Im something of a fan of Leiji Matsumotos work and particularly the character of Captain Harlock if you couldnt tell from my avatar. Harlock made his first appearance as a supporting character in Matsumotos other major series from the 1970s Galaxy Express 999. However he was popular enough to get his own series in its own separate continuity in 1978. So as a fan of the character I figured I might as well give my thoughts on the show. The premise of Harlock 78 is that Harlock is a Space Pirate as you can tell from the title who has rejected Earth due to its corruption and decadence but still has some ties because his old friend Tochiro who spends most of the series unnamed and who built the Arcadia told Harlock before his death that he wanted his daughter to be grow up on Earth. When a group of plantaliens who all look like women called the Mazone announce their intentions to invade Harlock and the crew of the Arcadia are the only people who will stand in the way of the invaders. This actually leads to one of the shows faults. Harlock and the courageous crew of the Arcadia are the only ones who will fight the Mazone not because they are the only ones who are able to do so but because they are the only ones willing to do so. The government of Earth is either too lazy and decadent to fight on their own behalf or too obsessed with the hunt for Harlock. In the former case we have the Prime Minister who frequently poopoos the idea of alien invasion. In the latter case we have Kiruda an officer in the Earth Military who pursues Harlock with a passion that would put Inspector Zenigata or Javert to shame. This is clearly meant to be social commentary and satire but taken almost forty years out of its original context and without any real knowledge of Japanese domestic politics in the 1970s particularly related to their legislature its hard to get a good read on it. The satire reads heavyhanded as hell but without context I cant tell if its conservative or progressive. That said because the satire is so heavyhanded it does mean that most of the scenes that are involving the government of Earth become rather rough to watch. For the sake of satire a lot of people in this show from Earth simply dont act in a manner like Id expect a human to act. Tochiros daughter Miyu is frequently tormented by the matron who runs the orphanage where she lives and by Kiruda in order to get at Harlock. When Miyu is tormented just as badly if not worse by the Mazone I buy it because the Mazone arent humans. When on the other hand Kiruda and the Matron act like theyre desperately trying to win the Agatha Trunchbull Award For Excellence In Education it comes across like bad writing. Additionally the Mazone introduce some rather unpleasant issues to the story. With the exception of one episode the Mazone exclusively look like beautiful women. This leads to a messy narrative issue related to how small the shows female cast is. The series recurring cast has only two heroic female characters Kei Yuki and Miime. This leads to an unfortunate situation where whenever any mysterious attractive female character appears in an episode odds are incredibly high that the character is in fact a Mazone spy. It became enough of an issue where during a 3episode flashback arc where we saw the origins of the Arcadia and where Tochiro met Miyus mother Emeraldas I began to worry that this series was going to have Emeraldas turn out to be a Mazone with Miyu being halfHuman halfMazone. This did not happen but this plot point was enough of an issue that I became very concerned that this might be the case. I did ultimately enjoy watching the series but this is in spite of large swaths of the series which are absolute slogs and which unfortunately cannot really be skipped. Because of this I cannot fully recommend the series I only toughed it out due to an affinity for other parts of Matsumotos work. Note: This review originally appeared on my blog
70 /100
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