Today, I have completed watching the forty-two episode long Space Pirate Captain Harlock. I can recommend few series to my dear readers as heartily. If you check my Top Fifty Anime Series list, you’ll see that I placed this classic in sixth place–below Wolf’s Rain and above Mardock Scramble. (Soukou no Strain has sadly dropped off the list, leaving Gokudo precariously in last place.) Nothing shakes up a top fifty list like watching acknowledged classics! I heartily recommend Anime Classics Zettai! by Brian Camp and Julie Davis, which fairly represents the best anime OVAs, movies, and series until the year 2007. Who knows? You might find yourself a new favorite.
Briefly, let me explain why Captain Harlock so deeply appeals to me. My dear readers likely know that Japan’s martial arts tradition stands as my first introduction to Japanese culture. I used to study Judo and Aikido and devoured books by and about Morihei Ueshiba, Gichin Funakoshi, Nitobe Inazo, and Miyamoto Musashi. These books express the warrior-philosopher ethos known as Bushido. In recent years, Japan has become much more cosmopolitan, and many anime refer to Bushido comically or treat it as old fashioned or obsolete.
The idea for this article was ignited by my fascination with Robert E. Lee, with the flames of my imagination first stoked by Robert E. Lee on Leadership by H. W. Crocker III and fanned into a blaze by Emory Thomas’s Robert E. Lee: A Biography and Michael Korda’s Clouds of Glory, the latter of which I could not finish because its repetitiveness wore me out. At the same time as I read the latter, I started watching Captain Harlock and could not but note the similarity between the personalities and struggles of Lee and Harlock. Sure, they hold polar opposite views and habits concerning alcohol, but most of their other differences are superficial. When you’ve finished the article, be sure to tell me whether you are struck by the same fact as your humble author: that Captain Harlock is the closest approximation to R. E. Lee among anime characters.
Both figures impress one with how their polish and perfection mingle with a spirit of humility. Lee was dubbed “the Marble Man” at West Point for his perfect obedience to his superiors and adherence to duty. (Lee graduated West Point without a single demerit.) With Harlock, we have also yet to see a real character flaw, save for Harlock’s audacity and alcoholic indulgence–though, Harlock even carries his indulgence to perfection as he never behaves drunkenly. The characters of Space Pirate Captain Harlock look up to their captain in the same way that many looked up to Lee as a peerless soldier during his lifetime.
Below are various shows I’ve been watching but have yet to finish. Many of them are quite old with the oldest produced in 1978 and the latest in 2014. Tomorrow or the day after, I propose to finally get around to writing about how I feel about the new season. Let’s get started!
1) Space Pirate Captain Harlock
Many of my dear readers may not understand the appeal of a thirty-seven year old anime. After all, the animation is rougher, the action less fluid, and the characters often downright cartoony–a trait undesirable for many anime fans. Also, the opening song is much more military sounding than in those found in contemporary shows. Perhaps, it is the differences which make it my recent favorite. Captain Harlock is a singular figure. At first, I thought of him as the prototype for Alexander Row of Last Exile, but Captain Harlock is not a Byronic hero. After watching over twenty episodes, Harlock’s personality strikes one as rather similar to Robert E. Lee’s. (An article on that forthcoming. And yes, my reference to General Lee in a prior article was not random.) You’re not going to find a character comparable to one of the South’s greatest heroes in contemporary anime!