Arcadia of My Youth
In Earth's distant future, it seems as though the last of humanity's hope has finally been stopped. The last of Earths battleships known as the Deathshadow finally succumbs to the alien onslaught. It's captain, named Harlock; is stripped of his rank and now spends his time wandering the planet he happened to be deported on. From this point Harlock must decide if he will accept the fate that has been handed to him, or if he will fight on in other forms of resistance.
Harlock actually hears a voice of resistance, his love Maya broadcasts radio messages urging that people fight on and take a stand. Harlock decides he too will take up his own flag and fights for what he believes in. The earth may be done with Harlock, but Harlock now lives by his own rules.
Harlock will also meet many lifelong companions who will assist him in his fight to live by his own rules. But living by what you believe in also has its consequences. Should Harlock leave Maya to potentially have her captured by Earth security forces, or should he stay and leave those on a doomed planet face their fate?
Arcadia of My Youth is a definitive anime classic. This is not to say that it is a classic of merits simply on its own, but as a visible part of one of the better known series of anime: Captain Harlock.
As a prequel, it's a title that looks at the beginnings of Captain Harlock, however the viewer is also supposed to understand that this title is actually providing back story for a series we are somewhat familiar with. Having not seen any of the series before Arcadia of My Youth I was probably where most anime fans will be. It's not like things don't make sense of course, but realizing the moment Harlock meets his lifelong friend Tochihiro is significant to those familiar with the series, but doesn't make the impact for the rest of us. My point is that you may miss some aspects of this title if you aren't familiar with Harlock.
As it stands on its own, this title is actually pretty good as long as you are the sort that enjoys Harlock melodrama, and long winded speeches on things like freedom, liberty and honor. If you don't like that sort of thing, this anime is going to seem extremely preachy. And while we're on this train of thought, there seems to be a fine line between those who like Harlock type titles, and those who don't. If you can allow yourself to get caught up in the chivalry of the Harlock universe, then this will be a fantastic title in your eyes. If it doesn't click, you'll probably find everything horribly wrong. Characters, their actions, and situations will all seem quite absurd.
The Animation is dated, but beautifully done for its time. Designs are standard for a Leji Matsumoto title. The story was alright. When you really technically analyze it, there are some points that could have been smoothed out. The continuity is slightly erratic the way parts jump around, but the franchise often had this approach so that isn't anything new
Unfortunately I can't say beforehand if you haven't seen any of the titles if you will like Captain Harlock or not. Some of the latest anime releases seem much more "empty" than the classics. If you haven't seen any Harlock titles before, this title is probably as good as a starting point as any. If you like Harlock sagas, this is of course a must see titles. If you don't, then avoid it like the plague.
Harlock: Never again come near a place where my flag flies!
Harlock: Fools. Dance to your hearts content on that small world of yours. Our world is the entire universe.
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reviewed by archen in 2000