Open main menu

Space Pirate Captain Harlock (film)

Captain Harlock: Space Pirate (宇宙海賊キャプテンハーロック, Uchū Kaizoku Kyaputen Hārokku) is a 2013 Japanese 3D CG anime science fiction film directed by Shinji Aramaki.[2][3][4]

Captain Harlock: Space Pirate
Space Pirate Captain Harlock 2013 poster.jpg
Japanese release poster
Directed byShinji Aramaki
Produced by
  • Joseph Chou
  • Yoshi Ikezawa
  • Rei Kudo
Screenplay by
  • Harutoshi Fukui
  • Kiyoto Takeuchi
Story byHarutoshi Fukui
Based onSpace Pirate Captain Harlock
by Leiji Matsumoto
  • Shun Oguri
  • Haruma Miura
  • Yu Aoi
Music byTetsuya Takahashi
Distributed byToei Company (Japan)
Release date
  • September 7, 2013 (2013-09-07)
Running time
111 minutes[1]
  • ¥3 billion
  • ($25−30 million)
Box office
  • ¥500 million (Japan)
  • $19 million (worldwide)

In 2010, Toei Animation announced that it had developed a pilot for a computer-graphics remake of the earlier manga-inspired TV series, and presented it at Tokyo International Anime Fair that year. In the next year they presented a preview of Space Pirate Captain Harlock at Annecy International Animated Film Festival. This is Toei's highest production budget ever at the equivalent of over US$30 million. The story was reconstructed by the writer Harutoshi Fukui to reflect the themes of modern society and Toei provided the latest filmmaking technology for the film.[3] An English-narrated international teaser trailer was released for promotion.[2] It was shown in the competition of the 70th Venice International Film Festival[5][6] and was screened at the 33rd Hawaii International Film Festival.[7] It received a mixed to negative response from critics and was nominated for the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year. It won the Lumière award in Best International 3D Feature – Animated category at the 3D Creative Arts Award (2014).[8]


In the future, mankind has discovered a way to travel faster than light and has built colonies on thousands of planets. With humanity fading and the resources of the Universe starting to dwindle, some five hundred billion humans began the long journey back home, to Earth. However, humanity has outgrown its capacity to repatriate that many people and thus began the "Homecoming War", where the many factions of humanity battled for a stake on Earth. The war was long and bloody. It did not subside until an authoritarian universal government, by the name of "Gaia Sanction" declares Earth a sacred planet, and thus forbidden for humanity to repopulate.

To prevent various factions of humanity from immigrating back to Earth, an elite wing of the Gaia Fleet was tasked to defend Earth: The Deathshadow Martyr Fleet, led by Harlock. With the assistance of his scientist friend, Tochiro Ōyama, Harlock helped to save a dying advanced alien race called the Nibelung. In return for their help, the Nibelung gave Harlock their advanced technology and helped create the four Deathshadow-class ships with dark matter engines to defend Earth. Harlock's ships were unstoppable and he successfully defended Earth from humanity's influence, until the Gaia Sanction broke their own rules.

A peace treaty was created to prevent future bloodshed from various factions of humanity, however, it was under the condition that the diplomatic elite would be allowed to immigrate. Unfortunately, this didn't sit well with Harlock as he felt it was a betrayal of what he believed in. He also saw in this the hypocrisy of the Gaia Sanction. Enraged, Harlock broke rank, opened fire on the immigrants, and turned his guns upon his own fleet. With only the Arcadia now under his command, the ship was badly damaged, Tochiro seemingly killed, and they were being boarded. In a high-risk gamble for survival and protection of the Earth, Harlock asked Miime (Nibelung observer and engineer of his ship) to unleash dark matter upon the Earth to protect it from humanity. Sadly, the gamble was made at a terrible cost and the other three Deathshadow-Class ships were destroyed.

The dark matter was uncontrollable and it decimated the Earth and life was no longer sustainable. Engulfed in dark matter, the Arcadia managed to survive the incident, but returned out of the dark clouds forever changed. Harlock's body had been immortalized and Tochiro's consciousness seemingly lived on in the ship's computer, giving the Arcadia its reputation of being a cursed ship. Vowing to atone for his sin, Harlock is now a rogue pirate with a personal mission to turn back the hands of time.

100 years has passed and Captain Harlock remains at large. Gaia had covered up the real condition of Earth, with a giant holographic optical camouflage, to maintain their power. With his own crew of rogues, Harlock has taken 100 detonators from the Gaia Sanction in attempts to "start over." Admiral of the Gaia Fleet, Isora, got his younger brother, Yama, to help him take down Harlock. Several years earlier, Yama became angry after his mother's favorite flower dies, and accidentally destroys the whole greenhouse. The accident paralyzed Isora in that it had decimated their mutual childhood love, Nami. Nami was critically injured to the point of death, but survives only with the help of a medical pod. However, through their advanced technology, she's able to live and interact with the brothers as a living hologram. Desperate to make restitution to Isora, Yama agreed to infiltrate the Arcadia and its crew to stop Harlock's schemes. However, things became complicated.

Yama successfully infiltrated Harlock's crew, but unknown to him, Harlock and Miime always knew he was a mole. During a mission to install the 99th dimensional oscillator, Yama learned from Kei (crew member) that Harlock's plan to "start over" is by opening the time nodes to alter history and create a better time line. The mission turned awry when they realized they landed on a giant worm and Harlock came to rescue Yama. It was then Yama was about to execute Harlock, but in a life and death situation, Yama decided to cooperate with Harlock so both could survive. Thus they escaped the planet. Back on board the Arcadia, Harlock gave his gun to Yama, telling him to use it against him after freeing himself of the bonds tying him down -- if he still wants to kill him later. Yama's undercover identity was never exposed to the rest of the crew. Harlock's words convinced Yama to follow Harlock's plans, causing Yama to defect.

The Gaia Sanction learned of Harlock's intentions of heading towards Earth and they permitted Isora to use the Kaleido Star System, a superweapon used to destroy neutron stars, to stop Harlock. Harlock then used hologram projections of the Arcadia to disguise his movements and evade the Gaia fleet near Pluto. He is eventually spotted near Saturn and Isora takes the 2nd Fleet and the Kaleido Star System to stop him. The Arcadia is seemingly destroyed by the Kaleido Star System, but it turns out to be another hologram. The real Arcadia, hidden in an Asteroid, then reveals itself in the fleet's rear and destroys most of the 2nd Fleet before ramming into Isora's flagship, the Oceanus, to take them hostage. Once at Earth and past the great illusion, the crew was horrified at what has become of their Earth. It was during this time that both Isora and Miime divulged the origins of Harlock and the true nature of "starting over": Harlock intends to unlock the Nodes of Time to destroy the current universe and rebirth a new one -- Genesis.

Shocked by the truth, Yama now sides with Isora and even the Arcadia itself starts moving away from Earth. Yama then helps Isora and the crew of the Oceanus, held captive on the Arcadia, to escape and take over the Arcadia. With the ship and crew imprisoned, Isora confronts Nami for informing Yama of his tactical plans (which was used against him in the earlier battle) and her love for Yama. Nami wanted to release the hatred and anger within Isora and realized the source of his torment wasn't because of Yama, but because of her. Nami tells him she only loved Yama, which enrages Isora to the point of pulling the plug to her life support pod. As Nami is dying, she admits that she lied to Isora and she always loved him.

Isora makes up the excuse that Nami used a compromised system to record a hologram message for Yama, which caused her life support pod to malfunction and gives Yama the hologram message that she recorded. Yama doesn't believe Isora, but the guards hold him back as the hologram message plays after dropping on the floor. Haunted by Nami's death, Yama returns to the decimated Earth only to find a sign that life still thrives there when he discovers a meadow of white flowers.

The Gaia Sanction planned a public execution for Harlock and his crew; they are to be destroyed within the Arcadia by a large particle machine. However, the execution was halted when Yama appeared and released the crew of the Arcadia. In the process, he also destroyed the particle machine. Yama told the crew that he was wrong, but so was Harlock; now he wants to show the crew something he found on Earth. While still having trust issues with Yama, the crew had no choice but to follow his lead for freedom. At Harlock's cell, Yama reveals what he had found on Earth. The flower meant that Earth is trying to recover on its own and it might be the "starting over" that Harlock wanted. Emotionally touched at the significance of this miraculous find, Harlock believes he's found his "freedom". Harlock intends to expose the truth of Earth and escapes with the Arcadia.

Near Earth's proximity, the Gaia Fleet intercepts the Arcadia. Using its advanced speed and firepower, the Arcadia evaded destruction and successfully destroyed the hologram emitters that falsely portrayed Earth. Yattaran (crew member) managed to hack through Gaia's networks for Yama to reveal the truth to humanity, but also conveyed a message of hope that life would continue. The exposed truth of Earth's condition took away any leverage the Gaia Sanction had over its reign. Desperate to contain the situation, the Imperial Father (leader of Gaia) decided to vaporize Earth with a powerful particle cannon called the Jovian Blaster. Isora realized the Earth would be destroyed as the Arcadia was too close. Therefore, he decided to ram the Arcadia with the Oceanus and push it away from Earth. Both ships then boarded each other and there are many casualties on both sides.

Yama then confronted Isora on the Oceanus's bridge, the two fought and Isora shot at Yama's face, causing him to lose his right eye and have a scar similar to Harlock. Isora almost killed Yama, but Harlock shot him from behind and mortally wounds Isora. It was then Isora warned them about the Jovian Blaster and Harlock remarked that Isora was the only one who remained faithful to Earth. Harlock then asked Miime to unleash the full dark matter energies of the ship. When the Jovian Blaster fired, the Arcadia created a powerful shield that distorted the blast. Plus, the Oceanus's ramming had moved the Arcadia so that the Jovian Blaster missed the Earth. Yama later took Isora on board the Arcadia. As he was dying, he explained that he saved Earth because it had the flowers that Nami and their mother loved. After getting a glimpse of the flower, Isora died in Yama's arms while the Arcadia crash-landed on Earth.

Once on the planet, Harlock dropped his 100th detonator. Harlock pointed his gun at Yama and remarked that the Earth will eventually recover, but it will likely re-spark another Homecoming War; but, Harlock suggested they could prevent it by unraveling the Nodes of Time. However, believing that this world is a gift from Nami and Isora, Yama didn't want the world to end and similarly pointed his gun at Harlock. Harlock liked his answer and he gave the detonator to Yama and gave him the power to end humanity and the universe if another disaster like the Homecoming War happens again. Harlock, with high self-esteem, remarks that so long as mankind exists, so will the myth of how Captain Harlock resented the government, destroyed the Earth once, and almost ended the Universe, for all of eternity. Yama was given an eye-patch and he accepted the legacy of being the next Captain Harlock. As Gaia's fleet confronts the Arcadia again, the crew wakes up, seemingly healed by the dark matter power plant, and the Arcadia takes off and escapes into space, leaving the meadow of white flowers behind.


English Voice CastEdit



The film received mixed reviews from critics.[9][10][11] Filmmaker James Cameron praised the film for its use of 3D.[12]

It was recognized as the best international animated feature at the fifth annual 3D Creative Arts Awards held at Warner Bros. Studios in Los Angeles on January 28, 2014.[8] It was nominated for the Japan Academy Prize for Animation of the Year at the 37th Japan Academy Prize.[13]

Box officeEdit

By September 29, 2013, it had grossed ¥437,326,416 (US$4,452,519) at the Japanese box office.[14][15] It went on to gross ¥500 million ($5,131,363) in Japan.[16]

Space Pirate Captain Harlock is one of the most successful Japanese films ever screened in Italy, making about US$6.8 million by the end of January 2014.[17] Having earned more in France and Italy than it did in Japan, the film went onto gross $13,557,798 overseas,[14] bringing its worldwide gross to $18,689,161.


  1. ^ "Harlock Space Pirate [2D] (PG)". British Board of Film Classification. 23 March 2015. Retrieved 8 October 2016.
  2. ^ a b "Space Pirate Captain Harlock Remake's English Teaser Posted". Anime News Network. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  3. ^ a b "Captain Harlock Sci-Fi Anime's Remake to Open This Fall". Anime News Network. 31 January 2013. Retrieved 3 January 2013.
  4. ^ Frater, Patrick (10 May 2013). "Toei's Harlock captured by GFM". Film Business Asia. Archived from the original on 28 October 2013. Retrieved 10 May 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  5. ^ "Out of Competition". La biennale. Archived from the original on 28 July 2013. Retrieved 26 July 2013. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  6. ^ "Venice film festival 2013: the full line-up". The Guardian. London. 25 July 2013. Retrieved 25 July 2013.
  7. ^ "Harlock: space pirate". Program. HIFF Fall Festival. 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  8. ^ a b "'Captain Harlock' named best international animated feature at 3D Creative Arts Awards". Anime news. 17 February 2014. Archived from the original on 30 October 2014. Retrieved 30 October 2014. Cite uses deprecated parameter |deadurl= (help)
  9. ^ Rooney, David (5 September 2013). "Harlock: Space Pirate: Venice Review". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  10. ^ "Harlock: Space Pirate is a Big, Pretty, Action-filled Disappointment". 7 September 2013. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  11. ^ Leslie Felperin (6 September 2013). "'Space Pirate Captain Harlock' Review: Shinji Aramaki's Epic a Nerd's Delight". Variety. Retrieved 20 October 2013.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Wind Rises, Madoka, Lupin vs. Conan, Harlock, Kaguya Earn Japan Academy Prize Nods". Anime News Network. 16 January 2014. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  14. ^ a b "Japanese Box Office, September 28–29". Box Office Mojo. 6 October 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  15. ^ "Japanese Box Office, September 28–29". Anime News Network. 6 October 2013. Retrieved 16 January 2014.
  16. ^ "2013年 日本映画・外国映画業界総決算". Kinema Junpo(2月下旬決算特別号). Kinema Junposha (1656): 201. 2014.
  17. ^ "Captain Harlock CG Film Now Available on Netflix in U.S., U.K." Anime News Network. 3 August 2014. Retrieved 11 January 2015.

External linksEdit