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Captain Harlock (キャプテン・ハーロック Kyaputen Hārokku?) (also known as Captain Herlock) is a fictional character created by manga artist Leiji Matsumoto.

Harlock is the archetypical 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".

The character is introduced in Adventures of a Honeybee (1953), but did not make its debut as lead character until 1978's Space Pirate Captain Harlock. Since then, the character has appeared in numerous animated TV series and films, the latest of which being Space Pirate Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey, and re-imagined as an Iron Cross fighter pilot and a gunslinger in the American Old West.


Though there are slight variations in each telling of Harlock's story, the essentials remain the same. Matsumoto presents a future in which the Earth 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. Even though they have defeated Earth and devastated its peoples, the invaders are often presented in a sympathetic light, being shown as having some justification for their actions.

Space Pirate Captain Harlock

In Space Pirate Captain Harlock, the Captain's crew included the mysterious, alcohol-imbibing alien woman Miime, a robot, and a drunken doctor. The series presented a story arc in which a huge black metal sphere strikes Tokyo and ancient Mayan legends appear to be walking the Earth again. The invaders turn out to be the Mazone, a race of plant-based women who explored Earth in the mythic past and are now back to reclaim it. Only Harlock and his mismatched crew are brave and capable enough to face the enemy.

Arcadia of My Youth

The Arcadia of My Youth feature film was released in July 28, 1982. The film, set in a different continuity from the original TV series, chronicles Harlock's beginnings as a space pirate, and his acquisition of the spaceship Arcadia; the movie also includes flashback material dealing with two of his 20th-century ancestors. October of that same year, it was followed by 22 episodes of the Endless Road SSX series, which dealt with Harlock and company's continuing struggle against the Illumidas occupying force, who still retained control of Earth at the end of the theatrical feature. Both film and second series feature a newly designed starship and lack most of the crew from the Space Pirate series, but are noteworthy for the presence of Emeraldas, a female counterpart to Harlock originally appearing in a series of Matsumoto-penned graphic novels.

Harlock Saga

In the 1990s, Matsumoto released Harlock Saga, a mini-series based on Das Rheingold. The series recasts the Captain and his crew in roles with analogues in The Ring Cycle and pits them against a race of "gods" set on redesigning the universe to their liking.

Gun Frontier

On March 28, 2002 Gun Frontier, a buddy comedy set in the American Old West, began broadcasting in TV Tokyo. The series follows Franklin Harlock Jr. and Tochiro Ōyama as they search for a lost clan of Japanese immigrants. In contrast to other works, Harlock appears here as Tochiro's sidekick.

Endless Odyssey

December 2002 saw the release of Space Pirate Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey,[1] directed by Rintaro.

The story is set after the original TV series, with Harlock on a self-imposed exile and his crew either in jail or flying under the Jolly Roger. The series details Harlock's return and his round-up of the Arcadia crew for a fight against the Noo, a mysterious and ancient evil which has caused the Earth to disappear, and who use fear to conquer their foes. Although nearly every part of this series is geared to be a sequel to the original Captain Harlock, Endless Odyssey reintroduces Tadashi Daiba to the Arcadia.

Space Pirate Captain Harlock Movie

In March 24 2010, Toei Animation announced the release of the new Harlock movie, they announced a completed pilot for its planned computer-graphics remake of Leiji Matsumoto and Toei's Space Pirate Captain Harlock manga and anime franchise, and it has revealed a preliminary image and the project's staff. Mobile Suit Gundam UC author Harutoshi Fukui, Appleseed director Shinji Aramaki, Appleseed mechanical designer Atsushi Takeuchi, and Ninja Scroll character designer Yutaka Minowa worked on the new Space Pirate Captain Harlock pilot with Marza Animation Planet (formly known as Sega Sammy Visual Entertainment). [2]

The official trailer/pilot was aired at the Kawaii-Kon Anime festival in Hawaii on April 17, 2010, as a special presentation courtesy of Director Shinji Aramaki. This is the first time it has been seen/aired in the United States.

Fictional character biography

Captain Harlock and his world have been developed and occasionally re-developed as Matsumoto changes his conceptions about them. The original Captain Harlock television series was conceived as an independent, standalone work. Captain Harlock, the roguish space pirate, displays the full range of human emotions at one point or another during the course of the story.

When Harlock appears in Arcadia of My Youth feature film the sequel TV series Endless Road SSX, his back story was significantly changed. He was a military officer before he became a space pirate, the circumstances of which were related in the film. This was also the only on-screen incarnation in which Harlock was married. The death of his wife Maya at the hands of Earth's alien conquerors plays a large part in turning Harlock from unconquered space captain to brooding space pirate. The backgrounds of other major characters, such as fellow pirate Emeraldas and best friend Tochrio Oyama, were also altered in accordance with Harlock's new backstory.

When Matsumoto's works again became popular in the 1990s and he began to pen the Harlock Saga manga, he changed the backdrop of Harlock and his universe. This time it was based in part on Wagner's Ring cycle and required significant reworking of almost every one of Matsumoto's stock stable of characters in order to make the story fit. He is only a teenager when the Earth is conquered and his father Great Harlock is the first to take up the "fight for freedom" touched upon in Arcadia of My Youth. As of 2007, this is the version of Harlock that Matsumoto considers in continuity. Harlock's appearance in Space Symphony Maetel tries to consolidate previous adaptations of the character.

Supporting characters

Tochirō Ōyama (大山トチロー Ooyama Tochirou?). Harlock's old friend and the architect 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.

Queen Emeraldas. A space pirate much like Harlock, she bears a scar under her left eye.

Mayu Ōyama (大山まゆ Ooyama Mayu?). The daughter of Tochiro Oyama and Queen Emeraldas. Harlock takes her under his wing following Tochiro's death and Emeraldas' departure, but she is unable to remain with Harlock due to Tochiro's wish that she remain on Earth.

Miime/Mime/Mimay, an alien female harpist who acts as Harlock's adviser and moral support. Her appearance is basically humanoid, the exception being her lack of pupils and no apparent mouth, although she can speak and consume liquids in the mouth area. Her biology is different in that she subsists on alcohol rather than food. In stressful moments or times of hubris, she plays her harp, which contributes a sense of peacefulness to her colleagues, particularly Harlock himself.

Professor Tsuyoshi Daiba. Tadashi Daiba's father, an astronomer and scientist. He was one of the few scientists who saw the aliens' threat and attempted to warn Earth's government before he was killed by the Mazone. Tadashi, affected by his father's murder, joined the Arcadia crew to seek his revenge.

Mitsuru Kiruda (切田 満 Kiruda Mitsuru?). The leader of Earth's defense forces, he is Harlock's sworn enemy and will stop at nothing to try to eliminate him. Earlier in his life, Kiruta suffered the loss of his father, a government secret agent, during an ill-fated mission, followed by his mother and his younger sister Tami. Blaming the government for his family's death, he rose through the military ranks in order to effect change for the better and, like Professor Daiba before him, tried in vain to warn the Earth government of the Mazone invasion. Kiruda eventually puts his grudge with Harlock aside and sacrifices himself defending the Arcadia's main computer against Mazone troopers.

Cultural impact

Harlock has achieved notable popularity. In 1979, the character won the first annual Anime Grand Prix for favorite character. In 2006, Harlock and the characters of Galaxy Express 999 were recognized in the third set of "Anime Heroes and Heroines" stamps.[3]

Several anime and manga characters have been, in some way, inspired by Matsumoto's creation. Naoko Takeuchi drew inspiration from Harlock's stoic qualities ("strong, silent, unshakeable") when designing the character of Tuxedo Mask,[4] while Last Exile's Alex Row was modeled after the Captain.[5] His basic character design is even thought to be a source of inspiration for Osamu Tezuka's manga character Black Jack.

Adaptations in other media

Eternity Comics, an imprint of Malibu Comics, produced an American comic book series based on Captain Harlock. It was written by Robert W. Gibson and illustrated by Ben Dunn and Tim Eldred. The storyline allegedly started two years after the events in Arcadia of My Youth but ignores the events in Endless Road SSX while still borrowing elements from them. The comics discontinued in 1992 after it was discovered that Malibu did not have the rights to use Captain Harlock. Reportedly, the alleged representative for the rights to Harlock with whom Malibu exchanged money turned out to be fraudulent and was in no way connected to the rights holders.

Eight Peaks, a South Korean production company, announced on April 10 that it signed a joint production contract with Japan's Genome Entertainment to produce a Captain Harlock live-action film. Original creator Leiji Matsumoto has not signed off on the project.[6]

Other appearances

Captain Harlock, or characters indistinguishable from him, have made frequent "unbilled cameo" appearances in many other works of Leiji Matsumoto, including Galaxy Express 999, Queen Emeraldas, and Galaxy Railways as the joker in a deck of playing cards.

Captain Harlock was originally intended to appear in Space Battleship Yamato during their return voyage from Iscandar. The idea was dropped for a number of reasons which probably included the fact that the rights to Yamato were at the time owned by executive producer Yoshinobu Nishizaki. This idea evolved into simply finding Mamoru Kodai (Alex Wildstar) alive on Iscandar. The idea was still used later in a Yamato manga by Matsumoto where Yamato later encounters Mamoru who assumed the false identity of Captain Harlock (as revealed when hero Susumu Kodai finds a copy of a Captain Harlock manga among his supposedly dead brother's belongings).

In 2001, Cosmo Warrior Zero presented a version of the story in which Captain Zero, a human veteran of the Earth-Mechanized war, is commanded by the Machine Men, who won the war and now rule Earth, to hunt down the Space Pirate who is still resisting the invaders. This series focuses on Zero and his misfit crew as they take on the hopeless mission, fighting a more skilled enemy who also may be more justified in his actions than they are. Harlock, Tochiro and Emeraldas put in mostly supporting guest appearances, and are shown as being slightly younger than their previous incarnations.

In the Warhammer 40,000 Roleplay tabletop games, the legendary Rogue Trader Solomon Haarlock is presumably named after Captain Harlock and Robert E. Howard's Solomon Kane.


  1. The word "harlock" is derived from the Anglo-Saxon "hoarlocke," meaning "one with gray hair." Both "Harlock" and "Herlock" are common translations of the Japanese name into Roman script and both have been used in both Japan and America. "Harlock" has been used more often, but some recent American releases have used the "Herlock" spelling.
  3. "Animation Hero and Heroine Series III: Galaxy Express 999". 
  4. Holzer, Stefanie; Mrs. Okishita from Kodansha (translator) (1999). "Interview mit Naoko Takeuchi". AnimaniA (in German) (30).  Unknown parameter |month= ignored (help); Cite uses deprecated parameter |coauthors= (help)
  5. "An interview with Range Murata". The Journal of the Lincoln Heights Literary Society Miscellanea and Ephemeron. 2005-06-03. 
  6. "Matsumoto: Korean Harlock Film Planned Without Consent". Anime News Network. 2008-04-16. 

External links

it:Capitan Harlock