Space Pirate Captain Harlock (Anime)
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Space Pirate Captain Harlock (宇宙海賊キャプテンハーロック Uchū Kaizoku Kyaputen Hārokku) the manga series was adapted into an animated television series in 1978 directed by Rintaro and produced by Toei Animation.

In Space Pirate Captain Harlock, the Captain's crew included the mysterious, alcohol-imbibing alien woman Miime, a robot, and a drunken doctor. The series presented a story arc in which a huge black metal sphere strikes Tokyo and ancient Mayan legends appear to be walking the Earth again. The invaders turn out to be the Mazon, a race of plant-based women who explored Earth in the mythic past and are now back to reclaim it. Only Harlock and his mismatched crew are brave and capable enough to face the enemy.

Production[edit | edit source]

Directed by Rintaro, the series features split screen and flashbacks, excellently served by a symphonic score executed by the Tokyo Philharmonic. For all its pulpy space opera feeling and its action, the series raises a number of issues — from the importance of challenges in the life of men to the limits of violence as a solution to both small- and large-scale problems. The outcast Harlock is well aware of the plight of the Mazon, a refugee people fleeing a dying planet, and finds neither pleasure nor vindication in his battles nor in his final, melancholic victory.

Distribution[edit | edit source]

An English dubbed version of a handful of the 1978 Captain Harlock TV episodes saw limited release in the U.S. (1981), mostly on cable and produced by Ziv international. In all, four episodes of the series were dubbed, with the initial two episodes produced (episodes 1 and 9) appearing faithful to the original story. Several names were changed, such as the Mazon becoming Zetons and Yattaran becoming Youngblood. Two further episodes (2 & 3) were given a far less serious dub by Ziv, and one of the most highly joked elements in this adaptation was the change of Tadashi Daiba's name to Tommy Hairball. These episodes were subsequently acquired and redistributed in the early 1990s by Malibu Graphics, who advertised the episodes as "never-before-seen," and "completely unedited," neither of which were the case. The tapes were also mastered badly, with music often drowning out dialogue and the audio and video out of sync by as much as five seconds at times.

The 1978 series was dubbed again in 1985, this time by Harmony Gold USA (of Robotech fame) and known as Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years. Using the same style as Robotech to meet TV syndication's 65+ episode requirement, the Harlock series was connected with another Matsumoto series, Queen Millennia, to tell an intertwining story (Harmony Gold had originally planned to combine the original series with the 1982 Harlock series, Endless Orbit SSX, but they had to change their plans upon learning of the cost of obtaining the American rights to the second show ). Unlike Robotech, however, episodes were made by inter-cutting whole scenes from each of the component series in each episode, with the Queen Millennia story not actually reaching its original conclusion. The story as it unfolded was very confused and difficult to follow, and plot points would often change from one episode to the next with no apparent explanation. Despite the title, the two titular characters never appear onscreen together. This version never saw wide release in North America.

In 1979, a subtitled version of the original series appeared on Japanese language UHF broadcast channels in Hawaii, New York City and San Francisco. This version was shown once.

Toei only recently released the show in 2008 as a pay-to-watch-service on IGN's Direct2Drive; but then in 2009, it decided to provide it for free on Crunchyroll to those who are willing to wait a certain number of days, and as part of a subscription to those who want it immediately.

Funimation as well as Crunchyroll have all the episodes with subtitles streaming on each sites respective Video Portal.

In 2009, William Winckler Productions produced two all new English dubbed movie versions edited from the original series. Producer William Winckler, known for Tekkaman the Space Knight, wrote, produced and directed the English films, which are seen on broadband in Japan.

International releases
  • In France, Belgium, Switzerland, Canada (and other french-speaking nations), Captain Harlock is known as "Albator, le corsaire de l'espace", to avoid confusion with the completely different character Captain Haddock, and is very popular there. The name "Albator" was first proposed by Eric Charden, who designed the French version of the 1978 series introductory song, in memory of one of his friends, whose family name was Balator, sometimes nicknamed The Albatross and having a psychological profile close to Harlock's.
  • Albator debuted in Canada on Radio-Canada Télévision in 1979, and in France on Antenne 2 in 1980. Since that massive airplay on French and Canadian TV, Captain Harlock/Albator has become a cult hero for an entire generation of French-speaking people, so that French people often use the expression "Génération Albator". The whole soundtrack has been re-recorded for the French version. The Tokyo Orchestra was replaced by intimist but futurist synthesizers performed by the French musician Eric Charden. And, last but not least, the French main theme of Albator 78 - Les Sylvidres was anthemic and a big hit on French radio. Both complete series Space Pirate (1978) and Endless Orbit SSX (1982) have been dubbed into French (respectively known in French as Albator 78 - Les Sylvidres [Sylvidres being the French name for the Mazon] and Albator 84 - L'Atlantis de ma jeunesse; Atlantis being the French name for the Arcadia) as has the My Youth in Arcadia movie. Additionally, both series have been released on DVD in France.
  • In Latin America, a dubbed version was widely shown in the early 1980s. In this version, Harlock was renamed as "Capitán Raymar". The series shown there were the complete uncensored original series. Another complete version dubbed in Spain also exists, and retains the original character names.
  • In Italy Capitan Harlock was dubbed and aired on RAI in 1979 and it quickly became one of the most successfully animated series of that time. Most of the characters retain the original names but a few minor adaptions.
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