Saturday, October 21, 2006

[Japanese Film Fest] Space Pirate Captain Harlock: Arcadia of My Youth (Waga Seishun No Arukyadia)

It's Harlock, not Hardcock!

The second movie for the festival is another anime, albeit an older one, belonging to the 80s. I vaguely remember watching the series on television as I recall the familiarity of the pirate motif spaceship. But maybe I remembered wrong, as there are plenty of such space aged cartoons in those days, like Macross, Gundam, and the likes.

The introduction already put me off, with a really repetitive Phantom Harlock flying his red biplane and monotonous introduction of his name, over and over again. The plot takes some getting used to, with the bombastic names as we follow this rogue pilot/pirate in his quest to duel with Commander Zeda of the Illmidus alien race.

Watching this early 80s animation brings about the obvious comparisons and observation of how advanced animated movies have become. It's obviously 2-D drawings here, and plenty of details which were not possible to be included. Things like background characters having continuity presence issues (varying numbers amongst a crowd in a constant setting), and objects appearing and disappearing for the same reason that drawing by hand, takes up time, and yet draws attention to themselves. And having to draw many, well, sometimes animators do become lazy. This is most unlike today's computer generated graphics where crowd and objects are rendered with a click of the button, and possibly given some artificial intelligence along the way so that they can seem to "act" independently.

Space battles have become a dime a dozen, and watching this film today, sadly, the battles are not as exciting as it should have been, with its numerous laser cannon scenes. Some scenes were repeated by showing stock clips over and over again, and brings back fond memories of how, as a kid, you tend to see past these shortcomings, and enjoy the animation for what it is. In today's standards, this will be judged more like stemming from the indifference from the animators, and the lack of pride and professionalism.

The characters here are typical of Japanese anime, with weird coloured hairdos, and quite surprisingly, this movie loads up on the melodramatics and exaggerated dialogue. Compared with anime of today, there has been vast improvement in story pacing, setting, and character design.

While there were families and kids watching Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children, and this one, it wasn't unexpected that this anime too had its fair share of walk outs, probably because of the hard-to-grasp storyline for toddlers, or the insane need to read subtitles and then explaining to the kids what some of the imaginary words meant.

P.S. somehow the screening was marred by the speakers set to maximum volume. The dialogue and musical fanfare just got drilled through your ears into your head and probably gave everyone a splitting headache watching it. The first boo-boo for the festival, and I really hope it's the last.

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