"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Original 1978 Series Now Online!


Space Pirate: Captain Harlock ©Leiji Matsumoto/Toei Animation

HOLY FLUTTERING JOLLY ROGERS IN SPACE! I never thought I'd live to see the day... All 42 episodes of Leiji Matsumoto and Rintaro's 1978 Anime masterpiece, SPACE PIRATE: CAPTAIN HARLOCK is now up for viewing (fully subtitled) on several online sites, courtesy of Toei Animation and its new partnership with Texas-based anime juggernaut, Funimation. Is this in anticipation of the all-new CGI animated film now in production in Japan, which Toei Animation hopes to distribute world wide (along with their recently announced live action GAIKING revamp)? In any case, it's a welcome and much appreciated surprise, because while the character is famous around the world, the original series was never properly presented in the US. This is the series that exemplified everything that the best of everything that Anime had to offer. The careful plotting, the layered characters, the wonderful teleplays, the dramatic animation, and the amazing score. CAPTAIN HARLOCK is a classic in every sense of the word — it's an epic, rousing and romantic space opera starring one of the greatest science fiction characters ever created!

In the year 2977, the human race has become apathetic and slothful, akin to the end of the Roman Empire, and have let the great oceans die while the Earth’s resources ran dry. So, Mankind reached out into the void only to keep the machine running, and to keep the coffers of the wealthy full. Opposed to this human decay are individuals who have not lost their human spirit, and branded by the government as outlaws, have proudly taken up the mantle of “Pirates”. They take to the stars to seize wealth from the rich and give to the downtrodden. Chief among these pirates is the stoic Captain Harlock, who sets out to protect the human race from itself. But, after a series of strange incidents and the murder of a noted astronomer, Harlock is lead to uncover an invasion plot by a mysterious feminine alien race. The Mazone, who had explored Earth eons ago, have now returned to claim their prize…

Toei Animation and Funimation are also offering several other classic shows as part of its Streaming and On Demand for English viewers, including Matsumoto's seminal GALAXY EXPRESS 999 and even the epic 1980s sensation, FIST OF THE NORTH STAR! Streaming is available to view immediately on Funimation, Crunchyroll, and Hulu. CAPTAIN HARLOCK, and the other series Toei and Funimation are offering, are also available as downloads from Amazon, with other sites to following with on-demand downloads, such as Direct2Drive, Playstation Store, Vuze, and Joost.

I consider SPACE PIRATE: CAPTAIN HARLOCK to be one of the greatest all-time achievements, not only Anime, but also in Science Fiction for television— so, do yourself a favor and visit one of these sites to join the crew of the Arcadia under their "Flag of Freedom"!