Before I actually get into the review, let me just briefly explain what Captain Harlock is for those who aren't really that big into anime. Captain Harlock was first put onto the screen in 1978 and has been one of the more important pieces of Sci-Fi anime ever since. The good Captain was the first anime character to ever win the Anime Grand Prix for favorite character, as well as being place fourth in Mania Entertainments "10 Most Iconic Anime Heroes."
The 1978 show and character would later go on to influence many many future Sci-Fi anime's such as Gundam Wing, Martian Successor Nadesco, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. While I wrote in the last review that this would be a more than a 1 post review, I won't be doing that. Explanation as to why is down at the bottom for those interested. Anyway, on with the review!
The 1978 show, entitled Space Pirate Captain Harlock, was produced by Toei Animation, the people behind the Dragon Ball series, Beast King GoLion (aka Voltron to us in the States,) Sailor Moon, so on and on. The original creator of the franchise is Leiji Matsumoto who also created Space Battleship Yamamoto which is regarded as pretty much THE most important Space Opera anime ever created. As an aside, Matsumoto was also one of the writers for Daft Punks movie Interstellar 5555. Finally the show was directed by Rintaro, who would go on to direct the 2002 Captain Harlock series (more on that later) as well as the 4 episode OVA, Final Fantasy: Legend of the Crystals which I may review sometime in the future.
The 1978 show is about an earth in the year 2977 AD that has become so affluent that an almost world wide laziness and frugality has set in. This is an earth that hasn't had any wars, any sickness, problem no actual problems in centuries. Harlock, having grown sick of this type of humanity, leaves the planet in his space pirate ship, the Arcadia, and gathers his crew from those like him. Together they head off into space and begin living the lives of Errol Flynn esque pirates, only stealing what they need, and only attacking those who they could be morally justified to do so.
The real conflict begins when Earth is struck by a giant black orb which is shortly realized to be a pseudo flag for an alien race that is on it's way to take over the planet. The Arcadia sets off to stop these aliens, and so begins an epic 42 episode series.
Yes 42 episodes. Don't give me that look
Space Pirate Captain Harlock has a decent sized roster of characters and it does a decent job of allowing for them to be actual characters... for the most part. The show has a habit of devoting at least an episode to a few of the more important crew members, to figure out their backstory and how they came to join Harlock. However, after these episodes a few of the characters are put back to their original amount of screentime, even after they were presented as an important character. One of the main cast is actually almost entirely useless in the final 20 or so episodes.
Other times the show just seems to forget where it was going with one of the characters story arcs. The character of Tadaishi Daiba is an example of this.
It's a show from 1978 people, so don't come in expecting anything too terribly impressive. Not to say that it is badly animated because it has some really great animation. However, there are times when they reuse a scene (though thankfully in the entire series it is less then 10 times) and there is a wonderful scene where someone get's shot and they spend nearly 2 minutes of time showing him fall and then hit the ground.
What might probably really throw people off though is that the background crew for the Arcadia are all animated to be about waist height to most of the main cast members. This can be very jarring at the beginning but some of the more important characters are drawn in a similar style so it becomes normal fairly quickly.
Expect to see Harlock just standing there looking cool, a lot.
Course, he pulls it off well so it's not actually a problem.
The music does it's job. Aside from the opening and one or two pieces, nothing is really that memorable. It's preformed by an actual orchestra though, so for those of you who like that then you will probably enjoy this.
SUB VS. DUB
While the show did end up getting dubbed for America, none of the places that this show is available to watch have it. Again, 1978 so I would have been a little hesitant about the dub anyway.
This was a very influential show but like many things termed influential, it does not mean that it is perfect. The show doesn't show it's age all that often, but when it does it is very obvious. It's a show that contains action, intrigue, and interesting characters, but can be slow at times and the ending payoff was lesser than was expected. So I would recommend this to those who enjoy good space battles and pirates but not to those who like adrenaline rushing action.
Pros: Epic main character, Good space battles, Intriguing villainsCons: Supporting cast is a bit underdeveloped, ending might be a little too ambiguous for some people, slight fan-service (yeah, this was really really pointless. Thankfully it only happens twice.)
At this time you can watch Space Pirate Captain Harlock on Hulu and Crunchyroll. No complete series is available but one is due to come out August 27, 2013 and can be bought on Amazon. This is in preparation for the new Captain Harlock movie being released September 7 in Japan.
Other shows or movies you might enjoy: Martian Successor Nadesico, Gundam Wing
Next Review (on September 6): CyberSix
Okay so here is the explanation to why I am not doing a multiple part review. I'm moving back into college next week but at the time of last weeks review this hadn't been decided on what day I would be going specifically. I won't have time to get a review out next week but I will have another one out hopefully the 6th of September. This won't be a continuation of the Captain Harlock franchise though, as the original show, in my personal opinion, is the only series that was of any real merit. Also none of the other series is available on any easy access viewing platform so if your curious then help yourselves in trying to find them, but it won't be on places like Hulu, Netflix, or Crunchyroll.