Friday, November 27, 2015

Forgotten Youth

I think I've mentioned that we lived in Japan for a few years, and got into manga and anime while we were there. One of the first things we did was let our 10 year-old Japanese cousin take us out in a typhoon to see the Captain Harlock movie My Youth in Arcadia. So of course we want to see Harlock: Space Pirate (2013). But we had our trepidations.

Harlock was drawn by anime master Matsumoto Reiji: He is a handsome immortal space pirate with a scar, a patch over one eye and his hair over the other. He flies the space-lanes in the Arcadia, a ship with the stern of a sailing galleon, the midships of a WWII submarine, and a huge skull for a bow. But this movie is not drawn - it is 3D computer animated, in that almost photorealistic style with the vaguely nightmarish faces.

Actually, that part wasn't too bad. The character design wasn't bad, except maybe the ultra-Barbie physiques of the female characters. The backgrounds were, IMHO, the best parts: steampunk spaceship engines, cloud filled alien skies, raging space battles. The Arcadia design sadly drops the submarine motif in exchange for a Geigeresque spine, but does come and go surrounded by huge billowing black smoke. It's explained as dark matter propulsion, but really makes you think it's a coal burner, or needs a ring job.

Which brings us to the plot (such as it is). Humans have populated the cosmos, but it isn't working out. Everybody wants to go back to Earth, but that would destroy it's fragile ecosystem, so it is put off-limits by a coercive bureaucracy. And that is the enemy that Harlock fights against.

So in a ship that blorts out great billows to black smoke, he fights for the right to screw up the Earth. Hm.

Most of the action revolves around a new crewmember, whose brother is the chair-bound aristocrat seeking to destroy Harlock. This is very anime - the whole family thing. But it doesn't really tie into the whole Harlock universe very well. Familiar faces from the series are missing here, including the little girl who keeps getting killed (my favorite, because WTF!?!). So, most of what we enjoyed way back when in Japan is missing here.

So all you Harlock fans, give this a miss. Fans of 3D computer animation, go ahead.

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