The Meaning of “Endless Orbit” in Harlock’s Endless Orbit SSX
Endless Orbit SSX is a literal translation of the Japanese title of the second Captain Harlock series (in Japanese → Mugen Kido SSX = 無限軌道ＳＳＸ), and since it sounds very weird many people use the less literal Endless Road SSX translation instead. Well, I just realized what this “Endless Orbit” means!!!
Here’s what happened. I was reading Matsumoto’s The Cockpit manga and I came across a story about tanks. One of the characters says: “Every tank has a mugen kido”. Next to it, by way of explanation in katakana it read: “kiyatapira”. My best guess here was that this “kiyatapira” was English “caterpillar”. Needless to say, I was intrigued. So I looked it up and of course:
“Mugen kido” is the technical term for the caterpillar tracks used for movement in vehicles such a tanks!! I didn’t know that!! I always broke down the term into “mugen” (=endless, limitless) and “kido” (=orbit, track) and never thought to look it up as a phrase.
Isn’t this title clever? Matsumoto uses a tank term, but of course since this is a space show he’s playing on the primary meaning of “kido” as orbit. I don’t think we need to change our English translations since Caterpillar Track SSX just doesn’t have a good ring to it, but it’s nice to know where the word comes from. Indeed, Time in the Leijiverse is sort of like a caterpillar track. The movement is always the same and yet the whole thing—moves on.