Harlock Space Pirate
Based on the manga series created and illustrated by Leiji Matusmoto, Harlock Space Pirate is a stylish, action-packed and perplexing science fiction saga. In 2977, humans have abandoned Earth and set out across the universe, colonising thousands of other planets. In typical human fashion, however, resources on these celestial outposts have been depleted and the expanding population has nowhere left to go – except home.
The long fight to return to Earth has resulted in the Gaia Sanction, an authoritarian, quasi-religious universal government, declaring Earth a sacred planet, forbidding humanity from ever returning. Amongst the stars, however, a band of rebels led by the eponymous Harlock fight for freedom. Aboard their ship Arcadia, the crew sails through the galaxy, stealing detonators from the Gaia Sanction, which will allow Harlock to reset time and humanity to start over.
Though the titular hero, brooding steampunk goth Harlock is not the focal character of the story. That honour falls to Logan, a bouffant youth who wouldn’t look out of place in the Arctic Monkeys. Brought upon the Arcadia after providing the correct password, Logan sets out to assist the crew on their mission. But neither Logan nor Harlock may be all they seem.
Plot dense and heavy on action, Harlock Space Pirate brims with potential it never quite fulfils. A fascinating premise perfect for modern sci fi, containing themes such as revenge, betrayal, filial envy and the saviour or destruction of the human race, the film suffers from much of its story through exposition. There are action scenes aplenty, and the retrospective explanations are beautifully shot, as indeed is the whole film. The lasting feeling, however, is that it would have been a more satisfying experience with less present action and a more linear, less expositional structure.
Beautifully animated, with a hyper-real videogame sheen, Harlock Space Pirate looks great and promises much, but convoluted storytelling dampens the impact. A potentially great sci fi, never quite realised.
Harlock Space Pirate is released in select cinemas on 22nd April 2015, it is also available to stream on Netflix.
Watch the trailer for Harlock Space Pirate here: