Space Pirate Captain Harlock is a manga series written and illustrated by Leiji Matsumoto. It was serialized in Play Comic from 1977 to 1979, with the chapters collected into five tankōbon volumes by Akita Shoten. The series follows the titular Captain, an outcast turned space pirate after he rebelled against Earth’s Government and humanity’s general apathy. On August 2014, to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Matsumoto’s debut, he launched a retelling manga, Captain Harlock: Dimensional Voyage, illustrated by Kōichi Shimahoshi, which features some significant plot differences. Seven Seas Entertainment has licensed the manga in North America.
In the future, in 2977 AD, humanity has achieved a vast starfaring civilization, but is slowly and steadily succumbing to ennui or despair, often due to defeat and subjugation by a foreign invader. Rising against the general apathy, Harlock denies defeat and leads an outlaw crew aboard his starship Arcadia to undertake daring raids against Earth’s oppressors. Their primary oppressors are the Mazone, a race of organic plant-based alien women who explored Earth in the mythic past and are now back to reclaim it.
Harlock is the archetypal romantic hero, a space pirate with an individualist philosophy of life. He is as noble as he is taciturn, rebellious, stoically fighting against totalitarian regimes, whether they be earthborn or alien. In his own words, he “fight[s] for no one’s sake, only for something deep in [his] heart.”
Crew of the Arcadia
is the audience surrogate, the viewer’s gateway to Harlock’s world. The 14-year-old son of a scientist who was killed by the Mazone, he joined the Arcadia crew following the death of his father. He lost his mother in a disaster on the Neptunian moon Triton when her pleas for help were ignored by the indifferent government. Tadashi is sometimes in conflict with Harlock early in the series, but he would become a trusted part of Harlock’s senior staff as the series progressed.
A young human woman with blonde hair who was already part of Harlock’s crew at the time Tadashi came aboard. She first met Harlock when he raided a ship that was transporting her back to Earth as a prisoner after she had assaulted a military officer who had belittled her father’s death. There is a slight intimation that she harbors a crush on Harlock (though this would be made more definite in the later SSX series), and initially seems inclined romantically towards Tadashi Daiba, though the two eventually settle into a platonic friendship. She is the Arcadia‘s chief navigator and science officer and the second-youngest crew member after Tadashi.
A mysterious brooding female alien with blue skin and body-length blue hair. Like all of her race, Miime has no mouth or other facial features outside of almond shaped yellow eyes. Like others of her race, she uses alcohol as a non-intoxicating foodstuff and uses her psychic and psionic powers as a means of reducing pain of injuries. Originally from the planet Jura, she became the last of her species after being saved by Harlock and crew. In gratitude, Miime became part of the crew of the Arcadia and pledged her life to Harlock’s support and safety, becoming the pirate’s nearest companion. Having no mouth, she can still “speak” and still absorb liquids through the general mouth area. Although not provided an official position aboard the Arcadia, she will help Doctor Zero tend to injured crew members in times of crisis. Her empathic nature makes her a valuable counselor (for example, when she consoles Miss Masu following the loss of the latter’s estranged fiancé) and is capable of quelling pain/anxiety of all onboard by the strumming of her lap harp. In the 1999 Harlock Saga OVA, she is refashioned to appear as a more humanoid woman and provided a different back story, making her a member of the Nibelung clan; here, her preferred musical instrument is the pipe organ and somehow possesses the ability to control time. In 2002’s Endless Odyssey OVA her original look and history return. Miime is depicted as more distinctly alien but with a face featuring a mouth in the 2013 feature film.
Harlock’s first mate on the Arcadia, he is usually portrayed as comic relief in the series, but when a battle against alien threats become imminent he will be at the captain’s side. He is also a brilliant mathematician and has a major interest in building plastic model kits of ships (he was even seen building a scale model of the Arcadia in one episode). Yattaran is based on manga artist Kaoru Shintani (best known for Area 88) who, in his early career worked for Matsumoto building models for reference.
Chief Medical Officer. Like Yattaran, he serves as comic relief when he argues with the ship’s cook, Miss Masu, over his raids of Masu’s kitchen to get his beverage of choice, sake. He has a pet cat called Mi-kun (named Miaou in the French version), which he adopted after the then-kitten’s mother, which was injured and apparently dying, brought him to Zero’s office, and was later brought with Zero on board the Arcadia. Doctor Zero’s cat, Mi-kun also appears in Space Battleship Yamato as Doctor Sado’s cat. Mi-kun also makes on-off appearances in several other anime such as Queen Millennia and Galaxy Express 999. Mi-kun is based on Matsumoto’s own pet cat, the latest of which is named Mi-kun III.
Chief steward. Masu Tsunajima is a cantankerous spinster who is intolerant of her kitchen being raided by Doctor Zero or his cat. She is also a comic relief character in the series, although her back story had her intended to marry her fiancé, Gozo Otowara, before circumstances prevented the wedding from taking place. Masu believed she had been stood up, until she learned the truth years later and reconciled with Gozo in a brief communication before Gozo was killed by the Mazone.
Harlock’s old friend and chief builder of the Arcadia. He died of illness prior to the events of the series, but his consciousness survives within the ship’s computer.