HARLOCK: SPACE PIRATE Production Notes
Source: Toei Co., Ltd., GFM Films, FilmPressPlus
Official Site: harlock-movie.com (Japan)
SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details and images from a new movie.
Toei Animation’s CG anime feature film SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK (キャプテンハーロック, Kyaputen Haarokku, 2013) is now being offered for international sales under the English title HARLOCK: SPACE PIRATE.
The following English production notes and high-res images are courtesy of Toei, international sales agent GFM Films, and press office FilmPressPlus.
THE LEGENDARY SPACE PIRATE IS REBORN
LEIJI MATSUMOTO’S MOST IMPORTANT CHARACTER, CAPTAIN HARLOCK, MAKES A GLOBALLY-ANTICIPATED REVIVAL AFTER 30 YEARS
HARLOCK: SPACE PIRATE is truly an epoch-making CG animation which has been created by a team of Japan’s top animators & CG specialists over the last five years. Avatar director James Cameron has described it as ‘Mythic, epic and visually unprecedented’.
This action adventure is based on Space Pirate Captain Harlock, original work by sci-fi comic legend Leiji Matsumoto. Matsumoto is well known for stories such as Galaxy Express 999 (銀河鉄道999, Ginga Tetsudoo Surii Nain), with his stories revolving around the space pirate who rebels against governing forces but fights for humanity with his crew aboard the invincible pirate ship Arcadia. The original work was serialized in Play Comic from 1977 and became a TV animation the following year, enjoying success internationally too. In fact, the anime was so successful in France that French fans in their 30s and 40s are called the “Albator generation” in honor of Harlock’s French name.
THE REBOOT — A MESSAGE A FOR MODERN-DAY WORLD
Having a role in Galaxy Express 999 as well as Space Pirate Captain Harlock (as the main character), Captain Harlock is an important character in Leiji Matsumoto’s works. However, this remake is far from a simple revival of Harlock. Just as BATMAN (1989) was reborn as THE DARK KNIGHT (2008) and SUPERMAN (1978) as MAN OF STEEL (2013), this is a grander, more innovative reboot of the source material that keeps the spirit behind Matsumoto’s works alive.
The most notable change is Harlock’s position as an ‘antihero rebel’, which in this film is seen through the eyes of Logan, a spy that has infiltrated the Arcadia as a crewmember. Wanted all over the galaxy for his crimes, Harlock is an exceptionally talented battle commander and an admirable leader who would never abandon his crew. This ‘reboot’ gives a vivid insight into Harlock’s dark yet appealing nature. Is his incarnation one of plunder and destruction, or the final hope for Earth’s survival? In attempting to uncover Harlock’s true nature, Logan stumbles upon the incredible secret to Harlock’s past.
JAPAN’S MOST POWERFUL ANIMATION WITH AN ALL STAR CAST AND CREW
Captain Harlock is voiced by Shun Oguri and his assassin, Logan, by Haruma Miura. One cannot help but be exhilarated by the stand off between these two stars. In addition, actors such as Yu Aoi, Arata Furuta and Ayano Fukuda, alongside voice actors such as Toshiyuki Morikawa, Maaya Sakamoto, Miyuki Sawashiro, Kiyoshi Kobayashi and Chikao Otsuka are part of the star-studded cast. Their passionate acting injects real life into the unique line up of characters.
Led by original creator Leiji Matsumoto and APPLESEED (アップルシード, Appurushiido, 2004) director Shinji Aramaki, the crew features a wealth of Japanese film industry notables. The script is by Harutoshi Fukui whose novels have received many film adaptations, including Aimless Aegis, and Kiyoto Takeuchi who previously teamed up with director Aramaki in APPLESEED EX MACHINA (エクスマキナ, Ekusu Makina, 2007).
The film’s original concept is injected with a modern theme for this reboot, creating an entirely new universe. The film’s mechanical designer Atsushi Takeuchi of Production IG is known for his involvement in STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (2008-2013), and character designer Yutaka Minowa for NINJA SCROLL (獣兵衛忍風帖, Juubei Ninpuuchoo, 1993). Having worked on Matsumoto’s projects previously, Minowa was able to retain the feel of Matsumoto’s world in this new adaptation.
Finally, Toei Animation and Marza Animation Planet, the team of top Japanese CGI experts led by Takeuchi Kengo. From the battleship combat scenes in outer space to direct combat aboard the zero-gravity ships, the scale and speed of the action scenes with their powerful, dazzling visuals are breathtaking.
FAR, FAR IN THE FUTURE…
…or perhaps the distant past… the human race us spread across the galaxy, having established colonies on distant planets.
A population explosion means over 500 billion humans inhabit the cosmos.
Resources exhausted, a movement begins calling for a return to mother Earth. However, a tiny planet could not possibly support such an epic repatriation and a long and bloody fight erupts over the right to return, known as the ‘Homecoming War’.
The Gaia Coalition, a new governing body, is formed to bring the war to a close. They declare Earth ‘an eternal sanctuary’ to which no one may enter.
Instead, Earth is used as a symbol for order, to gaze at from afar while colonists on dying planets wait out their demise.
But one man resists these orders and continues to venture across the abyss of space. An immortal space pirate who provoked and plundered Federation warships for the last 100 years…
Gaia Communion’s Most Wanted: CODES-00999.
Captain Harlock is the one man standing between the corrupt Gaia Coalition and their quest for complete intergalactic rule. Seeking revenge against those who wronged both mankind and himself, the mysterious space pirate roams the universe in his battle cruiser, the Arcadia, defiantly attacking and pillaging enemy ships.
Gaia Fleet leader Ezra sends his younger brother, Logan, to infiltrate the Arcadia and assassinate Harlock. But Logan will soon discover that things are not always what they seem, and that legends are born for a reason.
Harlock pushes his loyal crew forward in his death-defying mission to undo the “Nodes of Time” and reverse the Earth to an age when still inhabited by humans. It is the year 2977 and 500 billion displaced humans long to return to the planet they still refer to as home.
The rebellious Captain Harlock and his trusted crew are mankind’s only hope of one day righting the Coalition’s wrongs.
THE CAPTAIN HARLOCK GLOSSARY
SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK
A former fleet captain of the Gaia Legion, he is now a legendary space pirate who has been rebelling against governing forces for a hundred years. He captains the invincible pirate ship Arcadia, and his expertise at steering battleships is second to none.
HEIGHT: 200cm (6’ 7”)
• GRAVITY CONTROL CAPE: A special cape that can offset gravity
using dark matter. Allows easy descent from great heights.
• THE WARRIOR’S GUN: Made and gifted by close friend Tochiro, it is
“the most powerful gun in the universe.”
• GRAVITY SABER: A weapon that cuts through any substance with
gravity waves that permeate anything. Doubles as a laser gun.
• DARK MATTER: Harlock is said to have conquered death because of
the dark matter in his body.
The last of the now-perished Niflung, the only civilized alien race humankind managed to discover. Devotes her life to Harlock, and entrusts her fate to The Arcadia.
The Arcadia’s first mate. Eager to fight when wearing his hardsuit, but otherwise a caring crew leader. Secretly on the timid side. An avid computer geek and a skilled hacker.
The only female crewmember and combatant. Harlock saved her life as a young girl and she identifies with his ideologies. Breaks gender stereotypes as an accomplished fighter.
Although originally with Tochiro, Tori is now often seen on Harlock’s shoulder. Whenever Harlock is in trouble, Tori appears to aid him.
A Gaia Legion engineer and Harlock’s closest friend. He died during the great war a hundred years ago, but his soul lives on in the ship’s computer.
THE ARCADIA CREW (forte: close combat)
A group of 41 comrades. Generally they live comfortable, carefree lives aboard the Arcadia, but each crewmember shows individual fighting talent in battle.
Transformed into an all-powerful pirate ship by dark matter energy.
Governs all humankind scattered across the galaxy and protects the sanctuary Earth: GaiaSanction.
The holy land: an impenetrable sanctuary sanctioned from mankind.
Inhabited only by the Gaia Coalition elite and their relatives.
A spy for the Gaia Legion. Guilt from having caused serious injury to his brother Ezra during an accident drives him to readily volunteer for the new mission.
Praefectus of the Gaia Legion. Although he is Logan’s older brother, he holds a deep grudge against Logan due to his debilitating accident. He desires to fulfill the Gaia Coalition’s longstanding goal — to destroy Harlock.
Childhood friend of Logan and Ezra. She tends to the flowers that had been important to the brothers’ mother. She once had feelings for Logan but is now Ezra’s wife.
GAIA LEGION TROOPS
The Gaia Coalition’s elite force. They exhibit excellent battle skills and are armored with the latest equipment.
THE GAIA COALITION’S ULTIMATE WEAPONS
KALEIDO CONVERGER MATRIX
This weapon harnesses photon energy by imploding a mobile neutron star that is several kilometers in diameter, to produce a concentrated “critical radiance” beam that can dissipate dark matter. The heads of state must approve its use.
A relic of the Homecoming Wars, this is the ultimate weapon that was never put to use. Jupiter’s atmosphere is extracted by centrifugal force, then concentrated into high-temperature, high-pressure plasma that can target any range through a hyperspace gate. At full power, it has the potential to blast an earth-sized planet to smithereens. The heads of state must approve its use.
THE HOMECOMING WAR
An interplanetary war that erupted among the 500 billion humans scattered around the galaxy over the right to inhabit Earth. As a result, Earth became a holy sanctuary, forbidden to all mankind.
THE GAIA COALITION
A universal governing entity of intellectuals from each planet created to end the Homecoming War. The potentate who leads the Coalition has supreme command over the Solar Federation Army. He also commands a separate elite force, the Gaia Legion, which answers directly to the potentate. The Coalition designates Earth as an impenetrable sanctuary and will not hesitate to unleash military force on those who infringe their sanctions.
A giant creature with a huge torso and sharp teeth that camouflages itself on the planet Tokarga. Attacks Logan and Kei during their mission to set up the dimensional oscillator.
THE NODES OF TIME
A place that joins the seams of time.
Originally a tool to adjust gravitational obstacles such as dimensional faults and black holes during intergalactic travel, it can be used as a weapon of mass destruction to destroy an entire star system. After the war, Harlock plundered the 100 oscillators that had been guarded by the Coalition and set them up around the galaxy to eventually detonate and unravel the Nodes of Time.
DARK MATTER ENGINE
An infinite energy engine developed by the alien civilization Niflung. The all-powerful flotilla equipped with these engines was the Gaia Legion’s Deathshadow-class battle fleet. No fuelling is necessary due to its infinite energy, and it even provides the ship with regeneration capabilities. However, to this day none but the Niflung have succeeded in fully utilizing these engines.
DARK MATTER SHIELD
An energy shield that uses dark matter to protect an entire ship from enemy attack.
Labels that denote the class and make of a battleship. Tiered-class ships are average-grade and in abundance in the Solar Federation Army. The Arcadia was once one of the only four colossal Deathshadow-class battleships in the Gaia Legion.
Short for Imaginary Number Space, a super light speed space jump that enables travel across a wide expanse of space by traveling beyond the speed of light.
COUNCIL OF ELDERS
The executive Board of the Gaia Coalition with the potentate at its head. All political and military decisions concerning planets under the Coalition defer to this council.
The only alien civilization known to man, who also developed the dark matter engine. Mimay is the only current survivor. Note: The concept of dark matter presented in the film is a fictional concept developed for the story. Astronomically speaking, dark matter is an astrophysical phenomenon yet to be fully understood.
CHARACTERS AND CAST
“THE SPACE PIRATE” CAPTAIN HARLOCK (Shun Oguri)
“Come aboard if you want to change the world.”
A hero who defended Earth as a soldier of the Gaia Coalition, an entity formed to end the Homecoming War that raged among mankind for the right to inhabit the mother planet. He disappeared shortly after the end of the war, taking his ship with him, and returned as an accursed pirate rebelling against the Coalition. Although wanted for treason, no one truly knows the depths of the resolve buried within him.
The captain of the Arcadia is said to be over a hundred years old, but only a few know the true story of how he came to be the captain of the Coalition’s most powerful ship. Captain Harlock’s quest brought him to countless planets and helped him build a crew that would follow him to the end of the galaxy. But when his mysterious past looks set to collide with his dream of restoring Earth to its original state, his crew’s loyalties will be challenged.
Voice Actor: Shun Oguri
Born in 1982, Oguri has appeared in many TV dramas and TV movies. His performance in CROWS ZERO (クローズZERO, Kuroozu Zero, 2007) earned him Best Actor in the 17th Japan Movie Critics Awards, establishing his reputation as a talented young actor. He is known for his roles in ROBOT CONTEST (ロボコン, Robokon, 2003), THE NEIGHBOR NO. THIRTEEN ( 隣人１３号, Rinjin 13-go, 2005), KISARAGI (キサラギ, 2007), BOYS OVER FLOWERS: FINAL (花より男子ファイナル, Hana Yori Dango Final, 2008), CROWS ZERO II (クローズZERO II, Kurozu Zero II, 2009), TAJOMARU: AVENGING BLADE (タジョウマル, Tajomaru, 2009), PEAK: THE RESCUERS (岳-ガク-, Gaku: Minna no Yama, 2011), THE WOODSMAN AND THE RAIN (キツツキと雨, Kitsutsuki to Ame, 2012), SPACE BROTHERS (宇宙兄弟, Uchuu Kyodai, 2012), BAYSIDE SHAKEDOWN: THE FINAL (踊る大捜査線 THE FINAL 新たなる希望, Odoru Daisosasen The Final Arata Naru Kibo, 2012), and A BOY CALLED H (少年H, Shonen H, 2013). He has also had notable voice acting roles in SURF’S UP (2007), THE LIFE OF BUDORI GUSUKO (グスコーブドリの伝記, Gusuko Budori no Denki, 2012), as well as the video game PROFESSOR LAYTON AND THE UNWOUND FUTURE (2008). He also has directing experience with SURELY SOMEDAY (シュアリー・サムデイ, Shuari Samudei, 2010).
“THE INFILTRATING ASSASSIN” LOGAN (Haruma Miura)
A spy sent by the Gaia Coalition, Logan infiltrates the Arcadia with the mission to assassinate Harlock.
Gaia Legion praefectus Ezra is Logan’s commanding officer… and also his older brother. Logan is a conflicted and troubled young man who blames himself for having caused the accident that took the legs of his brother and put his long time love in a life-support capsule for the rest of her life. Guilt controls his life and as such, Logan is willing to perform anything his brother asks. However, when faced with the reality of the universe and the truth about Earth, Logan will have to decide between the morality of his brother’s wishes and his own conflicting ideals.
Voice Actor: Haruma Miura
Born in 1990, Miura made his debut in the 1997 NHK morning drama series AGRI (あぐり, Aguri) and followed with many performances in TV dramas and theatrical productions, establishing his career as an actor. He first scored a leading role in the film CATCH A WAVE (キャッチ ア ウェーブ, Kyatchi a U~eebu, 2006), then received the 31st Japan Academy Prize as Newcomer of the Year for his performance in SKY OF LOVE (恋空, Koizora, 2007). Other notable roles include those in CHILDREN (ＣＨｉＬＤＲＥＮ チルドレン, 2006), AKIHABARA@DEEP (アキハバラ＠ＤＥＥＰ, 2006), NEGATIVE HAPPY CHAINSAW EDGE (ネガティブハッピー・チェーンソーエッヂ, Negatibu Happii Chenso Ejji, 2008), NAOKO (奈緒子, 2008), GOKUSEN: THE MOVIE (ごくせん THE MOVIE, 2009), FROM ME TO YOU (君に届け, Kimi ni Todoke, 2010) and TOKYO PARK (東京公園, Tokyo Koen, 2011). He is also in the upcoming THE ETERNAL ZERO (永遠の0, Eien no Zero, 2013). This film will be his first foray into voice acting.
“THE QUIET OBSERVER” MIMAY (Yu Aoi)
The last of the Niflung, the only alien civilization known to man and developers of the infinite energy-generating dark matter engine. She provided dark matter technology to Tochiro for his efforts in trying to save her dying race. After Tochiro’s death, she decided to devote her life to his closest friend Harlock and his ship the Arcadia.
Voice Actor: Yu Aoi
Born in 1985. She made her debut in 1999 in the musical Annie, and made her first film appearance in ALL ABOUT LILY CHOU-CHOU (リリイ・シュシュのすべて, Riri Shushu no subete, 2001). She received the 30th Japan Academy Prize for Best Supporting Actress for HULA GIRLS (フラガール, Fura Garu, 2006) as well as numerous other film awards. Notable roles include those in HANA AND ALICE (花とアリス, Hana to Arisu, 2004), YAMATO (男たちの大和, Otoko-tachi no Yamato, 2005), HONEY AND CLOVER (ハチミツとクローバー, Hachimitsu to Kuroobaa, 2006), HONOKAA BOY (ホノカアボーイ, Honokaaboi, 2009), ABOUT HER BROTHER (おとうと, Otoko, 2010), RUROUNI KENSHIN (るろうに剣心, 2012) and TOKYO FAMILY (東京家族, Tokyo Kazoku, 2013). Her voice acting roles include TEKKONKINKREET (鉄コン筋クリート, Tekkonkinkuriito, 2006) and REDLINE (レッドライン, Reddorain, 2010). She is also in the upcoming CARRYING SPRING (春を背負って, Haru wo Seotte, 2014).
“CLOSE COMBAT CHAMP AND POWERFUL FIRST MATE” YULIAN (Arata Furuta)
The longest serving senior crew member on the Arcadia. Although blunt and capricious, he shows affection towards those he trusts. He becomes an unruly warrior when wearing his hardsuit, but is otherwise something of a geek, generally keeping to his quarters with the internet as company. A skilled hacker. Secretly has feelings for Kei.
Voice Actor: Arata Furuta
Born in 1965. Part of the theatrical troupe Gekidan Shinkansen. In 1998 and 2013 he won the Actor Excellence award in the 5th and 20th Yomiuri Theatre Awards respectively. His ability to change his acting at will between an impressive range of characters is unparalleled. Notable roles include those in KISARAZU CAT’S EYE NIHON SERIES (木更津キャッツアイ, 2003) and KISARAZU CAT’S EYE WORLD SERIES (木更津キャッツアイ ワールドシリーズ, 2006), HERO (ヒーロー, 2007), SERIAL DAD (小森生活向上クラブ, Komori Seikatsu Kojo Club, 2008), the 20TH CENTURY BOYS trilogy (20世紀少年, 20-Seiki Shonen, 2009), 13 ASSASSINS (十三人の刺客, Juusan-nin no Shikaku, 2010), NINJA KIDS!!! (忍たま乱太郎, Nintama Rantaro, 2011) and THE TANG OF LEMON (たとえば檸檬, Tatoeba Remon, 2012). He has also had voice acting experience with the NI NO KUNI game series (二ノ国, 2010, 2011).
“THE KIND-HEARTED PARTNER WHO COMES TO AID IN TIMES OF TROUBLE” TORI (Ayano Fukuda)
Friend of Tochiro, designer of the Arcadia. Now that Tochiro is gone, he is often found on the shoulder of Tochiro’s closest friend, Harlock. Characterized by his small eyes and long beak. With a high level of intelligence, it seems that he understands what goes on around him, including human speech. He flies out of nowhere to aid Harlock in times of need.
Voice Actor: Ayano Fukuda
Born in 1988. She appears mainly in variety shows for her unique style of impressions and in 2012 alone appeared in more than 350 TV shows. She performed in a string of TV dramas including WONDERFUL SINGLE LIFE (結婚しない, Kekkon Shinai, 2012) and TAKE FIVE (TAKE FIVE〜俺たちは愛を盗めるか〜, Take Five Oretachi wa Ai wo Nusumeru ka, 2013) and has taken on some theatrical roles as well. She played her first lead role in the dubbed version of SILENT HILL: REVELATION 3D (2013). She continues to expand her experience in various outlets.
“THE COMMANDER WITH A MISSION” EZRA (Toshiyuki Morikawa)
Praefectus of the Gaia Legion the elite force that answers directly to the Gaia Coalition potentate. He rises through the ranks for his talent as a military man despite being confined to a wheelchair, a fate brought about by Logan. A cold-hearted professional, he does not hesitate to send his brother on an assassination mission. His wife Nami is a childhood friend to both him and Logan.
Voice Actor: Toshiyuki Morikawa
Born in 1967. An industry-leading voice actor that has played roles in over 1,000 titles both in and out of the country. His first lead anime role was in TEKKAMAN BLADE (宇宙の騎士テッカマンブレード, Uchuu no Kishi Tekkaman Bureedo, 1992). Major film appearances include YU-GI-OH! (遊☆戯☆王, Yuugioo, 1999), GASH BELL THE 1ST MOVIE: UNLISTED DEMON “#101″ (劇場版 金色のガッシュベル！！ 「１０１番目の魔物」, Konjiki no Gash Bell: 101 Banme no Mamono, 2004), the BLEACH film series (2006, 2007, 2010), Vexille (2007), the NARUTO film series (2010, 2012) and FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: THE SACRED STAR OF MILOS (鋼の錬金術師 嘆きの丘（ミロス）の聖なる星, Hagane no Renkinjutsushi: Mirosu no Sei-naru Hoshi, 2011), among others. He also regularly dubs-over for a variety of Hollywood stars such as Tom Cruise and Ewan McGregor.
“THE WOMAN LOVED BY TWO BROTHERS” NAMI (Maaya Sakamoto)
Originally having feelings for Logan, circumstances lead her to become Ezra’s wife. She supports Ezra in the background while tending to flowers that once bloomed on Earth so that they may take root on Mars someday, a wish she shares with Ezra and Logan’s deceased mother. She grieves over Ezra and Logan’s troubled relationship, whilst at the same time harbouring an important secret.
Voice Actor: Maaya Sakamoto
Born in 1980. She started off as a child actress at eight years old, and received the 38th Kazuo Kikuta Drama Award. As a voice actress, she gained acclaim with her role as Hitomi Kanzaki in the anime THE VISION OF ESCAFLOWNE (天空のエスカフローネ, Tenkuu no Esukafuroone, 1996). Major lead roles in films include those in THE GARDEN OF SINNERS series (2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013), the REBIRTH OF EVANGELION film series (2009, 2012), FULLMETAL ALCHEMIST: THE SACRED STAR OF MILOS, CODE GEASS: AKITO THE EXILED (コードギアス 亡国のアキト, Kodo Giasu Bookoku no Akito, 2012, 2013) and GHOST IN THE SHELL: ARISE (攻殻機動隊ARISE -GHOST IN THE SHELL-, Kookaku Kidōootai Araizu -Goosuto In Za Sheru-, 2013), among others. Her regular dub-over roles in non-Japanese films include Natalie Portman, Zhang Ziyi, and Mia Wasikowska.
“THE ARCADIA’S LONE FEMALE” KEI (Miyuki Sawashiro)
Harlock saved her life when she was a little girl, leading her to voluntarily join the Arcadia’s crew. She identifies with Harlock’s ideology and follows him. She hates having her gender be a handicap on the otherwise male-only ship, and trained to become an excellent fighter. She has established herself as a long-serving senior officer along with Yulian and is appointed as Logan’s mentor.
Voice Actor: Miyuki Sawashiro
Born in 1985. She tried out for a voice-acting role in DI GI CHARAT (デ・ジ･キャラット, De Ji Kyaratto) at the age of 14 and made a striking debut in 1999 as the main character of the series. Major films include APPLESEED EX MACHINA (2007) with director Aramaki, OBLIVION ISLAND: HARUKA AND THE MAGIC MIRROR (ホッタラケの島 〜遥と魔法の鏡〜, Hottarake no Shima – Haruka to Maho no Kagami, 2009), Doraemon in NOBITA AND THE STEEL TROOPS: NEW AGE (映画ドラえもん 新・のび太と鉄人兵団 ～はばたけ 天使たち～, Eiga Doraemon Shin Nobita to Tetsujin Heidan ~Habatake Tenshi Tachi~, 2011), EVANGELION: 3.0 YOU CAN (NOT) REDO (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版：Q, Evangerion Shin Gekijooban: Kyuu, 2012), HUNTER x HUNTER THE MOVIE: PHANTOM ROUGE (劇場版 HUNTER×HUNTER 緋色の幻影-ファントム・ルージュ-, Gekijoo-ban HUNTER×HUNTER Hiiro no Genei -Fantomu Ruuju-, 2013), GHOST IN THE SHELL: ARISE (2013) and PERSONA 3 THE MOVIE: #1 SPRING OF BIRTH (劇場版「ペルソナ３」, 2013).
A pirate battleship with a giant skull on its bow.
Originally the fourth Deathshadow-class battleship constructed by the Solar Federation Army, it runs on lost alien technology — the dark matter engine — which allows the ship to regenerate automatically and travel infinite distances.
It went missing after the great war but reappeared several years later as a grotesque pirate ship with Captain Harlock at its helm.
Length: 1072m (1172 yards) / Width: 312m (341 yards)/Height: 355m (388 yards)
Armament: 3 rows of 4 three-barrelled dimensional particle oscillator turrets (main battery)
4 three-barrelled dimensional particle oscillator turrets (secondary battery)
24 two-barrelled anti-space fighter beam cannons
8 anti-battleship torpedo tubes
Main engine: 2 dark matter energy engines
Born in 1938. A sci-fi manga virtuoso who is celebrating his 60th anniversary as a manga artist this year. His father, who was an army aviation officer and fighter pilot, said after the war that it tore at his heart to think of his fallen comrades and that he would never fly a fighter plane again. American fighter jets have affected many of Matsumoto’s works.
His father was purged from public service by the GHQ and the family lived in poverty. Matsumoto admired his father as a strong man and his image gave birth to the heroes in his works such as Harlock. Matsumoto started drawing story manga at the age of six and in 1953 at the age of fifteen, his submission to Manga Shonen was accepted and he debuted with The Adventures of a Honeybee. After moving to Tokyo in 1957, he continued to create successful titles and eventually forayed into the world of animation with the films SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO (宇宙戦艦ヤマト, Uchuu Senkan Yamato) and GALAXY EXPRESS 999 becoming huge hits. Thus, Matsumoto was established as the grandfather of sci-fi anime and manga.
1953: The Adventures of a Honeybee
1956: Garden Of Dreams (Yume No Hanazono)
Adventures On Another World [Space Mission #1] (Bessekai No Boken [Uchu Sakusen Dai 1 Go])
1957: Black Petals (Kuroi Hanabira)
1958: Maria Of The Silver Valley [Green Angel] (Gin No Tani No Maria [Midori No Tenshi])
Blue-Eyed Marie [Don’t Fade, Stars] (Aoi Me No Marie [Hoshi Yo Kie Nai De]) — Original: Toshio Shimamori
1960: Song Of The Mayflies (Kagero No Uta) — Collaboration with Miyako Maki
1961: Denko Ozma
1964: Submarine Super 99
1965: Esu’s Sun (Esu no Taiyo)
1967: The Name Is Tess (Sono Na Wa Tesu)
1969: Fourth Dimension World Series (Yojigen Sekai)
Senjo Manga Series
1970: Four-And-A-Half Straw Mat Series (Dai-Yojo-Han)
1971: The Age Of Models (Mokei No Jidai) — Original: Sakyo Komatsu
Night On The Galactic Railroad — Original: Kenji Miyazawa
I Am A Man (Otoko Oidon)
Chronicles Of St. Ordinary (Seibonjinden)
1972: Gun Frontier
1974: Castaway To Insect Kingdom (Konchukoku Hyoryuki)
SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO
The Cockpit Series
Tiger-Striped Mii (Torajima No Mime)
1976: In Praise Of Wisdom Teeth (Oyashirazu Sanka)
Arcadia Of My Youth
1977: SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK
Galaxy Express 999 (Andromeda Arc)
Super-Naïve Boy (Daijunjou-Kun)
PLANET ROBOT DANGUARD ACE
1978: Queen Emeraldas
1980: QUEEN MILLENNIA
1983: Hyouryuu Kansen 000
1984: Hard Metal Series
1990: Harlock Saga: Der Ring Des Nibelungen (Niberungu No Yubiwa)
1993: Crest Of The Mayflies (Kagero No Monsho)
Case Hard Series
The Ultimate Time Sweeper Mahoroba
Time Machine Of Angels (Tenshi No Jikuu Sen)
1994: Fire Force DNAsights 999.9
1996: Galaxy Express 999 (Eternal Arc)
2000: Great Yamato
2003: THE GALAXY RAILWAYS
2005: Fall Of The Castle Japan—Hell’s Tunnel (Nipponkoku Rakujoki Jigoku No Tonneru)
2006: Fairy Hotaruna
2009: OUT OF GALAXY KOSHIKA
1954: Manga Shonen 1st Full-Length Manga Best Newcomer Award
1972: Kodansha Cultural Award for Otoko Oidon
1975: 6th Seiun Award
1977: 23rd Shogakukan Manga Award for Galaxy Express 999 and the Senjo Manga series
1978: 7th Japanese Cartoonists’ Association Award
1979: Japan Special Achievement Award for Movies
1996: Becomes chair of the Young Astronauts Club
1997-2002: Joins NASDA (National Space Development Agency of Japan)
1999: Awarded as the Contributor for Dissemination and Enlightenment of Science and Technology
2002: Becomes chair of the National Council of Youth Organization in Japan, Chuseiren
2001: Receives Medal of Honor with Purple Ribbon
2007: Becomes a professor at Takarazuka University of Art and Design
Becomes a guest lecturer at Kyoto Sangyo University
2010: Receives the Order of the Rising Sun
2012: Made Chevalier of the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (Order of Arts and Letters)
LEIJI MATSUMOTO INTERVIEW
I loved pirates from a young age and wanted to be one. I drew my first pirate manga, Bokenki, during my last year of middle school. Pirates can travel the seas as they like without anyone to answer to. Nationality, borders and age don’t matter to them in the slightest. That freedom was the appeal of the pirate. Even in my childhood, I knew the skull and crossbones on their flags weren’t there to scare people — they represented the resolve to fight until only their bones were left.
They live freely, but take full responsibility for their actions. Wherever they may die or collapse, it’s their problem and their problem only. That’s what it means to “Live freely by their flag.” There is no going back on their word, they cannot curse anyone else and there can be no regrets. I was enchanted by the pirate’s way of life.
Everyone reaches a point in their life when they must set out on a journey. I’m sure every one of you has some recollection of such an event. If you are still young, it will inevitably happen someday. Your fate is decided by whether you decide then to embark on that journey or not; the same as leaving port as a pirate. Your life changes when you make your decision whether to leave or not.
I always think about that day. What would have happened if I hadn’t left my home in Kokura, Kitakyushu by locomotive? I had no money for a return ticket, so I had no means of turning back. Setting off on a journey like that changes a person’s life. Whether it’s an ocean or outer space, dreams and hope lie across that great expanse. I envisioned that shimmer of hope to be the stars in the galaxy, which is where the setting for my work was born.
THOUGHTS TOWARD COMRADES
If one is about to set off on an important, once-in-a-lifetime journey; he will not let anyone hinder that path, wherever the path may lead. Harlock calls upon the young saying “Fellow comrades who share my purpose, come with me.” However, the youths themselves must make the final decision. Harlock’s role is to give an encouraging push; he does not give orders but leaves it up to each individual to decide whether to board the ship or not, because he fully understands how important friendship is. Harlock and Tochiro’s relationship is actually based on my friendship with a classmate from elementary school who was good looking and popular with the girls. Throughout elementary and middle school I had many close friends, many of whom I had fist fights with, but we also helped each other out in times of need. These classmates still contact me to make sure I’m okay, which I’m truly thankful for.
A human’s life is limited. Within that limited time we strive to fulfil dreams; both our own and others. I wanted to relay these dreams, creating an endless chain from the past to the future; a theme that links many of my works including Captain Harlock, Galaxy Express 999, Queen Emeraldas, Otoko Oidon and Gun Frontier. Another theme I include in Harlock is the fact that no one is alone. Harlock emphasises the importance of passing things on and the importance of friendships that help you along the way. Consequently every one of them must give their all. Regardless of whether their lives are short or long, they must do their best so that each generation may learn and teach the next generation.
The Arcadia is a place for these souls to congregate; a society of its own and a utopia they strive to reach. I was introduced to the concept of arcadia in the French film MARIANNE DE MA JEUNESSE, which moved me when I was just seventeen years old and which represents youthful admiration in my mind. Harlock features the resolve to set off on a journey and the meeting and separation of friends, all things that I myself experienced as a youth. The name Harlock itself is a word I made up in elementary school, so I could say that this work is one that takes me back to my roots.
ABOUT THE FILM HARLOCK: SPACE PIRATE
I moved to Oizumigakuencho in Nerima when I first arrived in Tokyo. I could see the Toei Movie Studio right out of my window and I often watched film production from the balcony of my home. I didn’t think anything of it then, but perhaps I was connected by fate to Toei from this point in my life.
This film is an incredibly high-quality work from the crew at Toei and it made me so happy that it brought me to tears. I’d like to sincerely thank the production crew. The film has a realism quite different from hand-drawn animation. At every turn, the visuals seem so real that you almost want to doubt if it’s really CGI and you want to believe that they somehow filmed an actual planet somewhere in the universe. I hope you will enjoy every last detail of their work.
It is also very stimulating for me as a creator to have Harlock given a chance at a new full-length movie. It has given me the inspiration to create something new. There is no doubt in my mind that this film will stimulate a new generation of aspiring youths around the world and cross borders. There is nothing I would want more than if they are inspired to create a new story from this film and eventually confront me in a creative battle. Many things serve to stimulate creativity and they coalesce into a story and into characters. Harlock is also a product of such imagination. It thrills me to think of fighting once more to triumph in this creative war that now rages globally. This war will continue for the rest of my life. That’s what keeps me on my toes and keeps things interesting.
I have poured the dreams and aspirations I have harbored since childhood into Harlock, so I would like the chance to visit the ends of the galaxy someday. I don’t need to return — I just want to see how far I can go. There’s no time for me to get old.
RYUSUKE HIKAWA INTERVIEW
HIKAWA EXPLORES THE MATSUMOTO UNIVERSE TO FIND OUT EXACTLY WHY HIS CREATIONS HAVE SUCH APPEAL
Born in 1958. An anime researcher whose writing focuses on visual technique and creativity. Active in many circles, Hikawa serves as a judge for the Japan Media Arts Festival as well as for the Mainichi Film Awards.
THE INDUSTRY-CHANGING WORKS OF LEIJI MATSUMOTO
I believe that Mr. Matsumoto’s anime works from the mid-70s to the early 80s, such as SPACE PIRATE CAPTAIN HARLOCK and GALAXY EXPRESS 999, changed the course of the industry. The characters, concepts, and artwork were all unique, and it was proven possible to animate mechanical components with depth and complexity. I felt a clear “evolution of anime” during that time, like the growth of a boy into early adulthood.
Mr. Matsumoto’s works are filled with an artistic aesthetic that is backed by an intensive knowledge of the classics and the military. At the root of many of his stories are classical inspirations such as Wagner operas, medieval chivalry, Japanese legend, or accounts from the Pacific War that are then flipped around to create new futuristic worlds. The source of his talent seems to house two minds — that of a child and that of an adult. That is why his works do not lose their luster over the decades, and we are moved by the simultaneous experience of the past and the future together as one.
THE REASON BEHIND CAPTAIN HARLOCK’S SUCCESS
First off, the titular character is unbelievably striking. His scar and eye patch, coupled with his skull-adorned clothes and cape are impossible to forget. Of course his resolute nature of living out his resolve is also appealing. His charisma is unique, and the few words he does say sink into your heart immediately, his unwavering stance in life never failing to steal the stage. In particular, the scene where he rescues the hero Tetsuro in the film version of GALAXY EXPRESS 999 made a lasting impression of his gallantry and strength. He captured the imagination of every young boy, making them aspire to be like him when they grew up.
WHEN IS HARLOCK MOST NEEDED?
Harlock appears in order to guide us when times get tough and we reach a wall. I believe that we are now on the verge of such times. Mr. Matsumoto’s works always question how a man should live, particularly what he chooses to do when he encounters some form of defeat or hardship. The new Captain Harlock film is no exception, with men overcoming despair to stride forward. I was impressed with the marriage of the classical themes of chivalry and bravery with the unique beauty of the powerful visuals to create a work that expertly depicts the Matsumoto universe.
HARLOCK FROM THE EYES OF A FAN
Mr. Matsumoto’s works depict the contrast between ideals and actuality. When one encounters the cold wall of reality and despairs at one’s own uselessness, Harlock is the one with the tenacity and resolve to reach out from the side of idealism and pull reality up to where he stands. However, he merely lends a hand and does not take over the duty. He has the sternness to ask that one do the deed on one’s own, with resolve. That is why even though the story may end, that resolve remains in each person’s heart. Perhaps that is why he transcends boundaries between other works and comfortably fits into other stories in the Matsumoto universe.
DIRECTOR SHINJI ARAMAKI
Born in 1960 in Fukuoka Prefecture. A distinguished Japanese producer and designer who continues to lead the full-CGI animation industry, he has been involved in works such as GENESIS CLIMBER MOSPEADA (機甲創世記モスピーダ, Kikoo Sooseiki Mosupiida, 1983), MEGAZONE 23 (メガゾーン23 Megazoon Tsuu Surii, 1985-91), GASARAKI (ガサラキ, 1998) and MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM MS IGLOO (機動戦士ガンダム MSイグルー, Kidoo Senshi Gandamu Emuesu Iguruu, 2004-06). In 2004 he directed the motion capture full CGI 3D film APPLESEED and MISSION: IMPOSSIBLE II director John Woo was so taken with its visual imagery that he asked to produce its sequel. Aramaki’s style is influential both within and outside of Japan and he was appointed by Hollywood to direct the 2012 film STARSHIP TROOPERS: INVASION (スターシップ・トゥルーパーズ インベイジョン, Sutaashippu Toouruupaazu Inbeijon).
ADAPTATION/SCREENPLAY HARUTOSHI FUKUI
Born in 1968. Received the Edogawa Rampo Award in 1998 with his debut novel Twelve Y.O. (トゥエルブ ワイ オー, Tuerubu Y.O.). For Aimless Aegis (亡国のイージス, Boukoku no ijisu, 1999) he managed the triple feat of the Mystery Writers of Japan Award, the Haruhiko Oyabu Award and the Japan Adventure Fiction Association Grand Prix. Then he went on to receive the Yoshikawa Eiji Prize for New Writers and the Japan Adventure Fiction Association Grand Prix once more for Secret Weapon Lorelei (終戦のローレライ, Shuusen no Rorerai, 2003). His involvement with film includes LORELEI: THE WITCH OF THE PACIFIC OCEAN (ローレライ, Rorerai, 2005), SAMURAI COMMANDO: MISSION 1549 (戦国自衛隊１５４９, Sengoku Jieitai 1549, 2005), AEGIS (亡国のイージス, Bokoku no Igisu, 2005), and LAST OPERATIONS UNDER THE ORION (真夏のオリオン, Manatsu no Orion, 2009), the last for which he oversaw production and wrote an adaptation. He also worked on the OVA MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM UC (UNICORN) (機動戦士ガンダムUC(ユニコーン), Kidoo Senshi Gandamu Yunikon), which was praised by new and old fans alike, selling more than 1.5 million copies. A new film based on his novel Human Trust (人類資金, Jinrui Shikin, 2013) will be released this fall.
SCREENPLAY KIYOTO TAKEUCHI
Born in 1968. He made his screenplay debut in SAMURAI COMMANDO: MISSION 1549 (2005). Notable involvements include the hero TV series ULTRAMAN MAX (ウルトラマンマックス, Urutoraman Makkusu, 2005), the film APPLESEED EX MACHINA (2007) and SAMURAI ANGEL WARS (ギャルバサラ－戦国時代は圏外です－, Gyaru Basara: Sengoku-Jidai wa Kengai Desu, 2011). He is also a writer and some of his works include Inu no Eiga — Shosetsu Pochi wa Matte ita (いぬのえいが: 小說・ポチは待っていた, 2005), Furyu Tokei Otoko (2007), GOEMON (ゴエモン, 2009), Haha Naru Shomei (2009) and the novel version of Captain Harlock (2013).
CONCEPT MECHANICAL DESIGN ATSUSHI TAKEUCHI
Born in 1965. Belongs to Production I.G. He provided mechanical and concept design for GHOST IN THE SHELL (攻殻機動隊, Kookaku Kidootai, 1995) and EVANGELION: 3.0 YOU CAN (NOT) REDO (ヱヴァンゲリヲン新劇場版：Q, Evangerion Shin Gekijooban: Kyuu, 2012). He was also in charge of the character design, storyboard and directing in the twelfth episode of the overseas TV series STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (2008). He has collaborated with director Aramaki in the past on APPLESEED (2004) and APPLESEED EX MACHINA (2007).
CONCEPT CHARACTER DESIGN YUTAKA MINOWA
Born in 1965. In charge of character design and animation directing for the OVA NINJA SCROLL (1993), VAMPIRE HUNTER D: BLOODLUST (バンパイアハンターD, Banpaia Hantaa D, 2001) and THE ANIMATRIX (2003), he has also done concept design for MEMORIES (回忆三部曲, 1995), METROPOLIS (メトロポリス, Metoroporisu, 2001) and REDLINE (2010). His designs are popular overseas as well as in Japan. He has previously done concept art for THE COCKPIT (ザ・コクピット, Za Kokupitto, 1993), another Leiji Matsumoto film.
CGI SUPERVISOR KENGO TAKEUCHI
Born in 1975. Belongs to Marza Animation Planet. A CGI visual creator, he was involved in creating in-game cutscenes for FINAL FANTASY VIII (1999), IX (2000) and KINGDOM HEARTS (2002) in his Square Enix days. He was also involved in the film FINAL FANTASY: THE SPIRITS WITHIN (2001) at Square USA. During his freelance days before his current post, he did the original story, directing and production for YONNA IN THE SOLITARY FORTRESS (離れ砦のヨナ, Hanare Toride no Yona, 2006).
MUSIC TETSUYA TAKAHASHI
Takahashi started his serious involvement in film music with the score for APPLESEED (2007) and has also done the music for other Aramaki directed films such as APPLESEED EX MACHINA (2007) and STARSHIP TROOPERS: INVASION (2012). He was also involved in RESIDENT EVIL: DEGENERATION (バイオハザード：ディジェネレーション, Baiohazaado: Dijenereeshon, 2008), TOMORROW’S JOE (あしたのジョー, Ashita no Joo, 2010) and KANSAI JOHNNY’S JR. NO KYOTO UZUMASA KOSHINYOKU! (関西ジャニーズJr.の京都太秦行進曲!, Kansai Janiizu Jr. no Kyooto Uzumasa Kooshinkyoku!, 2013).
THEME SONG ONE OK ROCK
Formed in 2005, ONE OK ROCK is a popular band amongst the young generation for its edgy sound combining elements of emo, rock and metal and for its aggressive live performances. The group made its debut in 2007, actively touring music clubs nationwide and performing at various summer music festivals. They held a well-received concert at the Nippon Budokan in 2010 and immediately sold out two days of concerts at Yokohama Arena in 2012. In 2013, they released their 6th album “Jinsei x Boku =” and held its largest arena tour yet with ten concerts in six venues nationwide for a total of 100,000 fans
IN-FILM SONG: TOKIKO KATO “L’amour dans ton coeur”
Born in 1943. Kato made her singing debut in 1965 while studying at the University of Tokyo. She received the Japan Record Award for New Artist for “Akai Fusen” (1966) and the Japan Record Award for Best Vocal Performance for “Hitorine no Komori Uta” (1969) and “Shiretoko Ryojo” (1971). She has since released over 70 albums and numerous hit songs. In 1992, she was made Chevalier of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the French Government for her contribution to the arts. In recent years, she has appeared in outdoor music festivals and done charity work for the 2011 Tohoku earthquake victims. As an actress, she has been in IZAKAYA CHOJI (居酒屋兆治, 1983) and has also voice acted in PORCO ROSSO (紅の豚, Kurenai no Buta, 1992).
“We made this song to express how we feel as musicians and individuals about tragic events happening around the world that are beyond the power of human control. We sincerely hope that the fusion of our music with this movie will turn the darkness in the hearts of many to light — in a way that ONE OK ROCK cannot accomplish on its own.”
Leiji Matsumoto’s globally-acclaimed Space Pirate Captain Harlock has returned to the screen in full CGI. This massive project is attracting the global attention of fans and non-fans alike.
Such is the global anticipation of this project, the creators wish to use the opportunity to fulfil a mission in which the world ‘rediscovers Japanese culture’.
“We wanted to create something Japan could be proud of. That was how everything began,” explains producer Yoshiyuki Ikezawa (Toei Animation). “Japanese animation is often talked about through the concept of ‘Cool Japan’ but the Japanese anime market is completely separate from the film market and there are actually very few truly global animated films that are widely embraced the way Hollywood movies are.”
“However, Japan’s strong manga background gives us a wealth of characters that have potential global appeal. Give a group of such characters a fitting story and theme that maximises their potential, add the advanced technology Japan has to offer and I was sure that we could create something that would wow the world.”
NO HOLDING BACK!
The first challenge of the film was to gather an able production team. This meant recruiting the top creators in the Japanese visual industry, a feat that Toei Animation had never seen the likes of before.
“Harlock is by far the coolest of all of Mr. Matsumoto’s characters,” according to director Shinji Aramaki. Having penetrated the Hollywood market, Aramaki explained that there were two things he thought were important in creating an entertainment feature that could compete globally. “One was that I wanted it to be about problems that our society faces today, even though it’s a science fiction film set in outer space. That’s why I chose to emphasize Harlock’s character as a pirate and depict him as an antihero that rebels against a much greater authority.”
That was also when Harutoshi Fukui’s name was brought to the table. “Mr. Fukui’s novels often use movie-like depictions with battleships, and I thought he would be a good fit for Mr. Matsumoto’s characters. The producer Mr. Ikezawa also mentioned his name, so we contacted him immediately.” Gradually, an all-star staff was coming together, and the road to rebooting Captain Harlock had begun.
THE ESTABLISHED SETTING VS. THE “REBOOT”
This film is the modern incarnation of Captain Harlock that remains true to the spirit of the original Space Pirate Captain Harlock. The reason the film is meant to be a “reboot” rather than a remake has to do with the character of Captain Harlock and society today.
“Harlock appears in many of Mr. Matsumoto’s works, and I have come to interpret him as the character that represents defiance regardless of the era, a pillar around which people gather to question society.” These are the words of story adaptation and screenplay writer Harutoshi Fukui, as he quietly analyses the legendary character’s reboot. “I took care to prevent the character from feeling dated. The former Harlock was an unfailing leader who lends a modest helping hand. Thirty years have passed and I don’t believe that young people today will be able to connect with that original hero image. If anything, I felt that a hero that experiences anguish, whose ideals have become twisted in some way, is what they would be able to identify with, and that was how I went about creating his character for the film.”
As a result, Harlock’s darker side is much more pronounced compared to his past depictions. In this film you also encounter the depth of his despair. Kiyoto Takeuchi, who also worked on the screenplay alongside Fukui, adds some of his thoughts. “We wanted to take a step back and really think about Harlock as a character. Because we are in such convoluted times, it didn’t seem enough to limit him to his original character — the sombre lone fighter who retains a shadow of his youth — , so we made him represent the darkness that is present within every member aboard the Arcadia. We also see Harlock’s anguish and doubt about his path. What exactly is the “freedom” that he so longs for? I believe it is our responsibility as the creators of this film to provide a proper answer to that question.”
THE OTHER LEGENDARY CHARACTER
The invincible space pirate ship Arcadia may be the other main character of the Captain Harlock saga. Many a fan has adored this ‘ship’ which houses the spirit of Harlock’s closest friend Tochiro. Director Aramaki looks back on the conception of the modern-day Arcadia.
“The design for the Arcadia needed to feel more cursed to go with the script, so I asked my good friend Atsushi Takeuchi to take charge. I had him retain some essential elements of the Arcadia such as the skull on the bow and the wooden stern deck of the type you’d find on a sailing ship but gave him free reign to transform the rest. I entrusted the task of 3D modelling to Takehiko Hoashi who has previously prepared large-scale spaceships for many of my previous films; and the result was fantastic.”
THE STORY BEHIND THE CASTING
Production took five years, auditioning more than two hundred people including those needed for test voicing during the storyboard phase and for the motion capture sessions. As expected, actually casting the character voices while keeping true to the film’s theme proved to be quite difficult. Ikezawa looks back on the process. “We talked about wanting non-established fans to properly experience the world of Captain Harlock, to realize that there are men like Harlock who will defy the realities of his era, especially the way things are today. Because the cast would also have to share in this message, we needed people who properly represented today’s generation in order to make the message convincing.”
They kept searching for actors who could express the timeless theme, and after half a year of debate, they finally decided on the cast of actors and voice-actors including Shun Oguri, Haruma Miura and Yu Aoi. The result was well worth the efforts of the production team, who wanted a cast that could preserve the underlying theme of the film while holding their own in an entertainment blockbuster. With the addition of this stellar cast, the film achieved further levels of depth and complexity. According to Director Aramaki, “The new Harlock is mysterious and cursed but also very cool, which is a difficult role to grasp. How the actor interprets it was the crucial test, but as I discussed the role with Mr. Oguri and saw how his voice synchronized with the animation, I saw the new Harlock materialize before my eyes, and I knew that this was going to work.”
A COMPLETE DIVISION OF LABOR, HOLLYWOOD STYLE
The work was divided up much more than usual, including modeling, animation, setup, lighting, effects, and digital compositing. A production pipeline was created, and the image board was compartmentalized. Although concept boards are created in Japanese animation production, it is altered as production proceeds in most cases. However, this project followed the Hollywood method with the production staying true to the original plan through to the end. According to production supervisor Koichi Noguchi (Toei Animation), “The large-scale full-CGI animation films you find overseas such as those from Pixar regularly have budgets over 100 million dollars, but I believe we have created something that stands up to those films with about a third of the cost. This is due in part to the Hollywood method we implemented of dividing up labor but also because of our production team’s diligence and astonishing work speed.”
THE NEW PRODUCTION STYLE THAT ACHIEVED A GRAND VISION
“Regardless of its photorealistic style, I want it to retain the feel of the original manga.” Aramaki presented a grand vision to the production team. “For example, the way Harlock’s cape moves. I didn’t want to just use a regular physics simulator. I communicated how I wanted Harlock’s cape to move in each scene so that it would represent Harlock’s emotions and had them animate the cloak as if it were another character. I knew that production would inevitably take several years, so during the initial decision of the look and feel of the artwork, I upped the demands in anticipation of the technological advances that would surely take place. If the demands weren’t initially overwhelming to the production team, the resulting film wouldn’t be good enough upon release.”
With an enormous production cost of $30 million, Japan’s best artists and animators collaborated to meet the seemingly impossible demands of the director. With levels of labor and production inconceivable in usual Japanese animation, HARLOCK: SPACE PIRATE has succeeded in merging state-of-the-art visual technology and the appeal of Japanese manga.
A JAPANESE FIRST! 1: USE OF THE ARNOLD RENDERER
Renderers work to visualize digital information such as calculated reflections and character motion. The film used the Arnold Renderer, which is currently used in Hollywood productions, achieving unprecedented luster and expression.
A JAPANESE FIRST! 2: FACIAL CAPTURE
A system that digitally analyzes the actors’ facial expressions to capture emotionally charged facial motion. The technology has been used in Hollywood for such films as THE HOBBIT (2012) and RISE OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (2011). Since it captures the actor’s expressions as well as the movements, it enables expressing “acting” directly through CGI, achieving subtle yet expressive depictions.
A JAPANESE FIRST! 3: CREATING A STRESS-FREE PIPELINE
For the first time in film projects, a data management system for handling 250 TB worth of data (160 times a regular movie) was employed, drastically improving production efficiency.
WHAT SETS THIS FILM APART FROM OTHER FULL-CGI ANIMATION?
“It is a massive project with an unprecedented budget unheard of in the current Japanese animation industry. This made it possible to assemble the best artists and animators that Japan had to offer. The scope and ambition of the project also enabled the production to push the boundaries of Japan’s 3D CGI technology and expression. Toei hired Marza Animation as the lead production house to spearhead the CG animation process. Marza was originally an organization called the VE Research and Development Department that specialized in creating cutting edge CGI cutscenes for SEGA games. It was their first attempt at a full-length animation film and all eyes were upon them to deliver. They did not disappoint.
Usually, full-length CGI films of this scale in the United States and Europe require several hundred staff to produce. However, the HARLOCK production team managed to achieve this feat with just over a hundred staff. This was an impressive achievement that will leave its mark on the history of the Japanese, if not the global animation industry. The credit goes to the incredibly effective teamwork of production management and artists, as well as to the director Shinji Aramaki, who has been involved in several high-profile CG animated works in the past which is a rare to find in Japan.”
WHAT IS THE CURRENT STATE OF THE CGI INDUSTRY IN JAPAN?
“The United States is unquestionably the global leader of the 3D CGI production now, though other countries are catching up fast. Production methods and processes used by major Hollywood studios tend to get filtered down and localized for Japan over time. So generally speaking, Japan ends up importing and utilizing dated technology for CGI animation. So we wanted to do something radically different for HARLOCK — we wanted to be on the cutting edge of technology. The production studio utilized a new ray tracer called Arnold for this film, which enabled incredibly beautiful rendering of artists’ vision as well as increased production efficiency.
HARLOCK was also the first production in Japan to employ Faceware, a facial capture system that can capture motion capture actors’ facial expressions in real time, much like how it was done for films like THE LORD OF THE RINGS and AVATAR. There is a term called ‘uncanny valley’ which explained the phenomenon of viewer’s disconnect from CGI characters due to unrealistic rendering of human facial expression. But with Faceware, even the slightest and most subtle expressions of actors’ face got accurately portrayed to deliver fully emotional and human performances.
HARLOCK IS REFERRED TO AS TOEI’S STATEMENT TO THE GLOBAL FILM MARKET. CAN YOU ELABORATE ON THAT?
“When people think of Japanese animation, they tend to think of the 2D (hand drawn) animation that was termed ‘Japanimation,’ but outside of Japan, 3D CGI animation is the trend, especially for TV shows. However, even there, cartoonish characters of the type that appear in Pixar and Dreamworks films are the norm. A film like HARLOCK: SPACE PIRATE that features fully proportioned characters with a realistic style is a genre yet to be explored, so I suspect it may receive even more attention than many expect.
Also, full-CGI means that the audience will inevitably focus on the film’s technological aspects, but the story itself is gripping above all else. It is a top-tier entertainment masterpiece where Japan’s best artists and talents poured their heart and soul into creating a high-quality visual expression. I believe it is one that finally rises to a level of quality and story that competes with Hollywood blockbusters and an unmistakable turning point in the history of Japanese CGI animation.”
Total data: 250TB
Production time: 5 YEARS
Files created: 100,000,000+
Total cuts: 1,400 SHOTS
Servers used: 896
Rendering time (if there was only one computer): 401 YEARS
Main CGI crew: ONLY 150
Rendering tasks: 259,803
Machines used for rendering: 806
WORLD PREMIERE: September 3, 2013 (2013 Venice Film Festival)
JAPANESE THEATRICAL RELEASE: September 7, 2013
RUNNING TIME: 115 Minutes
SCREENING FORMAT: DCP 3D, Dolby SRD, Color
CAPTAIN HARLOCK: Shun Oguri
LOGAN: Haruma Miura
MIMAY: Yu Aoi
YULIAN: Arata Furuta
TORISAN: Ayano Fukuda
EZRA: Toshiyuki Morikawa
NAMI: Maaya Sakamoto
KEI: Miyuki Sawashiro
OLD MAN: Kiyoshi Kobayashi
POTENTATE: Chikao Ohtsuka
DIRECTOR: Shinji Aramaki
SCREENPLAY: Harutoshi Fukui, Kiyoto Takeuchi
BASED ON THE CLASSIC MANGA BY: Leiji Matsumoto
DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Kengo Takeuchi
EDITOR: Shinji Aramaki, Ryuji Miyamura
PRODUCTION DESIGNER: Hiroaki Ueno
SOUND: Koji Kasamatsu
MUSIC: Tetsuya Takahashi
PRODUCED BY: Yoshi Ikezawa, Joseph Chou, Rei Kudo
PRODUCTION COMPANIES: Toei Animation (Japan)
WORLD SALES: GFM Films in Association with Joseph Chou & CO
Copyright: © LEIJI MATSUMOTO/CAPTAIN HARLOCK Film Partners
For more information on HARLOCK: SPACE PIRATE please see the previous coverage here on SciFi Japan: