Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Film Review: Space Pirate Captain Harlock (2013) (Anime)

Space Pirate Captain Harlock (Review)
Japan/2013
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"...one of the best-looking animations I've ever seen."

In the near future or distant past, mankind has discovered a way to travel faster than the speed of light. In turn, mankind colonizes thousands of planets and population growth accelerates beyond control. A war between many factions to return to Earth ensues leaving many dead and no victor. The issue is resolved when Earth is declared sacred, and humanity is essentially vanished.

Space Pirate Captain Harlock follows the young and ambitious Logan (Haruma Miura), who is recruited by Captain Harlock (Shun Oguri). Captain Harlock is, you guessed it, a space pirate battling for freedom and redemption. Captain Harlock has an ambitious plan to "start over" -- I supposed, to reset humanity -- but has been relentlessly pursued by The Gaia Sanction. Filled with great characters, amazing action sequences, and an interesting plot, Space Pirate Captain Harlock leads to a great climax and ending. The ending is predictable, but keeps up with the epic vibe the rest of the film develops.

First and foremost, I'm not familiar with the source material -- at all. So, Space Pirate Captain Harlock is naturally a lot to digest. There's a huge cast of characters, a vibrant universe, and a complex plan with many twists and turns. I'm not going to lie: I was confused at least a handful of times and had to rewind once to make sure I was getting everything correct. Maybe it's because I'm a newbie to this universe, or maybe it's just not as efficient as I'm used to.

Regardless, this is one refreshing and lively universe. The setting is great; although it's mostly in space and in the spaceship, we see some great worlds. It's just such an immersive universe, it really pulled me in and kept me hooked. There are also some amazing characters, like Kei (Miyuki Sawashiro) and Captain Harlock. The action sequences are exhilarating and awe-inspiring. Think of it as pirate battles, but in space, obviously. The ridiculously beautiful visuals help amplify the awe, especially during battle, with amazing use of colors and particle effects.

I watched the film with the original Japanese voiceovers. Haruma Miura, Shun Oguri, and Miyuki Sawashiro standout with genuine voice work; as usual with Japanese voice work, the voiceovers are very genuine and enthusiastic. The music is fantastic; it's an epic soundtrack that helps create those awe-inspiring moments. The visuals are spectacular -- this is one of the best-looking animations I've ever seen. The use of vibrant colors is also appreciated. The Netflix Instant stream is available in high definition, which is how you should watch it, with perfect English subtitles. Director Shinji Aramaki does well in pulling great voice work from the cast and delivering epic, large-scale space battles, but the storytelling is often inefficient.

Overall, Space Pirate Captain Harlock is a great film. The universe is immersive, the story is interesting and entertaining, the action is amazing, and the visuals are spectacular. The story is often complex, though. However, this may be because I'm not familiar with the source material and I don't speak Japanese, so I had a little more work to do. It probably could've been more clear if it had a longer runtime, the 1 hour 43 minute runtime does not do this universe justice.

Score: 8/10
Parental Guide: Violence and some blood.

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