Captain Harlock

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
A space pirate... sailing the sea of stars...
"Under this flag, I live in freedom."
Captain Phantom F. Harlock

Space Pirate Captain Harlock is a recurring character created by Leiji Matsumoto in 1953.

Harlock's creator, Leiji Matsumoto, was never a stickler for continuity, so it's impossible to give a coherent description of Captain Harlock's history. Nevertheless, his character has always been clear: Captain Harlock is a man of honor who, betrayed by either a corrupt or Vichy Earth, chose to sail the Sea of Stars as a Space Pirate to remain true to his ideals. Although he has left behind an Earth which hates and fears him, Harlock remains willing and able to fight for his homeworld in its times of need. Nevertheless, he's not motivated by patriotism; he swore an oath to fight for only what he believes in.

Captain Harlock has appeared in the following series:

  • Space Pirate Captain Harlock (1978) - Harlock and his Ragtag Bunch of Misfits are the last line of defence against the Mazone invasion of a decadent Earth where no one dares to dream. An expanded episode of this series was released as a movie, Captain Harlock: Mystery of the Arcadia.
  • Arcadia of My Youth (1982) - The Earth is defeated and occupied by the warlike Illumidas. Harlock and a few others are the only ones left on a conquered Vichy Earth willing to carry on the struggle. Notable for being the one adaptation where we actually see Harlock losing an eye.
  • Arcadia of my Youth - Endless Orbit SSX (1982) - A sequel to The Movie involves Harlock and the Arcadia searching for paradise. Cut short by due to poor ratings, resulting in a bit of a Gecko Ending.
  • Harlock Saga (1999) - A six-episode OAV based on a recent manga by Matsumoto, in turn based on Wagner's Der Ring des Nibelungen.
  • Cosmo Warrior Zero (2002) - An Alternate Universe OAV. Earth Captain Warrius Zero, traumatized by its defeat at the hands of the Machine People, finds new purpose when Vichy Earth and the machines assign him to lead a crew to find and capture a young Harlock. Based on a video game.
  • Gun Frontier (2002) - Harlock and his best friend in Tochiro in the Wild West. No science fiction here, but the funniest series starring Harlock so far.
  • Space Pirate Captain Herlock The Endless Odyssey (2002) - A 13-episode OAV, and a near-sequel to (or a near-remake of; it zig-zags) the original Captain Harlock anime.
  • Harlock: Space Pirate (2013)

Harlock and his crew have also had significant cameos in the Galaxy Express 999 TV series, movies, its side-story series Space Symphony Maetel, the Queen Emeraldas OVA and Harlock Arcadia handheld game.

FUNimation currently has subtitled episodes of the original anime series as streaming video on its website.

Discotek has now announced a subtitled dvd release of the original series for North America in one box set.

For more information, visit The Captain Harlock Archives.

Not to be confused with Captain Haddock.

The Captain Harlock animes contain the following tropes:
  • The Ace: Tadashi Daiba.
  • Action Girl: Kei Yuki, though depending on the series, she can be reduced to a Faux Action Girl.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: Planet Maicon in the SSX series.
  • Alternate Continuity: Every single series takes place in a similar but slightly different universe. Gun Frontier is "our" universe, mid 19th century.
  • Anime Accent Absence: Harlock is canonically German but speaks perfect Japanese. (Though this is justifiable for his WWII-era ancestor in My Youth In Arcadia)
  • Ancient Astronauts: The Mazone, who are pretty much responsible for every human civilization.
  • Arcadia: The name of Harlock's Cool Starship.
  • Attack Its Weak Point: All the Illumidas ships designed by human turncoat Feydar Zone suffer from this.
  • Badass: The titular captain and Emeraldas. To give you an idea of just how badass:

JesuOtaku: "I think Chuck Norris checks his closet every night to make sure Captain Harlock is not in it."


Here's the short version: forget it.
And now for the slightly longer account:
I've many times seen, in various articles, publications, websites, etc., the idea put forth that the various stories featuring Captain Harlock and assorted attendant characters don't fit into any proper chronology that could make any sense at all. After this declaration, which is significant and utterly true, the writer will then proceed to elaborate on some form of overarching continuity, as if they had suddenly been struck with a flat iron and were unable to remember their own prior assertion. Failure dogs their heels throughout the ill-fated attempt, and finally catches them and eats them. They have blown it.

  • Cool Starship: Besides the Arcadia and the Queen Emeraldas, we also have Harlock's old command, the rhinoceros-beetle-meets-Yamato Deathshadow, and Mr. Zone's...photon-powered ship.
  • Cosmic Horror Story: Several incarnations have hints of this, but it's played straight in The Endless Odyssey.
  • Creator Backlash: Matsumoto has all but disowned Endless Odyssey. The first episode begins with a title card in Japanese (with no English subs, strangely) proclaiming the OVA series as being merely "director Rintaro's Captain Harlock". The fallout happened when Matsumoto took offense to a Star of David-shaped weapon Rintaro planned for the demonic villains to use.
    • Matsumoto also disliked the character Mayu (Tochiro's daughter) Rintaro created for Space Pirate Captain Harlock.
  • Crossover: Harlock and company frequently cameo in Galaxy Express 999, with a full-blown crossover in the Space Symphony Maetel series.
  • Darker and Edgier: The various Harlock stories have gotten somewhat darker in tone over the years, most notably with Endless Odyssey. If the trailer circulating the internet is indication, this goes double for the 2012 CGI film.
  • Did You Just Flip Off Cthulhu?: At the beginning of Endless Odyssey, Harlock says point blank, he doesn't care to save Earth from the Noo. It's implied he views this as indirect revenge upon the leaders and population that ostracized him; some of the crewmen state that Harlock took to space because he is just 'waiting to die,' so...maybe he really doesn't care. Either way, it distracts The Noo from Daiba's presence. Birdie number one. Number two comes from the entire crew, when the Noo are unable to possess Harlock or anyone else. They're simply too Badass to fall for the scare tactic.
    • Also happens in Cosmo Warrior Zero, in a fashion: when he's told he brought an outgunned and nearly crippled ship against Harlock, Zero has a face saying 'Did I Just Flip Off Cthulhu and LIVED?!'.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Same show.
    • That's Zero's mission in Cosmo Warrior Zero, at least in the titular hero's opinion. I mean, he had to catch/kill HARLOCK...
  • Distaff Counterpart: Emeraldas.
    • Within the extended sphere of Matsumoto's other works, Harlock has another distaff counterpart in Ozuma's Bainas.
  • Doppelganger: Harlock's old ship the Deathshadow once refurbished by the Illumidas, which can predict his every move due to his old tactics stored on its outboard computer, and even gave him a Heroic BSOD.
  • Dramatic Wind: His hair and cape at crucial moments (actually, just about anytime).
  • The Drunken Sailor: The entire crew except possibly Kei and Daiba. Miime, the Doctor, and Harlock are seen drinking most often.
  • Emotion Bomb: The Noo from Endless Odyssey, using fear.
  • Executive Meddling: A lesson to animators: NEVER use religious images carelessly in works based on Leiji Matsumoto's characters, or your series will be released Direct to Video.
  • Expy: Of Matsumoto characters dating back to 1953, as mentioned above.
  • Eyepatch of Power
  • Genetic Memory: Used as a plot device in Arcadia of my Youth to include a story about Harlock's ancestor in World War II.
  • Get a Hold of Yourself, Man!: In Endless Odyssey, Harlock Brightslaps Daiba in their very first scene together, before Daiba can even start Wangsting properly over his dead father.
  • Ghost Ship: The Fata Morgana in Endless Odyssey. Subverted in an episode of the SSX series.
  • Gonk: Several characters, including his best friend Tochiro. In fact, sometimes it seems that humanity has evolved into two distinct races in the Leijiverse: a race of beautiful Noodle People and a race of hideously deformed midgets.
  • Good Scars, Evil Scars: Harlock and Emeraldas.
  • Green-Skinned Space Babe: The Mazone are a race of these.
    • Mimay is this at times.
  • Gunship Rescue: The Arcadia in the first episode of the original series.
  • Harp of Femininity: Apart from advising Harlock, Mimay's favourite pastime is to play the harp while wearing a very feminine dress.
  • Haunted Technology: The main computer of the Arcadia, which houses the soul of Harlock's dead friend Tochiro.
  • Heterosexual Life Partners: Harlock and Tochiro.
  • Honor Before Reason: Harlock's the type of man who always keeps a promise, no matter how small, even if he has to put his life on the line to do so. For instance, landing on Vichy Earth while a wanted fugitive to keep a promise to visit a young girl on her birthday in the first episode of the original anime.
  • Hypertime: Matsumoto's general approach to continuity.
    • Matsumoto deliberately makes all of his series impossible to reconcile yet containing elements from his other series.
  • Identical Grandson: Virtually all of Harlock's ancestors are duplicates of him.
  • I Owe You My Life: Mimay was saved by Harlock from ravaging plants on her home planet, so she has dedicated her life to being by him.
  • Kansai Regional Accent: Yattaran
  • Knight Templar: Tadashi Daiba kills Mazone even when Harlock lets them go or they are unconscious.
  • Last of Her Kind: Miime
  • Mook Face Turn: Zoll and the Tokargans from Arcadia of My Youth, who served the Illumidas so they would take mercy on their homeworld. That didn't work out for them.
  • Multiple Choice Past: A few different explanations are given for Harlock's past: In Space Pirate Captain Harlock, he and Torchiro know each other since grade school, build the Arcadia, and then meet Emeraldas for the first time My Youth in Arcadia, however, states that Harlock and Tochiro meet for the first time in the military, but Harlock apparently knows Emeraldas already. One of the oddest explanations (more fan speculation at this point) is that Harlock is actually Alex Wildstar/Mamoru Kodai of Space Cruiser Yamato. They do actually look alike, but that would negate all the important plot elements about Harlock and Tochiro's ancestors in MYIA.
  • Manly Tears: Harlock, believe it or not.
  • My Hero Zero: We have a Doctor Zero and a Captain Zero.
  • No Kill Like Overkill: Emeraldas' titular ship in the Queen Emeraldas OVA. Attacked by hundreds of ships, Emeraldas doesn't react for a while due to hostages. The very moment the hostages escapes, she opens fire... Annihilating 70% of the enemy ships WITH THE FIRST SALVO! Yes, the Queen Emeraldas has that many guns. Incidentally, that's when the villain gets an Oh Crap face.
  • No Mouth: La Mime/Mimay.
  • No Pronunciation Guide: In the Japanese version, the Arcadia (when it's called that) is consistently pronounced Ar-CAH-di-a. Some of the dubs, however, pronounce it Arcade-ia.
  • OEL Manga: Eternity Comics published a Captain Harlock comic from 1989 to 1992 -- before discovering that the representative they bought the rights to Harlock from grabbed them after they Fell Off the Back of a Truck -- Toei didn't have anything to do with it. The comic was discontinued as soon as this was revealed.
  • Office Golf: The Prime Minister of Earth is often seen practicing his putt in the office or at home to emphasize how useless he is. He also presides over a legislature that breaks for horse races, dog races, and anything else you can bet a fiver on.
  • Officer and a Gentleman: Harlock is nothing if not completely courteous to anyone, even enemies, unless they do something really rotten. He is also impeccably chivalrous to women.
  • Old School Dogfighting: Happens often in the 1978 series.
  • One-Gender Race: The Mazone and the Illumidas.
  • Overtook the Manga
  • Papa Wolf: A defining trait in any of Harlock's incarnations. Harlock will not suffer a child abuser to live. Particularly, hurting his goddaughter Mayu(Tochiro and Emeraldas's daughter) or Tetsuro(from Galaxy Express 999) is LITERALLY a death sentence.
  • Peek-a-Bangs: Harlock's hair covers his eyepatch.
  • Perspective Flip: Cosmo Warrior Zero follows a Vichy Earth crew on a mission to defeat a younger Harlock.
  • Pirate Parrot
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: The instances when Harlock and friends actually steal and plunder are exceedingly rare. "Pirate" is more a name given to him by his detractors.
    • Subverted in that when they do get down to business, things get done.
  • Plant Aliens: The Mazone in the 1978 series.
  • Pluto Is Expendable: In the Endless Odyssey OVA.
  • Political Correctness Gone Mad: Why Endless Odyssey is a Direct to Video release instead of a straight TV series.
  • Ramming Always Works: The Arcadia -- it even has a retractable battering ram in the bow that looks like a giant Bowie knife.
  • Rapunzel Hair: On most of Matsumoto's women.
  • Rated "M" for Manly
  • Redemption Equals Death: Almost the only acceptable outcome of a Heel Face Turn.
  • Revival: Captain Herlock Endless Odyssey
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Takashi against the Mazone.
  • Running Gag: people who met both Emeraldas and Maetel remarking that Emeraldas is the tough twin and Maetel the nice, sweet and harmless one. After all, it's Maetel who blew up a planet because the local mecha people disgusted her, while disgusting Emeraldas usually results in her walking away 'till the disgusting one calls her a coward (and get killed).
    • One particularly egregious example happens in the Maetel Legend OVA: the villain, supreme overlord wannabee in command of the mecha people, remarked that and ordered Emeraldas killed and Maetel taken prisoner, but when his mooks tried it they discovered she had a custom-made gun intended to kill only mecha people she later admits having ordered because she expected she would have to kill her own mother, Ra Andromeda Promesium, who is being mechanized and may go mad. As anyone who watched Galaxy Express 999 knows, the mother went in fact mad due the particular mechanization process and too though for the gun, so Maetel pulled a decades-long Xanatos Gambit ending in Maetel convincing Tetsuro to blow up his first planet, with Promesium on it.
  • Schizo-Tech: Exhibit A: The Arcadia, completely controlled by steering wheel; Exhibit B:a World War Two-vintage Revi C12 (apparently still working after a 1000-odd years) reflector gunsight to target its main cannons.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right: Captain Harlock turns to space piracy because of the corruption of Earth's government, but still fights for he believes in and is willing to defend the Earth if need be.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Noo.
  • See You in Hell
  • Serious Business: Alcohol. In the Cosmo Warrior Zero OVA, Harlock rampages against the inhabitants of Gun Frontier, who had tried to lynch Tochiro, but when they say he had destroyed their supply of booze and couldn't pay it admits they're in the right and apologizes, before giving them all of his booze for free.
  • Smug Snake: Murugison, the Number Two of the Worthy Opponent from Arcadia of My Youth
  • Space Is an Ocean: "The Sea of Stars is my sea" from the opening theme, a sterncastle on the back of the Arcadia, a skull-and-crossbones flag flapping in the nonexistent breeze...
  • Space Is Noisy: Mayu plays an ocarina, and the Arcadia is able to determine where it's coming from?
  • Spaceship Girl: Averted. The Arcadia houses Tochiro's soul/mind, and is considered male. Endless Odyssey makes a point of referring to the ship as "The Arcadia," not as "She."
  • Space Pirates: Played straight with the Sea Wolves from My Youth In Arcadia.
  • Space Western: When's it's not at sea.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": The Endless Odyssey series was released as "Captain Herlock". It was still pronounced the same way.
    • The Movie is also known as My Youth in Arcadia, inspired by Gratuitous English on Japanese promotional materials; AnimEigo re-translated the Japanese title to get Arcadia of My Youth, instead.
  • Suspiciously Similar Substitute: La Mimay in Arcadia of my Youth and SSX, for Mimay from the original series.
  • Sword and Gun: Sort of. Captain Harlock routinely carries a pistol, and... um... a much longer pistol, with a handguard that makes it resemble a cavalry saber. That's right, Captain Harlock is so manly that he stabs people with his spaceship and shoots them with his sword.
  • Tender Tears: Tochiro.
  • Trailers Always Lie: Harlock did not lose an eye the way the trailer to the Arcadia of my Youth movie depicts it.
  • Trial by Combat: The big battle between the Arcadia and Zeda's ship in Arcadia of my Youth.
  • True Companions: The crew of the Arcadia.
  • Twist Ending: The end of Endless Odyssey where Harlock reveals he killed Tadashi's father, then tells Tadashi to kill him--earlier he promised Tadashi that he would deliver his father's killer to him.; this verges on being a Shocking Swerve.
  • Ubermensch: Harlock, and to a lesser extent his shipmates and Worthy Opponents. The Vichy Earthlings are almost always Last Men.
  • Ugly Guy, Hot Wife: This is pretty much Tochiro and Emeraldas in a nutshell.
  • The Unpronounceable: The correct title for The Noo is literally impossible for humans to vocalize.
  • Vichy Earth: Arcadia of my Youth is largely about Earth turning into this after losing a war, and how Harlock decided to rebel.
  • Voice of the Resistance: Arcadia of my Youth -- "This is the Voice of Free Arcadia..."
  • Wave Motion Gun: On several other vessels (e.g. the Karyu from Cosmo Warrior Zero), but averted on the Arcadia. (See Ramming Always Works.)
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: The Mazone queen Lafresia starts out as this until we see her cross the Moral Event Horizon several times by forcing other conquered races to take down Harlock by holding their families hostage, kidnapping Mayu to lure Harlock away from his defense of the earth, killing Mazones who refuse to follow her to Earth, and (somewhat belatedly) using human shields.
  • Worthy Opponent: Harlock tends to feel this for his opponents.
    • Zero feels this for Harlock.
  • Wine Is Classy: More of a wine in a brandy snifter thing with Harlock.
  • Write Who You Know: Maji is Leiji Matsumoto and Yattaran is his assistant and Area 88 creator Kaoru Shintani. Matsumoto's cat Mii also appears.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: Played straight with Mazone and Illumidas commanders, averted with the human turncoat Zone in SSX.
  • You Killed My Father: If your name is Tadashi, you will join Harlock to get revenge on those responsible for your parents' death.