of the oddest explanations (based on early drafts of the story that were dropped prior to filming - though not before several promotional guidebooks and a novel had been published) is that Harlock is actually Alex Wildstar/Mamoru Kodai of Space Cruiser Yamato. They do actually look alike, but that would negate all the important plot elements about Harlock and Tochiro's ancestors in MYIA.
No Kill Like Overkill: Emeraldas' titular ship in the Queen Emeraldas OVA. Attacked by hundreds of ships, Emeraldas doesn't react for a while due to hostages. The very moment the hostages escapes, she opens fire... Annihilating 70% of the enemy ships WITH THE FIRST SALVO! Yes, the Queen Emeraldas has that many guns. Incidentally, that's when the villain gets an Oh Crap face. Oh, and one of the many guns of her ships is a Wave Motion Gun, and she was about using it on the main villain's ship before his boss beat her to the punch...
Objectivism: Averted with Harlock and friends. Although Randians are noted for independence and "living under their own flag", Harlock and company most definitely do not share the dislike for altruism that dedicated Objectivists generally employ.
OEL Manga: Eternity Comics published a Captain Harlock comic from 1989 to 1992 — before discovering that the representative they bought the rights to Harlock from grabbed them after they Fell Off the Back of a Truck — Toei didn't have anything to do with it. The comic was discontinued as soon as this was revealed.
Office Golf: The Prime Minister of Earth is often seen practicing his putt in the office or at home to emphasize how useless he is. He also presides over a legislature that breaks for horse races, dog races, and anything else you can bet a fiver on.
Officer and a Gentleman: Harlock is nothing if not completely courteous to anyone, even enemies, unless they do something really rotten. He is also impeccably chivalrous to women.
Papa Wolf: A defining trait in any of Harlock's incarnations. Harlock will not suffer a child abuser to live. Particularly, hurting his goddaughter Mayu(Tochiro and Emeraldas's daughter) or Tetsuro(from Galaxy Express 999) is LITERALLY a death sentence.
Running Gag: people who met both Emeraldas and Maetel remarking that Emeraldas is the tough twin and Maetel the nice, sweet and harmless one. After all, it's Maetel who blew up a planet because the local mecha people disgusted her, while disgusting Emeraldas usually results in her walking away 'till the disgusting one calls her a coward (and get killed).
One particularly egregious example happens in the Maetel Legend OVA: the villain, supreme overlord wannabee in command of the mecha people, remarked that and ordered Emeraldas killed and Maetel taken prisoner, but when his mooks tried it they discovered she had a custom-made gun intended to kill only mecha people she later admits having ordered because she expected she would have to kill her own mother, Ra Andromeda Promesium, who is being mechanized and may go mad. As anyone who watched Galaxy Express 999 knows, the mother went in fact mad due the particular mechanization process and too though for the gun, so Maetel pulled a decades-long plan ending in Maetel convincing Tetsuro to blow up his first planet, with Promesium on it.
Schizo Tech: Exhibit A: The Arcadia, completely controlled by steering wheel; Exhibit B:a World War II-vintage Revi C12 (apparently still working after a 1000-odd years) reflector gunsight to target its main cannons.
Serious Business: Alcohol. In the Cosmo Warrior Zero OVA, Harlock rampages against the inhabitants of Gun Frontier, who had tried to lynch Tochiro, but when they say he had destroyed their supply of booze and couldn't pay it admits they're in the right and apologizes, before giving them all of his booze for free.
Shameful Strip: Pretty much a Running Gag in Gun Frontier, where most of the bad guys in the series wind up forcing Sinunora to undress.
The Other Darrin: There appears to be two ships named Arcadia. One blue (seen in the 1978 series), and the other green, seen in all other subsequent series. None of the stories or animation supports the common fanon supposition that that the Arcadia was at any point destroyed and rebuilt. Or that the second Arcadia is just a newer, upgraded version of the first. Their existence actually nothing more than marketing.
cornponeflicks.org explains it this way:
Takara owned the rights to model kits from Space Pirate, and Bandai owned the model rights to Galaxy Express 999. When the Arcadia was slated to appear in the first 999 film while Space Pirate was still on the air, it would've amounted to free advertising for Takara; therefore Bandai had Studio Nue design an alternate version for them, to avoid giving their primary competition any leg up. (Studio Nue had also designed the blue Arcadia, and would shortly gain fame for its Macross design work.) In its own way, it's not far removed from having two different actors portray the same character in two different TV seasons or movies, in which cases viewers rarely have to contrive wild notions of secret plastic surgery in order to deal with it.
Trailers Always Lie: Harlock did not lose an eye the way the trailer to the Arcadia of my Youth movie depicts it.
Trial by Combat: The big battle between the Arcadia and Zeda's ship in Arcadia of my Youth.
Twist Ending: The end of Endless Odyssey where Harlock reveals he killed Tadashi's father, then tells Tadashi to kill him—earlier he promised Tadashi that he would deliver his father's killer to him.; this verges on being a Shocking Swerve.
The Unpronounceable: The correct title for The Noo is literally impossible for humans to vocalize.
Vague Age: Harlock clearly has a reputation that was many years in the making. But how old was he when he started his career? Presumably he would have spent many years learning the ropes before he got to be The Captain. In Endless Odyssey, his old adventures are spoken of as if they were many years ago, yet he looks no different. And one character muses that "He must be dead by now". In most of his appearances, Harlock does not act particularly young. Some quasi-cannonical promotional materials have given Harlock's age as about 28 which makes little sense for a man who speaks so much about "finding a place to die". Also, said promotional material described Kei Yuki as a biologist who "helps Harlock biologically". Make of that what you will.
Episode 26 of the Space Pirate series introduces some backstory concerning Yattaran and Doctor Zero. Doctor Zero claims that he knew Yattaran since elementary school. Either the doctor looks old for his age (possible given his heavy drinking) or Yattaran is a true literal case of arrested development. Endless Odyssey did age Doctor Zero somewhat and it clearly states his age as about sixty, clearly not a contemporary of Yattaran who looks no different than he did in Space Pirate.
Emeraldas may be somewhat older than she looks depending on which continuity she's in. In some cases, she's just a normal human presumably. In others, she is sister to Maetel and daughter of La Andromeda Promethium.
Vichy Earth: Arcadia of my Youth is largely about Earth turning into this after losing a war, and how Harlock decided to rebel.
Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Mazone queen Lafresia starts out as this until we see her cross the Moral Event Horizonseveral times by forcing other conquered races to take down Harlock by holding their families hostage, kidnapping Mayu to lure Harlock away from his defense of the earth, killing Mazones who refuse to follow her to Earth, and (somewhat belatedly) using human shields.
Actually, Mayu was kidnapped by one of Lafresia's officers against the queen's explicit orders; but once the abduction was fait accompli, Lafresia felt simply free to exploit the situation.