who is this guy harlock anyway?in the beginning....space pirate captain harlockmy youth in arcadiaendless road ssxcosmowarrior zero | hunt for young harlockharlock saga | the ring of the nibelungenendless odysseyguest appearancescharactersshipstrouserscomms station

So who is this Harlock guy anyway....
In this universe nothing is certain

Space Pirate Captain Harlock is, simply put, one of the most difficult manga characters to comprehend. Enigmatic, quiet, stoic, resolute, passive, truculent, sensitive, unpredictable… his personality is clearly not meant to be known.

To the Western viewer, his character is almost impossible to discern. The Westerner sees Harlock through a veil of limited available translations, bad translations, no translations, horrendous commercial dubs, embarrassing rewrites and a host of misinformation. And yet, despite all that, it seems that the character of Harlock is so powerful and pervading that we are still able to pierce the murky fog of the well-meaning and the money-grubbing and see the true strength of Captain Harlock.


Tall, handsome, mysterious... Captain Harlock incarnates in his 20s or 30s and is variously depicted as having a good left eye — or two good eyes, depending on which version you are watching. Harlock is of German extraction and physically is tall and lithe, brown haired, brown eyed, his features marked by a substantial scar across his left cheek, the origin of which has never been revealed. Dependent upon which incarnation you have on hand, he may or may not have lost his right eye, and his body may also be heavily scarred. (For more character information, click here.)

Again, depending on which version you are watching (the version thing is important visit here for an explanation), Harlock's personality can be sombre and melancholy, jovial and light-hearted, moody and easily irritated. But whichever persona you catch him in, some traits remain the same: Harlock is tenacious, gentle, noble, resourceful, intense, fond of saké (red wine, bourbon, whatever...) and easy on the eye. He also seems to enjoy discombobulating people, though they often don't know they've been discombobulated till way after the event.

Psychologically Harlock is a total enigma. In his most common representation he is a dark and troubled soul. Regardless of which incarnation you happen to be watching, life has not been good to him so far and he has earned his melancholia. By contrast, in depictions of Harlock’s youth he is far more robust, happy and energetic. Taken as a whole, the extended story of Harlock could well be about the nature of the human mind, and how life events shape personality.

The most important of Harlock's values is his belief in the strength of the human heart, and letting the heart guide one's actions. He’s acutely aware of his status in life and his rejection by humanity. Although he seems to enjoy living outside the law, he doesn’t enjoy being an outcast. By extension, Harlock is also aware of how being in contact with him can affect others in the most negative fashion. People can’t join the Arcadia crew unless they are truly ready to and are very clear about the consequences.

When charged with the custody of Mayu (Tochirō’s daughter) in the original animated version of Space Pirate Captain Harlock, Harlock entrusts her to an orphanage on Earth rather than keep her onboard the Arcadia, leaving that moment for the time when Mayu is old enough to make that decision for herself. In Endless Odyssey, when the Arcadia’s crew has been scattered, vilified, captured by authorities and slated for execution, Harlock laments that he ‘hasn’t been very good for them,’ and though he resolves upon a rescue, at the last moment he wavers, wondering if it is the right thing to do, if he can ask them to put themselves in that same position once more. Harlock is a rarity in the two-dimensional world of anime — he possesses a conscience and a questioning mind.

Ever the antihero, Harlock wants to do only what he wants to do, at times seeming to be quietly resentful that he is called upon to act in a responsible fashion simply because of who and what he is believed to be. Harlock is a hero who questions his motives and the motives of others. He doesn’t believe in following orders, nor particularly giving them. He’ll pause to ask people ‘are you doing this because you’re following orders, or because you want to?’ Harlock holds more respect for people acting upon their own desires, even if what they are doing is wrong, than for those acting on another’s whim. Perhaps this is why, even in the role of Captain of the Arcadia, he is reluctant to give orders or make demands, and is only slightly troubled when, on rare occasions, the orders he does give are not carried out.

Harlock is not a superhero. He is captain of a supernatural ship, but he himself possesses no superpowers, apart from superior marksmanship, timing and a gleaming eye. Harlock is simply a man making his way through an unexpected life. A man who is fallible, human, and doubting.

The Tochirō Factor

Ultimately, the Captain Harlock story is about friendship. It is about Harlock and Tochirō. Forget the Mazone, the Irumidas, mechanical men, Odin and Nuu. No matter Harlock’s battles, the greater story is the friendship of two men and the loss of that friendship. It shapes Harlock’s life and his character; more concretely it gives him his ship, and it propels him out into space.

Although Harlock and Tochirō may appear physically and psychologically mismatched — Harlock the tall brooding German and Tochirō the short effulgent Japanese — they are two opposites that make a whole. As a child of the post-war era, artist Matsumoto Leiji may well have seen Harlock and Tochirō as metaphorical representations of their countries. Perhaps the unconscious message was that the Japanese have the technological and mechanical know-how required to step into the future, while Europeans possess the stoicism and staying power to see the dream through to the end. In this context, after Tochirō’s death Harlock has no option but to see the dream, their dream, through to its conclusion. Although operating as one half of a whole has made the dream that much harder for Harlock to reach.

Even though Tochirō is absent in many versions of Captain Harlock, he is a serious and constant driving force in Harlock’s life, his death changing Harlock in ways we can only guess at. In the original television series, Tochirō’s daughter, is placed in Harlock’s care, an extension of the friendship, obligation and duty towards Tochirō that Harlock simply cannot ignore. And Tochirō’s psyche inhabits the Arcadia, peering ghost-like over Harlock’s shoulder and guiding the path of the great ship. If it weren’t for Tochirō there would, in fact, be no Arcadia. And no pirate’s life.


who is this guy harlock anyway?in the beginning....space pirate captain harlockmy youth in arcadiaendless road ssxcosmowarrior zero | hunt for young harlockharlock saga | the ring of the nibelungenendless odysseyguest appearancescharactersshipstrouserscomms station
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