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...this (film is) one of the greatest moments in anime history.
Review by Matthew Anderson
Feature Length Animated Film
Running Time: 130 minutes
Harlock is the former captain of the "Deathshadow", the last battleship of the Earth Federation. Stripped of his rank by the occupying forces of the Illumidus Empire, Harlock spends his days looking for his lost love, Maya. Since she is the leader of the resistance movement, she is not an easy woman to find.
Harlock's luck seems to change when he meets Tochiro, a former mechanic for the Earth military, and Free Trader Emeraldas. Due to their intense hatred for Illumidus, and their mutual respect for one another, the three of them become fast friends.
At the same time, La Mime, an android who works for Illumidus learns a horrible secret. She overhears plans to attack the home world of fellow Illumidus sympathizer Zoll, and destroy all life there. Telling Zoll this horrifying news, he goes to Emeraldas to steal her ship and return to his home.
After hearing Zoll's story, Harlock offers to go to Zoll's planet, and stop the Illumidus Empire. Tochiro, moved by the events before him, shows Harlock his greatest achievement, the space pirate ship Arcadia!
Can Harlock and his crew stop the Illumidus before everyone they know and love is destroyed?
DVD VISION TEST
VIDEO: AnimEigo has done a fine job of transferring this 20+ year old movie to DVD. The colors are solid, with no color bleeding, wrinkles, or pixels to be seen.
AUDIO: The original Japanese 2.0 audio track is pretty clear. Despite it being a 20 year and counting movie, the it sound almost like new. There is no mono hiss, and there is slight surround sound mix. Audiophiles may be disappointed.
EDITS: Not a single frame has been edited.
EXTRAS: I was quite pleased with the extras. We have a collection of original Japanese trailers for Arcadia, Dagger of Kamui, Riding Bean, and Otaku no Video. We also have an extensive filmography for the character of Captain Harlock, one for Leiji Matsumoto, and one for the actors who appeared in this movie. My favorite extra was the unusual facts section. The information contained is quite informative. The photo gallery was okay. Oh, don't forget the liner notes.
STORY: Leiji Matsumoto is the master of creating epic stories. "Arcadia of My Youth" is a prime example of his talent. It is a story of trial, redemption, and war. All the characters are complex people with their own demons to exorcise. With the help of screen writer Yooichi Onaka and the rest of his planning team, this is one movie that really pushes your emotional buttons.
ACTING: With only the Japanese cast, it is pretty easy to sum up the acting, absolutely fantastic! In my opinion, there is only one voice for Harlock, and that is Makio Inoue. His deep, powerful voice easily conveys the fact that Harlock is no wimp. The level of emotion and intensity of his readings will make even the hardest man weep.
The same goes for the entire cast. From Kei Tomiyama as Tochiro to Reiko Tajima as Emeraldas, this is as good as it gets!
FAN SERVICE: A couple of ripped shirt shots make up the fan service quotient. There isn't really any references to other anime, as this is the origin story of Harlock.
In the early days of anime, a company called "Celebrity Just for Kids" was releasing several dubbed anime titles under really goofy names. One of these releases was Arcadia of My Youth, re-titled as "Vengeance of the Space Pirate". I remember seeing the adds in the Captain Harlock comic (released by Eclipse), and getting very excited. Now, I could see the source material they based the very excellent comic from. As I had yet to discover AnimEigo, CPM, or Right Stuf, it was the only way to get anime at the time. When I bought a copy from my local video store, I was quite excited.
Imagine my horror when I discovered that the first 40 minutes of the movie was missing! It didn't stop there. Any scenes with blood or characters getting killed were edited out. To make matters worse, the video was crap and the sound was awful. Yet, I was still enraptured with "Vengeance of the Space Pirate". The visuals were beautiful, the dub wasn't too bad, and the story had me hooked. I loved this movie so much, when a second copy appeared, I bought it, hoping to see this film in its entirety. They only difference; this copy was missing the first 39 minutes. Disappointed, I took this worthless video and shelved it, resigned that I would never get to see it complete and uncut.
Then, AnimEigo released it, subtitled on VHS. Like a bolt from Heaven, I finally got to see this masterpiece in all its glory. The movie makes a lot more sense when you have the beginning, and the deaths of the characters carry a lot more emotional impact when you get to see how they died. My love for this movie was reborn on that day.
I loved the movie so much, that when I found an original Japanese VHS release, presented in widescreen, I bought it. Once AnimEigo switched to DVD production, I knew it would only be a matter of time before they released it. As you can guess, the minute I got my screener copy, that bad boy went right into my DVD player!
Being the origin of an anime mainstay is a tough chore, but the entire cast and crew did it. I don't know if any of them knew "Arcadia" would still be so popular 20 years later, but they had to know that this was going to be one of the greatest moments in anime history. Perhaps that is why Ishihara Yuujiroo (considered one of the greatest actors in the history of Japan) lent his voice to this film. Since this is his only anime voice acting role, he must have thought that people would remember this movie for a long time.
I think that the animation has stood the test of time very well. The characters are very distinctive and quite expressive. The space ship designs are clean and elegant. The level of care and detail that went into this movie shows in every frame. Besides, Leiji Matsumoto's style is timeless. Just look a the number of titles with his name out there. They don't even try to change the look. Not even "Gatchaman" can say that.
I am not ashamed to admit it, there are several times when I start to cry during this movie. Every time I hear Taiyoo wa Shinanai (The Sun Will Not Die) is one. The haunting voice of Maria Asahina combined with the sad image of refugees and Harlock's last act as captain of the Deathshadow really gets me in my soul. Another time is when Tochiro, Harlock, Zoll, and Emeraldas are preparing to save Tokarga. Tochiro, the soul of these characters, is bawling as he sees the realization of his dreams, and hears Zoll's heartfelt pleas to save his world. I too share in the emotion of the characters, and find myself wishing that I could go to Tokarga and save Zoll's homeland. There are many more moments that will tug at your heart strings, and to go over them would take an entire website. If anyone says that they don't shed a tear while watching this movie, they are lying.
AnimEigo has done a fine job with this release. The video and audio is good, and the extras are informative and entertaining. While I would have liked to see "Arcadia of My Youth" in the "widescreen" format, this is a minor issue. Besides, If I really feel the need to watch it widescreen, I still have my Japanese VHS copy.
Despite being over 20 years old, this is still one of the best animated features of all time! Everything about this movie, the powerful writing, the beautiful animation, and the heart wrenching emotion is what makes "Arcadia of My Youth" a true anime classic.
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