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Harlock: Space Pirate (a J!-ENT DVD Review)

April 4, 2015 by  



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“Harlock: Space Pirate” is a stylishly, cool looking CG animated film based on one of Japan’s popular anti-hero characters. The problem lies within the viewer who is familiar with the previous stories of Captain Harlock and can watch this film as a different story. While the film compliments the characters, the storyline has no connection to Leiji Matsumo’s original storyline. Still, the film is smartly written, the CG animation looks wonderful and “Harlock: Space Pirate” is a film worth watching!

Image courtesy of © 2013 Leiji Matsumoto/Captain Harlock Film Partners. All Rights Reserved.


DVD TITLE:  Harlock: Space Pirate

YEAR OF MOVIE RELEASE: 2013

DURATION: 111 Minutes

DVD INFORMATION: Widescreen, English and Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1

COMPANY:  Ketchup Entertainment

RATED: NOT RATED

Release Date: March 31, 2015


Based on the manga by Leiji Matsumoto

Directed by Shinji Aramaki

Screenplay by Harutoshi Fukui, Kiyoto Takeuchi

Produced by Joseph Chou, Yoshi Ikezawa, Rei Kudo

Music by Tetsuya Takahashi


Featuring the following voice talent:

Shun Oguri/David Matranga as Captain Harlock

Harama Miura/Adam Gibbs as Yama/Logan

Yu Aoi/Emily Neves as Miime

Miyuki Sawashiro/Jessica Boone as Kei Yuki

Ayano Fukuda as Tori-san

Arata Furuta as Yattaran

Kiyoshi Kobayashi as Roujin

Rob Mungle as Yulian

Toshiyuki Morikawa as Isora

Chikao Ohtsuka as Soukan

Maaya Sakamoto/Rebekah Stevens as Nami

Mike Yager as Ezra


Captain Harlock is the one man standing between the Gaia Coalition and their quest for complete intergalactic rule. Seeking revenge against those who wronged both mankind and himself, the mysterious space pirate roams the universe in his battle-cruiser, the Arcadia, defiantly attacking and pillaging enemy ships. Gaia Fleet leader Ezra sends his younger brother, Logan, to infiltrate the Arcadia and assassinate Harlock. But Logan will soon discover that things are not always what they seem and that legends are born for a reason.

Harlock pushes his loyal crew forward in his death-defying mission to undo the “Nodes of Time” and reverse the Earth to an age when still inhabited by humans. It is the year 2977 and 500 billion displaced humans long to return to the planet they still refer to as home. The rebellious Captain Harlock and his trusted crew are mankind’s only hope of one day righting the Coalition’s wrongs.


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Back in 1977, manga artist Leiji Matsumoto would create the manga series, “Captain Harlock”.

While the storyline of Captain Harlock has changed from the original “Space Pirate Captain Harlock” to the 1982 “The Arcadia of My Youth”.  While there have been numerous Harlock releases, Toei Animation announced a new Harlock movie in 2010 that would feature a CG-remake of Matsumoto’s manga and anime franchise.

The CG animated film would be directed by Shinji Aramaki, best known for his work on series such as “Megazone 23”, “Metal Skin Panic MADOX-01”, “Genesis Survivor Gaiarth”, “Appleseed”, “Appleseed Ex Machina” and many more.

Considered as one of Toei’s second most expensive film, the story would feature a story that reflected themes of modern society written by Harutoshi Fukui.

And in 2013, “Harlock: Space Pirate” premiered in Japan and in April 2015, the DVD release of the film will be available in stores on April 2015 courtesy of Ketchup Entertainment.

The film begins with the explanation that the human race spread across the galaxy establish colonies but the population exploded and resources were exhausted.  Birthrates plummeted and the human race was in decline.

As humans went back to return to Earth, a bloody conflict of who would return to Earth would lead to the “Homecoming War” as the Earth was too small to hold all humans.  Thus a governing body known as “The Gaia Communion” would bring the war to a close and the Earth was made to an “eternal sanctuary” which no one was granted passage.

There was one man who resisted, an immortal space pirate that plundered Federation starships, the most wanted man named Captain Harlock.

As the film would explain why Captain Harlock is the most wanted man, the current story would be about Harlock and his crew taking 100 detonators from the Gaia Community to start over.  But among the crew is Yama (Logan in the English dub), a young man who is working with the Gaia Community who has worked to infiltrate Harlock’s crew trying to helping his older brother Isola (name is Ezra in English dub) of the Gaia fleet in order to take down and assassinate Harlock.

But will Yama want to assassinate Harlock when he learns the truth about why Harlock wants to return to Earth?


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VIDEO:

“Harlock Space Pirate” is presented in widescreen.  As this film would look magnificent in HD, the best we are going to get of this film is on DVD.  So, while the film was released on Blu-ray in Asia, the best we are going to get in terms of picture quality is the best one can expect to see on DVD.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Harlock Space Pirate” comes with an English and Japanese 5.1 soundtrack.  Both soundtracks are well-done and features crystal clear dialogue and music and actions sequences from space battles to weaponry being shot, utilizes the surround channels and LFE.

Subtitles are in English.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Harlock Space Pirate” comes with no special features.


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As a fan of the Captain Harlock anime and also a fan of Leiji Matsumoto’s work, “Arcadia of My Youth” continues to be my favorite Harlock film.

The story of aliens enslaving humanity while Captain Harlock and crew fight back has always been an exciting and fascinating film.  So, in many ways, I was highly anticipating the release of the CG version of “Harlock: Space Pirate”.

Having watched the film twice now, similar to how Captain Harlock’s story has continued to change from series to series, the CG film may share similar characters but the story is quite different.

The story takes a look at not the enslaving of humanity but the threat of humanity growing at an alarming rate, colonizing other planets that are dying and for many, the result is to return back to planet Earth, but realizing that the planet is not big enough to host so many humans and thus led to a war.

Captain Harlock’s character will always be seen as a rogue pirate but in the case of this movie, humanity’s hatred towards Harlock is because his decision to save the planet, he released dark matter in a gamble which did not protect the Earth, it decimated it and killed all life on the planet.

While I don’t want to spoil details of the film, the film would go into how the Arcadia would have some artificial intelligence, it would explain how Harlock would become “immortal” but the film would go into details of why Harlock is returning to the Earth and his true mission.

Standing in his way is a young man who sort of looks like Harlock but his goal is to infiltrate the crew on behalf of his brother and the Gaia Community and assassinate Captain Harlock.

While the film features cool CG and a complex, smartly written storyline, the film maybe of the dismay of long time fans who expected the classic story by Leiji Matsumoto.  And “Harlock Space Pirate”, is not that film.

While those who haven’t watched a Harlock anime series or film or have never read the manga series may enjoy the film much more.  The character design and the way Harlock was created no doubt looks awesome in the film, as with characters such as the alien Nibelung known as Miime and Kei, the overall look and feel of the film is its strongpoint.

The film’s story did not win me over despite enjoying it for its smart writing, I still feel that “Arcadia of My Youth” remains to be the best Captain Harlock film ever made.

While I wish the film was also released on Blu-ray and special features were included, the film looks and sounds good as one can expect on DVD.

Overall, “Harlock: Space Pirate” is a stylishly, cool looking CG animated film based on one of Japan’s popular anti-hero characters.  The problem lies within the viewer who is familiar with the previous stories of Captain Harlock and can watch this film as a different story.  While the film compliments the characters, the storyline has no connection to Leiji Matsumo’s original storyline.

Still, the film is smartly written, the CG animation looks wonderful and “Harlock: Space Pirate” is a film worth watching!

 






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