A CGI remake of the original Captain Harlock series.
Captain Harlock rebelled against the Allied Forces and has been plundering space ships for one hundred years. Why did he rebel? How does he survive for one hundred years? With awe and fear of the legendary captain, the Allied Forces issues an order to assassinate Harlock.
I'm lucky enough to have seen this in the theater last night, so I thought I'd add my thoughts after seeing it!
I've been looking forward to Captain Harlock being released because the animation looked amazing. I have to say, it did not disappoint. I was blown away by the CGI! It was beautiful. I can't even imagine how much time they spent on this, but I hope it's done well in theaters here. Major props to the animations team.
I've never seen the original series and went into the film knowing next to nothing about the plot. I think the story was a bit lacking and perhaps a bit preditable (as were many of the characters). BUT I still really enjoyed it and would highly recommend it. If for no other reason, see it for the animation!read more
Going into this film, I had no prior knowledge of the source material or previous adaptations of Captain Harlock. Though reading the synopsis and watching some of its trailers, I could see a lot of time and money went into its production. And it didn't disappoint in that regard. It looked fucking amazing!
Characters and Plot development. (6). I must say the biggest gripe I had with this movie was the fact that most of the MCs (Yama and Ezra especially) aren't really likable nor have audience investment to their agendas. They sort of just "fill" their roles rather than own their on-screen moments, its a bit like they were given identities but never explored nor captured the emotion and character of their identity. It was left up to the likes of Captain Harlock and first mate Yattaran to deliver the solid performances and flesh out their identity. The plot and ethos was very interesting and at times inspiring but I felt as though the pace was rather slow in conveying the story which left much of the movie underwhelming at times until something happened. Although to contrast this slow pace, when the action kicked in (whilst looking fucking amazing! - yes i said it before) it certainly lifted emotion and developed a very enjoyable atmosphere to watch, Just needed a better balance in pace and character interactions to give an invested attachment to the plot and story unfolding.
Art, Sound and Action. (9.5) Wow, awesome, amazing, beautiful or holy smokes batman! The production level in detail of the animation is incredible and really makes this feature an eyegasmic joy. The action and art seamlessly work together. Sound is the only small adjustment that could have made this section better (to be perfect) and that is the suspense. There were plenty of decent themes portrayed but again the contrast between the highs and lows didn't really connect well together. Still its only a small botch on an otherwise awesome production.
One small side topic I'd like to point out and this isn't really a spoiler but more of a "window shattering moment" but it seemed to me a lot of the time that the animation of mouth movement during speech was out of sync. It's kinda of annoying when you pick it up and they give you plenty of opportunities to notice this flaw. A slight distraction to consider, it doesn't hurt the movie but just annoys the shit out of me. (Not sure if you, the reader, will have the same reaction - to each their own i suppose) It's noticeable in both the dub and sub, btw both are great so you're not missing out by watching the dub.
This film is blockbuster entertainment for its production value alone. Beautiful action scenes and character designs for the making of an epic tale. Sadly, the characters and plot can't compete with it. I had a lot of eyegasms during this movie and their are plenty of memorable moments to enjoy. I just wish it fleshed out the characters a bit more (especially Ezra and Yama) and pushed the plot a little quicker so we could admire more of its beauty!read more
Captain Harlock is one of the most endearing figures in all of anime. Since the original Space Pirate Captain Harlock series premiered in 1979, the character has been in numerous spin-offs and re-iterations throughout the proceeding decades; each in a different continuity with the only commonality being a few key characters and the space-opera setting (sans Gun Frontier, which is a western). The latest reimagining is 2013 CGI animated action spectacle directed by Shinji Aramaki of Appleseed fame. It's a grand-scale sweeping space epic with big themes and bravado to match, attached to a somewhat convoluted sci-fi plot. In other words, it is a movie that is faithful to the spirit of the original, and a worthy addition to the franchise.
Following in the traditions of its predecessors, this movie has its own variation of the setting and characters. It is set in a future in which mankind abandoned Earth because it could no longer sustain the population, only to return to it after finding no refuge in space, and engaging in an internal power struggle for control of their home planet called the Home Coming War. After the war, the authoritarian Gaia Sanction is formed and declares Earth sacred ground, forbidden to humanity. The only resistance towards this is the seemingly ageless space pirate Captain Harlock, who rebels against the Gaia Sanction for the next hundred years before the main story begins. This is all explained in a long montage before the title credits, which gives us an idea of how grandiose this movie intends to be, for better or worse. It also sets up Harlock to be an almost mythical figure, which works two-fold: giving the title character significant presence, and reminding us (the viewer) of the franchise's legacy.
The story itself mainly follows Yama, a Gaia Sanction soldier who infiltrates the ranks of Halock's crew (and designated audience surrogate), as he tries to bring Harlock's defiant actions to an end. Well, at least that is what he tries to do at first. The movie goes from one big set-piece to the next, with stretches of explanation and plot development in-between. Flashbacks are used to disclose Yama's backstory, Harlock's past, and the world changing events of the Home Coming War which are not shown in the opening montage. To be honest, the storytelling here is kind of clunky; it is paced in such a way that sometimes the movie feels like it is just pushing its way to the next action blowout. That said, it never really becomes boring or tedious, as big twists and revelations are aplenty, and the action set-pieces payoff in a big way.
The plot itself is backed by themes born from modern ecological anxieties, a fact which the movie makes very apparent. Mankind's abandonment of Earth is a blatantly obvious address to modern issues concerning overpopulation. The movie's fixation on the survival of a flower illustrates both the endurance and fragility of nature. Another theme is mankind's tendency to destroy the things it values through anger or envy. This can be seen in the only vaguely explored love-triangle between Yama, his brother Erza, and the girl for which they both have feelings; needless to say it takes a tragic turn. The theme can also be seen in Harlocks's past and the shocking truth behind the end of the Home Coming War. The endurance of hope and freedom in the face of such dispiriting factors has always been at the core of the franchise, and that is as true for this movie as it is for any other iteration; though Harlock's role as the personification of such hope and freedom is slightly subverted by the movie's big twist.
The direction concerning the movie's aesthetics is simply phenomenal. Shinji Aramaki made his name on his CGI work in Appleseed, and continues to display exceptional CGI artwork and rendering in this movie. Leiji Matsumoto's characters transition extraordinarily well to 3-D animation, and are very faithful as far as Captain Harlock and pirate girl Kei Yuki are concerned. Some liberties are taken: Harlock's alien advisor/drinking-buddy Miime looks more humanoid than her original counterpart, and Harlock's first mate Yattaran is almost completely different from his original appearance (and personality). Yama looks suspiciously similar to the original series' audience surrogate, Tadashi Daiba, too. Harlock's iconic pirate spaceship, the Arcadia, looks absolutely intimidating with its GGI make-over. The action sequences are a marvel to behold. The large-scale space battles and showboating melee fights are gorgeously well animated and, more importantly, exciting. Aramaki handles the action with gusto; letting them brim with a frenetic energy which fully engages the audience, while also juggling the multiple battles flawlessly. If nothing else, this movie is a testament to Aramaki's talent as a top-notch action director.
Unfortunately, his talents don't carry over into the movie's action-less dramatic scenes. Aramaki might direct a mean battle sequence, but his handling of drama leaves a lot to be desired. Many of the flashbacks and revelations come off as rather dry. They are visually stimulating, certainly, but are also emotionally distant. The scenes simply don't communicate the characters' emotions to the audience, or at least not as strongly as they should. You watch the scene unfold, but you don't feel the emotions that the characters are experiencing. Not helping matters is the fact that most of these characters are underwritten; plot and theme has always taken precedence over character depth in this franchise. The one exception being Captain Harlock himself, who is fascinating in his ideology (and always has been), and has an aura of myth and mystery surrounding him. While his backstory here removes some of the mystery, he is no less mythical from it. What this all means is that the movie's drama works on a thematic level, but far less so on an emotional level.
In the end, this movie is an admirable addition to the longstanding franchise. It pays homage to the original, while updating it by applying modern priorities to old-fashioned bravado. It doesn't really improve upon what was already there, as it suffers from the exact same flaws as the original series, albeit in different ways. However, it does deliver some downright fantastic action sequences (doubtless the best the franchise has produced), and a solid story overall. It may not have transcended the original's legacy, but it carries on that legacy quite well.read more
Legendary anime/manga creator Leiji Matsumoto perfected dystopian before the rest of the world even knew what it was. His vast universe is rife with it, from Space Battleship Yamato‘s dying Earth to Galaxy Express 999‘s bleak future, Matsumoto does dystopian better than anyone else. No where is this more evident than in his legendary manga-cum-anime, Space Pirate Captain Harlock.
Captain Harlock made his TV debut in 1978, and he’s been back many times over the years with varying degrees of success. The latest incarnation, a big budget CGI fest, premiered in Japan last fall. It’s an origin story of sorts and stands well enough on its own. Those familiar with the Harlock will find much to like here. Viewers unfamiliar with Harlock stories won’t get lost here either.
The story begins with a Matsumoto staple: a town that looks more like the American west than a futuristic alien word. Inside a ubiquitous saloon, a drifter named Yama nurses a drink until a deep rumbling announce a space craft’s arrival. And not just any spaceship. This one belongs to the notorious, hundred-year-old outlaw, Captain Harlock. Yama and the bar’s other patrons seemed to anticipate the ship’s arrival, and once it lands, they head out to meet it, determined to join Harlock’s crew. But Harlock only has room for one. In a scene similar to the Joker’s ‘try-outs’ in The Dark Knight, a brutal selection process ensues. The Captain demands the would-be recruits explain why they want to join in a single word. Unacceptable answers result in immediate–and permanent–dismissal.
Fortunately for Yama, Harlock likes his answer and allows the young man to suit up. Along the way, we learn why Yama wanted to join Harlock’s crew, a reason that at times runs counter to the word he gave to Harlock.
If this sounds as if Yama’s more of a protagonist than the Captain himself, he is. Intentionally so. Harlock is a mythic figure. His stories work best when he’s mysterious–something you can’t maintain when you see things from his point-of-view. The film gets that right–at least initially. In the middle, when it tries to show Harlock’s motivations through flashback, it makes the mistake of humanizing him. The decision feels false, and it doesn’t work. Fortunately, once we get the backstory over with, Harlock goes back to being the badass we all know and love.
Visually, Space Pirate Captain Harlock is a sumptuous feast. The animation is as good as the ground-breaking Final Fantasy movies, and the character designs are gorgeous. The same can’t be said of the mechanical designs, however. The powerful forces arrayed against Harlock fly nondescript battleships that look more like boxes than spacecraft. Certainly, some of Matsumoto’s anime series had some interesting ship designs, but they were never this dull. Sadly, the Arcadia, Harlock’s iconic ship, suffers even more. It’s just plain ugly, looking more like a cross between an giant x-wing and H.R. Giger’s Alien than the beautiful ship Matsumoto envisioned. And that’s a shame, especially since the interior is fantastically realized.
Changing the Arcadia’s look isn’t exactly sacred, the film, My Youth in Arcadia, altered and improved upon the 1978 design, with glorious results. It was big and absolutely gorgeous. It was also as intimidating as hell. If not for the dark matter cloud swirling around the new Arcadia, the ship would just look…generic. If the Arcadia wasn’t as important to Harlock’s persona, it wouldn’t be a problem. But the legendary ship is as much a part of Harlock cannon as the Yamato is to that story. It doesn’t ruin the film, but it certainly reduces its impact.
In all its incarnations, Captain Harlock has been more about big themes and flash than substantive storytelling. My Youth in Arcadia, as good as it is, nearly collapses under its own melodramatic weight. Space Pirate Captain Harlock is no different. The over arching themes are grand and ambitious, but when it comes down to telling a compelling story, Harlock falls short. In an odd way, you might call that a success, because it means this Harlock isn’t that different from other Harlock stories. It means the filmmakers faithfully brought Harlock to the big screen. Being faithful, though, just isn’t enough. This was a chance to deliver a great space saga fitting its legendary hero. Space Pirate Captain Harlock just misses.read more
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