Hmmmm. I am just writing about installments in franchises I have not watched in a little while, aren’t I? Will, I’m going to continue to do that right now. Captain Harlock: Endless Orbit SSX follows the brilliant and classic film, Captain Harlock: Arcadia of my Youth. A film that I reviewed a very long time ago which you can read if you want, but I am not proud of it. You can check that here: Link. I may need to revisit it soon. For now, let’s talk about a somewhat episodic, but not really honestly, space adventure with one of the best anime characters ever, Captain Harlock. All with his beautiful and wonderful ship the Arcadia of my Youth searching for the ship’s namesake.
After Arcadia of my Youth where Captain Harlock and his crew are kicked off Earth, it is under the control of the horrible alien empire. They are the Illumidas, Green humanoids who are known for their totalitarian ruthlessness. As for the ship’s name sake, Captain Harlock is traveling from place to place to find the Arcadia. The one planet of endless peace where humanity can be finally free, as the rumors say. The planet of no war and perfect harmony. A dream that everyone wants to achieve. The first episode introduces the real main character of the show, Tadashi who lived a poor life, when Harlock and his friend Toshiro land on a western planet. Can they escape the clutches of the traitor, Mr. Zone who wants to destroy Harlock for revenge? The drama is real.
I should probably mention that Endless Orbit SSX is named after the three main pirates with large bounties on their heads. Captain Harlock is S-00999 and is the infamous and charming captain with endless skill and strength courage, while also having a large capacity for kindness and innocence. Toshiro is S00998 and is the infamous designer of the Aracadia, but is a weaker guy that only has engineering to his name. A very good, soft boy. The X is X-00001 who is known as Queen Emeraldas. A female Captain who traveles from planet-to-planet complete solitude on the ship called the Queen Emeraldas and leaves a rose behind as her calling sign. She is both of their comrades, comes to save the day a lot, and is Toshiro’s crush. Together, they have secret orbital base called Endless Orbit SSX.
To me, it’s hard to describe Endless Orbit SSX without comparing it to One Piece even though this show came out before way before One Piece was an idea. Regardles, the Arcadia is the ship of dreams and everyone joins to fulfill their own dream. Well, besides La Mime who joined after Harlock saved her after her people were slaughtered by the Illumidas. Kei Yuki is a young girl that joins as the key to find Arcadia after her father died on an artificial information planet and she lives to follow her father’s dream. Tadashi joins to find his own unique future after his parents and family were killed and wishes to grow as a man. The younger girl Revi and the drunken doctor Ban, who is the most real and human person, join to find Revi’s dad. That is a tale that provides sadness for Harlock and her, though she will never know, because her dad commands Harlock’s former ship. All of these people work together as a family to find arcadia somewhere in space.
Each episode is a different adventure. A lot of them are strange planets which are very western like in atmosphere and tone. The first planet the crew met Tadashi was western like for instance. There are a lot of Deserts, wooden frontier tones, lots of bars, and such on distant planets. Others were somewhat different like a town where the Illumidas were gathering all the citizens before killing them and were saved and very roman ruins on a far away that give keys to the journey. No matter what, there are always people searching for their own way to freedom and the Arcadia probably broke down to stop somewhere. It happens, it’s a space show. There are also the fun episodes in space where The Illumidas and/or Zone track Harlock done and try to kill him down. The first half is just like all of this.
The second half is where the stakes increase in Endless Orbit. The appearance of the golden Goddess, a god like being beyond the understanding of all humans, shakes the stakes of the show up quite a bit. Zone uses his connection with the goddess to get control of the illumidas fleet hunting for Harlock and Toshiro sacrifices himself to save Queen Emeraldas from dying to Zone’s new insanity. At least she was able to rescue herself through man power because she just didn’t have the engineering skill to fix her ship. The rest is finding Arcadia, where they are given a special fire from the gods as a test. A test to see if they are truly worthy of saving the Earth. Are they? You can find out yourself by watching.
There are three major themes from this series which appear to their own reason. The first one, obviously, is growing up. Tadashi and Revi are still kids and Tadashi learn a lot of life lessons on his adventure with the Arcadia crew. Lessons he learns by hanging around on the second pilot seat with Captain Harlock during his bad ass adventures and being the main protagonist for the lessons on each planet. What is humility? What does showing humanity mean? What does it mean to fight for your own right to live? What does it mean to Love? And finally, what does it mean to be a mature, human being? All that comes together in the show’s conclusion.
The second one is the warmth of family and humanity vs the coldness of rage and reliance on technology. This represented by the endless match between Captain Harlock and Mr. Zone. Captain Harlock, besides one ship as his moment of weakness, is a man who is infinitely calm, has almost no ego, is infinitely skilled, and relies and believes his crew can do the impossible and they do. While we never know why Zone hates Harlock, he’s a man who is the complete opposite. He seeks leadership and control, will give up on his ideals when it suits him to gain something, and Zone’s ego drives him to the brink. Zone is the kind of guy who expects everyone to be just as bad as him. This is how we evaluate who is the person who should lead in the future. Captain Harlock flies the skull flag because they will work themselves done to their bones if they have to in order to achieve their goals.
Lastly, there is Toshiro’s thirst to prove himself by doing something cool. You know, besides building one of the most iconic and bad ass space battleships in existence? One would think that is bad ass enough, but I GUESS NOT. He is one of those people who sees no value in himself, but will fight for anyone else he cares about. It goes without saying, at least in my mind, that Toshiro is the very heart of the show and we see proof of that as time goes on. All of his heart bleeds for Queen Emeraldas while everyone wants him safe. The heart wants to prove himself even more when all he needs to do is be himself. Then again, that is the show itself. Being great, but wanting to prove itself by doing even more. I think that Endless Orbit SSX ended up a little better than Toshiro did. That’s all that I am saying.
Endless Orbit SSX is a very beautiful looking show with a lot of cool environments in space, in towns across a lot of planets, and lots of cool space ships, but it also suffers from a lot of repetition which can be tiring sometimes. The sweeping shot of the Arcadia in the opening is epic, but you see it repeated a lot in the show. Same with Leiji Matsumoto’s Character designs where everyone looks the same besides some small variations of heights, colors, and clothing. Men are the same design and women are also the same design. It’s just his thing I suppose (and people complain about One Piece). There is a lot of stock footage of the Illumidas ships falling apart the same away after being hit by the same spots, and things like that. So, it does look nice and everything presented in the show is very well put together with great sound design, but like I said, it does suffer from age. Despite that, I feel like it has aged like a fine wine.
I don’t think I’ve said this enough, but I loved Captain Harlock: Endless Orbit SSX a lot. It could be because of how I am a mark for this show. Good people fighting for humanities heart, space ships, and great episodic adventures each week that have a lot of value in them. I just love Space Operas, ok? I don’t think there will be a day where I am not a mark for space operas like this. A definitive, solid watch for me and a good recommendation for anyone who needs a hero right now. Captain Harlock is one of the coolest anime characters in existence and I think he is the guy we can all believe in for the coming future. Very ambitious and very wonderful show for so many reasons, iconic and otherwise.