Sunday 1 December 2013

Space pirates are the best flavour of pirate

As a child I was more than a little obsessed with Captain Harlock. To a certain extent, this never really subsided. He is on a list with other heroes that I imported from space to be included into my own personal pantheon for cosmic idolatry. My introduction was through a VHS, which I still own, of 1978's Space Pirate Captain Harlock, which was kind of awesome. Well, actually it still is awesome. People get down on it in a negative way, because that is the cool thing to do, but the English translation was bad-arse. The opening theme song was this fantastic astro-funk hero anthem called 'Take to the Skies' by Earth's own Mark Mercury. When we all get up to space, this is what it is going to sound like. I heard a cover in a bar a few years ago and just about lost my testicles, which I didn't notice until I tried to talk to one of the band members and instead of the usually appealing, dulcet tones that emerge from my mouth I sort of squeaked at him.

Out there, somewhere in the pop-culture oceans, circling Japan is the most recent Captain Harlock mutant to emerge from the juices. A movie that has the same name as the 1978 cartoon series, which is bound to get confusing. It's called Space Pirate Captain Harlock, and it's all in the third dimension.

I referred to this new film as a mutation of the Captain Harlock gene. Did you catch that? Did you wonder why? Well, Leiji Matsumoto, the man behind the pirate, has taken the captain out on a number of occasions, but observes continuity the same way that Robin Thicke observes monogamy, in that it appears to be something that other people are getting all worked up about, but the basic concept remains elusive. Nearly every outing has seen the character rebooted, except it isn't really a reboot; it's just how it works. This is how mythology worked. The stories didn't all fit together, but the characters stayed pretty much the way they were. If you're ever seen any of the Harlock stories, you'd understand why I drew the parallel. Harlock is a demigod of our future mythology. His fables are both epic and applicable, and are primarily about responsibility. There are times when we must take responsibility just because no one else will. Harlock is tragic, compassionate, and idealistic, and is more often than not depicted as making difficult decisions when there is no good answer.

I would like to see this movie. It's on my list. I've tried finding out if it is a thing that might happen sometime in the foreseeable future, but I've been fairly unsuccessful. By 'fairly' I do actually mean 'completely'. There has been no success on that front. This feels quite the shame to me. Harlock represents a certain brand of idealism for me. Something I idolised as a child, and perhaps to a certain extent still do. I think a lot about the world we live in, and the role that I should play, and I am often surprised at how often I fall back on the lessons learnt at the feet of the Captain when determining what I should be doing.

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