While I have yet to sit down and watch the vast anime universe that Leiji Matsumoto had created back in the late 70’s, I have seen some of the re-imagined takes on some of his classics such as Galaxy Express 999 and Queen Emeraldas. Now Ketchup Entertainment brings one of his greatest characters to the small screen after leaving Japan’s big screen in 2013 with the Harlock: Space Pirate DVD. What it lacks in special features is made up with an action-packed sci-fi treat that anyone can enjoy.
Directed by Shinji Aramaki (who worked on titles like Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and Halo Legends), the film takes place in the future where mankind has made their way throughout space and has spread all over the universe. After much fighting and using up most of the galaxy’s resources, people have decided to return to their home planet Earth. A group known as the Gaia Coalition has the Earth on lockdown and will not allow anyone to set upon its surface, leading to even more fighting and death. Among all of the people who fight against the Gaia Coalition, there’s only one person who has any real power to undo them, and that’s the infamous space pirate Captain Harlock.
In order to stop him and his ragtag crew aboard their battle cruiser called the Arcadia, the Coalition’s leader sends his brother Yama undercover to be recruited by Harlock. Once he earns the captain’s and crew’s trust, he is to kill Harlock and end their threat once and for all. But of course Yama learns that things aren’t always what they seem to be, as he begins to learn what the Coalition has really been doing and has to choose to carry out his mission or join Harlock in his fight to free the planet.
I enjoyed Harlock: Space Pirate as it had just the right amount of action and drama while also having decent pacing. I would’ve liked to had seen this in high definition on Blu-ray, but this DVD-only release still makes everything come in as clean as the format allows. Viewers can choose to watch the film with the original Japanese audio with English subtitles or with the new English dub. Both of them do a good job bringing the characters and story to life, but I did enjoy the original Japanese audio and bit more just because I’m biased when it comes to watching films in their original form.
Sadly there isn’t any special features of any kind here, save for some trailers that play before the DVD menu appears. Hopefully if the stars and planets align just right, we’ll get a Blu-ray release of this film with a nice amount of extras one day. But for now this is as barebones as DVD releases come.
Harlock: Space Pirate is an action-packed sci-fi treat that anyone who enjoys Leiji Matsumoto’s works or space operas will get their kicks from. It would’ve been nice to have this released on Blu-ray along with some special features, which makes it a little difficult to recommend as a purchase, but everyone should at least rent and watch this awesome sci-fi masterpiece.