SPC Harlock 37-39: Dying to Live
Episode 37 brings with it the denouement of the Namino affair. Once Tadashi Daiba knows you’re a spy, then that must mean everyone knows you’re a spy. Her race to bridge is an exciting scene: she shoots to disarm and does it all very quickly, beating both Yuki and Daiba to the punch. And then when Harlock shows up she misses 5 or 6 times. One way to look at this is that she can’t bear to kill him, period. But maybe she was hoping he would flinch or run away and thus break her awe for his heroic demeanor. At that point she could have killed him. But he didn’t flinch, so she failed. [Or perhaps she did try to hurt him, and the bullets simply refused to obey her, a not completely ridiculous scenario considering what I wrote about Harlock in my last post].
The Captain allows her to leave on a small vessel and Daiba scolds her on the way out. You know you’ve really messed up when Daiba is scolding you! I could come up with a bunch of sentences along the lines of “you know you’ve ——– when Tadashi Daiba ——-“. In fact, I think I’ve already used several in my posts on this series…
The Mazone try to kill their former spy and Harlock orders that she be saved. Then she tries to arrange things so that she will be killed by Harlock, but Daiba ends up shooting her first. At least Harlock is clever enough to figure out her last wish and shoot her a second time. Is this the second or the third Mazone who’s taken shots from both Daiba and Harlock?? I can’t remember.
Harlock uses his considerable knowledge of solar flare cycles to outmaneuver the Mazone and reach Earth unscathed. As usual, he pays a visit to Ocarina and she tells him about–oops! I meant Mayu. She tells him about the scary dream that she had.
The moment that we’ve been waiting for is here: the newly awakened Kiruta’s man to man talk with Captain Harlock. There are no apologies, but one figures offering to take care of Mayu is the best way to apologize…especially when you consider the musico-psychological torture that awaits him…You actually see him grimacing with pain as Mayu takes the ocarina on their way to Egypt. Yes, he was wounded and all but the ocarina can’t have helped.
There’s a creepy exhilaration to witnessing any Earth invasion scene, and this one doesn’t disappoint. I always assumed the Mazone would never reach Earth, calculating that if they did it’d take them 5 minutes to conquer the planet and not even Harlock would be able to do anything about it. I’m curious to see what the Arcadia will do, or how the Mazone will go wrong, to prevent this conquest from going all the way.
The Mayu-Tochiro “meeting” was as unexpected as Harlock’s and Kiruta’s was expected. It was a really sad moment, and I couldn’t help thinking that Harlock is very deficient in parenting skills. Timing is of the essence when discussing sensitive matters with children. Now is not the time to tell the little girl that her daddy and died and uploaded his soul to the core computer of the very ship you’re going to banish her from. Come on!!
Finally, I was rooting for Commander Kiruta to pull through and the next episode’s preview shattered me. Another hero goes into Leiji’s Beautiful Blender of Blood. Seriously, if you’re a heroic and attractive character in the Leijiverse not belonging to the Quartet of Greatness (Harlock, Maetel, Tochiro, Emeraldas) chances are you will end up dead. That is, of course, unless you’re one of Maetel’s little protégés…the rules don’t apply to them boys, oh no!
Kiruta’s backstory gets filled up. We see it happen all the time: someone embarks on a long quest to obtain the power to change things, and at the end of the quest the only thing that has changed is him or herself.
The Commander gives an explanation that amounts to a deeply felt apology. His resentment toward Harlock is born out of the pirate’s relationship with Mayu because of the associations it triggers with Kiruta’s own sister Tami. Kiruta failed to save Tami and he cannot bear to see Harlock saving Mayu. Harlock is moved by all of this, although he turns away his face when Kiruta begins to cry. But whether consciously or not, the Captain’s next decision condemns Kiruta to death.
The situation is very clear. Kiruta begs to participate in the fighting against the Mazone. He is rejected. The fighting begins in earnest. He begs to go out. Harlock shows some resistance, and then approves Kiruta’s exit. Even more amazing are his parting words to the Commander: “Don’t rush to your death!” and the smile that accompanies them. All in all I’d say a Harlock-Odin interpretation [see my previous post for this] is viable here: Harlock is maneuvering things in such a way that this man will die in battle (telling him not to rush to his death is the first lesson in Reverse Psychology 101). The reason for this is that Kiruta is a hero who cannot (because of physical problems and many psychological ones) go living heroically at the same level of intensity. Kiruta will die more or less with his valor at his peak. Harlock wants warriors like Kiruta to burn out and not just fade way.
EXCURSUS TO ANSWER THE OBVIOUS QUESTION WITH A LESS THAN OBVIOUS ANSWER
Why on Earth would Harlock desire this??? Allow me to set forth a theory. This theory hinges on the nature of Time in the Leijiverse. As fuzzy as the details on this nature might be, we know for certain that the basic temporal pattern is circular (ring-shaped). We know this from Captain Harlock’s mouth itself, when in Arcadia of my Youth he utters the famous promise to Maya that he will meet her again in the future. So there is nothing esoteric about claiming that the Leijiverse has this pattern and that Harlock is aware of it: these are plain facts, just like saying that George Washington was the first American president in our own universe.
Knowledge is power. Harlock has this knowledge, it stands to reason he will translate it into power. It is believed in many if not most cultures (including Japan’s) that the manner and timing of your death affect your afterlife. For example, a Japanese ghost, or a deceased person’s soul in a Christian scenario, will probably be stuck with the persona he or she possessed at the time of death. In the case of the Leijiverse, the afterlife is yet another life. By encouraging heroic deaths Harlock is increasing the number and quality of heroic personalities throughout the universe. Notice the neat analogy with Odin’s Valhalla. Odin encouraged men to die heroically so he could have them train for a final showdown. This training involved daily battles in which all of the warriors would be killed, only to be reborn again the next day to continue fighting etc. What this theory proposes then can be stated in the following terms: the entire universe is Harlock’s Valhalla. But then the next question becomes: what is his Ragnarok?
END OF EXCURSUS
The hand-to-hand combat was exciting, though the way Kiruta grappled the Mazone team leader and then had another Mazone shoot her down was downright silly. Maybe Queen Lafresia should cut back her R & D spending and put some more money into basic soldier training.
The Commander is mortally wounded in the battle. The Arcadia takes refuge in Deathshadow Island and Harlock tells Kiruta not to die, but to think of the children in Egypt that need his protection. This puts an image of the said children in Kiruta’s brain and immediately after this he dies. As bad as Kiruta’s wounds looked, it’s hard to see Harlock seriously contemplating the possibility of the Commander healing. It is far more likely that he knew what was coming and he intended Kiruta to have that heroic goal in mind when he moved on. In a manner of speaking, and seen from the largest scale possible, Kiruta is set to fulfill Harlock’s request. He will live again, and we can be sure he will braver and readier to protect the innocent than ever before.