Captain Harlock (TV) is a ★★★★☆︱Space Renegades VS Corrupt Government

“I fight for no one’s sake, only for something deep in my heart.”

Captain Harlock

“Uchū Kaizoku Captain Harlock” is less of a fantastical space adventure like “Galaxy Express 999” — and more of a grounded, political space drama that holds no bars with its direct message of fighting corruption. Captain Harlock and his motley team of disenfranchised space denizens take on  Earth’s oppressors! This series is very shrewdly written and wise — it is a romanticist’s view on how to make the world right again after a liberation movement, and it is an ever-applicable statement to our current times!

⚠️ This review will contain light spoilers ⚠️


Synopsis: It is 2977 AD and mankind has become stagnant. Robots do all the work, the masses are kept tranquil by subliminal messages, and government officials are lazy, caring only about recreational activities like golf and horse racing. Captain Harlock has defied this insipid mentality, leading a group of like-minded rebels to a more adventurous life aboard the spaceship Arcadia. A mysterious force known as the Mazone has invaded the Earth, taking the form of mysterious cloaked women that kill anyone who suspect their nefarious doings, such as Tadashi Daiba who is now on their hit-list. After his scientist father is ignored by the government and killed by the Mazone, he joins Captain Harlock and his ragtag group of pirates to assist them as they try to save humanity from the impending alien threat.

According to Leiji Matsumoto, he “was never a stickler for continuity” — so, the 1978 anime adaptation of Captain Harlock takes place within the same reality as the “Mystery of Arcadia” film. I find the invasion and incumbent oppression forced upon the earthlings by the Mazone to be eerily similar to a future that all of us might be gravitating towards, you see, the people of earth in the “Captain Harlock” anime are lackadaisical and have robots doing all of their work for them, so when a totalitarian regime sets in, there is no human will to stop it from happening… isn’t that what social media and technological advancements have become for many of us?

All of the crew of the Arcadia gather together under their collective strengths: Kei Yuki, Tadashi Daiba, Tochiro Oyama, Doctor Zero, ※Mayu Ōyama, Yatteran, and Chief Engineer Maji — live against the system and are able to cohabitate in their own little, utopian microcosm. They live under the flag of righteousness and don’t have allegiance to anyone, other than to each other and the outcasts of society. It’s difficult to imagine a rebel faction like theirs working so harmonically in real life, but quixotic legion of do-gooder pirates is part of Leiji Matsumoto’s dream of something that could only ever exist in fiction. But, a beautiful dream to have, nonetheless.

※ Note: I won’t give anything away about what happens, but Mayu’s backstory is a real tearjerker. Think Chroniko (“Kaiba”) levels of sadness!

Harlock and Miime’s relationship is something that I heavily ship, even though all they do is drink and Harlock listens to her play her harp. I’m pretty sure that Edmund Dantes and Haydée in ※”Gankutsuō” were loosely based off of these two! Miime and Haydée even have the similar backstory of being saved by their aforementioned male counterpart, and therefore, dedicating their life to them!

※ Note: Yes, I have read the original novel for “The Count of Monte Cristo” so, I know that Haydée has a similar role in the classic, book version, too! Though, it wasn’t conveyed as being to the level of “Harlockian” as it is in the anime adaptation.

Matsumoto’s construction of “Captain Harlock” was said in an interview to be a rebuilding of valor that was lost during the second World War. Harlock is chivalrous to all woman, fair to all of his enemies, and a safe haven to those who have been abused and forgotten by their venal society. As Panglossian as such a person may be, something that is far from mortal capability — like the immutable kindness of Kenzō Tenma in Naoki Urasawa’s “Monster” — we can all ascribe to be more like Harlock: a flowering ideal, inconceivably honorable, and a companion to the weak of heart.


Luna’s Favorite Works by Each Respective Creator = ✅

Rintaro (director), notable works:

  • 48×61
  • Deimos no Hanayome: Ran no Kumikyoku (“Bride of Deimos”) ✅
  • Down Load: Namu Amida Butsu wa Ai no Uta (“Download: Devil’s Circuit”)
  • Final Fantasy
  • Ganbare Genki
  • Genma Taisen
  • Ginga Tetsudō 999 (Movie)
  • Hi no Tori: Hōō-hen (“Phoenix: Karma Chapter”) ✅
  • Hi no Tori: Uchū-hen (“Phoenix: Space Chapter”) ✅
  • Hi no Tori: Yamato-hen (“Phoenix: Yamato Chapter”) ✅
  • Hoshi no Ko Chobin
  • Jetter Mars
  • Jungle Taitei
  • Jungle Taitei (1989)
  • Jungle Taitei (Movie)
  • Kamui no Ken
  • Kaze no Matasaburō
  • Kujakuō
  • Lupin VIII
  • Manie-Manie: Meikyū Monogatari (“Neo Tokyo”)
  • Metropolis ✅
  • Mūmin
  • Osamu to Musashi
  • Sabu to Ichi Torimono Hikae
  • Sayonara Ginga Tetsudō 999: Andromeda Shūchakueki
  • Shin Kujakuō (“Spirit Warrior”)
  • Teito Mongatari (“Doomed Megalopolis”)
  • Tetsuwan Atom: Uchū no Yūsha (“Astro Boy: The Brave in Space”)
  • Tezuka Osamu Monogatari: Boku wa Son Gokū (“The Tale of Osamu Tezuka: I’m Son Goku”)
  • Uchū Kaizoku Captain Herlock: Arcadia-gō no Nazo (“Space Pirate Captain Harlock: Riddle of the Arcadia Episode”)
  • Wagahai wa Neko de Aru (“I Am a Cat”)
  • Wanpaku Ōmukashi Kum Kum
  • Wanpaku Tanteidan (“Boy’s Detective Team”)
  • X Densha de Ikō (“Take the X Train”) ✅
  • X/1999 ✅
  • X² Double X
  • Yona Yona Penguin

Commentary: Rintaro’s discography is very hit-or-miss for me, I thought works like X Densha de Ikō (“Take the X Train”) and Deimos no Hanayome: Ran no Kumikyoku (“Bride of Deimos”),  and there were productions of his that I didn’t like so much, like, Teito Mongatari (“Doomed Megalopolis”) and Down Load: Namu Amida Butsu wa Ai no Uta (“Download: Devil’s Circuit”). Though, out of the assortment of mixed bag hits, the “Uchū Kaizoku Captain Harlock” anime adaptation takes the cake! Slow-paced meditative scenes, thoughtful character moments, and intense action sequences; Rintaro is a visionary director that deserves all of the accolades and praise that he gets, even if some of his works exist — just for the sake of existing!

Extra: The swelling operatic score in the anime was performed by non other than the Tokyo Philharmonic Orchestra!

Good Seiyū Work = ✅

Really Enjoyed the Seiyū’s Performance = ✅ ✅

One of Luna’s Favorite Performances OF ALL TIME = ✅ ✅ ✅

Makio Inōe as Captain Harlock (or Herlock), notable roles:

  • William Albert Adley, Candy Candy ✅
  • Hideki Horiguchi, Ganbare Genki
  • Ryū, Genshi Shōnen Ryū
  • Phoenix, Honey Honey no Suteki na Bōken
  • Goemon Ishikawa XIII, Lupin III (series) — in all of the older “Lupin III” series, save for season one; Mr. Inōe passed away in 2019 and the role has been reprised by Daisuke Namikawa ✅ ✅ ✅
  • Slegger Law, Mobile Suit Gundam — Tessyo Genda was the original voice in the TV version ✅

Commentary: Mr. Inōe is more predominantly known for being the most famous iteration of Goemon Ishikawa XIII in the “Lupin III” franchise, and his performance as Harlock isn’t much different. A powerful presence with a strong, stoic sense of righteousness — this enigma rings clearly, like the peal of bell. Unfortunately, Mr. Inōe passed away in 2019, but his strong timber still echos the voices of the oppressed lower caste, that his characters respectively sought to defend. Incredible job with the character, rest in peace!

Noriko Ohara as Miime (“Mimay”), notable roles:

  • Sindbad, Arabian Nights: Sindbad no Bōken (TV)
  • Hiyoshi Gō, Chō Denji Machine Voltes V
  • Nobita Nobi, Doraemon (1979) — voiced Nobita until Doraemon (2005), the role was reprised by Megumi Ōhara ✅ ✅ ✅
  • Serge Battour, Kaze to Ki no Uta Sanctus: Sei Naru Kana ✅ ✅ ✅
  • Emmanuelle Poirot, Lupin III: Part II ✅ ✅ ✅
  • Claudia La Salle, Macross ✅ ✅ ✅
  • Sebastian, Meiken Jolie
  • Conan, Mirai Shōnen Conan
  • Majo, Time Bokan
  • Doronjo, Majo, Atasha, Mirenjo, Mun-Mun, and Mūjo — Time Bokan: Revival 
  • Shira Etō, Tokimeki Tonight ✅ ✅ ✅
  • Oyuki, Urusei Yatsura ✅ ✅ ✅
  • Wansa, Wansa-kun

Commentary: Noriko Ohara has an absolutely lovely voice; it’s weird because I originally heard her as Nobita in “Doraemon” (who is a little boy, if you haven’t watched it), but all of her female roles exude an aura of utter pulchritudinous-ness! For example, Emmanuelle Poirot (“Lupin III: Part II”) plays a very minor role, but my image of her is very crisp and clear — I watched the series in its entirety a few years back, but I still have fond memories of watching that character interact with Lupin! Her presence is a very subtle, but beautiful one! Ms. Ohara is a one-of-a-kind performer! And that is why Miime is best girl, among other various reasons!

Chiyoko Kawashima as Kei Yuki and Mayu Ōyama, notable roles:

  • Jimsa, Andromeda Stories
  • Setsuna Meiō (“Sailor Pluto”), Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon (series) —  Ai Maeda has reprised the role ✅ ✅ ✅
  • Tony, Tera e…
  • Hikaru Makiba, UFO Robo Grendizer

Commentary: I have only seen Ms. Kawashima as Setsuna Meiō in “Sailor Moon” — while I’m writing this, I have seen the Terra e… TV series, but not the original OVA, so I cannot comment on any of her other performances. As Kei Yuki, she’s a side character, but when she is shown, she’s very likable and sweet. Great job!

Akira Kamiya as Tadashi Daiba, notable roles:

  • Lane Tadatos, 11-nin Iru! ✅
  • Athos, Anime Sanjūshi (“The Three Musketeers”)
  • Kō’ichi Yamano, Babel Nisei
  • Kyusaku Natsume, Bannō Bunka Neko-Musume (series)
  • Sō’ichi Tomoe, Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon S ✅✅
  • Mamoru Daichi, Chikyū Bōei Kazoku
  • Chirin, Chirin no Suzu ✅✅
  • Ryō Saeba, City Hunter (series) ✅✅
  • Sanshirō Tsuwabuki, Daikū Maryū Gaiking
  • Kogorō Mōri, Detective Conan — Rikiya Koyama has reprised the role ✅✅✅
  • Doctor Chichibuyama, Doctor Chichibuyama
  • John Kyosuke Hiba, Dog Solider
  • Garlic Junior, Dragon Ball Z Movie 01: Ora no Gohan wo Kaese!! — stand-in for Shigeru Chiba
  • Muscat Tyler, Elf 17
  • King Arthur, Entaku no Kishi Monogatari: Moero Arthur
  • Jimmy Orion, Gasshin Sentai Mechander Robo
  • Ryōma Nagare, Getter Robo (series) —  Hideo Ishikawa has reprised the role for the newer series, i.e. Shin Getter Robo and Change!! Getter Robo: Sekai Saigo no Hi
  • Gai Daido, Getter Robo Go
  • Elizabeth, Gintama Movie 2: Kanketsu-hen (Yorozuya yo Eien Nare) — stand-in for Shinji Takamatsu
  • Roi Kuran, Haja Taisei Dangaiō
  • Makimura, Hi no Tori: Uchū-hen (“Phoenix: Space Chapter”) ✅✅
  • Kenshirō, Hokuto no Ken — the role has been reprised by Hiro Shimono, Takehito Koyasu, and Katsuyuki Konishi ✅✅✅
  • Shizune Mejiro, Igano Kabamaru
  • Zorori, Kaiketsu Zorori: Mahōtsukai no Deshi
  • Suguru Kinniku, Kinnikuman (series) — Toshio Furukawa has reprised the role
  • Isamu, Kōya no Shōnen Isamu
  • Akira Tosaka, Kyūkyoku Chōjin R
  • Ashram, Legend of Crystania and Lodoss-tō Senki ✅✅
  • Roy Focker, Macross ✅✅
  • Shun Mitaka, Maison Ikkoku ✅✅
  • Claude, Mirai Keisatsu Urashiman
  • King Arthur, Moero Arthur: Hakuba no Ōji
  • Nyarome, Mōretsu Atarō (1990)
  • Que, Mujigen Hunter Fandora ✅
  • Kiro, Nayuta ✅✅
  • Indra, Otaku no Seiza
  • Nao, Outlanders ✅
  • Siegfried Dubhe and Algol Perseus, Saint Seiya ✅✅
  • Lord Calvert, Slayers Gorgeous
  • Kyōichirō Jin, Sukeban Deka ✅✅
  • Seki Ray Shiroe, Terra e…
  • Dandan, Time Travel Tondekeman!
  • Kazuya Ryuzaki, Tōshō Daimos
  • Shutarō Mendō, Urusei Yatsura ✅✅✅
  • Takuma Ichimonji, Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace
  • Shinnosuke Kazamatsuri, Yawara
  • Akira Hibiki, Yūsha Raideen
  • Shin Fubuki, Zero Tester

Commentary: Akira Kamiya is a very iconic voice in the industry, from his role of Kenshirō in the original “Fist of the North Star” to his defining role as the original voice of Detective Conan’s alcoholic, womanizing Dad (“Kogorō Mōri”)! Personally, my favorite role of his has been Shutarō Mendō (“Urusei Yatsura”), that character had a lot of flaws and issues, but Mr. Kamiya was able to convey them naturally and with a comedic cadence, that fit in with the show’s milieu. In “Uchū Kaizoku Captain Harlock” — his character stands out less than some of the rest, but is able to come across as believable teenage boy, that is suffering through trials of war and hardship! Very talented seiyū, wonderful work in this series!

Rihoko Yoshida as Emeraldes, notable roles:

  • Queen Badiane, Bishōjo Senshi Sailor Moon SuperS: Sailor 9 Senshi Shūketsu! Black Dream Hole no Kiseki (“Sailor Moon SuperS the Movie: Black Dream Hole”) ✅✅
  • Teto, Kaze no Tani no Nausicaä ✅✅✅
  • Miwa Uzuki, Kōtetsu Jeeg
  • Machiko Mai, Maicching Machiko-sensei (“Miss Machiko”) ✅
  • Megu Kanzaki, Majokko Megu-chan (“Little Meg the Witch Girl”)
  • Tickle Komori, Majokko Tickle
  • Mirai, Mama wa Shōgaku 4 Nensei
  • Monsley, Mirai Shōnen Conan
  • Maria Grace Fleed, UFO Robo Grendizer
  • Kurama, Urusei Yatsura ✅✅✅
  • Rosalie Lamorlière, Rose of Versailles ✅✅
  • Lisa, Wakusei Robo Danguard Ace

Commentary: Ms. Yoshida has a very husky, mature woman type of voice — this type of casting choice is exemplified best in her roles as Queen Badian (“Sailor Moon SuperS the Movie: Black Dream Hole”) and as Kurama (“Urusei Yatsura”). Queen Emeraldas is a tough, ice queen like some of Ms. Yoshida’s other prolific roles! She has a very commanding presence and has a very distinct voice, to the point, that when I first watched “Maetel Legend” — Atsuko Enomoto’s portrayal of the character didn’t originally register with me! Talented seiyū, it’s a shame that she choose to retire in 1998!

There are not long-running television anime series that can pull off such a tight ending. I personally preferred “Galaxy Express 999” to the “Uchū Kaizoku Captain Harlock” series, but the latter had a much more satisfying conclusion. Leiji Matsumoto’s “Harlock” saga will continue to have an important place in the annals of Japanese animation’s history, because its brave and unabashed take on standing up to tyranny! “Uchū Kaizoku Captain Harlock” earns a 7/10 ranking and a place among the must-see anime classics!

Rating: ★★★★☆

Published by eggheadluna

H.E. Rodgers is the author of the Juniper's Tree series, also known as the 真柏Project. MyAnimeList: Twitter: #真柏Project #JunipersTree

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