2977: For many years a mighty battle has been raging across the galaxies as 500 billion humans, whose forebears were exiled from Earth, plan to return to what is still called home. Forced to flee a ravaged Earth, humans have now depleted the corners of the galaxy to which they fled. Earth has now become the most valued and precious resource of all, controlled by the corrupt Gaia Coalition which governs the human race across the different galaxies. Having been exiled and vilified during the battle of the Homecoming War, Captain Harlock and his trusted crew of the Arcadia battle cruiser are the only hope mankind has of discovering the secrets that the Gaia have kept hidden. The Coalition has demanded Harlock's death and the Gaia Fleet's new leader, Ezra, calls on his younger brother, Logan, to infiltrate the Arcadia and then assassinate Harlock, thus forever eradicating the one man standing between the Coalition and their complete control of the Universe. Logan must make a very personal...
Directed by: Shinji Aramaki
. Starring: Yû Aoi
, Jessica Boone
, Ayano Fukuda
, Arata Furuta
, Adam Gibbs
, Kiyoshi Kobayashi
, David Matranga
, Haruma Miura
, Toshiyuki Morikawa
, Rob Mungle
, Emily Neves
, Shun Oguri
, Chikao Ohtsuka
. Music by: Tetsuya Takahashi
Like almost all the Italian kids of my generation I grew up watching Matsumoto's series like Battleship Yamato, Galaxy 999 and of course Captain Harlock.
I was surprised to see that a movie had been developed and I had nothing about it, I saw the trailer on TV and even if I'm not a CGI fan at all I decided to give it a chance...well I wasn't disappointed.
The plot is simple, doesn't have anything to deal with the previous TV series of the 70s, the 80s or Arcadia of you Youth, the Endless Odyssey or any other OAV, it seems that the Japanese have never been interested in developing a consistent continuity or mythology of any kind while they are more focused in re-creating the same..."atmosphere" perhaps is the right word. Here we have the same basic ingredients of Harlock's history: he's a pirate, an ex captain of a military ship in a previous war that he lost, he fights for freedom and for Earth, a place from where he is banned (this time everybody is banned, for the matter), his dear friend Toshio is dead, his crew consist in outcasts and among them his right hand is Key and left hand Yattaran. I don;t know why in the FAQ it is written that his love interest in the previous movie was Esmeralda because as far as I remember she was Toshio's girlfriend and the alien Mime is again the woman who dedicated her life to him, the last of her race that here we are informed were the Nebelung,who possessed an esoteric technology that is the center of the story. The main antagonists are the gerontocrats of the Gaia Coalition who banned Humanity from Earth, some real life references to aging population and the decline of Civilisation are new and interesting elements that reflects some themes of our actual times especially in Japan (I guess) but also in Western Europe.
Without giving too many spoilers the story makes relative sense until the end when something unclear happens: on one side it seems there is a cosmic regeneration ongoing and the baton is given to Yama (that here like in the original series always looked a "young" Harlock) but in reality it doesn't seem that Herlock's original plan was carried on...perhaps the movie has been cut for the European release or there has been something lost in translation ( for instance certain dialogs of Z Gundan in Italian or English don't make any sense at all,it seems the characters are discussing about Philosophy during a duel), I don't know but however the romantic atmosphere of the movie has not been disturbed, at least for me.
Talking about CGI: this incarnation of the Arcadia is cool but from the outside I preferred the original blue version or the green one of Arcadia of my youth, the turrets and the interiors have a real mechanical feel that rarely CGI can give (I think about the "fakeness" of Transformers first), the ship of the Coalition have a beautiful retro' style that seems taken from Alien and Aliens, the 3D works great too, without feeling too intrusive.
CGI as usual fails portraying realistically humans: Harlock and Yama look a little like Big Jim dolls, Key on the other side being a woman and "smooth" is more similar to a real actress covered with make as it is fashion today, of course the "best" looking character is the Alien Mime, much better than anything we have seen in Cameron's Avatar. All the character and costume design are faithful to Matsumoto's original design, so men and women are slender and ethereal, the hairstyles are pleasantly 70s (Kay looks like a Norwegian model of that era) as well as the costumes (I want Yama's leather jacket! Or at least, it looks like leather), it is surprising what the Japanese can do with a budget of just 30 million dollars, the American directors and Hollywood managers should watch this movie, they can learn one thing or two.
In conclusion, I liked the movie, in comparison to the Hollywood's crap-fest we are watching on screen in the last years it is a masterpiece, the weak points are the traditional "Matsumoto" flaws: a certain lack of consistency, no real relation with the other media, evanescent plot, but if you are familiar with him and generally speaking the world of Japanese Anime you have to deal with that.
Review by sulhiril (firstname.lastname@example.org) from Verona, Italy from the Internet Movie Database.