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Manga / Captain Harlock

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A space pirate, sailing the sea of stars.

"Under this flag, I live in freedom."
Captain Phantom F. Harlock

Space Pirate Captain Harlock (キャプテン・ハーロック) is a recurring character created by Leiji Matsumoto in 1968, but didn't get serialized until the 1970s.

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:

  • Space Pirate Captain Harlock (1978) - Harlock and his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits are the last line of defence against the Mazone invasion of a decadent Earth where no one dares to dream. An expanded episode of this series was released as a movie, Captain Harlock: Mystery of the Arcadia.
  • 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 version in which we see Harlock losing an eye. Dubbed into English by Frontier Enterprises in 1986 and released as Vengeance Of The Space Pirate.
  • 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. An American comic series, printed in the early-mid 1990s, was an adaptation of SSX, minus the more mystical elements.
  • Harlock Saga (1999) - A six-episode OAV based on a recent manga by Matsumoto, in turn based on Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.
  • Cosmo Warrior Zero (2002) - An Alternate Universe OAV. Earth Captain Warrius Zero, traumatized by its defeat at the hands of the Machine People, finds new purpose when Vichy Earth and the machines assign him to lead a crew of both Machine People and humans, to find and capture a young Harlock. Based on a video game.
  • Gun Frontier (2002) - (The Identical Ancestors of) Harlock and his Best Friend Tochiro, Walking the Earth 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, not quite a sequel to and not quite a remake (it zig-zags) of/to the original Captain Harlock anime.
  • Harlock: Space Pirate - A CGI movie reboot.
  • An as-yet-untitled Harlock movie is in production by new studio Gainanote  for a release in 2022, part of a trio of movies about Harlock, Maetel and Queen Emeraldas.

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 has subtitled episodes of the original anime series as streaming video on its website.

It's also the second of Matsumoto's Space Opera series slated to join the Super Robot Wars series of video games with Super Robot Wars T, set for 2019 release, after Space Battleship Yamato 2199 in Super Robot Wars V. SRW T adapts the Arcadia of My Youth - Endless Orbit SSX portion of the Harlock story.

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 Haddocknote  or Captain GARlock (But feel free to refer Captain Harlock as the latter, it still works).

The Captain Harlock animes contain the following tropes:

  • The Ace: Tadashi Daiba.
  • Action Girl: Kei Yuki, though depending on the series, she can be reduced to a Faux Action Girl.
  • Adaptation Amalgamation:
    • A Macekre example: Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years anime combined the 1978 series and a different show by the same mangaka called Queen Millennia. Confusing plot holes ensued.
    • The events from Arcadia of my Youth with Harlock's ancestors are taken from two separate chapters of Leiji Matsumoto's military anthology Senjō manga ("Battlefield comics"), best known overseas for being the source of the 1993 OVA The Cockpit.
    • The Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage manga from 2014 retells the story of the 1978 series while almost explicitly including both Galaxy Express 999 and Space Battleship Yamato in the backstory. The manga also includes elements of both Arcadia of My Youth and the 2013 CGI movie.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Planet Maicon in the SSX series.
  • Alternate Continuity: Every single series takes place in a similar but slightly different universe. Gun Frontier is "our" universe, mid 19th century.
  • Anime Accent Absence: Harlock is canonically German but speaks perfect Japanese. (Though this is justifiable for his WWII-era ancestor in My Youth In Arcadia)
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Mazone, who are pretty much responsible for every human civilization.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: All the Illumidas ships designed by human turncoat Feydar Zone suffer from this.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: The title captain and Emeraldas. To give you an idea of just how badass:
    JesuOtaku: "I think Chuck Norris checks his closet every night to make sure Captain Harlock is not in it."
    • In the first Galaxy Express 999 movie Harlock showed his ability to kill machine people by having them drink milk. You hardly get more badass than this.
  • Badass Cape: Just look at the page image.
  • Best Friend: One thing consistent across all the different continuities is that Tochiro Oyama is always Harlock's bro for life.
  • Bizarre Alien Biology: Alcohol is a nutrient for Miime's people, though it still seems to act as an intoxicant for her as well.
  • Boarding Party: The Aracadia has harpoons with tunnels in the cables for just this purpose.
  • Bowdlerization: All animated series so far tone down Harlock's (considerable) macho posturing and sexism in the manga.
  • Bread and Circuses: Earth is a bit... distracted by a limited selection of TV shows.
  • Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Harlock's first mate Yattaran, who is very good at his job despite spending all his off hours - and even on duty (as he sometimes tells Harlock to buzz off if he's busy) as a stereotypical plastic model otaku.
  • Burial in Space: Arcadia of My Youth ends with a space burial of the heroic Tokargan Zoll, his sister Mira, and the Earth's La Résistance leader (who is also Harlock's Old Flame) Maya aboard Arcadia, with all of the surviving good guys in attendance. Maya's burial in particular symbolizes the severing of Harlock's last tether to his old life, completing his transformation into a Space Pirate.
  • Call to Adventure: Not Harlock, who is usually already a famous pirate by the time the story begins. Instead, he gives it to Tadashi.
  • The Captain:
    • Harlock, obviously.
    • Cosmo Warrior Zero has the titular Captain Warrius Zero, commander of the last battleship Vichy Earth can field under the Machine People.
  • Cold Equation: In Arcadia of My Youth, Harlock is forced to escape the planet Tokarga after the Illumidas destroy it, with only Zoll's little sister Mira and a few Tokargan soldiers surviving. To escape the Illumidas fleet waiting for them, they pass through the "Owen Stanley Witch Of Space," a passage between twin suns with multiple prominence streams — and a Negative Space Wedgie that attracts Life Energy. Despite the efforts of Harlock and Tochiro, the Arcadia is almost drawn in until its engines miraculously go into overdrive. Afterwards, Harlock and Tochiro discover what happened: Mira died from the strain of the passage, and the other Tokargans, realizing that they are officially extinct, decide to march out the airlock in order to ease the ship's load and repay Harlock for risking his life to save their people.
  • Colony Drop: Depending on the continuity.
  • Coming of Age Story: It certainly is for the Tadashis in the various series.
  • Continuity Snarl: Corn Pone Flick's Captain Harlock Archives summed it up best:
    Here's the short version: forget it.
    And now for the slightly longer account:
    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 he is established to be Kodai's older brother, believed killed in in the Gamilus attack early in the story.
  • Crouching Moron, Hidden Badass: 90% of the Red Shirts and Spear Carriers in Harlock's crew. One of the first episodes after Tadashi joins the Arcadia (in both the original anime and the Dimensional Voyage manga reboot) has him disturbed by seeing the crew lazing around the halls of the ship, being as apparently useless as the corrupt Earthlings — until they all leap into action as soon as the Red Alert goes off and act as professionals. In particular, Harlock's first mate, Yattaran is a short, fat plastic model otaku who barely knows how to talk to a woman — but he's nevertheless acknowledged as a badass by other characters, and demonstrates his credentials more than once through the franchise.
    • As Harlock explains after the initial incident, the Arcadia is the crew's home first and warship second, thus anyone can do whatever they want as long as there's no Red Alert, with the latter meaning that their home is in danger.
  • Cruel Twist Ending: Endless Odyssey concludes with Tadashi finally learning the identity of the man who killed his father and whom he promised to kill in turn... and that man is Captain Harlock himself, who killed Tadashi's father because he succumbed to temptation and sold humanity out to the Noo. Tadashi is, understandably, quite conflicted about this revelation, because he's come to deeply regard Captain Harlock. But Harlock also promised Tadashi Senior that he would kill Tadashi if the latter failed to become a man... and remember what Harlock said about "a man who would break a promise is no man"? So he throws Tadashi a pistol, holds him at gunpoint, and demands Tadashi either kill him or be killed right now. Cue episode credits.
  • Cute Monster Girl: The Mazones, a race represented in-story as Blue Skinned Space Babes despite being inhuman enough to, for example, spontaneously combust "like paper" after suffering any fatal injury.
  • Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Cosmo Warrior Zero, heavily featuring the Machine People from Galaxy Express 999, has this trope as a theme. Generally, the moral seems to be that for humans and machines alike, morality and a sense of purpose help keep your soul together.
  • Darker and Edgier: The various Harlock stories have gotten somewhat darker in tone over the years, most notably with Endless Odyssey.
  • 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?!'.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Same show.
    • That's Captain Warrius Zero's mission in Cosmo Warrior Zero, at least in the titular hero's opinion. I mean, he had to catch/kill HARLOCK...
  • Dirty Cowards: The Earth Garrison Forces are composed almost exclusively of people unwilling to fight and ready to run the moment a potential danger shows up, hence why they're looked down by Harlock and even Kiruta, their commander and, with his personal force, one of the few brave people remaining on Earth (who in the Dimension Voyager manga become members of the Gaia Fleet on loan to the Earth Garrison).
  • Distaff Counterpart: Emeraldas. 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.
  • The Dragon: Cleo for Queen Lafresia.
  • Dramatic Wind: His hair and cape at crucial moments (actually, just about anytime).
  • The Dreaded: Harlock is feared by just anyone who may have reason to get in a fight with him. For reference, in Cosmo Warrior Zero the title character brought a small and almost crippled cruiser in battle with a larger pirate ship without a care, but when, after the fact, he was told the ship was Harlock's Deathshadow he nearly broke down in fear.
  • The Drunken Sailor: The entire crew except possibly Kei and Daiba. Miime, the Doctor, and Harlock are seen drinking most often.
  • Dub Name Change: In France, he has become Albator. The dub company was worried about possible confusion between Captain Harlock and Captain Haddock (of Tintin fame). Considering that at least one magazine article made exactly that mistake in naming, it's hard to argue against the change.
  • Emotion Bomb: The Noo from Endless Odyssey, using fear.
  • Evil Versus Evil: In Dimension Voyage the Mazone and the Machine Empire are engaged in a cold war, as they both aim to take over Earth-and the latter is halfway in the process of doing so without firing a shot. The Illumidas are mentioned as ready to throw themselves in the fight as well, only held back by the threat posed by Neo Gamilas against them.
  • Expy:
    • Matsumoto himself claims Harlock and his predecessors were inspired by a childhood friend of his.
    • Harlock, at least from the 1975 manga Diver Zero onwards, bears a more than passing resemblance to C. L. 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). This is hardly surprising, since from 1971 to '77, Matsumoto illustrated the Japanese translations 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 of Joiry stories by the same author — Jirel being a feisty red-haired warrior maiden...
  • Eyepatch of Power
  • False Flag Operation: The true villain of Cosmo Warrior Zero uses replicas of notable pirate ships so they can cover their own depredations by blaming it on the pirates. It works until Zero plots out a timeline of Harlock's activities in an attempt to find his base and realizes that there were confirmed sightings of the Deathshadow committing raids in four different systems simultaneously.
  • Fantastic Racism: Depending on the installment, humanity can be on the giving and receiving ends of this. Cosmo Warrior Zero in particular has the tensions between the mixed crew of humans and Machine People on Captain Zero's (Vichy) Earth battleship as a major plot point, with the Captain being forced to bring both sides under control in one episode.
  • Forced Creativity: In Harlock Saga, Tadashi Daiba is forced by Albericht to forge a ring from the Rhein Gold. He chooses the design himself, though, and forges the face of the ring in the distinctive skull and crossbones pattern favored by Harlock. He's then shot as payment, but survives.
  • Genetic Memory: Used as a plot device in Arcadia of my Youth to include a story about Harlock's ancestor in World War II, and the birth of his friendship with Tochiro's ancestor at the time. (In the story, the Tokargan guard Zoll uses the genetic memory analysis — with faked results — as a way to hide their activities from the Illumidas.)
    • The Constant: The present-day Harlock and Tochiro inherited the copies of the "Arcadia of My Youth" books their ancestors carried, as well as the gun sight given to Tochiro's ancestor.
  • Get A Hold Of Yourself Man: In Endless Odyssey, Harlock Brightslaps Daiba in their very first scene together, before Daiba can even start Wangsting properly over his dead father.
    • Harlock did this to Daiba in the '78 series when he was getting so absorbed in trying to improve his combat ability that he was starting to suffer.
  • Ghost Ship: The Fata Morgana in Endless Odyssey. Subverted in an episode of the SSX series.
  • 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.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Harlock has a large horizontal dueling scar across his left cheek, ending in his missing eye. Emeraldas has a similar scar, despite having both eyes intact.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: The Mazone are a race of these.
    • Mimay is this at times.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: The manga contains one of the most epic examples in fiction, when the First Minister has Daiba thrown in prison to bait Harlock... And then Yuki walks in and when the guards try and stop her she asks them if this was where Daiba was being kept to bait Harlock into a trap and, upon receiving confirmation, tells them she's one of Harlock's crew and thus she's supposed to walk in and break Daiba out, with the guards accepting her reasoning.
  • 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.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Harlock and Tochiro.
  • Honor Before Reason: Harlock's the type of man who always keeps a promise, no matter how small, even if he has to put his life on the line to do so. For instance, landing on Vichy Earth while a wanted fugitive to keep a promise to visit a young girl on her birthday in the first episode of the original anime. Or the ending of Endless Odyssey.
  • Hypertime: Matsumoto's general approach to continuity.
    • Matsumoto deliberately makes all of his series impossible to reconcile yet containing elements from his other series.
  • Identical Grandson: Virtually all of Harlock's ancestors are duplicates of him.
  • Imperial Stormtrooper Marksmanship Academy: Tends to come into play when Harlock and company are being shot at on foot or otherwise outside the Arcadia, although occasionally a shot will graze them. Averted when they're on the Arcadia, at least in SSX; it takes quite the beatings.
  • 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.
    • In Arcardia of My Youth, Maya, the voice of La Résistance, confesses her love for Harlock in a posthumous message, and her death is the only event Harlock is visibly shaken by. Nonetheless, it is never established just what their relationship was, exactly.
  • Inspector Javert: Commander Kiruta, the one authority figure on the corrupt Earth who will actively pursue Harlock and his crew. Despite being aware of the threat of the Mazone, Kiruta actively rejects the possibility of cooperating with the space pirate in any way.
    • In Endless Odyssey, Commander Illita is set up as one, ruthlessly hunting down the remaining pirates and brining order to the galaxy. However after episode one, his superiors reassign him to the greater threat of Noo and leave his lieutenant to take on the traditional Javert route. He only has one other moment trying to stop Harlock personally, and spends the rest of the series fighting to stop Noo. (The subordinate gets shot in the head as soon as he tells Harlock that he's pursuing the pirate of his own free will.)
  • I Owe You My Life: Mimay was saved by Harlock from ravaging plants on her home planet, so she has dedicated her life to being by him.
  • I Want to Be a Real Man: Regardless of continuity, Tadashi always is driven by the urge to become recognized as a true man. In Endless Odyssey, his father was so worried about Tadashi becoming manly that he made Captain Harlock promise him that, if Tadashi failed to become a man in Harlock's eyes, then Harlock would kill Tadashi.
  • Jolly Roger: Harlock and Emeraldas both sport the skull and crossbones motif in their flag and respective vessels, the Arcadia and the Queen Emeraldas.
  • Knight Templar: Tadashi Daiba kills Mazone even when Harlock lets them go or they are unconscious.
  • Landfill Beyond the Stars: The planet of the Rubbish Heaps where construction companies dump the ruins they've illegally dug up in Endless Odyssey.
  • Last of Her Kind: Mimay, Harlock's advisor, recounts her experiences of surviving the death of her world before being rescued.
    • Her alternate counterpart in Arcadia of My Youth and Endless Orbit SSX, La Mimay, also mentions that her homeworld had been destroyed by the Illumidas.
  • Mook–Face Turn: Zoll and the Tokargans from Arcadia of My Youth, who served the Illumidas so they would take mercy on their homeworld. That didn't work out for them, and they make an alliance with Harlock to try to save it.
  • 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 time. My 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 Battleship Yamato. They do actually look alike, but that would negate all the important plot elements about Harlock and Tochiro's ancestors in MYIA.
  • Manly Tears: Harlock, believe it or not.
  • The Most Wanted: In Arcadia of My Youth, Harlock's love interest Maya is the voice of La Résistance on Vichy Earth and, as such, is the most wanted woman on the planet. After her death, Harlock becomes the most wanted man due to his attack on the Illumidas forces.
  • My Hero, Zero: We have a Doctor Zero and a Captain Zero.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Several pop up across the franchise.
    • In Arcadia of my Youth, Harlock is forced to send the Arcadia across the "Owen Stanley Witch Of Space", a perilous passage between multiple stars that also traps Life Energy like an Unrealistic Black Hole.
    • Late in Cosmo Warrior Zero, Captain Zero is forced to navigate his ship, the Karyu, across the "Iron Ridge" nebula in order to battle the Big Bad alongside Harlock. Not only does the Iron Ridge prevent warping across itself, the magnetic storms force the Machine People in the crew to be temporarily shut down — including the ship's doctor as it was driving them mad and risks destroying them if they stayed active.
  • Never My Fault: Feder West of Endless Orbit has a vendetta against Harlock because Harlock rejected a ship that West built for several design defects, ruining West's career. West never dwells on the fact that he had built a faulty ship in the first place.
  • No Mouth: La Mime/Mimay.
  • 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. (The comic series was, by accident or by design, effectively an Americanized version of Endless Road SSX, sans most of the mystical elements.)
  • 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.
    • Warrius Zero is also one, which would explain Harlock's instant respect for him upon their first meeting.
  • Otherworldly Technicolour Hair: The Arcadia Crew is made up entirely of humans, except for Miime, an alien from Planet Jura. She is a cute humanoid alien woman with long, stringy, purple hair. Though even without that, you'd be able to tell she's the token alien with her glowing yellow eyes, grey skin, and lack of mouth.
    • Mayu may count if Emeraldas is a La Maetelian in the '78 series instead of human - which would make her half-alien. She has very noticeable purple hair when all other human characters are depicted with natural hair colors.
  • Our Nymphs Are Different: The Mazone are a race of plant women, who have been on Earth before the rise of Human civilization, and are able to hibernate as normal jungle plants until awakened.
  • 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.
  • Perspective Flip: Cosmo Warrior Zero follows a Vichy Earth crew on a mission to defeat a younger Harlock.
  • Pirate Parrot: Tori-san (a.k.a. Mr. Bird), a black alien bird with a stork-like neck (and usually a cloth tied around his beak in a vain attempt to shut him up). His presence is usually unexplained except for Arcadia of My Youth, where he's technically the last survivor of the planet Tokarga after Harlock and the Arcadia mount a rescue mission.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The instances when Harlock and friends actually steal and plunder are exceedingly rare. "Pirate" is more a name given to him by his detractors.
  • Plant Aliens: The Mazone in the 1978 series. "Women who burn like paper" when they die, they are later shown to have a physiology that is much more similar to plants than to humans. Remnants of ancient Mazone settlements on Earth remain asleep as jungle plants.
  • Pluto Is Expendable: In the Endless Odyssey OVA.
  • Pointy Ears: Miime in her original appearance and in the manga Diver Zero.
  • Political Overcorrectness: Why Endless Odyssey is a Direct to Video release instead of a straight TV series.
  • Ramming Always Works: The Arcadia — it even has a retractable battering ram in the bow that looks like a giant Bowie knife.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Almost the only acceptable outcome of a Heel–Face Turn.
  • The Remnant: In Cosmo Warrior Zero, the character Grenadier is introduced as a one-man Remnant fighting the Machine People on the Planet of the Week. It turns out that he was a mercenary hired by the actual human resistance of the planet — and he was still protecting the children of their survivors for reasons including Honor Before Reason and a very open-ended contract. When the oldest of the rebel children (the son of the leader who hired Grenadier) tries to surrender to the Machine People and is betrayed, Captain Zero manages to win Grenadier's loyalty while defusing the situation.
  • Reused Character Design: Captain Harlock's concept originated in a manga made during Matsumoto's boyhood, "Captain Kingston". Early Harlock prototypes include 1968's Tōmin Wakusei (Hibernation Planet) as japanese spaceship crewmember Phantom Harlock, 1969's Pilot 262 as Luftwaffe pilot Walter von Harlock, 1970's Dai-kaizoku Harlock (Great Pirate Harlock) as a space pirate, 1972's Gun Frontier as japanese cowboy Western Franklin Harlock Jr., and 1973's Senjō manga (Battlefield comics) as biplane pilot Phantom F. Harlock and WWII german ace pilot Phantom F. Harlock II (both of them would be retconned as Captain Harlock's predecessors in the Arcadia of my Youth continuity). It wasn't until 1974's Space Battleship Yamato where his definitive design would have made a debut if the show hadn't been cut short, but it was reused a year later in 1975's Diver Zero before the character took off on its own.
    • Tochiro's design is based on the main character from 1971's Otoko Oidon, and debuted as Harlock's sidekick in the 1972 manga Gun Frontier. Likewise, Harlock's pet bird Tori-san appeared in the same two manga.
    • Queen Emeraldas was the protagonist of her own manga in 1975 and 1978, before she turned into a supporting character in Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999.
  • Revival: Captain Herlock Endless Odyssey
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Takashi against the Mazone.
  • Rousing Speech: Maya's broadcasts in Arcadia of My Youth, doing her damn best to keep the hopes of the humanity on an occupied Earth alive.
  • 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 gets 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.
    • Gun Frontier has the horses Harlock and Tochrio use to travel between towns dying on them.
  • 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.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Captain Harlock turns to space piracy because of the corruption of Earth's government, but still fights for he believes in and is willing to defend the Earth if need be.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Noo.
  • See You in Hell: Zeda, the Noble Demon in charge of the Illumidas occupation of Earth, challenges Harlock and the Arcadia to a battleship duel near the end of Arcadia Of My Youth. After his ship takes fatal damage, Zeda sends a transmission to Harlock and invites his Worthy Opponent to share a drink in Hell together as friends, before his ship explodes. Harlock accepts the invitation after the battle.
  • 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.
  • Smug Snake: Murugison, the Number Two of the Worthy Opponent, Zeda, from Arcadia of My Youth. Murugison eagerly dismisses Earthlings at every opportunity, but folds if Harlock does much more than look at him harshly. He shoots Maya in the back, and ultimately is killed when he attempts to attack Harlock against Zeda's orders — and is written off by his commander after drawing on the pirate.
  • Space Is an Ocean: "The Sea of Stars is my sea" from the opening theme, a sterncastle on the back of the Arcadia, a skull-and-crossbones flag flapping in the nonexistent breeze...
  • Space Is Noisy: Mayu plays an ocarina, and the Arcadia is able to determine where it's coming from?
  • Space Sailing: Both this and Space Trains! Not only does Harlock's Arcadia appear to have the back-end of a galley, she can effectively function as a submarine.
  • Spaceship Girl: Averted. The Arcadia houses Tochiro's soul/mind, and is considered male. Endless Odyssey makes a point of referring to the ship as "The Arcadia," not as "She."
  • Space Pirates: Played straight with the Sea Wolves from My Youth In Arcadia.
  • Space Western: When's it's not at sea.
  • Spell My Name With An S: The Endless Odyssey series was released as "Captain Herlock". It was still pronounced the same way.
    • The Movie is also known as My Youth in Arcadia, inspired by Gratuitous English on Japanese promotional materials; Animeigo re-translated the Japanese title to get Arcadia of My Youth, instead.
    • The same goes for Emereldas, which can easily be mistaken for Esmerelda.
  • Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: Mayu is kidnapped by the Mazone and Harlock spends many episodes trying to rescue her, when he finally does, she is visibly traumatized by her ordeal, refusing to eat and sleep.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: La Mimay in Arcadia of my Youth and SSX, for Mimay from the original series.
  • Sword and Gun: Sort of. Captain Harlock routinely carries a pistol, and... um... a much longer pistol, with a handguard that makes it resemble a cavalry saber. That's right, Captain Harlock is so manly that he stabs people with his spaceship and shoots them with his sword.
  • Tender Tears: Tochiro.
  • 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.
  • True Companions: The crew of the Arcadia.
  • 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.
  • Übermensch: Harlock, and to a lesser extent his shipmates and Worthy Opponents. The Vichy Earthlings are almost always Last Men. note 
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: Tochiro and Emeraldas.
  • 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. Cosmo Warrior Zero revolves around another captain who remained loyal, who is sent in pursuit of Harlock.
  • Villain with Good Publicity: In Dimension Voyage, the Machine Empire has a magnificent reputation thanks to an enormous propaganda work, with the few that oppose them being labeled as terrorists and criminals.
  • Voice of the Resistance: Maya, from Arcadia of my Youth, sending pirate transmissions for the defeated Earthlings and her lover Harlock, to bolster their spirits. "This is the Voice of Free Arcadia..."
  • "Wanted!" Poster:
    • The various incarnations of Harlock, Tochiro, and Emeraldas often appear on wanted posters, usually offering either a large sum of money or a year's supply of energy capsules. Endless Orbit SSX takes part of its title from the serial numbers of their three bounties.
    • Gun Frontier takes it in a bizarre direction with a town that needs money, so they take a pre-existing bandit and hire a painter to modify it so that the picture now looks like someone who just passed through town so they can lynch him and then claim the reward money. Nobody points out that this would never work because the people who would be releasing the reward money would invariably be comparing the body against their own copy of the bounty information.
  • Wave-Motion Gun: On several other vessels (e.g. the Karyu from Cosmo Warrior Zero), but averted on the Arcadia. (See Ramming Always Works.)
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Mazone queen Lafresia starts out as this until we see her cross the Moral Event Horizon several 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... although the last one was Lafresia simply exploiting the situation.
  • Worthy Opponent: Harlock tends to feel this for his opponents.
    • Zero feels this for Harlock.
    • Near the end of Arcadia of My Youth, the Illumidas occupation commander Zeda acknowledges Harlock, Tochiro, and Maya as Worthy Opponents.
    • In Dimension Voyage, Shizuka Namino identifies three powers as such for Mazone: the Machine Empire, that has somehow recovered from Tetsuro Hoshino blowing up their homeworld and is taking over the galaxy through cultural assimilation and propaganda; Illumidas, the one power that in the past conquered Earth and seems ready to try again; and Harlock with the Arcadia. Queen Rafflesia agrees on the latter.
  • Wine Is Classy: More of a wine in a brandy snifter thing with Harlock.
  • You Have Out Lived Your Usefulness: Played straight with Mazone and Illumidas commanders, averted with the human turncoat Zone in SSX.
  • You Killed My Father: If your name is Tadashi, you will join Harlock to get revenge on those responsible for your parents' death.