C.H.E.O.O.L. / Harlock ’02: First Episode and Kei Yuki
Yes, the name of this 2002 series is Captain Herlock – Endless Odyssey – Outside Legend. That’s a mouthful, so I’m just going to use “Harlock ’02. See, if I go by Endless Odyssey I’ll get confused with Endless Road (1982) whereas Space Symphony Maetel (2004) also happens to be an “Outside Legend” so I’ll stick with Harlock ’02, if that’s OK.
This is supposed to be the official sequel to the original Harlock series (Harlock ’78) although of course Matsumoto and director Rintaro tear the whole continuity thing apart as usual… I just saw the first episode today and I was extremely impressed (I’m used to continuity-annihilation so that helps!).
I’m fresh off of enjoying Cowboy Bebop so to hear Koichi Yamadera doing Harlock is plain awesome. Plus the ED could come from Cowboy Bebop! Check it out:
The episode is also loaded (overloaded) with references to Western culture, which doesn’t happen too often in Matsumoto’s work. Aside from the Blues music, we see posters in Russian, old engravings of the Devil (including Baphomet, I think) and a planet named Panopticon, after Jeremy Bentham’s concept of the perfect prison where guards can watch everything that is happening without themselves being seen [i.e. quintessential dystopia, and consonant with Leiji’s fears about the future]
Anyway, there’s a great review (with some spoilers) at pollywantsaharlock so here I’m just going to focus on the character Yuki Kei, who is well known as one of the crew members of the Arcadia.
I’ll talk about Kei because the episode, and thus the whole series, begins with her. Kei is currently head of her own pirate ship since Harlock’s crew has been disbanded. By the end of the episode she has been captured. Now, there are two important issues here:
1) The first scene has Kei taking a bath. The reviewer/s at cornponeflicks (another wonderful but spoilerific article btw) are quite upset at this flagrant fanservice. I agree that on the surface it might strike viewers as a desperate attempt by a flagging franchise to bring in horny new fans in, but the truth is that the gesture is very Matsumotoesque. The very first episode of the Galaxy Express 999 TV series has Maetel in a shower scene. And besides, Leiji has said that he the reason his women have long hair is that it was the only way he could get away with drawing them nude without attracting censorship!
2) Starting the series with Kei Yuki is a great way to underline just how important she is to the Leijiverse. If my theory is correct, Yuki Kei is involved in the One Link that keeps the entire Leijiverse together. Curious? Let me start at the beginning.
“In 1976 two doctors, Mr. and Mrs. Idai, were working on a machine that would give humans great power. The machine exploded during final testing and the married couple perished. Their assistant survived, however. And this assistant went on to help the Idais’ orphan son complete the experiment and become that superman. This superman and the assistant eventually married and began a line of powerful individuals, called Miraizers, who scattered across the universe throughout the centuries.
The boy’ name: Ban. The assistant’s: Kei Yuki. One of their descendants, Doctor Ban, is father of Maetel. Another descendant is a member of Harlock’s crew, and named after her ancestral mother: Kei Yuki.”
All of this story comes from the manga Mirazer Ban. Although we have confirmation from Matsumoto-sensei himself that Dr. Ban is a descendant of the original Miraizer Ban, we’re lacking the same when it comes to Kei Yuki (as far as I know). I’ll admit as much, but in that manga there are female descendants of Ban and Yuki named Kei Yuki as well, so I think that it’s reasonable to conclude that the Arcadia Yuki is a descendant of the Miraizer. Obviously, Arcadia Yuki doesn’t have the powers that her ancestors had, but this is actually a normal occurrence, not all Miraizer descendants have the Miraizer power.
On top of this, of course, Emeraldas is descended from Ban and Yuki too, so Emeraldas and the Arcadia’s Kei Yuki are actually related!! The relationship between Maetel and Harlock, Leiji’s two great heroes, is deep and multi-faceted.
I’ve heard that the last episode of this series gets very philosophical. I can’t wait!!!
NOTE FOR PROSPECTIVE VIEWERS:
One good thing about Matsumoto’s disrespect for Continuity in the Leijiverse is that one doesn’t really need to watch anything in order. You just need to know that Harlock is the Man and that’s all there is to it!