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

Guest Appearances
Don't mind me none, I'm just passing through...

One oddity of the Matsumoto universe is that it is apparently and seemingly and to all intents and purposes the same universe that all his science fiction stories are played out in, which makes the percentage probability of his characters passing each other in the night quite high indeed. Now, and indeed, I have waxed lyrical elsewhere on this site about Matsumoto's universes not being the same universes at all (go here if this is starting to confuse you), that in fact his universes are separate spheres of time and space that are overlapping at strategic points, and at the junctures of those overlappings strange things can and do occur. Worlds may collide, and characters may wander unhindered into the same but different universes. Here is a brief account of some of Harlock's animated wanderings (with some recent-ish manga developments thrown in). These are not all his wanderings — it is more than possible that he has wandered unhindered into all manner and sundry of places that have yet to be documented. [For a rundown of some of Harlock's manga meanderings, which are quite distinct to his animated meanderings, click here.]

Ginga Tetsudō 999 [Galaxy Express 999]
Television series airdate: September 1978 - April 1981,
113 x 30 minute episodes, Toei / Fuji Terebi;
Ginga Tetsudō 999 Motion picture release date: August 1979, 120 minutes, Toei; Sayonara Ginga Tetsudō 999 [Adieu Galaxy Express] motion picture release date: August 1981, 130 minutes, Toei; Galaxy Express 999 Eternal Fantasy motion picture release date: March 1998, Toei

The most well known place Harlock has wandered has been into both the Ginga Tetsudō 999 television and feature film series.

For those unfamiliar with Ginga Tetsudō, it was a hugely popular series produced in the late 1970s and early 1980s that focused on a young orphan, Tetsuro Hoshino, a mysterious and beautiful stranger, Maeter, a future world in which people trade their flesh and blood bodies for mechanical ones, and in which an intergalactic railway system has been set up to transport people all over the galaxy.

Tetsuro is a boy of the short and stumpy Matsumoto variety (though I think he has room to grow), while Maeter is a tall and willowy blonde who mysteriously appears with a coveted ticket for a Galaxy Express 999, journey which she gives to Tetsuro for nada (though, you know, there's gotta be a catch...). The series is one of adventure, with each and every stop of the train bringing Tetsuro and Maeter into contact with all manner of being, both flesh and blood and mechanical. At its core, the series is a sad and lilting morality tale about people who think they know what they want when they really don't. It's an endless litany of bad decisions, mistakes, sadness and eternal regrets. People die in almost every episode, and they die horribly, nobly, happily, unwillingly, tragically, gratefully. Ginga Tetsudō is about death and immortality and the prices involved in both.

So what does our good pirate have to do with this express train to tragedy? Well, not a lot, but Harlock aficionados do need to see Ginga Tetsudō, as it contains a vital and integral chunk of the Harlock/Tochirō story. It is within the Ginga Tetsudō milieu that we witness the death of Tochirō, and the transfer of his soul/psyche/personality into the main computer of the Arcadia. And it is a fitting universe for this story arc, since Ginga Tetsudō is all about people forsaking their flesh and blood bodies for those made of metal and wire. Although Tochirō's body was failing and death was hovering close by, we must wonder at the reasons behind his opting to hasten his end that little bit, so that the transfer could be undertaken before his life actually passed from him. The young Tetsuro is with him at this crucial moment, having come across the ailing Tochirō living alone within the hulk of the rusting Deathshadow. Indeed Tetsuro participates in the deed, and is there minding Tori-san when Harlock finally makes his appearance to bury his dead friend (and, one presumes, install the computer into the Arcadia). Given the nature of Harlock and Tochirō's relationship, it's devastating that Harlock was not there at the moment of Tochirō's death, and can only bury him and mourn at his grave. But given the nature of Ginga Tetsudō, which is all about sadness and regret, this is not an unexpected development.

Ginga Tetsudō also includes episodes with Emeraldas, and hints at her backstory. Calling herself 'Captain Emeraldas' when she and Tetsuro meet in the series, it appears that she is suffering an unnamed malady, and has taken to her sickbed. Tetsuro is shocked to see on board the Queen Emeraldas a photograph of Emeraldas and Maeter, posing happily together. Emeraldas explains to Tetsuro that she and Maeter were once close friends, 'shin-yū', the same as Harlock and Tochirō. However this friendship was destroyed during a bitter disagreement that led to a physical fight between the women, after which they parted ways forever. Emeraldas is determined that forever means forever, however, for when Maeter learns that Emeraldas is nearby and tearfully begs to be allowed to meet with her, Emeraldas coldly holds firm and reiterates that they will never meet again, before taking off in the Queen Emeraldas. Despite the information revealed in this particular story arc, Maeter's origins remain mysterious, and her relationship with our pirates equally so.

Obviously Harlock and Tochirō would be aware of this friendship and its demise, and it would no doubt colour their interactions with Maeter. In Hunt for Young Harlock, Zero and Harlock both see Maeter when they fall into the time-space continuum at the heart of mushroom world. Zero has also met Maeter during Cosmowarrior Zero, without knowing quite exactly who she was, and is obviously stunned in Young Harlock to see her in a disembodied state beneath the mushroom planet. Harlock is also surprised to see her there, and says her name with disbelief evident in his voice. Maeter also appears in Harlock Saga, this time apparently doing Harlock a favour at his personal behest, so it seems that in that particular timeline she has yet to be expelled from the fold. Some hints have been made in later years that she and Emeraldas are in fact sisters, which would make their falling out that much harder for both of them to bear, but that particular supposition has yet to be convincingly born out (I need to see birth certificates). Although, perhaps in one of Matsumoto's spherical universes, this is indeed the case.

Uchū Senkan Yamato [Spacecruiser Yamato]
Uchū Senkan Yamato
airdate: October 1974 - March 1978, 26 x 30 minute episodes; Uchū Senkan Yamato II airdate: October 1978 - April 1979, 26 x 30 minute episodes; Uchū Senkan Yamato III airdate: October 1980 - April 19891, 25 x 30 minute episodes, Toei.
Uchū Senkan Yamato
motion picture: August 1977, 130 minutes, Toei; Uchū Senkan Yamato yo Towa ni [Be Forever Yamato] motion picture: 1978, Toei; Saraba Uchū Senkan Yamato motion picture: 1979, Toei
Uchū Senkan Yamato Kanketsuhen [Final Chapter]
motion picture: March 1983, 150 minutes, Toei

Contrary to popular belief, Captain Harlock never appeared in the television or movie series of Uchū Senkan Yamato. While a cloaked figure aboard a pirate ship that looked remarkably like the Deathshadow did appear in the Yamato manga (see here), this was never transferred to the large or small screen.

However, in in the initial planning of the first Yamato series, Captain Harlock was scheduled to make an appearance in episode 25, but he unfortunately morphed into the Mamoru Kodai character before the series aired. The character designs for Harlock's appearance had both his scar and eyepatch on the same side of his face (the left side) although several different versions of Harlock were toyed with before the Mamoru character developed fully.

Given Matsumoto's penchant for cross-over, it is worth every Harlock fan's while to sit glued to the screen during Yamato for any glimpse near or far, or for any hint clear or otherwise, of the good pirate's presence (and it's worth sitting glued to, as it is an extremely engrossing story). And if the Yamato series had continued any longer (as if it didn't go on long enough!), it is highly probable that Harlock would, eventually, have made some kind of appearance. Because finally, after twenty years of waiting, in 1999 the Yamato made a fleeting appearance in Harlock Saga...

Cosmowarrior Zero
Television series
airdate: July 2001 - September 2001
13 x 30 minute episodes, AT-X | Taito | Enoki

Yes, I know, Cosmowarrior Zero does have its own page on this site as a complete Harlock series. However, technically Cosmowarrior Zero is its own franchise, focusing on Warrius Zero, and not on Harlock at all. Harlock, while being the primary antagonist to Zero, is ancillary to the story. A major guest star, but a guest star none-the-less.

Queen Emeraldas

Queen Emeraldas/Queen Emeraldas II: 1979, Toei
Queen Emeraldas OAV release date:: 1998 - 1999,
4 x 30 minute episodes, Bandai Visual | Dynamic Planning

Firstly, it should be made clear that the protagonist of the Queen Emeraldas series is not actually a queen. While her ship has been christened the Queen Emeraldas, Emeraldas herself is just plain Emeraldas, the space pirate — or free trader, if you prefer.

Captain Harlock makes only fleeting appearances in the world of Queen Emeraldas, sometimes as a shadow or vague silhouette, sometimes as a cryptic topic of a cryptic conversation. The 1998 release of Queen Emeraldas is notable for the extended appearance of Tochirō, and by extension Harlock, though Harlock makes only two short appearances in this series. And from the way Tochirō talks about him to Emeraldas you'd think she'd never met him before. The 1998 OAV also includes more backstory to the Emeraldas/Tochirō love affair, some information on the Queen Emeraldas and the building of the Arcadia, and another explanation behind the appearance of Emeraldas' scar (see here for more about Emeraldas). Emeraldas, via Tochirō, does play a significant part in the Harlock mythos, and her story can often include important (and hitherto unsuspected) elements of Harlock's history.

Harlock and Emeraldas are bookends in the space pirate world, physically matched halves that will never make a whole. It is only to be expected that where Emeraldas randomly enters into Harlock's universe, Harlock will enter into hers. And while they share a history and a loyalty and their individual love of Tochirō binds them eternally together, they are never particularly close, remaining more akin to colleagues than close friends. Occasional partners in crime and nothing more.

Time is not on our side

Regardless of the above, regardless of any actual cross-overs or potential cross-overs, the reader must take into account the greatly disparate dates of each of Matsumoto's individual worlds. The Yamato universe was set circa 2202AD; the Ginga Tetsudō universe 2221AD, and the Harlock/Emeraldas universe was set exactly 999 years from its 20th century airdate, in 2977AD.

But then... time changes everything

The late 1990s seem to have heralded a burst of energy on Matsumoto Leiji's behalf, and along with it yet another curious reworking of the Matsumoto-universe. And while it seems that the author has heard the clamouring of his fans and finally combined his various and disparate universes, in the end, it seems we might have been better off being left with the mystery.

Der Ring Des Nibelungen IV
Great Harlock Götterdämmerung

Matsumoto Leiji, Shinchosha, 1999 - ongoing

The Great Harlock Götterdämmerung manga of 1999 actively combines many of the elements and characters of the Captain Harlock universe, and the Ginga Tetsudō and Queen Emeraldas universes. The manga on which the animated Harlock Saga was based, Götterdämmerung actually makes a bit more sense than its animated derivative does. This could be because Harlock Saga was merely a portion of the entire story, a disjointed segment from which any continuity or sense is lacking. Götterdämmerung, however, as an epic and extended story, does have continuity, and some sense, and is a far better offering in that regard.

Spanning the Harlock and Tochirō friendship from its early days (Harlock at the commencement of Götterdämmerung is cute and cherubic in appearance, both eyes intact and no sign of the facial scar that is later to distinguish him), Harlock and Tochirō spend a lot of the initial part of this manga series building the Arcadia, and speaking in mysterious tones about the Great Arcadia and their respective fathers, who it seems were good friends themselves (shades of My Youth in Arcadia) and have since vanished, presumed dead, although Harlock and Tochirō hold out hope that they perhaps may be found alive some time in the future.

In the meantime, Emeraldas and Maeter seem to have resolved the differences that had estranged them in Ginga Tetsudō 999 (although as these events take place in their youth, it is more likely they haven't had their punch up yet), and occasionally pop in to have a drink with the boys as they labour (together!) on construction of the Arcadia on Pirate Island. And when they're not labouring, Harlock and Tochirō are off in the Deathshadow I (although it might be Deathshadow II), blowing the shit out of people.

Fast forward in time and Harlock has gained his scar and eyepatch (though no hint of how), met Miimé, Tadashi and Yattaran, finished the Arcadia and embarked upon the saga of the Rheingold.

While no version of Yamato appears in Götterdämmerung, with the exception of Tetsuro Hoshino, all the main characters of Ginga Tetsudō do appear. That this saga is clearly set in the era of the great space express trains is evident at the outset, though machine men only appear fleetingly and the political climate is not the same as either the Ginga Tetsudō universe or the original Harlock universe.

The curiosity of the Götterdämmerung manga is that Matsumoto was producing it concurrently to the new Ginga Tetsudō 999 manga, actively writing his heroes into two different and opposing stories, in two different times and in two different universes. If anybody was still holding out for a semblance of continuity between universes, hopefully this development should have blown those hopes out of the water.

Ginga Tetsudō 999
Matsumoto Leiji, Big Comics, Shogakukan, 1999

Concurrent to Götterdämmerung, the Ginga Tetsudō manga combines the Harlock, Emeraldas and Yamato universes with unexpected and not necessarily welcome developments. Without going into the manga overly, the basic premise of Ginga Tetsudō remains unchanged, and the events and timeline seem to be placed after the movie series of the late 1970s and early 1980s. Tetsuro Hoshino and Maeter are still travelling the universe on board the mostly deserted Galaxy Express 999 train, visiting planets hither and thither since it seems they have nothing more constructive to do with themselves. During the course of their journey they often spy the battleship Yamato (and occasionally its prototype) as it pops in and out of experimental warp drive. Since the ship is always seen from afar no contact is ever made with its crew. And most peculiarly, sometimes the Arcadia is seen popping in and out of warp right on the Yamato's heels. As though Harlock has not much else better to do than to stalk the Yamato... These events, strange as they are, do make the new Ginga Tetsudō manga unique in that it does finally show, in the same working space, both the Arcadia and the Yamato. Together at last.

Apparently Harlock doesn't have much to do either in this timeline. He has become, in this incarnation, a friendly space-faring uncle, following the 999 about and popping up in the most unlikely of times and places. He also seems to have developed a soft, paternal spot for Tetsuro, who after all, in this version has also been the recipient of Tochirō's Cosmo Dragoon, bequeathed upon him by Tochirō's own elderly mother. And so Harlock floats about space seemingly aimlessly, showing up to save Tetsuro's butt, share a joke, or impart some sagely advice. And Harlock this time around is talkative. More talkative than ever. In fact, he actually seems happy... which could be because...

The most bizarre development of the Harlock universe in the 1999 Ginga Tetsudō manga is a very pronounced alteration of the Arcadia/Tochirō factor. As we know, upon his death in the 1979 Ginga Tetsudō motion picture, Tochirō managed to transfer his personality or psyche into the Arcadia's main computer, where he existed silently, making his presence known to Harlock and the Arcadia crew only by the actions of the Arcadia, occasional creaks and groans of the superstructure, or in mysterious and silent communion with Harlock. The keyword here is silent. Because, horror of horrors, in the 1999 Ginga Tetsudō manga, the main computer of the Arcadia develops a voice — which can only be assumed to be Tochirō's voice — which development results in Harlock flitting down to the computer room whenever he feels like a yarn about the good old days. He even addresses the computer as 'Tochirō', which gives the impression that Tochirō hasn't ever died. Even more surprisingly, Harlock takes Tetsuro down to the computer room with him to 'meet' Tochirō, which is, like, just so wrong, given Harlock's past overprotective history where the main computer is concerned. This new development takes the curious secrecy away from the whole Arcadia computer mystery, and somehow sullies the sad and melancholy poignancy of Harlock's relationship with his vessel. (It must be pointed out here that the Arcadia central computer does suddenly and unexpectedly develop a voice in the latter part of the original Space Pirate manga, although it is a computerised voice and it rarely speaks. The voice part is not too unusual, it's being Tochiro's voice that is.)

The Arcadia also gains a few new tricks in this manga, among them the ability to jump into warp (never seen before, but really, not an unexpected ability), and is also capable of extending its shields and an atmosphere from its exterior for some considerable distance. And Emeraldas makes unexpected, unexplained and unscheduled appearances throughout the 999 manga, either on her own or in conjunction with Harlock.

While this new Ginga Tetsudō 999 manga does come from the pen and the imagination of Matsumoto, ergo it is certainly a legitimate and canonical vision of Harlock that must be assimilated into the Matsumoto-universe, it is doubtful that it will sit too well with purists of the old school. It is simply too odd. And Harlock is just too damn genki.

[Images from Ginga Tetsudō 999 and Great Harlock Götterdämmerung manga are copyright to Matsumoto Leiji, Shinchosha and Shogakukan.]

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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