My favorite anime blogger, Anime Kritik, is a big-time Leiji Matsumoto fan and I’ve long considered watching some of Matsumoto’s works even if just to understand AK’s posts on the many series. I’ve never gotten around to doing so, however, even when I knew I’d have to after the episodes of Captain Harlock and Galaxy Express 999 became available for free, legal streaming on Joost and Crunchyroll (and ANN by proxy, where I’m watching.) In a surprising twist of fate, this is one of the only Matsumoto series AK actually hasn’t seen yet, so he’s started blogging it in three-episode blocks. Both because I am eager to board any blogging ship led by AK and because I want to see this classic show, I will be blogging it alongside him.
The first three episodes of Captain Harlock are almost completely different from each-other in terms of pacing and what actually happens. I felt like the first episode charged by, while the second and third episodes dragged on forever (which is what I’m used to from older shows.) The first episode was quite brilliant, wasting next to no time on exposition and simply showing us the world we’d be in for the series, introducing us to the kind of man Harlock is, and letting us meet the adorable Mayu – all through epic, dramatic imagery. The second episode is all about Mayu’s struggles, almost leading me to believe that the show would focus strongly on her, but then it completely shift gears and she doens’t show up at all in the third episode, which finally sets up the plot.
Because of that oddly-placed second episode, it’s a little difficult to know what to expect from this show. But here are some things I realized while watching…
1. Harlock is definitely not a pirate, and the Arcadia, however much it looks like one, is not a pirate ship. I don’t even mean this in the ‘One Piece isn’t about pirates because they are all nice guys’ way, I mean they fucking aren’t pirates. They are purely heroic, and not even the kind of sarcastic anti-hero type deal. These are men of honor and valor who fight to protect and preserve their homeland. The only things pirate-y about them are that the crew is made up of weirdos (though so is every anime crew) and that they are wanted men, but that is not at all for a good reason.
2. Mayu is every bit as manly and awesome as Harlock, and Matsumoto wants you to know it. Harlock isn’t just a man with a promise to protect a little girl – it is a promise they share. Mayu is trying just as hard to protect Harlock as he is trying to protect her, and boy can she carry that weight! We know that Harlock recognizes this because he is in tears at the strength of Mayu’s pure spirit. Harlock admires Mayu, and he is not a dishonest man who would sell pity for admiration.
3. Harlock gets laid. Matsumoto is definitely an author who doesn’t ignore the sexual needs of his male characters, as he’s shown by having one of the first sex scenes in anime (I believe this was in Final Yamato?) as well as lots of sexual situations in his manga (Gun Frontier, anyone?). Harlock has a very hot alien woman who spends pretty much all of her time in his bedroom playing the harp and getting tanked. She also introduces herself as ‘the woman who gave her soul to Harlock.’ Nice.
4. The future sucks. This show takes place on a dystopic Earth that is less 1984 and more Idiocracy as the government is full of dumb fucks and the people are totally desensitized. What strikes me, though, is that there are still workers out there. People are still running the military, the astrology department, and other facilities. So… why haven’t these people revolted?! When Dr. Daiba was totally ignored by the prime minister, I couldn’t help but wonder if there would be any consequences to just killing the dumb fuck and declaring himself leader…
5. I fully understand why everyone in the 80s was a lolicon. Mayu is old-school moe. She’s strong, brave, and fills you with the undying urge to protect her as your heartstrings are pulled with every time she collapses carrying those water buckets or faces some new horror. She’s also super-cute and, maybe you didn’t notice it, but there are a few panty shots of her in episode two as she’s running up a hill. Delicious.
6. This show has really good dying (sorry, this inside joke is no longer explainable >_<)
Anywho, pretty good so far. I want more Mayu and a lot more Mimay. I was originally going to respond to AK’s questions of who to relate to, because I am pretty confident in my answer, but I wan to hold off a bit. If there’s one thing I definitely want from this show already, it’s to leave earth! I want more adventure from my space pirate ship!