Hello everybody! On this week’s anime club, we have a semi-interesting film, Harlock: Space Pirate.
HARLOCK: SPACE PIRATE
STARRING: Shun Oguri, Haruma Miura, Yu Aoi, Arata Furuta, Ayano Fukuda, Toshiyuki Morikawa, Maaya Sakamoto, Miyuki Sawashiro, Chikao Ohtsuka
DIRECTOR: Shinji Aramaki
GENRE: Adventure, Animated, Sci-Fi
In the future, mankind has discovered a way to travel faster than light and has built colonies on thousands of planets. With humanity fading and the resources of the universe starting to dwindle, some five hundred billion humans began the long journey back home, Earth. However, humanity has outgrown its capacity to repatriate that many people and thus began the “Homecoming War,” where the many factions of humanity battled for a stake on Earth. The war was long and bloody, things wouldn’t subside until an authoritarian universal government by the name of the Gaia Sanction declares Earth a sacred planet, and thus forbidden for humanity to repopulate.
To prevent various factions of humanity from immigrating back to Earth, an elite wing of the Gaia Fleet was tasked to defend Earth: The Deathshadow Martyr Fleet, led by Harlock. With the assistance of his scientist friend, Tochiro Ōyama, Harlock helped saved a dying advanced alien race called the Nibelung. In return for their help, the Nibelung gave Harlock their advanced technology and helped create the four Deathshadow-class ships with dark matter engines to defend Earth. Harlock’s ships were unstoppable and he successfully defended Earth from humanity’s influence, until the Gaia Sanction broke their own rules.
Though based on the manga and television anime series and revolving around the same basic premise and original characters, “Space Pirate Captain Harlock” is very much a re-visioning, with different backstories, motivations and themes. Though fans of the originals may baulk at some of the changes, the film certainly stays true to the space opera stylings of Matsumoto Leiji, and has an epic feel as it charges around the universe, with a grand, far-reaching plot and no shortage of ideas.
As much as the source material, the main draw here is obviously the technical aspects of the film, and on this level “Space Pirate Captain Harlock” is a pretty stunning achievement – the back of the DVD box boasts a dizzying array of statistics, including the fact that the film took a crew of 150 five years to produce, and created files totalling more than 250 terabytes in size, that would have taken 401 years to render if only one computer was used. The results of all this effort are certainly there on screen to see, as the film looks amazing, being one of the most spectacular CG productions to date and featuring some stunning and incredibly detailed visuals.
The odd thing is that, especially for Western audiences used to more expressiveness in animated character design, the faces here seem to have all been injected with cartoon Botox, given how static they are in relation to the rest of teeming visual world Aramaki and Co. have created. One can only presume this is a cultural or aesthetic decision, so that everyone should appear congruent with the limited-movement look of the original series. Indeed, a lot of Japanese animation, especially more laddish fare like this, shows the same disconnect between statue-like characters and hyper-detailed surroundings.
The pace feels really draggy by the time pic crawls to its apocalyptic end, but it’s hard to see how anything could have been cut without making the story even more incomprehensible.
- Stays relatively true to source media.
- Animation style.
- Character design.
- Confusing plot.
SCORE: 5.0 / 1o
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