Captain Harlock’s Survival Tips for Introverts and Loners

harlock relaxed

You mean apart from doing things like this as much as you possibly can?

Introduction:

This post took me a long time to write but it is something I’ve been wanting to talk about for a long time. Is meant to be serious and a little bit humorous. Most of these tips are not particularly ‘original’ as introverts now have a lot of resources on the web where many of these things and more are discussed/mused upon in much greater detail. But I am in a creative mood tonight, and I think some of these tips will take on new life and meaning when elaborated upon from the stoic, introverted Captain Harlock’s perspective. I am also aware that some these tips will not apply/render help to all introverts, as not all of us are the same in our wants, needs, and tolerance of chatty people. These are things that have helped me, and using Harlock as my avatar, I hope they may help you as well (or at the very least entertain you for a bit). Please also know that I am addressing introverts on the more extreme side of the spectrum as well as Highly Sensitive People, loners who enjoy/want to be loners and possibly even people with low to mild SPD (Schizoid Personality Disorder). Enjoy.

Space Pirate Captain Harlock’s Survival Tips for Introverts and Loners

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Dear Introverts…

(written at the request of WolfOfLonliness for her fellow introverted kinsmen; I wish you all well – may your long struggles to maintain your freedom and integrity in a difficult and often hostile world be met with some victory, and those worthy comrades of yours whom you truly treasure and trust profit from your wisdom, courage, aid, friendship and love.)

”He who is unable to live in society, or who has no need because he is sufficient for himself, must be either a beast or a god.”

– Aristotle

Tip One: Create (or Maintain) Your Own Privet Personal Space

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so, when did simply wanting to do things like this become such a big deal? No matter; I’ve aced it.

This is the most important and vital thing any introvert/loner needs to do if he is to survive on Earth – or indeed on any world that might become available to him in the far future. As long as he has some place to retreat/escape to (a ‘bug-out’ spot, if you will), he will be able to endure much of the unpleasant things that weigh-down, drain and complicate his life – examples: having to attend social engagements (mainly noisy, over-populated parties/reunions) that he has no desire to be at, having to endure an endless stream of self-validating chit-chat from certain extroverted individuals that do not know how or when to shut up, having to endure (worst of all to some) the disproving looks of parents/friends/significant others when he leaves them to their drama to seek out his own safe, solitary haven – these are only a few stars in the great sea of the extroverted-oriented society he must learn to navigate. But as long as that precious personal space exists, and he knows that it is waiting for him when the day’s long work is done, he will be able to endure much. I am rather grieved by the fact that in this regard (compared to the rest of you) I am the most fortunate of men. I am not bound to the Earth, nor to any human society that exists upon it. As Captain of the space-battleship Arcadia, I am blessed with a freedom the rest of you can hope to imagine or day-dream about. The Sea of Stars – that endless, dark, cold and silent Sea – is my ultimate place of escape. I am the most wrenched of loners; my nature is such that there is no place on Earth or anywhere in the universe where I can lay my head. The Arcadia is my only true home, and outer space my only true abode. In the sterncastle of my ship is my privet cabin – my haven within my haven, fashioned lovingly for me by my best friend like those of of the grand 19th-century sailing ships of yore. Here I sleep and brood and drink and watch the stars and planets go sailing by. Here I rest and recharge. Here I make important decisions and engage in meaningful conversations. Such a place is more essential to an introvert then anything else, except maybe food. If such a place is denied to him, he will go mad. For most of you, such a place is your bedroom, your most personal living space whose value to most introverts cannot be overstated. Or maybe you do not even have that – maybe you have to share your room with someone: a sibling, wife or roommate. If you cannot rely on your room to be your crash-haven, then go out and find one. Flee to the basement, the bathroom, flee outdoors to the garage or the alley behind your house. Flee to the car, if you must. Do not deny yourself your alone time. You are not being selfish; you are trying to survive. You must relax. It is not a crime. Otherwise you might become a living hell both to yourself and to your loved ones. If others are hurt by your flighty, non-sociable behavior, just remember that it is better for them to be offended for a little while then for them to suffer in the long run because you have denied yourself the time and space required to recharge your energies and disengage from whatever is causing you anxiety and stress thus making you a cold, short-tempered, unapproachable grouch (to put it in mild terms) to those you are in a relationship with.

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Chilling-out is not a sin; seeking solitude is not a sin; wanting to be alone for extended periods of time is not a sin…

If your family or comrades do not understand this vital life-need of yours, try to explain it them as graciously as you can. If you are an ass about it or tell them that they are problem, they will get upset/defensive about your accusations (even if they are correct) then you will have the worst form of energy-draining to deal with: the emotional. Tears, fights, yelling, anger, rants, accusations, emoting, etc…often the very things you wish to avoid at all costs. Be firm and clear in your requests for time/space alone, do not beg like a dog. If you can get them to understand, then you are very fortunate. If not, at least get them to understand that this is something that you need, (as apposed to something you want). If this does not work, if your own home is/becomes a hostile, unsafe place for you, go find the city park, the spacious underpass beneath a big bridge, the library, the recreation trails, the beaches, anything in you current living situation that you know of that can provide the level of solitude/silence/peace you need in order to recharge/function. This leads right to the next tip, one that is even more complicated and difficult…

Tip Two: Create (or Maintain) Your Personal Boundaries

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no touche

Almost everyone, whether they are introverted, extroverted or ambiverted have been taught about the importance of setting boundaries. Whole books have been written about the subject. But setting boundaries can be a daunting and risky task. Especially for (extreme) introverts. Like the king who builds walls about his castle to protect his family or his wealth, the introvert must construct and maintain impressive, well-defined boundaries (to those on the outside) in order to keep his self safe and secure from those things or persons that (for all their ‘good’ intentions) do not truly understand him or have his best interests at heart. There are many people out there who seem to enjoy getting in other people’s personal space and violating their boundaries. You all know the type: the extremely extroverted, touchy-feely, in-your-face vampiric energy-suckers that will make your life utterly unbearable if you let them. And because people nowadays are so easy to offend, the boundaries an introvert erects may cause others, even good friends and family-members, to get angry or frustrated when they realize that your life doesn’t revolve around them all the time (especially if you have made the mistake of setting up your boundaries late in your relationships). Boundaries can actually make people quite mad or upset, either because they don’t understand the concept or because they are emotionally invested in you (whether you want them to be or not) and now think you hate them. People can be hurt, frightened, angered or confused by boundaries. You yourself can be hurt, angered or saddened by the fact that you have to put them up in the first place. But you must establish boundaries if you are to survive as an individual. An introvert without boundaries is like a crippled bird unable to fly – in short, he is prey to be toyed with and eaten by any cruel predator who sees that he can’t or won’t defend himself. Lines must be drawn; the foot must be put down; the introvert must learn to assert himself (especially if he is in a position of power), even if he grieves others by doing so (and he will – I certainly have).

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Boundaries can cause pain both to the introvert and to those he loves

The best way for an introvert to establish boundaries is to be clear and precise about what his wants, needs and priorities are. The more clear and steadfast he is in stating what he will nor will or will not accept, what kind of people he will or will not associate with, what gives him pleasure and what does not give him pleasure, what angers him and what makes him glad, the less risk he runs in being misunderstood or invaded by those he is in relationship with. Clarity and steadfastness  are very important, yet they are not foolproof. The king of the castle, regardless of how well he has built up his walls, regardless of how visible the flag of his personality and interests is flying, must always be prepared for the ever-present possibility of having those walls breached by an enemy, of having the castle of his heart invaded, stormed, flooded and yes, even plundered. Damage-control plans/survival mechanisms must be already in place to deal with such a scenario. Depending on who is assaulting you and what matter of person it is (is it a loved one or a stranger?) and why they are doing it (do they know they are being invasive or is this a deliberate attack?) an introvert must contend with multiple possible threats from a myriad of different directions – all of which only serve to drain and exhaust him further (hence the need for a ‘bug-out’ place, as defined in Tip One). Boundaries are not easy. Yet they must be established and maintained as soon as possible.

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okay buster, you just breached my invisible 15-foot wide personal security bubble…yes, it IS a big deal – why do you think I’m pointing this at you?

The more self-knowledge one has, the quicker one can get to work constructing them. As for myself, because I am an outlaw and a wanted man, I live in a constant state of having to defend myself from both bodily and mental harm by those who seek to kill me. My ship is almost perpetually under attack and I often must resort to physical violence to protect myself and my friends. I am always armed. My weapons are a part of my boundaries. They show others that I am a man not to be trifled with. Doubtless, most introverts see no need to go about armed unless they have a job where it is required; yet it is something that must be taken into consideration. The world is a dangerous place. Safety and peace should be considered the exception, not the norm. Treasure these times. You never know what is going to happen tomorrow. Yet, even if you are ever in a situation where you are physically helpless before your enemies, your boundaries can still offer you protection. Your mind and your heart and still yours to command. Self awareness and knowledge is everything. Once I was in a situation where I was unarmed and at the mercy of my foes. They wanted me to do things for them I had no intention of doing. I told them no, plainly. I showed no fear. I did not allow them to touch me. They could have killed me easily, yet I still would have been the victor. I remained true to myself. Boundaries can be used to keep others away from you, yet then can also be used to keep you away from them. Yes, you will seem cold and stoic and reserved, and many will not understand your behavior. But this is also you trying to survive in a hostile, overstimulating world. Yet all castles must have drawbridges. If an outsider is found worthy of your trust, friendship or love, invite  him into your castle of visions and dreams; share your wonders with him; allow him to do the same. Enrich and build upon each other (more on this later). But no matter how much of a wonderful a time you are having, you must always be on the alert…

Tip Three: Always Be Aware of Your Surroundings

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always carefully scope out and assess a social gathering before entering

Here is a very sad yet true fact of life that all introverts/loners/highly-sensitive people must resign themselves to: this world – especially today’s world – is a very Loud and Noisy Place filled with Loud and Noisy People. Why it has to be so is still something I have not quite figured out. If Godzilla were to rise from the sea and assault New York City then all the yelling, screaming, running, shooting, helicopters, the army, mass panic, mass-stampeding, looting, crazy driving, traffic jams, and the perpetual emoting/stressing-out of family members would all be entirely justified or at least understandable. But because this is not yet happening, I am at a loss as to why mass society acts like it is. Cities are the worst. No, any place where large amounts of people (the bulk of which are extraverts) have gathered are the worst (except country-fairs; country-fairs can be fun). There are TVs and loudspeakers designed to catch attention, forever running endless ads on what you should be buying next and constantly showing news bits that are almost entirely about negative things. Distractions, overstimulates and bodily hazards come in all shapes and forms: Obama’s ugly face, texting drivers, speeding drives, drunken drivers, angry drivers, little undisciplined children whose parents are not paying attention to them, panicked pedestrians who are late for work, fierce barking dogs, TVs, lights, loudspeakers, cellphones, grating, vulgar music that is an insult to real music, gangsters, feral niggers who like to play the knock-out game, disease-ridden illegal foreigners, sirens, fires, gunshots, most bars, obnoxious drunks, crying babies, stalkers, homicidal-manics, your kids, your girlfriend’s kids, your girlfriend, your ex-girlfriend, your next door neighbor’s yapping poodle, the across-the-street neighbor who can’t get his car started at five in the morning, trains, domestic disputes, domestic disputes that turn violent, the party that is still going strong at three in the morning in the apartment above you, your wife, your ex-wife, the would-be robbers/aliens trying to break into/invade your house/spaceship, etc, to name just a few…

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Never let your guard down for a moment

All of the above serve to illustrate the fundamental truth behind this tip: you have little or no control over your environment or what is going on around you; therefore, what say or control you DO HAVE must be zealously maintained and defended at nearly all costs. Because most introverts live almost entirely inside their heads (hence the accusations of being ‘spaced-out’, ‘dumb and silent’, ‘aloof’, ‘withdrawn’, ‘cold’, ‘distant’, etc…), we must train ourselves to be more focused on the outside world (as unpleasant as it may be) and what is happening around us. Any form of social contact/engagement must be cautiously appraised before entering, as you must be careful of your energy-levels and your ability to draw any meaningful, edifying encounters from the event. Parties are the ultimate trail-by-fire for most introverts. Just as much time needs to be spent planning on how to escape/withdraw from them as is needed to mentally prepare oneself to go to them in the first place. If you decide to do the party thing, you must take full responsibility for your decision since you are voluntarily engaging in a social activity (as opposed to an obligatory one, such as your job), and as such you are the author of your own success or downfall. The happy, chatty extraverts you are willfully mixing with must not be blamed. If you are there of your own free will, you must conduct yourself accordingly. Seek out, note, and remember the exits (if there are any; if there are no exits, you are going to be in serious trouble). Have friends to meet and/or back you up. Do not drink too much. Actually, try to avoid drinking at all. Drinking may help you appear more extroverted and mentally loosen you up, but you are then at the mercy of your environment and the people around you, and if anything unpleasant happens, you could be in deep shit (I have my own drinking methods that I will shortly share in another tip). Remember to always scope-out and asses any kind of social gathering before entering. Note the people, the music, what is going on and what is being eaten/drunk. Why are these people gathered and what is their objective? What do you have to do with it? How important is it? How crowded is it? Can you escape if you need to? Where can you escape to? Is it  whole damn thing ultimately worth it? Ask all these questions and more. Large groups of people who are partying and drinking should never be underestimated. Remember this always and plan accordingly. Speaking of planning…

Tip Four: Try to Become as Self-Sufficient as Possible

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Hmmm, so where the hell am I again?

This tip is a touch-and-go one, owing to the fact that self-sufficiency depends greatly on one’s environment and financial resources.  Because I live in a near-indestructible space-battleship in complete independence of any one and thing, self-sufficiency is not a problem for me. For the rest of you Earth-bound unfortunates, learning to be self-sufficient can be both time-consuming and expensive. If you are wealthy enough to afford an underground bunker (ah, what a nice escape haven that would be!), lots of wilderness-survival classes/seminars, a safe full of nice guns, land, livestock, stockpiled food and your choice of any habitat to flee to when the shit hits the fan (and it will one day, believe me), you are one of the lucky few. Chances are good that you cannot afford all this, and will have to make do with what is available. People who live in rural places or in the country are naturally more self-sufficient out of necessity then urban and city folks, but this is no excuse for a city-dwelling introvert not to acquire a bit of useful knowledge about how to stay alive when civilization collapses, buy a few weapons, learn how to use them, stockpile a little food and water, learn how to ride devices/animals that don’t require gasoline and greatly expand his book and alcohol collection. I have a feeling that there are a fair number of introverts and loners who probably wouldn’t mind very much if current human civilization did collapse, and that there are some who are even looking forward to it. Because self-sufficiency and survival are in the cross-hairs goal-wise for many people, there are a billion websites and forums online where one can get all the info and advice he needs about what to do when it all goes to hell. Thus this tip will be short. I need say no more. Go forth and learn. There is always something more to find out and discover; and while we’re on the subject of discovery…

Tip Five: Find the Perfect Solo Hobby

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Phantom F. Harlock the First’s favorite pastime

If the survivalist/self-sufficiency thing is not the glass of wine for you, or if you have become too jaded and cynical (or just plain tired) to care much whether you live or die after the collapse of society (I’ve been there), there are still plenty of wonderful things for an introvert to do while civilization is still on its feet. Being introverted means that most of us are the masters of our own happiness; we do not need to rely on others or on what the latest social fad is to dictate what we are going to do and what we are to enjoy. Time is a precious resource that we cannot afford to waste and we must fill it with worthy and meaningful occupations. Our own solitary pursuits keep us sane and add meaning and depth to our lives, even if they appear to others to be boring and/or pointless. Here is where we are actually at an advantage.  There are tons of things we can devote our time to, some of them lofty and expensive, others humble and simple. Flying about and waging war are the main occupations of my family. My own great ancestor, Phantom F. Harlock the First, spent almost his entire life flying his trusty little biplane solo all over the world as an aerial explorer. His son, Phantom F. Harlock II, was also a pilot and when WWII rolled over Europe he kept himself busy blowing the hell out of Allied aircraft in his Messerschmitt fighter plane. If solo-flying is not something you enjoy or can attain to, there is horseback riding (WolfOfLonliness’s favorite hobby), fishing, motorcycle riding, hiking, rock-climbing, off-the-road cycling, hunting, wildlife/bird-watching, star-gazing, growing a garden, training/walking a dog, collecting rocks and seashells, people-watching or just taking a long, leisurely walk through your neighborhood at night or dawn. Nature is an introvert’s best friend because he can get away from other people and their noise-driven society and recharge in a beautiful, enriching environment. I envy all your choice-options; I myself can only rarely enjoy such pleasures as these, owing to the fact Earth is not my home anymore and human society has become (as it is also true for you, to one degree or another) a place where I am either forever out of place or downright unwelcome.

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Playing the ocarina: a favorite hobby of mine

If you are an introvert that is not quite so inclined toward exercise and nature-based excursions, have no fear: your house, your apartment and above all, your bedroom, can be just as wonderful as the great outdoors (something you are probably delightfully aware of already). Within the privet safety of four simple walls the introvert can accomplish much. A true introvert is never bored in his bedroom: it is a place where wonders happen. In the bedroom one can nap – sleep, unconsciousness, is a beautiful thing: it is like being dead to the overstimulating world without actually having to be dead. Here you can write and paint and draw and blog and troll and design things. If you have a computer, or multiple computers, you can engage in all sorts of interesting socializing methods without actually having to be with anyone. There is the couch, popcorn, and a billion movies and shows streaming on Netflix. Then there is music – blessed, sweet music that is the second-best relaxation drug man has ever come up with. The perfect piece of music can put most introverts into rapture. One can learn how to play a musical instrument – the piano, the violin, the harp, the flute, etc (I enjoy playing the ocarina). If you don’t have the time or skill to play an instrument then you can spend hours just listening to music with your stereo or iPod. Music and songs have never been so available to man in such diverse quantities in history; we introverts are very lucky. Take an MP3 player with you to social functions you don’t really want to be at as well as a really big pair of head-phones. Once you feel too overstimulated, find a room with few or no people in it, plop yourself down on a comfy sitting-surface, put those babies on and totally disengage. Anyone with half a brain looking at you should realize that you do not wish to be disturbed. And do not forget to bring The Book…

Tip Five: Always have Your most Favorite Book with You at All Times

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My favorite book ‘Arcadia of My Youth’ which contains the accounts of my great ancestors’ aerial exploits

If there is one thing almost all introverts everywhere love to do it is reading. Book are just plain awesome. Books are the main reason we do not go on homicidal rampages when pushed past our limit. Books allow us to explore strange new worlds, travel back in time, envision the future, and circle the globe all without leaving the house, talking to anyone, or changing out of our pajamas. Books are likely to make up the bulk of an introvert’s material possessions, and are the things he is most likely to draw his main source of solace from when the world becomes too much to much for him to handle. Books are an introvert’s true world. If the bulk of us could get away with spending the rest of our lives just reading, a good number of us would probably do so. But there are books and then there are books…then there is The Book, the Book of books, the Book above all other books…the Book that, no matter how many times it is read, will forever and always be a inexhaustible source of delight, wonder and awe to the one who holds it as his chosen favorite. The Book is ‘The Book’ because it allows the introvert to completely bypass all the things discussed in Tip Three. Yes, this book, when opened, has such a hold over the individual that he completely immerses himself in it and everything around him ceases to exist. Which is the whole point. The Book is your ‘bug-out’ book. If an introvert is away from (on a vacation, let’s say) his bug-out place(s) or if he is trapped/confined in a crowded, noisy place (train, bus, airport, airplane, DMV waiting-room, party, car full of talking/squabbling friends/family members, etc) and he cannot get away from or do anything about his overstimulating/unhealthy environment, then, as a last resort, before he looses his mind, he whips out The Book and completely disengages from everything that is going on around him. The Book becomes, for a time, his only reality. All else ceases to be of importance. Anything could be happening and it will not affect him. Not that The Book should be used only during unpleasant situations, no: The Book is to be read and enjoyed at any time or place regardless of the outside circumstances. Take it with you everywhere. Have multiple copies at your disposal. Never allow it to be far from you. And yes, people will give you grief about it…

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Always take The Book with you wherever you go and keep it away from things that are about to burst into flames

People (most likely family-members) will give you grief about your spontaneous, lengthy reading habits usually in the four following ways or for the four following reasons : One: Your loved ones have not seen you in three days and your room is starting to smell. Two: You have not moved from that chair for three hours and your mother’s/wife’s request that you should take out the garbage has been met with no vocal response, or if it has, it has not been followed up upon. Three: Even though you have deliberately gone off by yourself in a school/collage setting to read in privet, some jocks/bullies/bored people have found you and have taken it upon themselves to mock you, tease you, spread rumors about you, beat you up, or, worst of all, to try to steal or damage your book(s). Four: You have – intentionally or not – chosen the wrong time to whip out The Book, breaching some unwritten social rule and now everyone thinks you are a jackass or that you are just plain inconsiderate and rude. Whether this (number Four) is actually true or not is beside the point. This point is that you were just quietly reading and because of that other people are worried or offended. Explanations are in order. Tell them the truth. Again, be clear and gracious in your defense; explain the value of reading in your life and what it does for you. Tell them you are not going to change. Keep calm and read on. Regardless of what you do, someone will be on your case from time to time about your vast amount of literary consumption. I myself was once mocked about it by my enemies after my defeat in a war against a very ruthless alien race. I was informed by one of the aliens that if I had spent the same amount of time devising a means to attain victory as I did reading my favorite book, Arcadia of My Youth (which chronicles my great ancestors’ legendary aerial exploits), I would not have been defeated in battle. ”You cannot defeat us with books,” they told me. I kept my silence. What do aliens know about the inner workings of man, especially a man such as myself? All introverts are like great seas that on the surface appear to be empty and dull  but contain within them innumerable, uncountable things that only a carefully chosen and select few will ever be allowed to plunge within and see. Mockery and scorn will get the Loud People nowhere. Too bad it takes them forever to realize this.

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Consider it inevitable: people will give you hell about your reading habits once and a while

The Book (and all his other books) allow the introvert to escape for a while from the pressures and demands of a Busy and Noisy society or the cock-tail party. By reading books he can safety allow himself to be in different relationships (connecting with the characters) and living a different life (involving himself in the plot), something he most likely finds hard to do in ‘real’ life, where real people with the real power to either hurt or grieve him abide, and where he runs the content risk of being misunderstood or rejected by anyone anywhere. This is why most introverts are so cautious and careful about who they invest their emotional time on, who they allow themselves to be intimate with; and who shall be their friends. There is very little room for (much less the energy to deal with) failure; the process by which an introvert selects and maintains his small social group of comrades is often a slow and fine-combed one that can take years to perfect and refine. But once the friendships are established, they will last a life-time. But one must always be so careful…

Tip Six: Only Let the Right Ones In

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Always remember: the choice to become emotionally involved with someone belongs to you and you alone – choose wisely

Whether one likes it or not, whether one understands it or not, life as humans have always known it revolves around relationships. There is the relationship between husband and wife that, taken to its fullest extent, produces children that will carry on and further one’s bloodline and one’s race. There is the relationship of comrades (or coworkers) sticking it together through thick and thin so certain vital things necessary to society get done so that the collective group will suffer as little as possible. There is the unnecessary yet profound relationship of friends that exits only for the mutual sake of the other, with no strings or obligations attached. There is the great and terrible God-like love-relationship where one is ready to kill, ready to die, for the sake of the chosen beloved. And it only gets bigger and more complicated. There are the relationships of different races and groups of people, either in unity or discord with each other; the relationships of nations and the social, political and economical ramifications that accompany them. The whole world turns on human relationships: for good or ill that is the chosen method of God in regards to how creation is managed and driven. We introverts and loners may seem to have little purpose in the great, interconnected, globalized and extroverted world that makes up current modern society. Just being born into such a society puts us in a defensive state of being; damage-control is something we are always having to preform day by day as we struggle to comply with the demands/expectations of society and the people we are in relationship with, both voluntary and involuntary. This is why most introverts are very picky and sensitive about who they allow to become close to them. We might be seen as snobs by outsiders, but this is also another attempt to survive: to be sociable and form attachments in a world that where such things must take place without overdoing it and draining ourselves (and thus rendering ourselves useless to everyone). Hell might not be ‘other people’ as some tend to think introverts must see it, but Hell can easily be the wrong people at the wrong time and in the wrong amounts. When an introvert, especially an introvert on the extreme side of the spectrum, is placed in a situation where people are coming at him from every direction and who have nothing really important or edifying to tell/offer him, he will either shut down or detonate – a very unpleasant experience for all involved.  This is why introverts are always dashing off by themselves: it is so that they can replenish their energy so they can successfully deal with problematic issues and be more emotionally and mentally available to those who genuinely need them.

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The introvert must be fully charged and prepared in order to deal with the needs and wants of those he is in relationship with

But, as odd as it sounds, it is the actual people themselves who the introvert is most eager to learn about and relate to. Introverts are actually more desirous for companionship and relationships then outsiders would think; it is the type and quality of said companionship and relationships that sets a wide gape between introverts and extraverts in both their desires and their methods of approach. Most introverts can count their friends on one hand, and there is a good reason for this: the introvert desires substance over form, depth of spirit and personality over outward beauty and social status, intellectual/spiritual intimacy over physical/bodily intimacy; he wants to find someone with a joint love for same ideas and things that will make them one in heart rather then body. He craves beauty, wisdom and meaning and a companion with whom to share his inner world.  But finding that special person can take a long time, and the introvert is slow and careful in his selection of the person (or persons) that he will bare his heart and soul to. But once he is found, this person (be he himself introverted or extroverted) becomes the most valued and loved thing the introvert possesses. Nothing can compare to his beloved friend. Even if they are separated by time or distance, his worth remains unchanged. Just the memories of their shared experiences together are a delight to the introvert. His friend is like a well that the often energy-starved introvert can drink from again and again without ever draining him; a person who he can share things with that he may never share with any another person that comes after. A person painstakingly drawn (or given) from the great sea of humanity that makes everything else so worth it: a genuine true friend; a ‘bug-out’ buddie who is above all value and price. What indeed, of all the pleasures of the world, can truly be more wonderful and glorious then a companion such as that?

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find your true companion(s) and all shall be well with you, even when it is not – for if they are there, anything can be endured

Introverts are often accused of being cold, withdrawn, stoic, aloof and snobbish -and, depending on the introvert, many of these things can be true  – but once an introvert finds someone who can can truly share himself with, he will indeed open up and give, and he will give abundantly, with both the right hand and the left – mind, heart and all his innermost treasures. But only to the right ones, only to the worthy ones –  not because he hates others or sees himself as better then them (though this can be the case sometimes), but because he cannot afford to do nothing less. Anything less is a violation of his very nature. Mistakes will cost him dearly; failure is hardly better then a knife in the heart. In my mind is better for me to die ‘alone’ with only one friend at my side (and this possibility has indeed befallen me) than to have surrendered my integrity and whored my self out to a million causal ‘acquaintances’ whom I barley know. But my friend I do know – as do you – and, no matter the distances of time or space, this is the person who will be there for you when you need him, even if he himself has a dozen other friends. And you will be there for him, for he is the sharer of your secret hopes and dreams, the keeper of your heart, your other half, your soul-mate, your bosom-brother, both now and possibly forever…

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Myself and my beloved bug-out buddy Tochiro Oyama

”Beloved friend, my boon companion, my fair boyhood comrade, start now to sing with me…now that we have come together…seldom do we come together, [and] meet one another…let us clasp hand in hand, fingers in fingers, so that we may sing fine things, [and] give voice to the finest things.”

– from the The Kalevala or Poems from the Kalevala District, translated by Francis Peabody Magoun

Tip Seven: Learn How to Be a Good Listener

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some people need to talk, to get things off their chests and you might be needed for this at times

Because casual chit-chat is to introverts what stakes and crosses are to vampires, genuine, heart-felt, edifying conversations with others (preferably one-on-one) are craved by all introverts to one degree or another. Many a time an introvert will risk the energy-drainage and over-linger at a party of chipper, chatty, possibly drunken extraverts in the hopes of scoring a meaningful conversation or encounter with someone. However, this will not work out in most cases, and the poor results may start to get to you after a while. But I have found that there is another road: one that does not really involve chit-chat or deep conversation – to simply be someone who is willing to listen to others for a while. Everybody carries inside them many things that they would like to talk about or at least get off their chests via a good rant, but they often don’t have the time to do so or people who they can (safely) expresses themselves to. This is where you might come in. The perks of being a listener is that you do not have to drain yourself holding up your end of the conversation (because its not really a conversation). Often you do not have to speak at all. The other person does all the hard work, which he does not view as hard because it is something he wants to do. Once this extroverted person is isolated from his [in your view] overstimulating environment, and you have made yourself available as someone who will listen to him for a while, all kinds of interesting ideas and information can come out. You may or may not agree with or understand everything that he is talking about, but that is not the point. The point is that you are listening to them when no-one else will. Internal burdens are unloaded, the air gets cleared, rants are unleashed, etc…Anyone can come to you with this need: friends, acquaintances, coworkers, loved ones, family members and possibly even complete strangers at a party who have had a little too much to drink. In my case, it is my enemies who often do this.

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Anyone can come to you with the need to talk…possibly even your enemies

Of course, as with all things in life, being a listener does have its perils and drawbacks. The main problem that can arise is that, if you are just a causal acquaintance, coworker or a stranger, you can wind up being privy to a lot of confidential and/or personal information about someone that you otherwise have no business or desire to know. Self-validation is very important to most extraverts, and sometimes they can go overboard in giving way info about themselves or others that they really shouldn’t be. In addition to this, once an extravert has offloaded on you, he may think that, just because you now know everything about him, that you and he (or she) are now best buds and that the time has come to move your relationship to the next level – possibly to a physical one – if the encounter is taking place between two members of the opposite sex (especially if you both are at a party where the alcohol is flowing freely). Or he now expects you to give up information about yourself in like manner – which, of course, you probably have no intention of doing. This is where Tip Two and Tip Three must be utilized. You have allowed this person to talk or rant to you, but that is as far as you are willing to go. Unless you desire it, the relationship must not be allowed to preceded further. Make sure of your escape routs and avoid giving out your phone number. If all works out in your favor, the other person will have satisfied himself by just talking and he will leave you to go about his other business. If what he has talked about was interesting or edifying, then you have gained something without exhausting yourself. If not, it is like water off a duck’s back: you are not obligated to do anything about the information and can just forget about it. If you are one of those introverts who feels guilty about your introversion (which you shouldn’t be), and feeling that you are taking more from society and others then you are giving back, being a good listener to others can be a good way to alleviate your guilty feelings. Just remember not to get too involved if you can help it.

Tip Eight: Learn to Love the Night

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Night is my favorite time of day

For many introverts (including WolfOfLoneliness) night is the best time of day. Because I live in outer space I am surrounded by nightness almost 24/7. Adrift amid the Sea of Stars, I am completely disconnected from human society and all its drama. I am free to wander as I will, and I am safe to enjoy my solitude and my glass of wine as I see fit. Why is the night so wonderful? Because the night is quiet, the night is silent and the night is dark. Unless an introvert is living in a collage town full of partying extraverts or in a crowded city that never sleeps, the night can be a wonderful time for an introvert go take a nice, long walk and see what his environment is like when all the Loud and Noisy People finally crash for the day. At night, the whole world takes on new and different modes and forms. Even cities are beautiful at night (at least from a distance). One can spend hours walking or biking through their neighborhood at night and experience it in a completely different way then how they did during the day. And if one lives in the country, why, just look at all those stars! Star-gazing from Earth is one of the most amazing things an introvert (or anyone really) can do. And all those empty fields just waiting to be strolled through without another person around for miles: pure paradise! Learn to love the night, my friends (equally important is learning when to finally go to bed). The night is your safe haven, a mysterious world for you to explore and roam in, away from the noise and the attention and the prying eyes of others. Now that winter is coming the Sun is setting sooner and sooner and the night is claiming her appointed half of the year. Soon there will be snow. The Earth will be veiled in layers of virgin white, silent and waitful. And when the moonlight shines down the ground will glow and glimmer with a fairy-tale brilliance. The air will be cold and crisp and clear. Darkness and silence will reign supreme. The Noise-World sleeps, but you do not. Go out, the night awaits you. She can only be loved by one such as you. She is yours – yours to preside over, to wander in; to hide yourself in: the Loner-King of a cold and quiet world. I know it well. I always have.

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the Sea of Space is my sea…

The everlasting darkness of space is my abode; for space is also dark and silent and cold. Here I am King. Here I rule. Do not morn me, you contented citizens of the corrupt and wasted Earth; do not pity me, do not scorn me. I have escaped you; I am free from you; I do not need you. The time of night is for you, my fellow loners. Love her. Treasure her. One day the Seas of Space may be for you as well. We must never stop dreaming. But now I am tired, and there is another kind of darkness waiting for me, the darkness of sleep, which we all must surrender to, willingly or not…but first, a glass of wine is in order…

Tip Nine: Learn to Enjoy Drinking Alone

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You mean there are OTHER ways to drink?

I would like to start this tip with a disclaimer: this tip should not be followed by any introvert/loner who is trying to climb onto the wagon, is riding high on the wagon or is looking for a half-decent excuse to fall off the wagon. This tip is only for those who are well-versed and fully aware of their need for alcohol and know their limits and can exercise self-control. You have been warned. Alcohol, in all its delightful forms, is a man-made drug that has been highjacked and is utilized by mass extroverted society as a means to make an already morally-loose, attention-seeking, self-escaping bulk of the extroverted population even more so.  Most extraverts like to drink to together in large groups or in the presence of many others – the more people that are gathered at the party the better. What would be unthinkable to do or say in the company of a few close friends over a drink or two becomes more and more permissible when one is quaffing drinks at a giant party or festival where one hardly knows anybody at all. If enough alcohol is consumed and the party reaches critical mass, anything can become possible or permissible. All one’s self-control, self-preservation and self-respect can be thrown out the window along with one’s clothing. And extraverts (as far as I can tell) seem to want this. They want to loose control, they want to be seen behaving in a insane and shameful and self-degrading manner. Why else would they deliberately drink in crowded noisy places with lots of strangers? I do not understand it. They hardly seem to care about what they drink as long as it loosens them up sufficiently to act out in ways that they normally cannot do so when sober or in the company of the sober. For them, alcohol is a getaway drug that with the right people and in the right environment allows them to become animals; it is a means to an end. Being human is difficult; being an actual individual is even more difficult – that I understand. Living is difficult; relationships can be difficult – that I also understand. But I am at a loss as to why these difficulties must be amended by partying and drinking until one is so wasted that when the next morning dawns they can barely even remember what they where doing the night before. They could have done or said anything (and anything could have been done or said to them) yet they cannot recall it. They shake off their hangovers and go on with their day until their drinking and/or partying leads to something that greatly interferes with the sober part of their social lives – usually something unpleasant.

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Drinking alone is safer and more relaxing

So what is the (non-alcoholic) introvert to do with regards to his drinking habits? How should he proceed in his quest to enjoy the pleasures of drinking? By drinking alone. Yet just by doing this the introvert is inviting all kinds of misconceptions and judgments upon himself by greater society. Only drunks drink alone, they say. Only drunks drink for the sake of drinking. The introvert and the alcoholic walk a very fine line together and it is often understandable that they are often confused with one another – especially if one is both introverted and an alcoholic. To the extravert, alcohol is a tool: it is a means of being able to integrate himself more fully into a social setting of one form or another; to impress his friends or coworkers, to score a one-night stand, or to enable him to do and say things in a public setting he is normally unable or not allowed to. Or he takes advantage of a social/relationship situation and uses alcohol to manipulate and control others for his own devious ends. The introvert however, similar to his alcoholic counterpart, sees alcohol exactly for what it is: a mind-altering drug. Thus, a true introvert will drink in order that his mind might be altered. He will therefor drink alone, having no reason whatsoever to involve others in his solitary mind-altering experience. He will be choosey and selective of his beverage of choice. He will not drink just anything – it must be the right thing, the right form of alcohol for the right occasion. Both myself and the WolfOfLoneliness have stockpiled various, expensive bottles of hard liquor that can last us for years to this effect (see Tip Four).  And if an introvert does desire the company of others while indulging himself, he will only drink in the presence of his closest friends and companions: with those who truly know and respect him.

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If an introvert wants to drink with others he should drink with his best friends and comrades

Safe and secure in the fellowship of his friends, an introvert can share with them whatever marvels and wonders his mind brings forth under the influence of this beautiful mind-altering drug known as alcohol (his friends can also do likewise).  And he can stop drinking the minute he achieves the desired peak of his mentally-altered state, being under no outside/social pressure to keep on drinking and drinking long after his limit has been reached. Unfortunately, many introverts tend to drink for the same reasons extraverts do – they use alcohol as a tool to free themselves from their introversion so that they can become one with the happy, good-time-scoring extraverts partying around them. Or they are trying to mentally escape form the overstimulating insanity of the party and the endless stream of chit-chat and are using alcohol as a buffer to that effect, thus placing themselves in danger of being taken advantage of by any party-predator who sees them as prime targets for a myriad of forms of exploitation. This is why I do not advise drinking at parties unless you have multiple close friends to aid and support you (if they themselves are not drinking as well). Drinking alone or with a chosen few is the best way for an introvert to enjoy the wonders of spirits. Drinking alone may carry its own stigmas, but at least there is no hypocrisy or pretending involved. Your individually and personality remains intact and safe. An introvert named Martin has this to say concerning introversion, drinking, and mass society:

”Society has a schizoid relationship with alcohol because it is a dangerous intoxicant that is also part of established custom [of current social society]. If you drink at all you have no choice but to accept these terms. Remember, you are allowed to drink, but only if you follow custom [i. e. the rules]. It is a mistake to imagine that, because alcohol is legal, the taboo against altering your consciousness [alone] has been lifted. You are not allowed. Indeed, you are not allowed even to have a personality until and unless you have won enough status — power and money — upon which you can then purchase your right to be a character. Drinking alone is an insolent act of rebellion: how dare you suppose that alcohol is available to you for the pursuit of solitary rewards? All other chemical means to enlightenment are banned, and alcohol would be too were it not for the fact that it can easily be made in a bathtub. That, and the fact that it is useful to our rulers as a safety valve, served to you with a wink and a leer. Look at us drinking! Let’s get into a huddle and delight in our freedom to pursue this guilty pleasure, this vice. The strictures are onerous, the taxes levied on each barrel more onerous still. But if you drink at home on your own you are straying into dangerous territory. You will be seen to have usurped to yourself the limited freedom grudgingly dispensed as a means of social control, and will be dealt with accordingly.”

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Because I live outside of society, I need not concern myself with meeting the drinking customs and requirements of said society…cheers to you, innies

Because I live in freedom in my spaceship Arcadia, I do not have to concern myself with the ins and outs of drinking according to the customs and rules of mass society. Whether it is in the privacy of my personal cabin or in public on the battle-bridge, there is nothing to prevent me from drinking when and where I choose – except myself. Self-control is everything: the more self-control one has, the more power he possesses over himself, the stronger he actually is. For most introverts, the careful care and feeding of self takes up most their time and energy if they are to survive in this current type of world. Sometimes we need a break. Wait til sundown, pour yourself a glass, then sit outside and watch the stars come out. Enjoy life. Enjoy the quiet. And please don’t forget to drink responsibly. Cheers.

Tip Ten: Do Try to Socialize Once and a While – It Probably Won’t Kill You

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Must I?

This will – I think – will be the  final tip I will share – and it is the hardest one to to write about because socializing, for most introverts, is…well…hard. Just writing about it is draining me, therefor I will keep this short and sweet. First, there are three types of socializing an introvert can experience: The first is obligatory socializing, where an introvert must interact with others because his job requires it or because his family members insist upon it. If he were not under obligation (or did not posses an honorable sense of duty), he would have no desire to attend these family/job-orientated social obligations and would most likely opt-out of them. The second is forced socializing (a cruel fate that usually befalls introverted children) where the introvert is forced, against his own explicit wishes, either by threats of abandonment, disapproval, rejection or mockery, to attend a social function that he is dead-set against attending or participating in. All his protests or excuses are in vain; if he does not comply, the consequences will be dire. Then finally there is voluntary socializing where an introvert or a loner, of his own accord, will deliberately seek out the company of others for his own personal reasons. This is the type of socializing I want to discuss.  Tips One, Two, Three, Six and Nine lay the groundwork on how to be successful (or at least survive) these types of socializing. Depending on the introvert, the amount of socializing desired/needed varies from individual to individual. What might be acceptable or more tolerable to one introvert may be unacceptable or intolerable to another. As I have already noted: self-knowledge and awareness are the key elements in assessing what one wants and needs with regards to other people and the good or bad drama that accompanies them. It is up to the individual to decide in the end just how much or how little time and energy he uses in perusing social activities and with what kind of people he decides to pursue them with. The choice still lies with him – unless others force him to play the part out of obligation or from the mistaken view that they need to ‘fix’ him – and him alone; therefor, being the independent, self-sufficient, outside-the-herd person he is, he must take responsibility for his choices and actions. This is something everyone must learn.

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Myself and my goddaughter, Mayu Oyama

And finally, if socializing has any benefits at all to people such as us, it is that during our struggles to navigate the extroverted world and connect with the society around us we introverts might be blessed to find those few special people that truly enrich, edify and and bring meaning and happiness into our lives. Even introverts get lonely sometimes, and we can’t always alleviate our yearnings for the companionship of others by reading a book or talking long night-walks alone. Of course if we can find someone who enjoys reading the same kind of books we do or who also likes taking walks at night then we are very fortunate – but such people don’t always drop into our laps, we must go out into the world in search of them. You never know who is out there or where they might be found. The person who might become the love of your life or your best friend just might be at that big party you are dreading to go to, or stuck at the terminal of that over-crowded, noisy airport that you can’t wait to leave. One never knows. The questions introverts and loners need to ask themselves is whether or not they are willing to take the risks and the heart-breaks involved when looking for and bonding with that special someone that they want share their dreams and lives with.  The choice, as always, is up to each of you. Choose wisely. If freedom and independence are the chief driving forces of your life (as they are for me), then find others that equally desire the same things. Build up your inner-circle, your family of friends, your crew, with those who share the same desires and dreams. But if, in the end, you find yourself alone once more – either by circumstance or by choice – there is always Arcadia: the inner paradise of the heart, the last un-breached retreat that all introverts are forever creating and maintaining – a place built entirely for them and all their hopes and dreams and loves. If there are others out there whom we can welcome into our Arcadia, then we must strive to find them. But if not, there is no-one to stop us from setting sail alone, for we are blessed (or cursed) with the power to hold our own in a deadly and hostile universe that may want nothing to do with us – nor we it. If that is the case, let us remain true to ourselves and maintain our integrity and honor; let us never surrender to anyone or anything who seeks to defile or destroy our innermost Arcadia – for it is the only thing we have; the only thing we can truly call our own; our one true home.

Stay free, my friends; and never stop flying!

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my Arcadia

Yours Truly: Captain Harlock, Space-Pirate

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Captain Harlock Song/Music Roundup # 1

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Captain Harlock playing his ocarina

Most of your Captain Harlock animes come with great music and stirring songs. Here is a roundup of the best ones, starting with those songs that have English translation lyrics. Enjoy!

1978 Space Pirate Captain Harlock TV series Opening Theme Song:

 

1982 ‘The Sun Will Not Die’ (Maya’s Song) Arcadia of My Youth:

1982 ‘Arcadia of My Youth’ (End Song) Arcadia of My Youth:

1978 ‘Song of the Wandering Boat’ Space Pirate Captain Harlock:

Mayu and Harlock’s Ocarina Theme:

‘We are the Space Pirates’ 1978 SPCH:

‘Tochiro’s Lullaby’ 1978 SPCH

 

‘Mukashi, Mukashi’ (Long Ago, Long Ago) 1978 SPCH:

 

1982 ‘Harlock No Ballad’ (Harlock’s Ballard) Endless Orbit SSX:

 

1982 ‘Oretachi No Funade’ Endless Orbit SSX Opening Song:

1978 ‘My Friend, My Life’ SPCH:

1978 ‘Somber’ SPCH:

1982 ‘Zoll’s Grave – Maya’s Death’ Arcadia of My Youth:

 

2013 Space Pirate Captain Harlock movie OST mix:

1982 ‘Everlasting Love’ (Harlock and Maya) Arcadia of My Youth:

2002 Endless Odyssey Opening Music:

You can download all these songs and more here for free:

http://pleer.com/search?q=captain+Harlock

In which cool Captain Harlock Art improves crappy Modern Architecture

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I have a confession to make: I hate 90% of all modern Western art and architecture. That is because the bulk of most modern art and architecture is ugly, dull, boring, uninspiring, obnoxious and often just plain insane. I hate paying good money to go into giant art museums and looking at framed pictures of triangles that have been slightly averted and at crazy kiddie-like concoctions of colored paint spattered across giant canvasses. Then there’s the weird shit dangling from the ceiling. Right. Over. My. Head. And the sculptures…all those bizarre formless, twisted sculptures that could keep one in an eternal state of perpetual puzzlement if it weren’t for the titles (which are often just as puzzling). Seriously, WTH?

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I truly don’t understand it. I am at a total loss. Why would anyone want to look at things that are ugly, dull, uninspiring, boring and bizarre? And why would anyone pay money to do so?

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why are the walls so blank…where’s the art? Oh, wait…

Holy shit…is this how Satan views humanity?

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Ooops, my bad – these are just super-famous-totally-awesome-worth millions-of-dollars paintings by Picasso.That guy was a freaking lunatic…he should have been locked in an asylum and the key thrown away.

Okay, this is just plain wrong:

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Disturbing, disgusting, ugly, pointless and very, very modern, offering a ‘new, contemporary look’ at issue/subject X, Y and Z. And these ‘artists’ fancy themselves to be geniuses no doubt (and they are, in a way; only God knows how much money they’re making).

Adolf Hitler was a better artist then these mentally/spiritually-deficient morons:

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Aryan mother and child – true beauty

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To think Mankind once built things like this…and then painted them for good measure!

Now what to we come up with? Mindless drivel puked up by adult people with the imaginations of  three-year-olds.

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Note the old WW1-era Church at the very back of the photo. Compare the two. Weep.

And just what the hell is this supposed to mean/signify?

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at least they could have painted it an eye-popping Barbie-pink

Nothing, of course. That is the whole point of modern art. ”Shape without form, shade without color, paralyzed force, gesture without motion…” (1) Ah! So this is what the poet-prophets were writing about! The deliberate defilement of beauty, for one thing. Down with beauty, down with grace, down with the holy, down with majesty, down with meaning and the moving truths and things of this life.

Hell, my horse is more beautiful and noble in and of himself that all the modern crappy art put together:

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my horse Blackjack grazing on a solo trail-ride

Real artists have no trouble with this fact:

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Beauty and grace – in short, real art

Man should not defile his environment with such mindless, hideous, boring paintings and objects. Yet he does…deliberately…intentionally…on purpose. This is what he wants. This is what gives him pleasure. This shit:

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We are closer then ever to creating the world that Captain Harlock fought so hard not to be a part of: a world of cowardly hedonistic men living in horrible places like this:

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your average human city in Captain Harlock’s day

Well, it turns out that not quite everyone likes living surrounded by dull, ugly and boring things. So some Captain Harlock/Albator fans have taken it upon themselves to improve their environment – by painting Captain Harlock on to various surfaces! Now they look totally awesome!

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Albator

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Ha! It may not be the best art ever, but it is better then nothing. And what better person then the Cosmic Corsair and his pals to bring coolness, color and manliness back into public awareness.

You guys rock!

(1) ‘The Hollow Men’ by T.S. Eliot

Captain Harlock and Maya – The Tragedy of Love and Loss

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Harlock and Maya – love = sacrifice

Tragedy, pain, loss and death. If one has the ability to see past the swashbucking, the epic space-ship battles, the humor, the aliens, the great cosmic conflicts and the often crazier-then-hell adventures and plot-lines that are the staples of any Matsumoto anime, these are the four prominent themes run deep and cold throughout all of his works. Whether it is young Tadashi Diaba wailing over his assassinated father, little Tetsuro Hoshino watching his mother die alone and helpless during a blizzard, or an anemia-stricken Tochiro collapsing on the Arcadia’s bridge to the horror of Captain Harlock, the message remains the same for those left behind: Everything that you love will be taken from you; therefore, what will you now do with your life now that all has been lost?

Almost all of Leiji’s heroes, both small and great, are placed in situations where they must deal with this question. Yet it is soon apparent that a particularly large portion of tragedy and death has been served to Captain Harlock, the man who is Leiji’s strongest, most enduring character. In the classic 1982 film, Arcadia of My Youth, Harlock is made to drink this cup of bitter wine down to the even more bitter dregs. It is not enough that Harlock is scarred and missing an eye, it is not enough that he has suffered defeat in battle and that his Deathshadow has been taken from him, it is not enough that the Earth is a barren, blasted wasteland void of natural beauty, or that human civilization is in rubble, or that a cruel alien race now wields dominion over all mankind – no, Harlock must be made to endure the ultimate loss, the final end of his hope for an earthly Arcadia – the death of his wife Maya.

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Harlock and Maya’s final moments together

Maya (or Maaya) is Captain Harlock’s only known love interest. While it is never explicitly stated that she is his wife, it is implied by both Tochiro and Emeraldas that she is. Maya appears only in the Arcadia of My Youth film, which is one of the most heartbreaking of all Matsumoto animes I have seen. Although Maya and Harlock never come together or are shown in an intimate manner until the very end, there no mistaking whatsoever the great love these two have for each other. Maya is a woman almost out of a fairy-tale: she is tall and slender, with cascading blond hair and a pure white dress that she manages to keep spotless despite her squalid living conditions. She is fair and graceful, and possesses a beautiful singing voice. But it is her heart that shines out the most. Even before Harlock returns to Earth after being defeated in the war, Maya is already a wanted woman owing to the fact that she runs a secret radio broadcast station called ‘Free Arcadia’ where she encourages the dispossessed humans never to give up hope or stop fighting, and that, no matter what happens, the sun will never die; it will always rise again tomorrow.

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Maya broadcasting ‘Free Arcadia’

Maya is one of the best examples (I’ve encountered) of a woman who is courageous and strong without needing a weapon or bullying men about. Maya never draws a gun or kills anyone or leads a resistance-force into battle (although she is protected by one off and on), yet she is a key player in boosting moral and maintaining hope. And she suffers greatly for it. She is hunted like an animal, gets shot twice, is shown to be suffering from an unspecified sickness (owing to her living conditions), gets used as bait to try to kill Harlock and is chained to a post to be publicly executed via firing-squad for her participation in the resistance. Even with Harlock completely out of the picture, Maya, on her own, is a force to be feared and a woman to be loved. She never complains or begs for mercy, and despite appearing frail and weak she is just as mentally tough as Emeraldas is. Tochiro and Emeraldas admire the hell out of her, and Harlock could not ask for a more worthy, valiant lady to give his heart to. Maya leaves beautiful pink roses behind at the places she broadcasts from for both Harlock and her foes to find – flowers that bring color and life to a now wasted and ugly world. Maya herself can be viewed as a living symbol of human grace and beauty, still standing defiant when all else has been lost or forsaken.

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And Harlock loves Maya – truly and completely. The bloody and traumatic loss of his right eye is a direct result of his trying to protect her from an alien ambush. The thought of leaving her again, even at her own bidding, so that he may continue to live, fills him with great pain. Yet they are still doomed to be apart: the battleship Arcadia is waiting for Harlock and he is needed elsewhere. He must content himself with listening to her words of hope on the radio and smelling her roses. While Harlock loves Maya, she is not the center of his world –  nor does she want it that way. Showing great wisdom, she admonishes him not to forsake his mission just to be with her. They both have goals and interests outside of each other: Maya has her radio-station and Harlock has the Arcadia. Maya is more Harlock’s loyal help-meet then his needy, fretting lover. Harlock’s long absence away from her has caused no bitterness or disillusionment on her part. It is never revealed how long Harlock was away from Earth fighting the aliens or even how long he and Maya have known each other, yet there is dignified reserve about them when they are together. They do not act like love-struck teenagers or passionate newlyweds. There is a maturity about them – one more befitting of the old rather then the young. They have been aged before their time. War and the struggle to survive have left them exhausted both mentally and emotionally. There is no love-making scene, no Eros-driven exchange of words of passion and promise; only the bittersweet reminiscence of what once was. They are not even shown to kiss; even that is denied them, for when Harlock finally takes his beloved in his arms and holds her close to his body, Maya is in the final moments of her life and struggling to speak her last words:

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Harlock and Maya will meet again

Captain Harlock to Maya: ”Let’s go together…to that Sea of Stars…”

Maya: ”I have been…dreaming all long…of going to the sea of Stars with you…like Heiligenstadt…our Arcadia…where we ran…together…” [she dies]

Harlock: ”Maya? Maya! I has so many things to say to you…so many things to ask you…Maya!”

If there is one mercy for Harlock in this movie it is that he now has Tochiro to be his friend and battle-companion. Yet Maya’s loss marks the end of whatever hope Harlock had of living a ‘normal’ domestic life on Earth like any other man. Banished his home and hunted throughout the universe, the battleship Arcadia is all that Harlock now has, the only shield he can raise against those who seek to destroy him and his friends, the only thing that keeps him free. With the Maya’s hand-made skull-and-bones Jolly Roger flag flying in the space-breeze, Harlock takes up the command of the Arcadia and enters the new – and perhaps eternal – stage of his life: the only stage we truly know him for – that of Captain Harlock the Space-Pirate; Captain Harlock the Exile; Captain Harlock whose only home is the Sea of Stars. One life, one dream, one beautiful woman is dead, and the world is forever changed. This could have been the breaking point for Harlock, the point where he either succumbs to despair or goes on a bloody, suicidal revenge rampage (the Arcadia making the latter very easy) yet he does not. Instead, he simply promises Maya that he will never forget her and that he will never stop fighting. For a man like Harlock, there is always something for him to do, some worthy goal to set the heart to. Maya my be dead, but Harlock’s spirit burns all the more fiercely. Maya’s final message to Harlock, prerecorded before her death, is a defining testimony on the kind of man Harlock is and what he means to her:

”You, who are setting out now with the Flag of Freedom flying, til the day when you again return, good-bye. I believe that no matter how far away you may be, you will never forget Earth. No one can stop you from setting out on your journey under your flag. But it is because you are such a man, one who has always believed in tomorrow, never losing dreams and hope, that I remember with pride the days when I walked with you. I pray that your future will be as you believe. Good-bye, my Harlock. Please live no matter what. I can see the red fire of belief in the future burning in your heart; I can see the fire burning in a man who will not betray a friend. It is because you are such a man that I love you. I will become one of those fires in your heart; I will become one with that fire, and burn forever, Harlock…”

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The love-story of Harlock and Maya, as short and bittersweet as it is, nonetheless contains all the ingredients that make for the most haunting and beautiful kind of story: the ancient fairy-tale story of reunion and separation. The story where two lovers are united, then separated, then united again after much toil and hardship. This is the kind of love that touches the human heart the most. Harlock and Maya’s love remains pure in spite of all the hopelessness and destruction that surrounds them – there is no fighting, no blaming, no bitterness wrought by their separation, no accusations thrown when they come together. Maya trusts Harlock completely; she trusts that he will return, that he will always keep his promises, that he will never give up hope or stop fighting. And he swears to her that it shall always be so, no matter what. Even Harlock has hope that he will one day see her again, that they might somehow again be reunited:

”At the faraway point where the rings of time come together…we shall meet again. Goodbye, Maya. Until I come to the end of my life in the Sea of Stars, I will not forget.”

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Harlock x Maya – Emeraldas x Tochiro: what could have been

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Harlock and Maya – our youth in Arcadia

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Harlock and Maya and the roses of love

 Away, away, my love; to where all darkness will be gone – away, away to our land where you will be forever in my arms again.

– Xandria, 1,000 Letters

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.

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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.

The Flag of Freedom – What Does Captain Harlock Really Fight For?

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”Under my Flag, I live in Freedom…”

– Captain Harlock

Freedom. This is another theme that runs prominent throughout the animes of Captain Harlock. It is something that means a great deal to Harlock, yet he himself has never offered (as far as I know) a full fleshed-out definition of what exactly freedom means to him as a person. Because Harlock has no explicit religious/political affiliations and is a not a member of any kind of union or organization (save his two ill-fated stints as a Solar Federation Captain at the beginning of the Arcadia of My Youth film and as a Gaia Defense Legion Captain in the new CG-I Space Pirate film) and has never expressed a desire to be a part of any official man-made social construct of any kind, either as a citizen or a ruler, finding out what motivates him and drives him is quite difficult. Anyone with a passing familiarity with Harlock knows that that Harlock’s flag, fluttering defiantly in the non-existent breeze of space, is that classic pirate Jolly Roger flag of yore. After all, if Harlock is a space-pirate, than logic dictates that it serves to reason that he should fly a pirates’ flag. Simple enough – but with Harlock, it is not so simple as that. Nothing is.

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To Harlock, his Jolly Roger flag is not just the archetypical banner of a pirate, it is his ‘Flag of Freedom’, a symbol of his independence, something that means far more to him then he’s willing to tell. Whenever he invites anyone to join the Arcadia’s crew, he points to his flag and asks the would-be recruit(s) if they promise to fight and die under this Flag of Freedom and for whatever is in their hearts that motivates them. Harlock is not interested in oaths of fealty directed at himself, nor of receiving personal recognition. Yes, he is the Captain, that is indisputable, but he gives as few orders as possible and when not commanding his men to shoot down/ram any human or alien spaceships that get in his way, he lets his crew do whatever they want – so they brawl and drink and play games and sleep in the Arcadia’s corridors, yet still remain dependable crew-members. And if they get bored/tired/freaked-out or disillusioned with life on-board the Arcadia, they are free to leave whenever they choose to (which they hardly ever do). Harlock will not stop them. Those who fight for freedom must to so of their own free will. Harlock never drags anyone onto his ship by force, nor does he forcibly keep them there. Either one is invited to board the Arcadia by Harlock himself, or one has sneaked aboard in order to sabotage the ship and/or kill Harlock. Taking hostages and demanding ransoms are acts quite foreign to this pirate. Because Harlock wants to surround himself (temporarily, at least) with like-minded people, individual responsibility and freedom, coming from the heart, is a big deal for him. ‘’I won’t let anyone on my ship who has no [sense of] purpose.’’ he tells an angry boy in Endless Orbit SSX who wants to board the Arcadia. Sometimes he lets people onto his ship out of charity, hoping they will mature over time, while others seek him out deliberately, usually out of desperation; others he himself rescues. Yet he never attempts to dominate or control their lives; he never gets in the way of their freedom (except when they are doing/about to do something rash or foolish or something that endangers everyone else). Only those who genuinely understand what freedom is can truly fight for it.

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But again, what exactly does freedom mean to Harlock? What is the point of being free? It is so he can do whatever he wants? Much of the answer lies in the state of the world/universe at any given point in any of Harlock’s anime stories. Harlock desires and fights for his freedom because, sadly, the bulk of humanity are slaves. They are enslaved either by aliens who have conquered the Earth or by hedonistic lifestyles that have rendered them incapable of truly living lives that are valiant and courageous. The Sea of Stars means nothing to them – only eating and drinking and golfing and watching stupid cartoons and horse-races. This makes them prime targets for alien invasions and only Harlock has the guts to protest/do anything about it. And he is subsequently hated by both his fellow humans and the aliens for it. As for Harlock doing whatever he wants, that is indeed a scary notion that keeps the alien and human occupants of the universe on their toes and forever riding his ass, because if Harlock ever decided to go full-blown tyrannic pirate on them, their collective goose is cooked. Harlock could easily assassinate Earth’s pathetic rulers and raze entire cities to the ground (yes, the Arcadia has that much firepower) yet that is something he chooses not to do (although he does enjoy reminding them that he can, if he wants to). That is not what he sees freedom for. Harlock is a man who has a strong sense of honor and is himself a very disciplined person. He retains a high degree of self-control, and cannot be manipulated easily by his emotions or passions. He is indifferent to woman, power and materiel wealth, or anything that might bog him down or distract him from his goals. For him, freedom does not meaning doing whatever one wants (although that option is always tantalizingly available), it means maintaining one’s convictions and one’s desire for better standards in a world where they have become almost nonexistent. Free-will is a big issue with him. Harlock hates doing things out of obligation; he helps others because he wants to, not because its written down as a law in a Captain’s-manual somewhere. He also hates being told what to do, and, subconsciously following the ‘do unto others’ rule, he himself tries to tell others what to do as little as possible.

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”Our flag of freedom still flies, Tochiro!”

Subsequently, Harlock has little patience or respect for authority figures of any kind, especially when they show themselves to be dishonorable douche-bags; but if Harlock ever encounters anyone, even if they declare themselves to be his enemy, who possesses a fighting spirit and integrity, he has great respect for them, and may even try to win them over to his cause or a least show them that he poses no threat (being stylized as a space-pirate often makes this difficult, since most space-pirates are viewed as a cowardly, dishonorable lot). But Harlock’s desire for freedom takes on another integrating aspect: because he treasures his own freedom, he tries as little as possible to impede upon the freedom of others. Often his attempts to advise or aid other people are met with scorn and mistrust; he is often told to leave and not interfere with their struggles and battles, even when it is obvious that they could use his help.  Harlock, however, rarely argues the point; he stoically hides whatever feelings of frustration or sadness he has as a result of their rejection, and simply leaves. The freedom of others to make their own choices is just as important as his own freedom; it is only when others use their freedom to try and kill and/or dominate Harlock or those he loves that things turn ugly.

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In one version of Harlock’s history (and my own personal favorite – the classic 80’s Arcadia of My Youth/Endless-Orbit SSX movie/series) Harlock’s giant Jolly Roger flag is made by Harlock’s wife/sweetheart Maaya (or Maya) prior to her untimely, tragic death in his arms. After Harlock commits her body to the Sea of Stars and vows to never stop fighting, he leaves Earth for good, searching for the mythical ‘Planet of Peace’ – the true Arcadia. Along the way he is accosted and attacked time and time again by the vengeful Mr. Fayodor Zone, a bitter space battleship engineer who seeks to kill Harlock after Harlock’s displeasure at his flawed battleship design caused him to be fired from his job. After much toil and hardship, both Harlock and Mr. Zone are admitted into the realm of Arcadia by the Queen of Arcadia, who seeks to test their hearts and see which one of them is true. As Harlock kneels before the Queen (the only time we ever see him adopt a submissive posture before anyone), Mr. Zone uses the moment to slander Harlock in a vicious verbal slap-down, using Harlock’s pirate flag as proof of his accusations:

Mr. Zone to Harlock: ”You want to find Arcadia, build your own country there, and then plot to conquer all of space, right?!”

Harlock: ”No!”

Mr. Zone: ”Enough of your excuses! The pirate’s flag hoisted above your ship is clear evidence! You are a damned outlaw of the seas of space…an outlaw of bloodshed and genocide! Hell is defiantly where your Arcadia is! (1)”

At this point, it is the youthful Tadashi Monono who confronts Zone, saying what Harlock himself will not, or cannot say:

Tadashi Monono to Mr. Zone: ”Stop talking nonsense! You don’t know anything about the Captain! That flag is proof that we fight for justice, even if we all turn into bones! As proof, Mr. Tochiro cast aside his own life in order to show the Arcadia the way! If he was just a mere outlaw, there’s no way he could do such a thing. Would he sacrifice his own life for others? Are you saying you can do such a thing?!”

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In this brief yet powerful exchange, many things can be examined. One is that Harlock does not defend himself against Mr. Zone’s accusations, or attempt explain/justify himself to the Queen. It is the boy whom he has befriended who speaks up for him with all the passion of his young heart. The ‘pirate’ Flag of Freedom is the symbol of justice and sacrifice: two virtues that are severely lacking in Harlock’s world(s). And Harlock and his friends are willing to die, to ‘turn into bones,’ to defend it (a fate that only seems to fall upon poor Tochiro; Harlock and Emeraldas have yet to officially die in any story). Freedom is the freedom not to do what one wants, but freedom to be true to one’s heart and dreams when everything else is going down the crapper and everybody hates you for it. This is the burden that Harlock has to bear: to remain true to himself in a world where such men are forever hated, feared and rejected.

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In the end, Harlock, Tochiro, Emeraldas and the others are perpetually feared, vilified and hunted not really because of what they do, but because of what they will not do. And what they will not do is this: they will not submit to foreign subjugation. They will not obey unjust laws enforced by petty rulers who impress no one. They will not join the corrupt or the unworthy in their pathetic/dishonorable way of life. They will not let themselves be ruled by fear or greed or lust for power. Harlock will keep on fighting forever, even when all hope and reason have failed. He will not yield; he will not surrender; he will never stop seeking a better future, a higher standard, a more worthy way of life, even if the entire universe is against him because of it. Nothing will stop him. He will remain true to his convictions and dreams. Only he knows what is in his heart. Only Tochiro can truly see into that heart. The skull-and-bones flag the Arcadia flies is to Harlock a symbol of freedom to the death, and Harlock’s not dead yet, he is out there, somewhere, if not in real life then at least in the dreams of youth, in all the hearts of all the young people he has touched; in my own dreams. Go, Harlock, flee the dead world and the dead hearts of those who care nothing for freedom or integrity or honor. Surrender to nothing, yield to nothing…keep true to the words you spoke so long ago…

”We will not pray for anything, nor will we seek help from anyone. Never again will we fight under another’s flag. We will keep on fighting, only for what we believe in, only under our flag, for as long as we live. Under my flag!”

– Captain Harlock; Arcadia of My Youth (1982)

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The Flag of Freedom!

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(1): Regrettably, 30 years later, this accusation against Harlock is turned into a truthful one in the 2013 CG-I Space Pirate Captain Harlock movie reboot, where Harlock is indeed portrayed as a damned space-outlaw who revels in bloodshed and attempts to bring about universal genocide.

Space Battleship Arcadia: Captain Harlock’s Only True Home

BTW, this post is sort of a continuation of my ‘Harlock – The Eternal Exile’ post

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80’s-onward battleship Arcadia design

Arcadia [Arh-keydee-uh]: a noun – definitions:

1. a mountainous region of ancient Greece, traditionally known for the contented pastoral innocence of its people.

2. any real or imaginary place offering peace and simplicity.

3. a city in South-West California, East of Los Angeles.

4. the name of Space Pirate Captain Harlock’s near-indestructible space battleship

vlcsnap-2014-09-02-11h10m08s158”These are the glasses of my friend, who realized a dream that was greater then this universe…My friend who built the Arcadia…” – Captain Harlock, Space Pirate Captain Harlock TV series ep. 30
vlcsnap-2014-08-16-17h44m27s197”The Arcadia…made by Tochiro’s heart, controlled by Harlock’s heart: a ship of the heart. A ship of friendship that no computer can make.” – narrator, AOMY Endless Orbit SSX series ep. 12

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It does not matter if you’re the only competent EGF commander on Vichy Earth who takes his job seriously enough to stand up to space-pirates; it does not matter if you are the ruling Queen of an entire alien race that wants to conquer and repopulate the Earth via a homeworld-ditching space-immigration fleet so large that it looks like a star-cluster at a distance; it doesn’t matter if you are an Illumidas commander residing comfortably on an already alien-controlled Earth while hundreds of your race cruse the galaxy in hundreds of blimpish-looking warships controlling, dominating and spying on every human-inhabited planet/moon/spaceport/ in the universe; it does not matter if you are an embittered battleship designer with an all-consuming grudge against a certain Captain whose displeasure at your ship design got you fired and now you live only to create a battleship powerful enough to send him to Hell; it does not matter if you are an immortal mechanized ‘human’ dwelling on the fortified mechanized home-planet(s) in Great Andromeda with more battle-drones and machine-gun laser-blasters then toilets; it does not matter if you are a very evil, supernatural entity that has existed since the dawn of time; it does not matter if you are a grumpy god; it does not matter if you are the pissed-off, crippled admiral of a hundred armadas of beautifully CG I-animated space battleships of the all-powerful Gaia Coalition – none of that means absolutely nothing if the target of your wrath and firepower is the Ship of the Heart: Captain Harlock’s Arcadia. Your ass is grass.

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Arcadia…what is Arcadia? The three definitions listed above (number 4 being my own addition) are all correct definitions of the word [usually pronounced ‘Arh-ooh-ka-de-ago’ by the Japanese], but it is the second definition the needs to be taken into account. ‘Arcadia’ is a word for a place of simplicity and peace…a place without war or conflict. Harlock’s ship is named Arcadia, which is very telling, because it reflects Captain Harlock’s deep-set desire to find a place in the world where he can finally be at rest; a place where he will no longer be regarded as an outcast; a place of peace. Or is death the only way this can be achieved? Must Harlock die in order to find peace? Space battleship Arcadia is the only thing in the universe that Harlock can claim as his own – a place he can call home, a place where, at least for a while, he has some measure of peace (or at least solitude), which he needs in order to function in a universe that, for all intents and purposes, is forever out to get him.

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In the ultimate twist of irony, the Arcadia itself is constantly in situations of peril and warfare. For someone who desires peace – or a least solitude – Harlock is forever engaged in conflict, mired in perilous situations, waging war, dueling, hiding/evading/escaping from his enemies and/or protecting/rescuing his friends. The guy is never allowed a break. Everything from vengeful humans, spies, assassins, bounty-hunters, conquering aliens, heartless cyborgs, holograms, asteroids, anti-gravity planets, the Flame Stream Prominence, drones, tanks, bombs, UFOs, killer-AI robots, to poisonous flowers, pissed-off semi-sentient plant-life, space-storms, gods, demonic entities, the Jovian Accelerator, and battleships of every size, shape and number are all thrown at him either by his creator, Leiji Matsumoto, or by the animation director(s). Peace? Tranquility? Solitude? Nope. Harlock is lucky enough to catch a few naps, down some bubble-gum pink booze in the privacy of his cabin, watch a pretty sunrise, play his ocarina, visit his goddaughter, snag some dinner, have a picnic, or go swimming briefly with his best friend before some form of shit hits the fan again. Which is always happening. No wonder the poor man has a subtle death-wish. Life aboard the Arcadia is rarely Arcadia-ish…

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Except that at the same time it is. The ironies continue. Even though being a crewmember of the Arcadia and a friend of Harlock’s reduces one’s life-expectancy to time-frames that can be ticked off by a 24-hour clock (or a 25-minute TV episode), everyone on the Arcadia is quite happy or relieved to be on her in spite of everything that keeps happening. Like Harlock, they are either wanted fugitives or social outcasts who have no other place to go. The Arcadia is their home too, and it is a rare day when when they start to complain about anything in large numbers. There is never a mutiny. They are all quite devoted to Harlock (okay, probably because he lets the bulk of them brawl, play games, and pass out in booze-induced stupors in the Arcadia’s corridors – but that’s not the point) and to whatever cause or mission they are engaged in at any given time. If anything, the endless battles, escapes and adventures only serve to make Harlock and crew a stronger, more efficient force, and, if you are a youngster, help you mature and grow into a brave and trustworthy man, which is the best thing that can happen to you in Leijiverse.

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Growing up in Arcadia…it is a damn pity Harlock never became a real father

Depending on what kind of person you are, battleship Arcadia means one of these three things to you:

1. It is the ship that you have dedicated vast portions of your time, life and resources to in order to destroy it.

2. It is the ship that is your only home either because you have nowhere else to go or because there is nowhere else you want to go.

3. It is the ship that will soon bring about your dramatic, explosive demise.

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1978 battleship Arcadia design

Prior to his almost literal enthronement on the Arcadia, Captain Harlock’s first ship was the Deathshadow, an impressive (albeit rather weird-looking) battlecruser that was taken from him after the Illumidas victory over the Earth Defence Forces in the Arcadia of My Youth film (actually, it is not really taken from him after defeat in battle – Harlock simply crash-lands it on the Illumidas’s Earth-base in a final F-you gesture before being relieved of his command).

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space battleship Deathshadow (can you find a cooler name?)

The Deathshadow is subsequently used against him in the Endless Orbit SSX series, and eventually he is forced to destroy it with the Arcadia, during the process of which he has an intense, emotional nervous-breakdown that has not been witnessed before or since in his animated history. One could write a small book about the numbers and types of ships that the Arcadia has triumphed over – Tochiro’s big, fat, life’s-work-present to his best friend could very easily enable Harlock to become quite the villain if he ever chose the road of power and control, but Harlock has no such desires. All Harlock wants is to be left alone so he can find either a true home or a fitting place to die, but the universe (and just about everyone in it) has other ideas. No, Harlock, there will be no rest for you, no home for you, no end of conflict, of war, of loss, of rejection – if you were ‘born an outlaw’ as you claim in the Space Pirate TV series, then an outlaw you will be, forever – until someone finally kills you, or you find your final resting place – which has yet to officially happen (the sudden bullshit cliff-hanger ending of the Endless Odyssey mini-series notwithstanding). The Arcadia is all Harlock needs to keep himself distinct and separate from the rest of humanity, and it enables him to keep on living, fighting, searching and hoping (for what, exactly, we don’t always know) long after most other people have bitten the dust – which, alas, includes Tochiro.

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There are so many things I’ve left undone, so many things I wanted to do…

Depending on which Harlock series or movie you are watching, the Arcadia’s color, design and origins very – a lot. In the 1978 original Space Pirate TV series the Arcadia is a dark blue and its most significant (and awesome) feature is an epic sword-ram the slices alien battleships apart as Harlock plows it into and through them. It is constructed in secret on the desert-planet Heavy Meldar by Tochiro, Harlock and Emeraldas and their band of space-pirates in-hiding from the Earth Federation Government:

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In the Arcadia of My Youth film the Arcadia is built on Earth underground by Tochiro alone prior to his meeting Harlock, and from this movie onward it is longer, army-green, with more guns, no ram, and a gigantic skull-and-bones emblem on the masthead:

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It remains unchanged in the AOMY follow-up series Endless Orbit SSX:

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And it makes two bombastic guest-star appearances in the first and second Galaxy Express 999 movies:

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In the 2002 Endless Odyssey mini-series the 70’s sword-ram is incorporated into the green Arcadia:

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Then we have clunky CGI ships in more recent Matsumoto animes featuring a younger Captain Harlock in which his first ship Deathshadow looks exactly like the Arcadia, such as in Cosmo Warrior Zero and Space Symphony Maetel (at this point, I believe the animators are deliberately messing with us):

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And finally, in the new 2013 CGI Space Pirate Captain Harlock movie the Arcadia and the Deathshadow are welded into one ship of silver-gray, and they are mass-produced (in a flotilla of four) by the Gaia Defence Force – without Tochiro’s involvement (WTH!) – to help protect the Earth during the Homecoming War:

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In one of my favorite quirks of Harlockdom, the massive Arcadia is steered by hand using an old-fashioned 19th-century ship-wheel. I don’t quite know why I find this aspect so neat and appealing – but I think it makes for a unique relationship between Captain and ship. In most si-fy movies the Captain just sits there and gives orders. Yes, Harlock does as well, but with there is more to it – it is more hands-on and personal, plus it’s just freaking awesome:

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And the cabin…Harlock’s personal cabin in the Arcadia’s sterncastle! Oh, how I want to be in that cabin – not so I can bother Harlock, but because I, like him, require a nice, quiet space where I can be alone and decompress. Introverts and loners are cursed with such needs, otherwise we might have nervous  breakdowns and kill some happy, chatty, smiley person at a party we don’t even want to be at. Socializing is a seriously overrated pastime. Harlock agrees. The Arcadia’s captain’s cabin is utilized the most in the original Space Pirate TV series, and Harlock spends vast amounts of his free time in it brooding, drinking, napping and playing his ocarina while beautiful stars and scenic space landscapes go by the grand old-style viewing windows. It is dimly lit, sparsely yet elegantly furnished, and no one suddenly dropped into it would suspect they were actually on a spaceship; it even creaks and groans as if the Arcadia were sailing at sea. For a person like Harlock, such a place is necessary to keep up one’s mental health, relax and recharge, so I’m sure Tochiro took great pains to make it a fitting place for his friend to rest.

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Yes, if I could board the Arcadia, I would, never-mind the danger. The Arcadia makes sport of danger. The ship itself seems to take insidious delight in violating all the laws of space-physics, capable of performing U-turns on the dot, and busting out of concrete-containment caverns and ravines while buried in boulders. Tochiro packs it full of quirky gadgets from snow-machines to wave-runners. It has its own fighter-craft – Space Wolves and Cosmo Wings –

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Harlock in a Space Wolf fighter

which may or may not make an appearance depending which series or movie you are viewing. It can also travel underwater like a sub and sail on the surface like a boat. It is heavily armored, immensely resilient, and never seems to run out of ammo. In order to make sure that its always stays in good working order, Tochiro builds supply-bases inside of huge asteroids where it can be repaired and rearmed (and where he and Harlock can engage in some serious R & R), and, if need be, hide from the perusing enemy ships of whoever they have recently pissed-off.

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But in the end, what makes the Arcadia so awesome is that it is the home and haven of Captain Harlock; it is just as much a part of his identity as his scar, his cape or his gravity-saber; his character takes on new dimensions when he is at her helm. In Arcadia of My Youth, in between loosing the Deathshadow and acquiring the Arcadia, Harlock leads a rather pathetic, fugitive existence at the mercy of his alien-overlords, eating crappy food, engaging in bar fights and getting shot. He is never shown living in a domestic setting (Maya, his sweetheart/wife, is forced to live the same way), or having an occupation other then waging battle in space. We never see him doing normal modern manly things like driving a car to work, mowing his lawn, owning property, changing a tire, paying taxes or dealing with phone-trees. We never learn about his mother or father, possible siblings or anything pertaining to his childhood. All we learn in the Space Pirate series is that he and Tochiro have been joined at the hip since kindergarten and are wanted throughout the civilized universe for petty thievery. It is when the Arcadia enters the picture that Harlock truly becomes Harlock. Everything comes into focus and Harlock now has a means of maintaining his freedom and independence from the corrupt and the unworthy.

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Harlock – the captain-king of Arcadia

Standing on the Arcadia’s battle-bridge before the steering-wheel with his arms folded across his chest, gazing stoically with his one good eye out into the Sea of Stars or sitting in his Captain’s throne chair with all the ease of a king in court, one can’t help but wonder if a man like Harlock ever was, ever can, or ever will be, capable of existing on a mundane ‘normal’ level of being. In my mind, he cannot; nor was he ever intended to be. Harlock resists forced efforts by his foes – and even by his friends – to get inside his head and heart and attempt to stir up his passions and emotions.  He is rarely self-disclosing and open with anyone. He retains his mystery and charisma. There is no animated ‘In the beginning…’ story for him. He is just dropped into the viewer’s lap in the middle of his life and gives no explanations or justifications for what he is doing or what has happened to him. He’s just there, doing what he wants to do so he can be free, and the Arcadia is the chief means by which he stays free.

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As nice as it would be to learn all the details of his (and Tochiro’s) past – his childhood, his family, how he met Maaya, what he had to do to become the captain of the Deathshadow in the first place, and how he got his facial scar, these things are, regrettably or not, unimportant. Harlock doesn’t need a long fleshed-out backstory to add to his charisma and identity. Even if we knew nothing at all about his past, Harlock would loose nothing of his greatness and his hold over the hearts of his fans. Harlock flies into the viewers’ awareness as a fully realized person; he owes nothing to anyone and expects nothing in from anyone in return. ‘’I am Harlock, captain of the Deathshadow; I have nothing more to say.’’ he coldly informs the soldiers of his new Illumidas overlords after crashing his ship onto their base and they storm the bridge and surround him. And indeed what more needs to be said? For Harlock, the Ace-Badass-Hero trope is not a state he needs to seek or work for, but one he sublimely exists in, without long self-validating speeches or showing off or treading on the necks of others. The Arcadia is an extension of Harlock’s persona, as well as Tochiro’s. It is the glue that holds them together. There is no true Arcadia without Captain Harlock and no true Captain Harlock without the Arcadia. The two are inseparable. A great Captain needs a great ship – and there is no better ship then the Arcadia. When it all goes to hell, the Arcadia is the place to be and Harlock is the man to follow (if he’ll have you, that is).

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And the final great thing about the Arcadia is that it is the house of Tochiro’s soul. The Arcadia was built by Tochiro to be a symbol of hope and freedom, and to provide Harlock and himself and any like-minded people with a means of surviving in a deadly and hostile universe that they cannot fully be apart of. Exactly how long it took Tochiro to build her I do not know, but it must have been the ultimate labor of love on his part – the final, most splendid thing he could do for his friends. This is what makes the Arcadia so important and special – what other spaceship carries so much baggage and meaning then this one? Tochiro’s death is not the end of a great friendship, nor is Harlock left completely alone, adrift among the stars. Tochiro and the Arcadia become one, and Harlock finds comfort in the groaning and creaking of his ship, knowing his friend is still with him, even when he is alone.

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Space-battleship Arcadia just might be Harlock’s true Arcadia, but Harlock still yearns for Earth, for the blue seas, for Heilignstadt, for the Arcadia of his youth, for natural things of beauty and love. Once he was young, once he was loved, once upon a time he had a place in the world – but no more. In the end, the Arcadia vanishes back into the Sea of Stars and Harlock departs from the stage as suddenly as he arrived. Who knows what new trails and adventures await him, but as long as he has the Arcadia, and the never-dying spirit of his friend contained within, he will never be forsaken and he will always find something worth fighting for.

Slumber now, and be held in the cosmos’ loving embrace. Slumber peacefully, dreaming of distant Arcadia.”

Harlock’s Ballard: Endless Orbit SSX end theme-song

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