P-A-R-T-Y T-I-M-E (with Harlock & co.)

It’s good to be old.  I mean, it’s not like you have a choice whether to age or not, so you might as well convince yourself it’s a good thing.  I got myself all sorts of stuff for my birthday: pre-ordered the Harlock film novelization (on the way as we speak), the second volume of the Mahoroba novel (out next month) and just now pre-ordered the Harlock film concept art book, which will come out in September.  On top of that, I got myself a few random 3d models (a cheetah, Wolverine-like hand blades and rocks with faces on them, you know, the usual stuff) and a booklet with Thomas Taylor’s timeless 70-page introduction to the writings of Plato, which I was totally expecting not to get at all, and which so far (5 pages in) I’m totally grasping…this last fact probably the best proof that it is good to get old.  Also, by my calculation next year I’ll be exactly half as old as Leiji.  Wow~


Anyway, I’m going to comment on a few things from the Harlock film preview.  I should warn you that if you want balanced criticism of the film (or, me genoito, a negative take on it) you’d better head elsewhere.  Go ahead and check out what the rest of the aniblogosphere is saying about the film…  <checks animenano>  Oops, nobody else is talking about it.  Oh well, I guess you’re stuck with me.

So the action begins at a frontier planet called MX-910.  Yes, this is definitely a shout out to the planet Heavy Melder,  but the nondescript name puts the hellhole in its proper place: a world in decay which has seen its better days.  It reminds me of Mars in Galaxy Express 999.  Anyway, this fellow interests me:


Is he the narrator??  What is his story?

The fact that humans haven’t found any aliens, as the narrator clearly implies, makes me very interested in finding out what the status of Miime is.  I mean, is she hidden from view?  We definitely don’t see her in the fighting sequence…  Or maybe the human elites do know of aliens, and keep it from the rest of the human race.

The costume designs in these 12 minutes are amazing.  They totally “remember love,” taking inspiration from Leiji’s work, and then bringing them alive.  Leiji is known for his gears/gauges, and one of the things that I was looking for the most in this film was seeing the bright things pop up.  But I didn’t expect them to show up on the helmets of the Arcadia crew!


Everyone is dressed so nicely, but we have yet to see the classic Leiji arrow motif.  I hope they do show it!

The setup with the new recruits works off of a classic storytelling trope (when I was growing up, all the jokes revolved around three or four guys being asked a question, with the fourth invariably providing the right, though quirky, answer; of course, I’m old enough so that there was always a Soviet guy in the mix, along with the American, etc.).

The way Yattaran/Yulian saunters over to Yama (with the little bow at 4:05), after the third guy has fallen off, is just brilliant.  It’s like a really condescending and heartless doctor going to look over a patient he’s not expecting to survive.

Another thing that is totally awesome is how we can hardly see Tori’s (the pet bird’s) eyes.  I mean, on the face of it this creature is just laughably ridiculous, and yet they actually manage to make it look darn scary and menacing while still holding on to Leiji’s design.  This, in a nutshell, is why I think the guys working on this film have been so amazingly successful: bridging the divide between your usual manga/anime and a more realistic medium like this CG stuff, without betraying the original, in other words, neither scrapping the original altogether nor copying it blindly, but actually recreating the original in this new medium.


It’s just not a visual thing: case in point Yulian.  Make no mistake, Yattaran in the original works is badass and he has a mean streak (if and when he can be bothered to jump into action).  I remember scenes where it’s Yattaran who just wants to blast everyone to pieces.  But think about the dilemma this brings for the filmmakers: how can you bring a badass to the big screen (which is less permissive in terms of character design) and be faithful to Yattaran’s look, without making people just laugh at him and dismiss him as a cute chibi?  Well, I honestly don’t how you do it, but they went ahead and got it done with Yulian!!  I so want to wear that fashion!  It’d actually fit me!!


It’s interesting that they did away with Yattaran’s Osaka dialect.  I’m definitely looking forward to hear why the decision was made and how un/happy Leiji is with it.  (I mean, the original character is a tribute to a friend of his from the region so…)

How come the recruits survived?!

OK, on to the battle scene.  There is a real heavy historical presence, and yes, you know I’m compelled to talk about it: Yamato.  Not the space battleship per se, but the original.  Let’s analyze the situation.  The Arcadia is detected as it leaves MX-910 by a patrol ship armed to the teeth (patrol ship my ass).  The ship sends out a bunch of space planes.  The word I used when I subbed it was “fighters”, but the original Japanese word is kansaiki, which means ship-based planes.  And in fact, these particular planes are not fighters, they’re bombers, specifically dive-bombers (a type of bomber which reached perfection during WWII).  When the assault begins, one of the bombers scoffs at the fact that the Arcadia doesn’t have a single ship-based plane to respond.  And of course seconds later all of the dive-bombers get butt-munched (one of the things that happens is that the divers are supposed to dive really fast, release their bombs, then pull out, but the Arcadia is so freaking quick that they literally run into its path).


When Yamato sailed off of Kure harbor on its last mission in 1945, it did not have a single plane with it.  There was not enough fuel for them, other planes were being used in kamikaze attacks at Okinawa, etc.  I imagine when the first American dive-bombers began their assault, they must have marveled at this utter lack of air cover.  The result?  Yamato never reached its destination.  Of course, things turn out differently with the Arcadia.  And if you’re wondering whether this means that Leiji had a hand in the plot at this point, remember that the script work was handled by Harutoshi Fukui.  Fukui is totally in his element here.

And in the midst of all of this we get to hear Harlock for the first time (and his lovely cape, which is almost a character of her own).  Wow, the actor Oguri goes for the super deep voice here.  It’s fitting that the ship has a dark matter engine, as Harlock here is pure dark matter himself (his voice, his clothes, his facade).  I’m pleased with the voice acting in these 12 minutes by the way (I told you I would be super biased!)


When the dude with the skull face tattoo says that the patrol ship has turned around and is going to escape, Tori just erupts with indignation.  That’s just awesome.  Harlock is of course still looking too cool for school, but maybe the bird channels his emotions in some way.


Then the carnage begins in earnest.  Kei leads the way, which is totally awesome and makes perfect sense.  Kei has always been the Arcadia’s battle commander, though it’s easy to forget sometimes.  The pirates are in full control here and the enemy never stands a chance.  This is of course typical of the first 10-15 minutes of most action movies (you usually see the hero kicking ass UNTIL one day when blah blah blah).  I’ll be curious to see how they handle the Arcadia’s superiority throughout the film.  I mean, Leiji’s Arcadia is quite invincible, and the fact has turned off a lot of people from the anime etc.

The retina injection scene is fabulous, Harlock’s hand flourish when he announces they will go by “In-Skip” (whatever that is) is divine, and I could go on and on.  By the way, the publisher of the novelization has the first two pages on their website.  I read them today, and it’s extremely close to the beginning of the film.  The dialogue is actually identical in those two pages.  There are of course descriptions and some background stuff, but all of it has already surfaced in the various trailers and on the website so I don’t have any scoops.

~ by Haloed Bane on July 26, 2013.

22 Responses to “P-A-R-T-Y T-I-M-E (with Harlock & co.)”

  1. Is Yama the assassin actually Daiba?

    • Yama is the equivalent of Daiba, yes. Though there seems to be a bigger gap between Yama and Daiba than between Yattaran and Yulian, or between Kei and Kei etc. But yes, speaking archetypically, Yama = Daiba.

      • I’m not sure there’s as bigger gap as you suggest… the TV series has a LOT to answer for here – like Kei, Daiba’s a lot tougher in the manga, and much more of a “younger Harlock” than the 14 year old waste of space he is in the anime! Mimay and Harlock even discuss this at one point… Even the anime starts off by describing it as a meeting between two ‘young men’ with a destiny, before sidelining Daiba to his now legendary screw-up-of-the-week status! The manga version is closer to characters like Takuma or Kodai… but both Leiji and Rin Taro get distracted by Harlock (who doesn’t!!) and – well – Daiba kind of ends up sort of “benched” – though by the time the manga comes to an untimely end, he’s starting to make a come-back! And I guess you can argue it was supposed to be HIS story, in the same way GE999 is Tetsuro’s? it just doesn’t work out that way…

        Maybe the film is finally putting this right? Making him older at least removes some of the more irritating traits associated with teens, and allows a plausible timescale for character development that doesn’t rely on waiting for puberty to catch up (and we’ve all seen how badly THAT can misfire… {cough} Anakin Skywalker…)

        At least we’re spared Harlock offering to “make a man of him” this time round… not sure that’d play to anything but the Yaoi fangirls these days!!

        There are some lovely moments in this opener – establishing characters right from the get-go – Yattaran’s taken lessons in badass cool, Kei’s “attitude” is nicely played (sassy, but competent without being overly agressive) and I just love the way she bosses Yama around! (tossing him onto the deck like a ragdoll was a nice touch – either that’s some serious power-armour, or a clue that maybe the gravity ain’t what you think!!)

        Harlock – well, just oozes cool like it’s going out of fashion, seemingly mysterious and distant and utterly in control. Yeah. Well, we all know he can fake it like a good’un, and “bullshit” ought to be his middle name! 😉

        Yama – doesn’t look too comfortable in his own skin, or with the task he’s got – but can free-climb a damn mountain, is the only one of the recruits who can stand firm with a sang froid that could match Harlock (though almost blows it by hesitating a bit too long) yet then almost immediately overplays the meek, dorky rookie angle…!

        Oh – anyone else spot the photo on the wall of the bar that looks as though it shows a small man in a hat & mantle?!

        • Can you tell us the minute and second it shows up? (hat and mantle)

        • … Plus a youth boarding the ship to kill Harlock is getting quite in the Leijiverse vein too. In the SPCH the Prime Minister offers to release Daiba if he boards the ship and kills the captain, which the boy immediately shruggs off as totally ridiculous (which, laides and gentlemen, i must point out is very clever of him, advocating Daiba as I always do). But most strikingly, who’d have thought it, that’s exactly how the SSX starts. Another godforsaken planet, a bunch of good-for-nothings in the bar, etc. etc. Only Tadashi Monono first tries to duel Harlock and then boards the Arcadia, but that’s nuances 😀
          (And yes, made me think of Mars from the GE999 too!)

          • Hahaha, yes, I see how you can argue that Daiba is smarter than Yama. Though I’ll never forgive him for forging that Ring. Never.

            Ah, I don’t remember the first episode of SSX at all. Interesting..

            • SSX’s Tadashi though is more of “want the bounty coz I’m starving” and challenges him to a duel rather than shooting him in the back – which is why Harlock gives him a chance! It’s doubly cute because Tochiro cooks the poor lad a dinner and gets his cooking criticised!!

              I’m currently going through the shows in order (not sure where “Pirate of the Time Castle” should sit though…!!). Currently up to Episode 13 of SPCH… Dear gods, I joked earlier – but Daiba really IS pulling a “screwup of the week”! Rin Taro really is hard on the lad – forging of rings aside because thanks to the plot SOMEONE had to catch the idiot ball for that one and it wasn’t going to be Tochiro, was it? – getting Kei killed (however temporarily!), which leads to her possession and attempted destruction of the Arcadia- has to rank as his all-time lowest point of stupidity…

              Of course after this it’s SSX – in which Harlock carries the idiot stick for most of the show… {mutters} Great character designs (IMO the best ever!) plus superb voice cast – turned into an unmitigated disaster by some of the worst plotting and dialogue in history and not helped by some truly dreadful animation bumps in places… But: Komatsubara’s Harlock (and Kei) are just to die for… Thankfully it’s only 22 episodes!

              …not sure I’ll be able to bring myself to watch Harlock Saga. Might just go direct to Space Symphony Maetel!!

              • Where do you place SS Maetel chronologically versus the mainline Harlock shows? It’s kind of hard to tell. Or are you going simply by release dates?

                • Before CWZ is a given, since those two ARE kind of related, and it’s set about 5 years earlier if you go by character ages… (which makes Harlock all of 18! awwww…. though he’s a surly, snarky bastard at that age – seems to have mellowed a bit by CWZ!)

                  As to viewing order: Bit of both and tends to get played by ear if I get bored!
                  I kind of keep non-GE999 continuities separate from GE999… so the plan is:
                  SPCH (And the Japanese are complaining about the designs in the film?! Always takes me a while to get past the seriously iffy off-model designs of the 1st 9 eps, but thankfully it settles down from 10 onwards! And 13… on mama, 13…)
                  Endless Odyssey (more of an overlap than a sequel, but might leave E/O till last, purely because I sense a bit of an F-U to its particular version of Harlock from the new film… 😉 )
                  WSNA—> SSX (prettiest.version.of.Harlock.EVER… until now…)
                  SSM (How come Maetel always gets a better class of acolyte? Nazca’s just awesome!)
                  CWZ (My first Harlock! Still got a soft spot for him!)
                  GE999 eps 79-81 (not sure I can take the films though… the adaptation of Jikan Jou no Kaizoku in the first film is a travesty…)
                  Gun Frontier (Frank’s just sweet!)
                  Harlock Saga (if I can face it… I managed 2 episodes last time!)

                  Might also revisit all of the available Harlock manga!

                  • Maetel knows how to pick his boys, is why.

                    • Yet she tends to lead hers to their death… (judging from the implied back story, it’s just Tetsuro who manages to come out ahead!) whereas the more obvious psychopomp (the one-eyed, cloak wearing one with the big black bird on his shoulder and a thing for wolf-named space-planes…) tends to leave his alive and kicking and leading the way to a brave new world!!

                      hmmm… and in Norse mythology, half of the dead were taken by Freya, half by Odin… 😉

                    • You see, it would be unethical for Maetel to pick a new boy if the other one was still alive :/

                      Hopefully we’ll get to see much more of the Norse angle in the Mahoroba film.

          • Clever? Or honour before reason? If he’d said “yes” he would HAVE to have been set free to do the job, and once on the Arcadia it’s adios muchachos and whatareyougoingtodoaboutit!! (Though admittedly he’s not yet given up on earth as a lost cause at that point!)

            If he’s so damned clever why do they have to show him the ship all over again a few days after his first grand tour, eh?!! 😉

            Admittedly, he’s nowhere near as offensive in the manga! (And in terms of hotheaded screwups his anime version actually causes less damage than his 70’s anime contemporary, Ichimonji Takuma, before the latter wises up…!)

            • Hmm, well, yes, but you know, if Daiba is sent as an assassin I’m sure Harlock will get wind of it, and then Harlock’s own honor code might make him insist that Daiba either try to fulfill his mission or get out and return to Earth, so the whole thing could backfire on the lad.

              • You have a point… 😉 Harlock’s “honour before reason” approach does tend to screw up that plan…! But Daiba wouldn’t have known that…!

                OTOH, if Daiba sticks to his guns (no pun intended) you get the (presumed) resolution to E/O – where he seems to have taken to heart Harlock’s “If I give an order you don’t have to follow it” and told him where to stick his offer to shoot him! Harlock will allow someone to hold different values to himself so long as they stick to them…

  2. I was so busy thinking about Bioshock with the boarding party battle suites that I didn’t even notice the Leiji dial on them!

    I’m still amused by Yattaran being huge in this movie, more so because I noticed a guy on one of the One Piece pirate crews dressed similar to Yattaran and now new Yattaran is like the same size as the guy.

    So on him not speaking in Osaka-Ben I think it has to do with him being a bit more action oriented in this movie. Osakan accents = stupid/gag character most of the time in media, unless it’s a western.

  3. Anyone notice that Yattaran’s, excuse me, Yullian’s hat is exactly what Matsumoto-San wears himself? I liked that touch.

  4. Happy Birthday!

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