Space Pirate Captain Harlock (宇宙海賊キャプテンハーロック Uchū Kaizoku Kyaputen Hārokku?) is a manga series written and illustrated by Leiji Matsumoto, serialized Akita Shoten's Play Comic from 1977 to 1979. The series was adapted into an animated television series in 1978 directed by Rintaro and produced by Toei Animation.
In the future, Mankind has achieved a vast starfaring civilization, but is slowly and steadily succumbing to ennui or despair, often due to defeat and subjugation by a foreign invader. Rising against the general apathy, Harlock denies defeat and leads an outlaw crew aboard his starship Arcadia to undertake daring raids against Earth's oppressors.
The oppressors are the Mazone, a race of vegetable-based women who explored Earth in the mythic past and are now back to reclaim it. Only Harlock and his mismatched crew are brave enough and capable enough to face the enemy.
Harlock is the archetypical romantic hero, a space pirate with an individualist philosophy of life. He is as noble as he is taciturn, rebellious, stoically fighting against totalitarian regimes, whether they be earthborn or alien. In his own words, he "fight[s] for no one's sake, only for something deep in [his] heart".
Crew of the Arcadia
Tadashi Daiba (台羽 正 Daiba Tadashi?). Voiced by: Akira Kamiya. Daiba is the audience surrogate, the viewer's gateway to Harlock's world. The 14-year-old son of a scientist who was killed by the Mazone, he joined the Arcadia crew following the death of his father. He lost his mother in a disaster on the Neptunian moon Triton when her pleas for help were ignored by the indifferent government. Tadashi is sometimes in conflict with Harlock early in the series, but he would become a trusted part of Harlock's senior staff as the series progressed.
Kei Yuki (有紀 蛍 Yuuki Kei?). Voiced by: Chiyoko Kawashima. A young human woman with blonde hair who was already part of Harlock's crew at the time Tadashi came aboard. She first met Harlock when he raided a ship that was transporting her back to Earth as a prisoner after she had assaulted a military officer who had belittled her father's death. There is a slight intimation that she harbors a crush on Harlock (though this would be made more definite in the later SSX series), and initially seems inclined romantically towards Tadashi Daiba, though the two eventually settle into a platonic friendship. She is the Arcadia's chief navigator and science officer and the second-youngest crew member after Tadashi.
Miime (ミーメ?). Voiced by: Noriko Ohara. A mysterious alien woman with long blue hair who thrives on alcohol and possesses psychic and psionic powers, she is the last survivor of her home planet Jura, from which she was saved by Harlock. After her rescue, Miime became part of the crew of the Arcadia and pledged her life to Harlock in gratitude for saving her. She is Harlock's closest companion and confidante and is willing to protect him at any cost when needed. She does not appear to have a mouth (apparently a common feature in Juran physiology), but she is able to absorb liquids through the general mouth area. She has a quiet, sensitive personality and, although she does not have an official position aboard the Arcadia, she will help Doctor Zero tend to injured crew members in times of need. Her empathic nature makes her valuable in a counseling capacity (for example, when she consoles Miss Masu following the loss of the latter's estranged fiancé). She is musically skilled with the harp. In the 1999 Harlock Saga OVA, she is refashioned to appear as a human-looking woman (as well as given a different back story, making her a member of the Nibelung clan in the story and changing her musical instrument from the harp to a pipe organ with the ability to control time, but otherwise having the same abilities as in her previous incarnation), but she returns to her original appearance and origins in the 2002 Endless Odyssey OVA.
Yattaran (ヤッタラン?). Voiced by: Hiroshi Ōtake. Harlock's first mate on the Arcadia, he is usually portrayed as comic relief in the series, but when a battle against alien threats become imminent he will be at the captain's side. He is also a brilliant mathematician and has a major interest in building plastic model kits of ships (he was even seen building a scale model of the Arcadia in one episode). Yattaran is based on manga artist Kaoru Shintani (best known for Area 88) who, in his early career worked for Matsumoto building models for reference.
Doctor Zero (ドクターゼロ?). Voiced by: Jōji Yanami. Chief Medical Officer. Like Yattaran, he serves as comic relief when he argues with the ship's cook, Miss Masu, over his raids of Masu's kitchen to get his beverage of choice, sake. He has a pet cat called Mi-kun (named Miaou in the French version), which he adopted after the then-kitten's mother, which was injured and apparently dying, brought him to Zero's office, and was later brought with Zero on board the Arcadia. Doctor Zero's cat, Mi-kun also appears in Space Battleship Yamato as Doctor Sado's cat. Mi-kun also makes on-off appearances in several other anime such as Queen Millennia and Galaxy Express 999. Mi-kun is based on Matsumoto's own pet cat, the latest of which is named Mi-kun III.
Miss Masu (ますさん Masu-san?). Voiced by: Noriko Tsukase. The ship's cook. Masu Tsunajima is a cantankerous spinster who is intolerant of her kitchen being raided by Doctor Zero or his cat. She is also a comic relief character in the series, although her back story had her intended to marry her fiancé, Gozo Otowara, before circumstances prevented the wedding from taking place. Masu believed she had been stood up, until she learned the truth years later and reconciled with Gozo in a brief communication before Gozo was killed by the Mazone.
Tochirō Ōyama (大山トチロー Ooyama Tochirou?). Voiced by: Keaton Yamada. Harlock's old friend and chief builder of the Arcadia. He died of illness prior to the events of the series, but his consciousness survives within the ship's computer.
Emeralda. She is Tochiro's lover and Mayu's mother. She decides to use a spaceship to follow Tochiro's coffin into space after his death. She is an early version of Emeraldas who would play a greater roll in Leiji Matsumoto's later works.
Mayu Ōyama (大山まゆ Ooyama Mayu?). Voiced by: Chiyoko Kawashima. The daughter of Tochiro Oyama and "Queen Emeraldas" (referred to in this series as "Emeralda"). Harlock takes her under his wing following Tochiro's death and Emeraldas' departure, but she is unable to remain with Harlock due to Tochiro's wish that she remain on Earth.
Professor Tsuyoshi Daiba. Voiced by: Yonehiko Kitagawa. Tadashi Daiba's father, an astronomer and scientist. He was one of the few scientists who saw the aliens' threat and attempted to warn Earth's government before he was killed by the Mazone. Tadashi, affected by his father's murder, joined the Arcadia crew to seek his revenge.
Mitsuru Kiruda (切田 満 Kiruda Mitsuru?). Voiced by: Hidekatsu Shibata. The leader of Earth's defense forces, he is Harlock's sworn enemy and will stop at nothing to try to eliminate him. Earlier in his life, Kiruta suffered the loss of his father, a government secret agent, during an ill-fated mission, followed by his mother and his younger sister Tami. Blaming the government for his family's death, he rose through the military ranks in order to effect change for the better and, like Professor Daiba before him, tried in vain to warn the Earth government of the Mazone invasion. Kiruda eventually puts his grudge with Harlock aside and sacrifices himself defending the Arcadia's main computer against Mazone troopers.
The Mazone, the major villains of the original 1978 series, are a race of intelligent plant-based beings in female humanoid form, with a few taking male form. As the race is asexual, their apparent gender is superficial rather than functional. Curiously, when a Mazone dies, its corpse spontaneously burns up until nothing is left but ashes.
Queen Lafresia (Rafflesia) (女王ラフレシア Jo'ō Rafureshia?). Voiced by: Haruko Kitahama. The reigning monarch of the Mazone, she is determined to lead her people to make Earth their new home following the destruction of their home planet. As cruel as she is beautiful, Lafresia was once a wise and kind ruler, but the situation of her people leads her to change for the worse as the series progresses. She initially did not see Harlock as a major threat and even saved his life early on, but would later come to regret it. Faced with a plot to kidnap Mayu Oyama as a means to draw out Harlock, Lafresia resists at first, considering such a tactic as unethical at best, but she later gives in when faced with the threat of the Arcadia to the Mazone, which later causes discord among the alien invaders. During a final showdown against Harlock, it is eventually discovered that Lafresia is not Mazone, but human. After defeating her in their duel, Harlock allows Lafresia to leave Earth with her people and settle elsewhere.
Commander Cleo (司令クレオ Shirei Kureo?). Voiced by: Akiko Tsuboi. The commanding officer of the Mazone Royal Armada and Queen Lafresia's chief confidant, she would come up with the plot to have Mayu kidnapped to get Harlock's attention and draw him into battle with the Mazone ruler. Cleo is later killed by Tadashi Daiba.
Commander Cassandra. The ruthless commander of the Mazone Royal Armada's Third Quadrant, she is willing to use dishonorable tactics to attempt to win battles, including using the Mazone civilian fleet as shields against attacks by the Arcadia, a tactic devised following the destruction of a civilian ship she tried to protect, which Harlock erroneously believed was a Mazone command vessel. She is killed when Harlock lures the main force of her fleet away with his mobile repair dock, leaving Cassandra's ship open to undefended attack.
Shizuka Namino (波野 静香 Namino Shizuka?). Voiced by: Nana Yamaguchi. A Mazone spy posing as the Earth Prime Minister's secretary. She attempts to assassinate the Prime Minister and set Kiruta up to take the blame for the deed, then springs Kiruta from prison and attempts to seek sanctuary on the Arcadia, with the intent of sabotaging the ship from the inside. Harlock discovers Shizuka's origins and subsequently grants her asylum on his ship after Queen Lafresia deserts her and later orders her killed. Unable to return to the Mazone caravan, Shizuka, showing admiration for Harlock's noble actions in taking her aboard, forces him to kill her rather than face certain death at the Mazones' hands. Harlock later tells Kiruta, who had feelings for Shizuka, that she had died a hero battling the Mazone, never revealing to him that she was a Mazone herself. Shizuka would later return in the 2002 Endless Odyssey OVA series as the holographic assistant of Professor Daiba (aside from having dark hair in that series instead of the red hair she had in the Space Pirate series, she looked the same in both shows, but she is intended to be different characters in the two series).
TV series adaptation
Directed by Rintaro, the series features split screen and flashbacks, excellently served by a symphonic score executed by the Tokyo Philharmonic. For all its pulpy space opera feeling and its action, the series raises a number of issues — from the importance of challenges in the life of men to the limits of violence as a solution to both small- and large-scale problems. The outcast Harlock is well aware of the plight of the Mazone, a refugee people fleeing a dying planet, and finds neither pleasure nor vindication in his battles nor in his final, melancholic victory.
An English dubbed version of a handful of the 1978 Captain Harlock TV episodes saw limited release in the U.S. (1981), mostly on cable and produced by Ziv international. In all, four episodes of the series were dubbed, with the initial two episodes produced (episodes 1 and 9) appearing faithful to the original story. Several names were changed, such as the Mazones becoming Zetons and Yattaran becoming Youngblood. Two further episodes (2 & 3) were given a far less serious dub by Ziv, and one of the most highly joked elements in this adaptation was the change of Tadashi Daiba's name to Tommy Hairball. These episodes were subsequently acquired and redistributed in the early 1990s by Malibu Graphics, who advertised the episodes as "never-before-seen," and "completely unedited," neither of which were the case. The tapes were also mastered badly, with music often drowning out dialogue and the audio and video out of sync by as much as five seconds at times.
The 1978 series was dubbed again in 1985, this time by Harmony Gold USA (of Robotech fame) and known as Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years. Using the same style as Robotech to meet TV syndication's 65+ episode requirement, the Harlock series was connected with another Matsumoto series, Queen Millennia, to tell an intertwining story (Harmony Gold had originally planned to combine the original series with the 1982 Harlock series, Endless Orbit SSX, but they had to change their plans upon learning of the cost of obtaining the American rights to the second show ). Unlike Robotech, however, episodes were made by inter-cutting whole scenes from each of the component series in each episode, with the Queen Millennia story not actually reaching its original conclusion. The story as it unfolded was very confused and difficult to follow, and plot points would often change from one episode to the next with no apparent explanation. Despite the title, the two titular characters never appear onscreen together. This version never saw wide release in North America.
In 1979, a subtitled version of the original series appeared on Japanese language UHF broadcast channels in Hawaii, New York City and San Francisco. This version was shown once.
Toei only recently released the show in 2008 as a pay-to-watch-service on IGN's Direct2Drive; but then in 2009, it decided to provide it for free on Crunchyroll to those who are willing to wait a certain number of days, and as part of a subscription to those who want it immediately.
- International releases
- In France and Quebec, Captain Harlock is known as "Albator, le corsaire de l'espace", to avoid confusion with the completely different character Captain Haddock, and is very popular there. The name "Albator" was first proposed by Eric Charden, who designed the French version of the 1978 series introductory song, in memory of one of his friends, whose family name was Balator, sometimes nick-named The Albatross and having a psychological profile close to Harlock's.
- Albator debuted in Canada on Radio-Canada Télévision in 1979, and in France on Antenne 2 in 1980. Since that massive airplay on French and Canadian TV, Captain Harlock/Albator has become a cult hero for an entire generation of French-speaking people, so that French people often use the expression "Génération Albator". The whole soundtrack has been re-recorded for the French version. The Tokyo Orchestra was replaced by intimist but futurist synthesisers performed by the French musician Eric Charden. And, last but not least, the French main theme of Albator 78 - Les Sylvidres was anthemic and a big hit on French radio. Both complete series Space Pirate (1978) and Endless Orbit SSX (1982) have been dubbed into French (respectively known in French as Albator 78 - Les Sylvidres [Sylvidres being the French name for the Mazone] and Albator 84 - L'Atlantis de ma jeunesse [Atlantis being the French name for the Arcadia]) as has the My Youth in Arcadia movie. Additionally, both series have been released on DVD in France.
- In Latin America, a dubbed version was widely shown in the early 1980s. In this version, Harlock was renamed as "Capitán Raymar". The series shown there were the complete uncensored original series. Another complete version dubbed in Spain also exists, and retains the original character names.
- In Italy Capitan Harlock was dubbed and aired on RAI in 1979 and it quickly became one of the most successfully animated series of that time. Most of the characters retain the original names but a few minor adaptions.
- The Jolly Roger of Space
- A Message From the Unknown
- A Lady Who Burns Like Paper
- Under the Flag of Freedom
- To the Shores of Distant Stars
- The Phantom Mazone
- The Pyramid on the Sea Floor
- The Queen's Space Fleet
- The Fearsome Plant Lifeform
- Approaching the Mystery Planet
- When Lola Shines Golden
- Mother, Be Eternal
- Witch Castle in the Sea of Death
- The Sphinx's Gravestone
- Unrequited Love! The North Pole Aurora
- Kei: A Song of Farewell
- The Skeletal Hero
- The Evil Shadow Soldiers
- Queen Lafresia's Trap
- The Dead Planet Jura
- Gohrum! The Tragic Soldier
- Space Graveyard Deathshadow
- Yattaran: Song of the Model Lover
- The Shooting Star of Virgin Love
- Doctor Zero and Mi
- The Long Journey From Afar
- The Will of the Arcadia
- The Ulysses Nebula
- Life-and-Death Struggle on the Rainbow Planet
- My Friend, My Youth
- The Arcadia's Secret History
- Call of the Star Flute
- The Lone Man's Charge
- The Galactic Lullaby
- The Beautiful Mystery Woman
- The Eve of the Showdown
- Tears on a Red Sweater
- Farewell, Mayu
- Courage: The Death of the Commander
- And Then the Angels Sang
- Duel! The Queen Versus Harlock
- Farewell, Cosmic Corsair
- The Captain Harlock Archives
- Space Pirate Captain Harlock (7673) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia