Captain Harlock & His Boys – A Character-Relationship Overview

Introduction:

One of the many ways by which Captain Harlock’s character is showcased and expanded upon is by pairing him up with younger, hot-headed teens/boys and thus giving Harlock the chance to play the part of teacher, protector, mentor, substitute father-figure, and, yes, backhander. In this post I will be analyzing/overviewing four different youths from four different Harlock stories, drawing up comparisons, differences and how the relationships are conducted and concluded and how Harlock responds to each one.

The four young people to be analyzed are: Tadashi Diaba (from the original 1978 Space Pirate Captain Harlock TV series); Tadashi Monono (from the 1982 Arcadia of My Youth – Endless Orbit SSX series); Tetsuro Hoshino (from the 1st and 2nd Galaxy Express 999 movies); and finally, Yama-Logan (from the 2013 Space Pirate Captain Harlock CG-I movie reboot).

WARNING: this post contains big spoilers if you have not watched any of these series/movies

1: Tadashi Diaba

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Captain Harlock and Tadashi Diaba

Note: I am well aware that Tadashi Diaba is a reoccurring character and that in the Endless Odyssey mini-series his relationship with Harlock is very different then in Space Pirate. I will be analyzing this change when I review/analyze the Endless Odyssey series in a separate post. For now, I will be focusing only on the Tadashi/Harlock relationship as it is depicted for us in the 1978 Space Pirate TV series.

Let’s be honest, all Captain Harlock animes are full of death and tragedy. All the youngsters Harlock interacts with (hell, just about everybody Harlock interacts with) all have sad back-stories/pasts and they all struggle in various ways (and with different goals) to make something of their lives, lives that are inevitably entangled – for a time – with Captain Harlock’s.

Tadashi Diaba’s case is particularity sad because Tadashi is depicted – in the original series – as being a well-adjusted boy with a wonderful family. All of Tadashi’s flash-backs are ones of domestic contentment and happiness. He is an only child and is loved greatly by his father and mother who also love each other very much. There is no bad blood between him and his father or his mother. Tadashi’s mother dies after a ship accidentally crashes into the satellite-moon where she is conducting experiments. The incompetent Earth-government lays the blame for this incident on the now-deceased Mrs. Diaba’s shoulders, a decision that will later haunt them when her disgusted son refuses to comply with their dishonorable demands that he should infiltrate the Arcadia and assassinate Harlock. Prior to joining Harlock, Tadashi spends all of his time with his father in his observatory, assisting him in his research, lamenting the current pathetic state of mankind, and noticing that strange people are prowling about the place and stalking his father, who is too busy to notice. His father is becoming convinced that an alien race is attempting to take over the Earth, a theory that Harlock knows to be truth. Even when indisputable evidence crashes explosively into the Earth, neither Dr. Diaba or Captain Harlock can do anything to convince the Earth’s golf-obsessed Prime Minister to do anything useful about the situation.

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Captain Harlock and Dr. Diaba – always doomed to be ignored.

In a quick recap of tragic events, Dr. Diaba is assassinated by the alien Mazon and poor Tadashi, now an orphan, arrives just in time to find his still-warm body and Harlock arrives just in time to kill the Mazone assassin about to kill Tadashi. Harlock then offers Tadashi a chance to board the Arcadia and help him fight the invaders. Tadashi, who now desires vengeance, does so, yet soon leaves the Arcadia after being scandalized by Harlock’s playful, drunken crew and by the lack of discipline and order on the ship.

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Well, this was NOT what I was expecting…

Harlock, however, is not offended by this, and even provides Tadashi with a means of contacting him again if he should change his mind. This soon happens after the Prime Minister arrests Tadashi on the grounds that he is now one of Captain Harlock’s crewmates and the only way he can redeem himself is by re-boarding the Arcadia and assassinating Harlock. Tadashi manages to escape from custody and after almost being killed again by Mazone agents, realizes that Earth can no longer be his home. After shooting the Earth Federation flag in a gesture of disavowment, he contacts Harlock and again boards the Arcadia, this time for good. What friends, girlfriends or social engagements he may have had are not touched upon. He boards Harlock’s ship, after vowing to fight and die under Harlock’s Jolly Roger ‘flag of freedom’, with nothing but the cloths on his back and his father’s harmonica in his pocket.

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Throughout the series Tadashi’s new life is riddled with perils, mistakes, challenges, surprises and even victories. Adjusting to living continually in space is the first hurtle. And becuase Harlock is not quite sure yet what Tadashi is good for, Tadashi must find his place among the Arcadia’s crew. Fortunately Kei Yuki takes a liking to him, and readily gives him advice and help. But it is Harlock that Tadashi really wants to please – although his strong desire for revenge often causes him to disobey Harlock on numerous occasions. He is often narrow-minded and short-sighted, not understanding Harlock’s methods and dealings with the Mazone which are based on a bigger picture that only Harlock can see. He is often frustrated, impatient and rash, and while he never challenges Harlock openly, he has no qualms about making his feelings known. But Harlock is quite patent with him, and for all of Tadashi’s faults, Harlock greatly desires that Tadashi become a valuable crew-member and comrade, and sees in him something of his own long ago youth. To Harlock, Tadashi’s fighting spirit is well-worth cultivating and utilizing, especially in this story where 98% of the humans on Earth are lazy, apathetic cowards. Tadashi is quite talented and educated (both his parents being famous scientists) with a high IQ to boot, but he is not boastful about it, and never tries to dominate any of Harlock’s other men. But mistakes and failures do not sit well with Tadashi, and he is often given to angsting over his many short-comings on the battlefield and his failings in dealing with Mazone prisoners. Vengeance is indeed a difficult path for him, and the Mazone are ruthless opponents. Yet Harlock keeps him at his side: training him, admonishing him, and yes, even backhanding him on two occasions when the situation calls for it. Kei becomes a good friend to him (their relationship never turns romantic) and over time Harlock entrusts him with more risky and important tasks and duties as he slowly matures.

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Soon Tadashi becomes one of the Arcadia’s higher-ranking crewmen, and finds his place on the battle-bridge with Harlock, Kei and Yattaran, and fluctuates between serving as a navigator, battle-strategist and a Space Wolf fighter pilot. Often Harlock asks him to accompany him alone on various missions and soon entrusts Tadashi with his own missions, some of which are successful and some of which are not. Vengeance still overshadows him, even to the end, but his grief and childish behavior slowly dissipate, and he becomes a brave, capable young man in whom Harlock can trust and who indeed would have made his father proud.

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In the final episode Harlock entrusts Tadashi (and the entire crew) with the task of helping to rebuild civilization after the Mazone have been defeated, and to continue his father’s work. Partnered with Kei, he is last seen happily going over construction plans for the building of a newer, better space-observatory, and his ending is a positive and happy one. Harlock bids him a calm and dignified farewell, yet Tadashi and the rest of the crew still frantically chase after the damaged  Arcadia as she makes a slow takeoff from the ravaged Earth and Harlock heads out alone with only Miime back into the Sea of Stars, free to pursue other unknown goals now that the Earth is saved and in good, more competent hands.

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Harlock is successful in in both keeping Tadashi alive and returning him to Earth a better, stronger person then he was when he left. But what kind of effect did Tadashi have on Harlock? Owing to Harlock being the stoic loner that he is, it is hard to say just how much Tadashi influenced Harlock or made a difference in his life. He certainly kept Harlock’s hands full at times, and provided him with an opportunity to share some of his insights and knowledge – but Harlock still had no trouble (nicely) booting him off the Arcadia and returning to his own solitary, self-exiled existence once all was said and done. While Tadashi was certainly a friend and true comrade of Harlock’s, Harlock himself seems to have had little or no personal or emotional investment in Tadashi. He has saved, protected, and influenced Tadashi, yet Tadashi himself cannot say the same. Harlock never truly needed him. If he had never joined-up with Harlock, Tadashi would have eventually been killed. But Harlock, without Tadashi, would have gone on as before, unaffected, and would have eventually triumphed over Mazone Queen Lafresia in the end, somehow. If Tadashi has indeed really done anything for Harlock, it is to remind Harlock that he, too, was once a rash, temperamental youngster once upon a time. But just how much of a positive thing this is for the older, grimmer, lonesome, and ultimately friendless outcast space-pirate is something that we will never know.

 2: Tadashi Monono

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Captain Harlock and Tadashi Monono

Tadashi Monono (whose character should never be confused with Tadashi Diaba’s – even through they both have the same first name) is the youngest (1) of the four youths in this analysis and he is also my personal favorite. This kid has some serious guts. What the Prime Minister of Earth could not make Tadashi Diaba do, what Tetsuro Hoshino would never have dreamed of doing, and what Yama-Logan should have done, this kid does: all alone and of his own accord he tracks down Captain Harlock, challenges him, and shoots him. Harlock, however, is not quite so desirous for death in this series, and he easily avoids Tadashi M’s shot and fires back, shooting Tadashi’s gun from his hand without harming him. Harlock has done nothing personally to Tadashi to warrant death at his hands – this is not a revenge issue. A huge bounty has been placed on Harlock’s head by the alien Illumidas, and to one orphaned, hungry boy it is a chance to escape starvation and gain independence. Tadashi Monono is a bounty-hunter. Does this bother Harlock at all? Nope. He is quite impressed by Tadashi and instead of killing him he asks his would-be-slayer if he would like to board the Arcadia. During this exchange Harlock’s best friend, Tochiro, emerges from behind a rock where he has been casually cooking some rice and offers a plate-full of food to the hungry boy. Tadashi finally caves in and starts eating, only to discover that Tochiro is a lousy cook (Ah, how ironic Leijiverse can be! Tochrio can build near-indestructible space battleships all by himself, yet he is unable to cook rice without burning the bottom). Tadashi promptly informs him that he is a much better cook, having cooked for his seven siblings before they all died of starvation after their parents where killed by the Illumidas aliens. Tadashi agrees to board the Arcadia only if he can be the cook. Unlike Tadashi D., Tadashi M. has goals and duties the minute he comes aboard – the chief of which is to make some decent chow for Harlock:

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Tadashi takes his duties as cook seriously (he does not consider it a lowly job), but he is very young and energetic, and also wants to be part of the action: the dangerous, adventurous kind – which there is plenty of. Tadashi M. only appears in the Endless Orbit SSX series, which is a follow-up to the classic 80’s Harlock film Arcadia of My Youth. In this story, the Earth has already been conquered by aliens and Harlock has been banished and is wanted and hunted throughout the universe. What makes this story different from Space Pirate is that this time Tochiro is alive and kicking with Harlock on the Arcadia (which makes all the difference in the world for the space-pirate), and Tadashi must contend with him as well as the Captain. Unlike the grim and often depressed Harlock that Tadashi Diaba has to interact with (a Harlock still grieving and yearning for his friend), the Endless Orbit SSX Harlock is much more contented, goal-oriented and driven man. Tadashi gets to be a part of dynamic and beautiful relationship that Harlock and Tochiro have, as both Tochiro and Harlock enjoy teaching Tadashi and being in his company.

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Although Tadashi M. sometimes expresses a desire take revenge against the Illumidas for the deaths of his parents and siblings, revenge is not as big of an issue or goal with him. We get no flashbacks or insights on what his life was like before he was orphaned, and he himself displays little emotional trauma in regards to his past struggles. He is also are more positive, outgoing and curious and Harlock trusts him enough to allow him to accompany him on explorations and missions. Even the hard-to-impress Emeraldas makes a side comment to Harlock that Tadashi is becoming a true comrade to them. He is the most child-like (in a good way) of the four, and views Harlock has a substitute father-figure, whom he also desires to please.

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Although he is young, Tadashi has some very fixed views on what it means to be a real man and is sometimes scandalized by Tochiro’s and even Harlock’s methods of dealing with conflict and adversity. He is quick to take offense and jump to conclusions before he really knows what’s going on and flies off the handle on several occasions. Like Tadashi Diaba, he often disobeys Harlock’s orders and gets into trouble, prompting Harlock to put his life in jeopardy in order to save him. Unlike Daiba, however, Tadashi’s disobedience stems from wanting to help others and to experience things for himself rather then to inflict revenge. And unlike Diaba, Tadashi does indeed at one point save not only Harlock’s life, but also Tochiro’s and the entire Arcadia as well. Harlock enjoys teaching and training Tadashi, and gets much done with the plucky lad at his side helping him. Tochiro is also quite fond of Tadashi, since they are more similar personality-wise, and he and Tadashi often go off together on various trips both dressed in their matching brown hats and cloaks. Kei Yuki is also in this series (though with a different back-story), yet she and Tadashi never strike up a special bond owing to their great age differences. Tadashi’s life on the Arcadia fluctuates between fun and peril, humor and seriousness, and he gets all the adventure and action a young boy could ever want. Harlock only backhands him once when he is about to freak-out in an intense situation, and Tadashi does not hold it against him, owing that he wants to become a true man and brave space-sailor just like him.

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However, such a life (and series) cannot continue forever. In the second-to-last episode, Tochiro dies for the third time and becomes one with the Arcadia. Harlock is once again deprived of his best friend, but presses on toward the last stage of their mission. After testings, trails and a final, epic space-duel with his sworn foe, Mr. Zone, the Captain emerges triumphant, the Illumidas are dealt with, and Harlock intrusts Tadashi Monono with the supernatural fire of St. Aquel, which has the power to help heal and regenerate the Earth that has been ravaged in the past wars with the aliens. Tadashi does not want to leave the Arcadia, but Harlock tells him that Earth is his Arcadia and that his parents would have wanted him to live out his life in the birth-land of his ancestors. Tadashi, in a final act of obedience to the man who has so much for him, takes the fire and accepts the challenge to make the Earth a place of beauty for humans to live once more.

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Captain Harlock departs once again – this time with the intent of first paying his last respects to Tochiro’s grave – and most of the Arcadia’s crew are left behind as well. Harlock seems to have a stronger emotional attachment for Tadashi M., but in the end, he, too, is left behind as Harlock self-exiles himself and returns again to the Sea of Stars. As in Space Pirate, Harlock is once more depicted as a man who is ultimately alone in the world, with a destiny none can share. Tadashi Diaba, Tadashi Monono and Tetsuro Hoshino all have their whole lives in front of them and a positive future to strive for, but Harlock is not so blessed. His final resting place has yet to be found, and the Arcadia he still searches for in his heart has not yet been reached.

 3: Tetsuro Hoshino

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Tetsuro Hoshino next to a Harlock-Wanted poster

Of all the youths Harlock interacts with, Tetsuro Hoshino is the one he spends the least amount of time with (Tetsuro being the star of the Galaxy Express 999 anime series and the three feature films that chronicle his space-adventures in which Harlock only plays a brief part), yet he may be the one the Captain admires the most. Like Tadashi Diaba and Tadashi Monono, Tetsuro is an orphen; and like them he seeks vengence against those who cruelly murdered his mother (his father having disappeared some time ago). But in this tale, it is not aliens who are plaguing humanity, it is cyborgs: humans who have traded their real bodies (and perhaps their souls as well) for mechanized ones, which – depending on the quality – enable them to be stronger, faster, immune to sickness and free of death. Naturally they are very expensive, and Tetsuro, who is a street urchin, cannot hope to get one unless he boards the Galaxy Express 999 train (which is also very expensive) and goes to a planet in the Great Andromeda system where they are giving them out for free. Tetsuro wants a mechanical body so he can kill Count Mecha, an evil, mechanized noblemen who shot his mother on a ‘human-hunt’. After that, he plans to live forever, sailing the Sea of Stars just like Captain Harlock and Emeraldas do. Harlock is only a guest-star in these movies, yet he has become something of a hero to Tetsuro, and is, as always, an outlaw and a wanted man (the reasons for which are never explained). Although there is a sizable bounty on Harlock’s head, killing the space-pirate for the money to buy a mechanized body never enters Tetsuro’s mind. He’d rather steal then kill.

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Tetsuro is finally able to board the 999 train after a beautiful, mysterious woman named Meatel buys him a ticket in exchange for allowing her to travel with him. As they journey through space, Tetsuro encounters a lot of interesting characters, and is told by one that Emeraldas knows where Count Mecha’s Time-Castle is. Later, when Emeraldas passes the Galaxy Express in her ship, the Queen Emeraldas, Tetsuro shoots at in in order to get her attention. Emeraldas attention is defiantly caught, and she tells him that the Time-Castle will appear next on the desert-planet Heavy Meldar (a very important planet in the Harlock-world), which is were the train will be stopping next.

After more mishaps on Heavy Meldar, Tetsuro finally meets Harlock’s best friend Tochiro, who is again sick and actively dying alone in the rusting hulk of the Deathshadow, Harlock’s first battleship. Tochiro was also hoping to kill Count Mecha prior to getting sick, and tells Tetsuro the exact location of the Time-Castle. Then, in the best depiction of the event (there are four) Tochiro dies, but not before Tetsuro assists him in transferring his conciseness/soul into the Arcadia’s central computer. Harlock is instantly aware of his friend’s passing, and sets course for Heavy Meldar.

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Meanwhile Tetsuro erects a memorial for Tochiro and then slowly and sadly heads back to the town where Maetel is staying, but along the way his attacked by some of Count Mecha’s thugs who almost beat him to death and steal his gun. As badly battered as he is, Tetsuro follows them back to the bar where they are drinking and demands his weapon back. Things are about to go very badly for him when Captain Harlock himself walks leisurely through the doors and puts the thugs in their place in a most fitting fashion, much to Tetsuro’s joyful amazement. His longtime hero has come, and he does not disappoint.

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Yet Tetsuro’s heart is still bent on revenge, and there is nothing Harlock can say that will stop him from going to the Time-Castle and attempting Count Mecha’s death. Harlock is grateful to Tetsuro for helping Tochiro, and does not want Tetsuro to die. Yet he respects Tetsuro’s free-will, and does not interfere with his mission. Tetsuro enters the Time-Castle alone and carries out his vengeance while still in his human body.  Neither Harlock or Maetel accompany or assist him. It is something Tetsuro accomplishes by himself, and the things he learns in the processes are quite hard indeed. After it is over, Harock asks him what he plans to do with his life now that his vengeance is complete. At this point I believe that Harlock was going to ask Tetsuro to join him on the Arcadia. But the things Tetsuro has learned throughout his travels have made a profound impact on him. Throughout the series and the first movie the same question has posed to him again and again: Which is better? To remain in your own flesh-and-blood body and live out your allotted life and die a true human – or to take on a machine body and live forever and slowly become heartless and cruel like Count Mecha? Tetsuro now knows the right answer to that question: to remain human is the correct choice. He no longer desires immortality. He will still go to Andromeda, but not to become a machine – he will go there and destroy the planet where they give machine bodies to desprete people for free.

Whatever Harlock thinks of this plan he does not say. Tetsuro does not ask for his aid nor does Harlock offer it. He travels on to the mechanized homeworld of Planet Maetel, where stunning revelations are made and he takes on Promethium, the planet’s evil immortal Queen. But Harlock has not forsaken Tetsuro. The Arcadia follows the Galaxy Express train at a distance and Harlock, as he comes within sight of the giant machine planet, utters my favorite lines ever:

”There comes a time for a man when he must act, despite the danger, knowing he may die – there comes a time for a man when he must fight, knowing he may loose. Tetsuro knows that well.”

Although Tetsuro never sets foot on the Arcadia and is alone with Harlock for less then an hour, this brave boy with an unshakable spirit has so earned Harlock’s respect that the space-pirate of his own accord assaults an entire planet in order to help him.

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After the defeat of Queen Promethium and the destruction of Planet Maetel, Tetsuro escapes on the 999 train with Maetel and begins the long journey back to Earth.  The now-badly damaged Arcadia slowly overtakes them, and Harlock silently bids Tetsuro good-bye: ”Farewell Tetsuro; may we meet again someday in the Sea of Stars.”  Tetsuro wishes him the same. Here we have Harlock and Tetsuro interacting on equal grounds, their friendship based on mutual respect and trust rather then Tetsuro being one of Harlock’s subordinates/crew-mates.  They even look forward to meeting again some day (and they do) unlike Tadashi Diaba and Tadashi Monono, who don’t expect to see Harlock again. Harlock’s departure is not as sad either, as both he and Tetsuro are voyagers with many journeys still to make.

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But even here, the underlying theme remains the same: Harlock does not return to Earth. He bids Tetsuro to return, but as always, he himself cannot – or will not – do so. Even the adventure-swamped Tetsuro has a place to call home, a place to return to in the end, a place he can help restore and set to right, and a better future to look forward to – but not Harlock. Harlock has no real home except the  Arcadia. Captain Harlock is always leaving, always departing; forever homeless, forever an outcast, forever under the doom of exile. Where is the true Arcadia? Where is the final resting place? Where are you going Captain? What is the true desire of your heart? What are you forever seeking in the endless Sea of Stars?

Horrifically, some 30+ years after these classic Harlock animes came into being, the year 2013 A.D. saw the release of a budget-bursting, brand-new CG-I Space Pirate Captain Harlock reboot film in which many of Harlock’s issues are finally, concretely dealt with – in the worst possible way. Forget Arcadia, forget the Flag of Freedom, forget honor and integrity and standing up for one’s convictions, forget friendship and adventure; hell, forget everything you ever loved about Captain Harlock…Harlock is history…now we have:

4: Yama-Logan

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Yama (also known as Logan): Captain Harlock’s betrayer, savior and successor

If there were two unifying aspects to all of Harlock’s interactions with young people prior to this movie, they were these: 1: They were finite. 2: Harlock remained Harlock. It was never intended that Tadashi Diaba and Tadashi Monono be apart of Harlock’s life forever. As they slowly mature and grow up under the Captain’s watchful eye, it becomes apparent to everyone (except themselves) that the day will soon come when they must head out on their own and shape their own lives, even though they may initially be opposed to this. This ties into Harlock staying Harlock – it is the youngsters that change; Harlock remains the same. Once he has done all that he can for them, Harlock leaves them to peruse other interests and goals that they can take no part in. In the end, not matter how long, or exciting or gratifying the relationship was, Harlock and his younger comrades are like two ships that pass each other in the night after docking briefly with one another. This leads to both parties retaining their individuality, their independence and their freedom. While the youngsters may have needed Harlock, Harlock never truly needed them – and when the youngsters themselves reach the point where they don’t need Harlock, that is when the relationship ends. Harlock always has other plans – plans that involve only himself and whatever force is driving him to remain unattached and independent of the rest of the human race, the force that keeps him questing through space looking for something only he can find.

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But with Yama-Logan the case is different. Yama is the oldest, the strongest, the most mature, the most capable, the most handsome, and the most independent of all of Harlock’s charges. He is Tadashi Diaba on steroids.  And, unlike the others, he himself does not really need Harlock for anything at all. He boards the Arcadia not because he has no other place to go or because Harlock admires him in any way, but because other people – Harlock’s enemies – want him to. If the Harlock of this film had remained the same as the Harlock of the 70’s and 80’s, Yama-Logan would have gotten it right between his eyes [Harlock would have killed him] for this reason. Nothing pissed-off the old-school Harlock more then having to deal with people – good or evil – who made choices and did things that where based on obligation or the whims and commands of other third parties. Free-will and personal responsibility was a huge big deal for the Captain back in the day. If you were someone’s lackey or puppet, he wanted little or nothing to do with you. But the Harlock of this film is not the same as the old Harlock, and therein lies all the trouble and tragedy of this movie…[for my full review of it, go HERE]

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The Harlock that Yama has to deal with (as apposed to being in a relationship with) is a Harlock whose character has been driven to the utmost limits as to what it can take (and Harlock can take a lot) and then pushed over a cliff. His life is complete and total Hell:  the worst of mistakes have been made; the most horrific of plans simmers in his mind. There is no need for aliens or cyborgs or demonic entities to harry humanity and screw with the Earth – Harlock himself is now the true enemy of humanity and the destroyer of the Earth. The Despair Event Horizon has been crossed, and here we are presented with the most stomach-twisting and improbable of all Harlock incarnations: Harlock the Hopeless. His poor, still-loyal crew – namely Yattaran and Kei Yuki – have no clue what is really going on or what is in store for them. Harlock has lied to them and fed them false hope. That alone is horrific enough. Harlock is become a true evil space-pirate indeed, an embittered immortal with an indestructible battleship, and nothing can withstand him. He takes no part in Yama-Logan’s entry into the Arcadia (a change that frustrated me so much I did a ‘fan’ re-write of the whole scene – in the past, no-one boarded the Arcadia openly except through Harlock) and it is confusing as to what he even needs Yama – or anyone else for that matter – for.

But it soon becomes clear: Harlock is finished, both as far as his character is concerned (which has been mangled beyond almost all recognition), and as a Captain. In the beginning, Yama boards the Arcadia with the mission to assassinate Harlock, something that needs to be done if humanity is to survive. In the end, Yama saves Harlock, and then takes everything from Harlock, everything…

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And how does Yama take everything from Harlock? Does he call Harlock out and manfully duel him? Does he shoot Harlock from behind assassin-style? Impale him with a gravity-saber? Push him into a Black Hole? No. It is not enough that Harlock has been reduced to a hopeless, despairing shell of a man – the film pushes Harlock’s degradation even further: Harlock gives everything to Yama without a fight. He gives Yama his eyepatch (since Yama is now missing his right eye and has a facial-scar just like him), the Arcadia, the title of Captain Harlock and even the device he was going to use to destroy the entire universe. The only thing Harlock  possesses at the end the movie is his life (if one can call his current state of existence true life). And there is now absolutely nothing he can do with it.

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For this Harlock there is no Arcadia, no Flag of Freedom, no Sea of Stars to gallivant about in with his best friend, no worthy adventures or goals to set one’s mind and heart to. Harlock is finished. It is over. To make sure that there can be no mistaking this, Harlock’s bird, Tori, settles on Yama-Logan’s shoulder without a backward glance and Miime, the alien woman who was one of the few characters apart from Tochiro and Maaya  that Harlock confides in, takes her place at Logan’s side and declares (in the English dub) that her loyalty is to the Arcadia itself, regardless of who is at the helm.

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Yama-Logan is the youth who surpasses, supplants and ultimately succeeds Captain Harlock – all without actually doing anything to the space-pirate. Harlock’s own lack of willpower and hope have allowed this to happen. He is as good as dead. Indeed I would have preferred if Harlock had died in truth, felled by Yama’s own hand. It would have been a more fitting end. But Harlock is now so pathetic that he can’t even have a first-ever honorable death-scene, something which is perhaps way overdue. Harlock may still live, the Arcadia may still be flying (and shooting), but his story is nonetheless over.

*   *   *

As one can see, Harlock’s relationships with young people have slowly evolved from Harlock being a teacher, mentor, father-figure and friend to Harlock being supplanted and succeeded.  One could argue that this is the natural, predictable course of events, with the older man giving way to the younger youth; with fresh blood washing out the old blood. Yet this does not work in Captain Harlock’s case. A huge part of Harlock’s mystique lies in the fact that Harlock is forever out there, somewhere in space, fighting the good fight [whether people want him to or not], and looking for the Arcadia of his heart, unbowed and forever hopeful in spite of whatever is thrown at him. This is the essence of Captain Harlock in a nutshell. He does not need replacing or succeeding. This is why I believe the Harlock of the 70’s and 80’s was the grander, more superior presentation of his character.  Those where Harlock’s Golden Years; now he is in the Dark Years and there is no hope for him – or us – in sight. What will happen after this? What can happen after this? Damn.

Plus, there is one more little thing that – for me at least – I find holds very true in my (strictly-observing) relationship with the good Captain; something that was noted a long time ago by a man much more wiser, stronger and in-the-know then me:

The old wine tastes better then the new wine.

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And I’m sure Captain Harlock totally agrees with me

(1) Actually, to be honest, I do not know that exact age of any of these people. I’ve made assumptions on how old they are based on how they look and behave. If I ever find their canonically-correct ages, I will list them.

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