Lurkers' Retreat
AnimEigo AnimEigo

Cert  US Import

Arcadia of my Youth

This is a long one! Matsumoto Leiji has produced many acclaimed anime titles over the years, some of them very thought-provoking, including a number concerning the vaguaries of warfare and the outcome, especially for the losing side. Obviously there are a number of allegories here with the fate of Japan following their actions in the second World War, which makes for some contention when titles such as this one and The Cockpit, to name another title, are viewed.

Having said that, this is rightly known as a classic. Whatever might be said about the allegories and other similarities with the defeated nation, it does lead to an interesting story which soon leaves behind these concerns and becomes more interested with what an occupied nation could do. In this respect it resembles more the situation between Nazi Germany and the occupied nations in Europe, though the story then moves on to new ground.

To cut a long story short, the story starts with Captain Harlock, space captain and feared warrior in the long battle with the Illumidus Empire, piloting a ship full of refugees back to Earth following its defeat. Earth is now part of that empire, and the official side of the planet has sided with its dictators, but Harlock decides not to join in. After a few decisions, a few eye-openers about life under the Illumidus and a few new friends, Harlock decides on what his next course of action will be. Naturally, this course isn't popular in some quarters!

This story is related to quite a few others from Matsumoto Leiji, including Galaxy Express, Queen Emeraldas and others. It is a very long film (well over two hours!), and it is a little weird in places, but it has some evocative moments which makes the effort worth it. This unedited version from AnimEigo may not appeal to younger audiences, and it certainly isn't a film to watch unless you are in the mood, but it is a well produced film with plenty of content, a well developed story and enough action to stop it from getting too maudlin.

Review: 27-Jan-2003 Chika

[4 stars]

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