Harlock: Space Pirate DVD Review

    Actors: David Matranga, Emily Neves, Rob Mungle
  • Director: Shinji Aramaki
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Animated, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Dubbed, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, Japanese
  • Dubbed: English
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Studio: Ketchup
  • DVD Release Date: March 31, 2015
  • Run Time: 111 minutes

  •         Based on a manga comic book series created by Leiji Matusmoto, Harlock was previously adapted to animation in hand-drawn fashion with a 1978 television series. Though much remains the same in the narrative of this 2013 film, an impressive $30 million budget offers the manga cutting edge computer generated graphics in its adaptation. This may not save the film from its flaws, but the spectacle provides an adequate distraction from a narrative that may feel derivative after decades of similar storylines.


            In many ways this narrative feels reminiscent of fan-favorite American TV series, “Battlestar Galactica,” albeit with a bit more fantasy to blend with the heavy sci-fi elements of the story. All of humanity exists in space, looking desperately for a planet they can call home. Although Earth is said to still exist, the intergalactic Gaia Coalition has proclaimed the planet a sanctuary that is not to be touched. While the human race is dying out in space, watching the vibrant planet from a distance, one man is determined to defy the law and return to Earth. Harlock, a mysterious space pirate with a mystically indestructible spaceship and the inability to age, has a plan to save the human race.


            The only problem is that the Gaia Coalition doesn’t agree with Harlock’s methods, specifically ones that go against their orders. In an attempt to stop his plan, a spy is sent into Harlock’s ship under the guise of being a new recruit. Logan is the younger brother of the Coalition’s leader, though he predictably begins to doubt the plan to take down Harlock after spending time on his ship. This inevitably pits brother against brother in a battle over the fate of humanity.


            All of the space visuals are astounding, with particular attention given to the self-healing skull ship piloted by Harlock. In typical anime fashion, there is also great detail given to the exploitation of the female body. Although there is only one display of nudity, in a pointless zero-gravity shower sequence, the outfits and body proportions of all female characters seem obviously directed at a teenage male audience. Each of the female crew members of Harlock’s ship wears skin-tight bodysuits, but even more blatant is the inclusion of g-string underwear worn over them. Not only does this seem pointlessly non-functional, but the appearance becomes an unnecessary distraction. Perhaps if the visuals of the computer graphics were less realistic, it would be less so.


            Though the DVD release of Harlock is lacking in the special features one might expect from such a high budget film, it does include options in how the film is viewed. The DVD includes both the original Japanese cut of the film, along with the version released in theaters for the United States. Both have the option of either Japanese or English language, as well as the appropriate subtitles.    


    Entertainment Value: 6/10

    Quality of Filmmaking: 6/10

    Historical Significance:  5.5/10

    Special Features: 4/10



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