(キャプテン・ハーロック, Kyaputen Hārokku
?) (also known as Captain Herlock) is a fictional character created by manga artist Leiji Matsumoto.
Harlock is the archetypical romantic hero, a space pirate with an individualist philosophy of life. He is as noble as he is taciturn, rebellious, stoically fighting against totalitarian regimes, whether they be earthborn or alien. In his own words, he "fight[s] for no one's sake... only for something deep in [his] heart".
The character is introduced in Adventures of a Honeybee
(1953), but did not make its debut as lead character until 1978's Space Pirate Captain Harlock
. Since then, the character has appeared in numerous animated TV series and films, the latest of which being Space Pirate Captain Herlock: The Endless Odyssey
, and re-imagined as an Iron Cross fighter pilot and a gunslinger in the American Old West.
Though there are slight variations in each telling of Harlock's story, the essentials remain the same. Matsumoto presents a future in which the Earth has achieved a vast starfaring civilization, but is slowly and steadily succumbing to ennui or despair, often due to defeat and subjugation by a foreign invader. Rising against the general apathy, Harlock denies defeat and leads an outlaw crew aboard his starship Arcadia
to undertake daring raids against Earth's oppressors. Even though they have defeated Earth and devastated its peoples, the invaders are often presented in a sympathetic light, being shown as having some justification for their actions.
In Space Pirate Captain Harlock
, the Captain's crew included the mysterious, alcohol-imbibing alien woman Miime, a robot, and a drunken doctor. The series presented a story arc in which a huge black metal sphere strikes Tokyo and ancient Mayan legends appear to be walking the Earth again. The invaders turn out to be the Mazone, a race of plant-based women who explored Earth in the mythic past and are now back to reclaim it. Only Harlock and his mismatched crew are brave and capable enough to face the enemy.