Toei Unveils ‘Harlock: Space Pirate’ in Venice

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Although Hayao Miyazaki’s The Wind Rises got most of the coverage at the recent Venice Film Festival, another big Japanese feature was also screened at the global event. Directed by Shinji Aramaki (Starship Troopers: Invasion), Toei Animation’s Harlock: Space Pirate managed to impress the fans of the popular manga with its cool 3-D CG animation and Hiroaki Ueno’s elaborate production design.

Leiji Matsumoto’s property was first adapted into an animated TV series in the late 1970s. The new CG-animated feature incorporates mo-cap elements for enhanced facial expressiveness and smoother body movements. The $30-million budgeted pic will be released in Japan on Sept. 7.

Here’s the official synopsis:

“In the year 2977, 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.”

The Hollywood Reporter was impressed with the film’s visual, but found the complicated plot packed with sci-fi archetypes and clear save-or-destroy conflicts.

“The storytelling in Harutoshi Fukui and Kiyoto Takeuchi’s screenplay overloads on ever-evolving mission strategies, making it a tad exhausting to follow. And there are arguably too many characters included that only longtime aficionados will care about…. even with that popular toon fixture of the animal sidekick, there’s nothing that could be called comic relief in this accelerated action adventure shaped around themes of freedom, honor, comradeship and fate. The elaborate videogame aesthetic will be a turnoff to some, as will the limited human involvement, but others with the patience to wade through the film’s thicket of plot will be entertained.”

Here’s the film’s trailer. What do you think?

Harlock: Space Pirate

Harlock: Space Pirate