Great Pirate Harlock

This is a one-shot story, just short of 30 pages, that appeared in 1970 and was then tacked on to the end of the fourth and last volume of Sexaroid.  “Tacked on” is the right word here, as the tale has nothing whatsoever to do with Sexaroid, none of the characters are the same, etc.

Yes, it's him (pretty much)

Chronologically this is the first time that a character called “Pirate”, “Captain” and “Harlock” appears in one story in the Leijiverse, and this Pirate Captain Harlock already sports an eyepatch (on the left eye!) and he’s already jaded.  He doesn’t have a scar.  So what’s the story about?


A small fleet from Earth catches a glimpse of the pirate Harlock and his famous Deathshadow on its radars. The commander of the fleet, Vit, prepares a trap for the pirate and begins to relish his victory. Vit has some time to kill so he decides to sleep with an assistant named Nareya, who happens to be betrothed to another crew member (Sado). Vit tells Nareya not to worry because he’s just charged Sado with fixing an antenna outside the ship, and they have sex after laughing at him outside their window [yes, he’s within viewing distance!]. Little do they know that Sado knows about their affair and he can see them doing their dirty deeds with his binoculars.

Harlock suddenly appears before the naked Vit and Nareya. He’s snuck into the ship party thanks to the fact that Sado deliberately messed with the antenna so the fleet wouldn’t be alerted. Harlock offers Sado a place on his ship. Sado accepts on one condition: that Vit and Nareya be beaten up and killed.

Harlock seems to agree, takes all three people on his Deathshadow and then blows the whole fleet up (he also abducts all women between the ages of 18 and 26, but no one else).  Rather than executing the illicit couple, he flies over to a primitive Earth-like planet and releases them into the wild. At this point the reader might be thinking Harlock is playing nice, but he isn’t! He tells Sado to keep looking out the ship window. The planet is full of cavemen which grab Vit and Nareya (still totally naked), have their way with Nareya, hang Vit upside down, and finish by eating them. Sado is very pleased.  Harlock remarks: “only cats and humans play with their food before eating it.”

Vit and Nareya

The Deathshadow flies to an asteroid much like the pirate islands that he likes to dock at in later works. Harlock releases the women and all the pirate men cheer. Sado is lodged in a luxurious bedroom equipped with a lovely lady named Françoise. The next day Harlock announces a huge fleet (700 vessels) from the Earth Federation is coming. The Deathshadow flies out of the asteroid just in time—seconds after it is obliterated. Now Harlock’s mad…and sick of it all.

He gives his pirate flag to Sado, then he entrusts his wife (Sado gasps, Françoise is Harlock’s wife!), and finally the ship. Sado doesn’t have any time to respond. Harlock flies off on a small rocket and the Earth Fleet realizes that he’s carrying a dimensional bomb but it’s too late. Harlock takes the entire ship with him (to Hell, I’ll add, but that’s just my interpretation).

Françoise explains Harlock’s actions to Sado: Harlock was an officer of the Mossland League Armed Forces. Mossland was originally a colony of Earth, but in the Seventh Great Interplanetary War, Earth attacked and beat Mossland. Earth then took all of the “Mossies” to Earth and killed or castrated all the men. Harlock was wounded in the war and then…castrated! And that’s why he hates, or hated, Earth.

Sado takes on the mantle of Harlock, calls himself Pirate Harlock, and sets out beyond the Solar System. When an Earth ship realizes the Deathshadow is leaving, a crewman asks an officer “Should we stop them?” and the officer replies: “No, let them go. I’d go too if I were young.” THE END

Harlock sails off to meet his Doom


This story has the typical Leiji mixture of the crass and the sublime. I think my summary says it all…

I was mostly surprised at how angry and bitter this Harlock seemed to be, considering the story came out 7 years before the classic Space Pirate Captain Harlock.  Clearly, the suicidal tendencies in the character have been in there for a long, long time.  The end of this story is replicated in Volume 8 of Harlock Saga, where [SPOILERS ahead, be warned!] Harlock as a child gets to see his father
Great Harlock fly off into the middle of a massive fleet and kill himself and everyone else in one glorious conflagration.

~ by Haloed Bane on April 23, 2010.

6 Responses to “Great Pirate Harlock”

  1. D: Great Harlock KILLED himself?! WAAAAAAHHHHHH!!!!!! He was so cool too D:

    Like I said before I love pissed off Harlock (not to the point that he kills himself though …)

    But I want to know why Harlock thought to entrust it to a guy who he just met.

    (“You know what. I can’t have sex! I might as well be dead! (Typical Leiji thinking) Here, why don’t you screw my wife for me! I’m gone.”)

    • Harlock Saga’s Great Harlock (aka. dude that looks just like Harlock but with a beard) takes 168,000 enemy ships with him to Hell, so it’s not all bad news.

      And your guess is as good as mine on Harlock’s thinking in this tale…

  2. Everybody else is speechless, apparently 😀

    It looks likes a very unexpected beginning of the whole Harlock myth, indeed. Takes some time to accommodate. But it has its moments. I like the ending. Somehow, I find this version of the whole “Harlock legacy” transfer more appealing than the long succession of Phantoms F. Harlocks…

    And… Matsumoto’s one-shot stories rule! Because they have endings!

    • Ah, yes, the ending.

      Endings are good, and the longer the story the more necessary an ending becomes. Maybe we should all write a letter to Leiji sensei along these lines and send it to him…

  3. […] First we have an adaption of the 1970 manga short Great Pirate Harlock, of which I’ve written [here]. […]

  4. […] So in the end, maybe we can start thinking that pure evil in the Leijiverse stems from this will to nothingness, to put it crassly and almost childishly: from the wish to never have been born when one is faced with difficulty, and since one is already born, then the wish that everything and everyone might perish rather than to have to live another day or die and let everyone else live on happily without oneself.  It might not seem so much evil as pathetic, but everything bad comes out of it.  Otoko Oidon, which is partly autobiographical, deals with a young man coping with these wishes as they continuously try to rise to the surface.  I wrote about this [here].  The great Captain Harlock himself struggles against something like this feeling, when he almost wishes that Earth would just disappear during Space Pirate Captain Harlock, and one of his manga “ancestors” was riddled with nihilism and practically lost the battle in the story I discussed [here]. […]

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