SPC Harlock 30-32: Tochiro!!!

It must have taken Matsumoto-sensei lots of self-control.  To have kept Tochiro out of the picture until the 30th episode, wow!  It’s amazing…consider that Tochiro is at one level an avatar of Leiji’s (just as Harlock was a representation of a tall friend of his)…it’s the late Seventies, the mangaka is fresh off of great triumphs with the Space Battleship Yamato franchise, more than enough to earn him his own independent show, and he keeps Tochiro in the shadows for over half a year!

Here he comes, Mr. Japaaaann ♪

So this wonderful moment comes, and I as a viewer ruin it.  See, what happens is I’m used to a certain voice of Tochiro’s, which I guess is by a man called Kei Tomiyama (Galaxy Express 999, Arcadia of my Youth) and has been emulated by successors like Yamaguchi (Gun Frontier) and Yamadera (Harlock Saga).  The voice of Tochiro in Captain Harlock is Keaton Yamada’s, and it sounds different.  It’s not bad, it’s just very different from what I was expecting.  It takes me sometime to recover.

Emeralda instead of Emeraldas is far easier to get used to.  But her appearance compels me to bring up the fashion issue one more time.  See:

Coming on the heels of Yamato mania as it did, I’m sure many people watching this show must have been reminded of Kodai’s uniform in that series: a similar downward arrow pattern, although thicker and and not as long.  Just what is the meaning of this?  Is Emeraldas asking for people to stare at a certain spot??  (namely, her belly button??)  I don’t get it.  As I’ve said before, the pattern recurs.  Often it’s an actual slit, meaning the pattern is not made of fabric but of skin, but it’s always vertical and ending down in an arrow or a heart.  This is essentially the same to me, as an arrow points to an important location and the heart is a preeminent symbol for an important location.  So what is Matsumoto pointing to?  Any clues?

The episode is essentially a flashback to Harlock’s and Tochiro’s young days in a Wild West environment and of how they first met Emeraldas.  It’s a cute story from beginning to end and it feels like a light, kiddies’ version of a Gun Frontier chapter.  Everything here clashes with Matsumoto’s later version of how Harlock and Tochiro met.  In particular:

a. Tochiro says he’s known Harlock since kindergarten.

b. Tori-san is Tochiro’s pet.

Arcadia of my Youth has totally different takes on these two items, and I prefer those versions by far.

The action switches to the planet Heavy Melder in episode 31 and another flashback detailing the construction of the Arcadia and Tochiro’s ultimate fate.  Stuff always happens in or around Heavy Melder [its main city Trader will go on to become the hub of the Galaxy Express train network in 999].

We get to see the pirate Emeraldas being bad to the bone, blasting Earth Federation ships away while stay at home daddy Tochiro entertains cute Mayu.  The sad music in the background reminds us it’s all going to end soon, though.

Harlock, Tochiro and Emeraldas have found happiness among the miners in Heavy Melder, but an incoming planet called Ganda is about to cause a huge cataclysm.  I don’t know why Leiji loves planetary collisions so…I wish someone would ask him!  Everyone on the planet is saved when Tochiro finishes building the Arcadia in the nick of time and carrying them out.  Then he dies of anemia, asking Harlock to allow Mayu to be raised on Earth’s green hills etc.

We now know who Harlock’s great friend is, how the Arcadia was built, and why Mayu is condemned to live on Earth.  We still do not know, and possibly this won’t be revealed, what the precise connection between Tochiro and the Arcadia’s core computer is.  Adieu Galaxy Express 999 deals with this, but I’m curious to see if this series has its own version of the relationship.


One thing’s for certain, the Mazone can learn from their mistakes.  Commander Cassandra of the Advanced Fleet was killed along with her ship, so now the aliens have reconfigured their Advanced Fleet to bypass the Arcadia altogether and head for Earth.  Every moment that Harlock spends searching for Mayu brings at least some of the Mazone that much closer to their destination.  Ahh, this makes sense now…

What I’m not impressed with, looking at the Arcadia going from planet to planet in the Ulysses Nebula (there are 7 in total), is our pirates’ search tactics.  What is to prevent the Mazone from moving Mayu from planet to planet as Harlock and co. evacuates each one?  This game could last forever, and time is gold now that the Advanced Fleet is on the move.

Some of the crew are very aware of this fact, and we begin to see dissension just as we saw among the Mazone ranks.  It’s time for the Captain to stop this and he does with a speech.

Harlock’s speech comes down to this: Mayu is my symbol of freedom, and we as pirates rally to the cause of freedom, therefore we should rescue Mayu even if it means putting Earth’s entire population at risk.

Well, Harlock is no Pericles, but somehow the crew is completely persuaded.  Huh??  I’m guessing the speech is so illogical it’s manly.  Plus, the crew realizes if they can’t get Harlock to go along with them they’re going to have to hitchhike to Earth.

It’s a less than heroic moment all around.  In the meantime Mayu is suffering from major deja vu as she’s forced to become a trap for Harlock.  As upset as I am to see the great Captain descend into a Daibaesque stupidity in this episode, the fistfight with the legions of Mazone sent by Dainess is awesome.  By the end, though, I listen to Queen Lafresia’s words and nod: victory is within her reach.

~ by Haloed Bane on September 24, 2010.

4 Responses to “SPC Harlock 30-32: Tochiro!!!”

  1. Is it just me or does most of the times we see Harlock get into major trouble somehow Tochiro’s fault? Or is it more of Tochiro’s total failure at being a cowboy.

    But I love that first flashback episode it’s the only part of the Carl Meseck dub I’ve ever seem on youtube.

    I’m not sure it was daibaesque stupidity,some versions of Harlock are known to run off like that with out thinking clearly.

    Oh and this is around the time when i think that the music has really been getting good. What has been you thoughts on some of the lyrical songs used in the show?

    • I’m actually terrible when it comes to soundtrack music. I love to listen to music, but I tend to completely ignore it when there’s a visual component (I miss the audio part). So I’m afraid I’ve been totally oblivious to that aspect of it.

      Harlock getting into trouble because of Tochiro. If you think about it, that’s the basic premise of Gun Frontier, which came out in 1972 so yes, it seems that at a very fundamental level this is how their relationship plays out throughout the various series!

      As to Daiba and Harlock,I guess they’re both guilty of acting first and thinking later some times. But you’ll see how my opinion of Daiba improves in the rest of the episodes. It really does!!

  2. Ah, I was not happy with that speech either! And when I am not happy, I am looking for explanations 🙂
    My suggestions:
    I’ve always had an impression that Halrock is more about people than ideas (hence the recurrent motif of promise). To protect the interests of some specific people, namely Tochiro’s, Mayu’s and his own is more important than to defend the planet – in other words he is saving the planet only when it is within the scope of his personal interests, as a side-effect. It fits in the piracy ideology and is quite an effective position, actually. At least, I like it better than a superhero’s let’s-save-the-world attitude.

    Then he reminds the crew that a) he is the captain and b) they are pirates, i.e. should mind their own business. As to why the crew buys it in… What we’ve seen so far gives us to understand that all crewmembers’ links to Earth have been cut, maybe a grave or two at best. So Mayu, through their loyalty to their captain, turns out to be their only live and personal link to Earth, and that’s why she matters.
    Don’t quite understand Mayu as a symbol of freedom though. One is to be free to be able to choose in favour of small and personal instead of the grand common cause? Don’t know…

    • Hm, I guess maybe at the deepest level the pirates know that Harlock swore to protect Mayu, and they respect that. As pirates, they have not sworn to protect the Earth so there’s no ethical conflict in that narrow sense..

      Maybe freedom is like an ocarina, whatever that means!

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