- HARLOCK TV-
Space Pirate Captain Harlock ("Uchuu Kaizoku Captain Harlock", "Albator") - Broadcasted: 3/14/1978 - 2/13/1979 (42 episodes)
"Space Pirate Captain Harlock" was first proposed by Leiji Matsumoto as a TV series, but it was initially rejected. Being afraid of his idea to be leaking out, Matsumoto quickly turned his idea of Harlock into the comic series in 1977. Later, the success of "Yamato" made Matsumoto's work very popular, and the first TV series was produced and broadcasted in Japan in Spring of 1978. Harlock, who is a space pirate expelled from the Earth, is the first to identify the danger approaching earth by the plant-based female-form alien called Mazone, and fights to save the Earth. I personally call the first series as "Mazone Series". The original comic series was never actually completed; however, the TV series pretty much took after the plot of the comic series and most of the mysteries found in the original comic were resolved in the TV episodes. At the end of the TV series, he fights a duel with the Queen of Mazone, and wins back earth. He lets all of his crews off of his ship down to the Earth except for Mime, and takes off to an another unknown journey.
Especially in TV series, Harlock stands out a lot more as a "star" kind of character, and all other characters somewhat appear as his sidekicks, a lot more so than the original comic. I personally do not like that. Even side characters do have brains, you know. "Space Pirate Captain Harlock" TV version also had two main original characters not found in the comic, Kirita and Mayu. Kirita was a chief officer of the Earth's defense force, who is an another antagonist to Harlock. Matsumoto mentioned in an interview that he does not like such "chief" kind of characters, and he resented to have him in the series. Another original character, Mayu, who was supposed to be a daughter of Tochiro and Emeraldas. TV demanded to create Mayu "to reach out for younger audience". Mayu especially caused ever-lasting controversy among Japanese Harlock fans even to this day, since many fans feel that the presence of Mayu obscured and altered the main theme of the story, as well as the true nature of Harlock's battles and reasons to save earth. Leiji Matsumoto himself did not like the idea very well, and he resisted until the very last minute to have Mayu as a boy character instead of a girl. Apparently, he lost and Mayu was made.
Despite of the success of this first TV Harlock series, Matsumoto resented all the regulations and restraints in making TV series. He particularly disliked the fact that the Harlock's image somewhat became altered from what Matsumoto intended him to be. Because of that, when the movie "Galaxy Express 999" was made, Matsumoto did an especially careful job to bring Harlock back with his original personality. Matsumoto makes the clear statement that the Harlock's character in TV series and in "Galaxy Express 999" movies are completely different.
Endless Orbit SSX ("Mugen Kido SSX", "Albator 84") - Broadcasted: 10/13/1982 - 3/30/1983 (22 episodes)
Endless Orbit SSX was produced and broadcasted in 1984 after the movie "Arcadia of My Youth"' was released. The story is the continuation of the movie plot, and Tochiro, Emeraldas, LaMime stays in the TV series from the movie as well as all other new characters. Harlock is identified as a criminal from Illumidus with the code number S-00999, Tochiro with the number S-00998, and Emeraldas with the number X-00001, thus "SSX" in the title. Harlock and Tochiro escape from Earth and take off the journey to search for the utopian planet "Arcadia". I am very partial to this "SSX Series", because I feel that having all other just-as-equally-important characters creates more realistic human relationships intervened among characters including Harlock himself, rather than having Harlock as a star, like in the first series. Having a lot more "guest characters" in many of its episodes also creates less-simplistic plot compared to the first TV series. Of course the story is geared toward young audience just as much as the first series, but I can't ignore the overall better quality artwork either.
Unfortunately, Endless Orbit SSX did not gain as much popularity, partially due to the very popular Rumiko Takahashi's "Urusei Yatsura" TV series running on the same hour, and its' broadcast was cut off at the half of the planned period. After the big flop of Endless Orbit SSX TV series, the Matsumoto anime "boom" era was virtually over, and kids were more geared toward rather light-hearted comedy anime. They initially planned to make a Queen Emeraldas movie soon after this, but due to the unsuccessful financial outcome of the SSX TV series, the Emeraldas movie plan has dissappeared. Matsumoto had a plot in his mind to have this Endless Orbit SSX as a big conclusion to his universe which combines his several other creations; for example, Maetel from Galaxy Express 999 was supposed to appear later in the series (as a code number X-0999), but it never actually took place in the series because of the cut-off.
Cosmo Warrior Zero Broadcasted: 7/6/2001-9/21/2001 (13 episodes)
This series was initially created for a PlayStation game in 2000, then got turned into anime series in 2001. The game then converted into PC game in 2002. Both PlatyStation and PC games are still available from Amazon Japan, but I have never played it.
In the end of 30th century, the earth was taken over machine people. Relatively young Harlock would not stay under control over machine people, so he left earth to explorer the space. His behavior was unacceptable by machine people, therefore he is hunted down. They assigned the task to captain Warrious Zero, a former commander of Earthian fleet. With mixed crew of earthian and machine people, the battleship takes off earth to hunt for young Harlock, a captain of battlechip Deathshadow...
This story is set on the again another totally parallel world...it does not really fit in any other movies or old TV episodes, so you have to take it as another original story. Captain Zero is the main character, however, as you can imagine, Harlock, Tochiro, "Lady" Emeraldas, even Maetel (although her outfit is blue, which supposed to stands for sadness...color of her outfit started as white, and blue in this series, and eventually supposed to turn black as a expression of ultimate sorrow in other serires) shows up as important characters. But forget Mazone, forget Illumidus, they are now fighting against machine people. So hang in there buddy, it can get really confusing if you try to make any sense out of this series in conjunction with any others. I have given up long time ago...
Hunt for Young Harlock: Cosmo Warrior Zero Extra (OVA) Released: 7/5/2002 (2 episodes)
OK, this is OVA, not TV series. But I added this one here since it's the extra expisode for Cosmo Warrior Zero TV series... The main plot of this little OVA clip outlines how Zero and Harlock, who used to be a mortal enemies, ended up became lifetime friends. This of course includes Tochiro and Emeraldas. The way my friends explained some of the scenes to me, it even sounds like a comedy although obviously it wasn't intended to be. For instance, in Tochiro's tiny safehouse, Emeraldas is folding laundry, a. k. a. Tochiro's underwear. When they are attacked there, Harlock removes a toilet and jumps into the hole underneath and jumps right out of the closet with underwear still hunging on his head, and start shooting enemies. Are those details really neccessary...?
Gun Frontier: Released: 7/5/2002 (2 episodes)
This is also another totally paralleled world, which is set on Western movie setting and time line. Japanese swordman Tochiro, a gun slinger Harlock, and a mysterious lady Sinunora roams around to search for an extinct race: Japanese. Lots of horses, guns & smokes. This is actually based on Matsumoto's original comic series "Gun Frontier". If you have ever had a chance to read his original comic series, you would know, eh, this series contains quite "adulty" contents, which means every single episode contained quite sexually explicit scenes. Fortunately (or unfortunately for some audience), TV version of it avoids sex scenes although there are lots of naked woman's bodies showing. I must say I am not a very big fan of the original manga because of the way most female characters are portrayed. In this series the main guy is Tochiro and Harlock is more or less his sidekick.
Space Pirate Captain Herlock ~Endless Odyssey~ : Broadcasted: 10/7/2003-12/21/2003 (13 episodes)
OK, here we go. So this is really designed to be the true sequel of the original TV series "Space Pirate Captain Harlock" from 1978. However! Tadashi Daiba is "starting over" again. That's ok, we see that all the time in Matsumoto world. I can certainly live with that. Long after Mazone are gone, Harlock and his crew eventually retired, and became a legend...until the new enemy appeared.
The first time I watched it when it came out in U.S. back in 2006, honestly I didn't care for it much. But I have recently re-watched it and somehow I gained a total new appreciation for this series. So I am totally ditching my old review and re-writing it entirely, as of 2012.
Here is my criticism from 2006: "Well...where to start. First of all, this series seriously lacked energy overall. All the artworks looked dark (which we don't mind in most cases). Most voice actors talked rather too softly (Dr. Zero's strangely weak voice was the worst of all). Harlock still looks young but acts like 100-year-old man (felt like that to me anyway). And worst of all...where is the message? Where is the vision? If you were like me and watched the entire series with big expectation, I am sure you were hit with many big "?" marks. What was that ending all about?? I really did not understand what anime creators were trying to tell the audience in this series. Usually most anime series contain certain level of theme, good or bad. But in this case, I could not read any from it. The story was that dead. And it appeared that they ended up giving up on giving any meaning to this series at the end. As much as I loved the artwork on this series, it would be hard for me to go back and watch the entire series again, since the mood was so dead and dull. I wonder it was just a representative of how some of the original staffs aged (Taro Rin, for example)."
Now I am re-watching it, what do I think? This is THE BEST Harlock product EVER!!! Basically what they did was to portray Harlock just as is from Leiji Matsumoto's original manga series, and I can't emphasize how much success they accompolish on doing that, whether I may or may not like it. First of all, the overall darkness of the series. If you go back and turn the pages of the original Matsumoto Leiji Captain Harlock comic, you do realize the very dark tone out of the manga. After all, this is a story that takes place in space, and most of the time in the pirate's battleship. So most of the story takes place in the dark... And many of the Leiji Matsumoto's world is based on the "loser's world" where most people has no hopes or future left to live for. But Leiji's selected characters always survive with the will of an iron, despite of the world going down. The animation staff knew what they were doing.
Another thing that used to bother me was how they portrayed Tadashi Daiba. I was so used to Tadashi being...well, basically a teacher's pet, more like pirate's pet in this case, who always looks up Harlock and try to learn his ways of living. However, the animation staff did not want that out of "this" Tadashi. They did not want this Tadashi to turn into mini-Harlock. That's why he NEVER calls Harlock "Captain" nor uses respectable language to Harlock; he merely talks to him as his equal. This used to bug me before but now I can accept it as is. This Tadashi is not going to follow Harlock's footsteps; he is going to venture out in his own way to become his own man, and Harlock is nothing more than a guy that he met in his early life. The sudden ending totally symbolize that... You don't need to see whether they shot or did not shoot (though the ending roll suggested neither died), nor how they reconciled etc., they met and they parted, nothing more and no more needed to be mentioned.
As you see, the anime staff were very serious about putting all of their efforts and power to create Harlock as they believed, and I have grown totally new respect for that. The staff members, including director Taro Rin (director of the first Harlock series and Galaxy Express movies etc etc), and character designer Nobuteru Yuuki, poured in all they got, love and passion for Harlock and the ship Arcadia, into this series. I could tell they must argued a lot in how to draw out every little details. I even read some online interview by Nobuteru Yuuki about how hard it was to re-create the unique way of Harlock's walking (slow and his back shoulders moves from side-to-side), and they ended up only putting it in certain spots but not all of his walkings etc. And need I say more about the massive presence of Arcadia and how it came to life? In the interview director Taro Rin emphasized "mature" but this Harlock is totally that, not having to mind kids as a targeted audience, they were finally able to draw out "True Harlock". Sure Harlock is very unreasonable and seemingly selfish as times, but after all, isn't it all part of "This is the TRUE MAN" concept that Matsumoto always tried to deliver to us fans? After all, after losing Tochiro Harlock supposedly lost a purpose in life and keeps drifting from space to space to look for a place to die. He just happens to "remove" whoever get on his way, but it's never the main puporse in his life anyways. He is supposed to be a man with the lost souls, and this series draws it out very nicely.
Space Symphony Maetel: (13 episodes) - Broadcasted: 8/2004~11/2004
This is pre-Arcadia era; Harlock and Tochiro are space pirates riding spaceship DeathShadow, fighting against Queen Promesium of planet La Metal, to stop machine empire to take over the entire universe. As Maetel Legend, this series is supposed to link from Queen Millenia to Galaxy Express 999. Tochiro is mightly healthy and kicking, and Harlock has both eyeballs. Again this does not work with the setting from My Youth with Arcadia etc. but hey you now the drill by now. This Harlock is a lot more light-hearted (probably due to the Tochiro's presence). Somehow from this series I sensed a hint that Harlock and Maetel may like each other, but this was only a hint. Tochiro, in the other hand, did not even hide his feelings toward Emeraldas. In the end of the series, Harlock and Tochiro keeps sailing off, parted from Maetel and Emeraldas, so no love interests really grow there, the end. Of course the main hero in this series is Nazca, Tetsuro-like young boy, and Harlock doesn't have the same charisma that he later has. Of course when Harlock is with Tochiro, Tochiro always outshines Harlock...not that I mind nowadays.
~ Outside of Japan ~
Captain Harlock is probably the most well-known work by Leiji Matsumoto outside of Japan.
In USA, the English-dubbed version of "Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Queen of Thousand Years" was broadcasted. Apparently, it was a mix of footage from both Captain Harlock and Queen Millennia with lots of alteration.
But here is the list of English titles.
(thanks to Mike Garone)
In Latin America, he was called "Capitan Raymar" and Mazones in Spanish were called "balusianas". (Thanks gardy!)
The dubbed version of first TV series was broadcasted as "Albator" in France and Canada ("Albator" is Harolck's French name!), and the second TV series was broadcasted as "Albator 84", however, 3 last episodes in first TV series were never shown. The movie "Arcadia of My Youth" was divided into 4 parts, and they were added on to the "Albator 84" ("Endless Orbit SSX") TV series as 4 episodes (pretty clever, I would say). From what I hear, Harlock made a big hit in France (many women in their 20's have fell in love with Harlock when they were young), and everybody remembers "Albator" as it was integrated into the French culture. Neat! :-)
Harlock TV series was also broadcasted in Italy by RAI (Italian State TV) 20 years ago. The ending song of Captain Harlock wasplayed by a band named Oliver Onions, which made a big hit at that time. The song is still considered one of the best cartoon songs, and it is played at late night disco-schene; apparently, the song has the dancing tune to it. (Thanks, davide!)
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Disclaimer: Copyrights of Captain Harlock, Queen Emeraldas, and Galaxy Express 999 belong to Leiji Matsumoto and Toei Enterprise, Inc. This site is created for purpose of personal leisure only. Any copying or use of any materials in this site shall not be allowed without my written permission.