Shinji Aramaki’s digital reimaging of Japan’s classic sci-fi adventure Space Pirate Captain Harlock is serious business. Not only is it ranked amongst Toei Animation’s most expensive productions to date, weighing in with a mighty £20+ million budget, its staff is also a who’s-who of the Japanese animation industry.
Producer Yoshiyuki Ikezawa went as far as to say that the team behind the ambitious 30-year return of Harlock are strong enough to challenge the world’s best in animation, and if the reviews are anything to go by, he may be right. The likes ofVariety is already calling Harlock a “treat for anime fans”, while Twitch Film claims it “brings CGI to the next level”.
At Harlock’s helm is noted mecha designer (including work in M.A.S.K. and Gundam) Shinji Aramaki, who has also directed a number of big projects, including the very first CG Appleseed movie in 2004, where he crossed paths with composer and arranger Tetsuya Takahashi. Up until this point, Takahashi had mostly been arranging tracks for a handful of adverts, small anime series and bands (including J-pop group KAT-TUN), but this project placed him in full control of entire tracks for the first time – not to mention being his first outing in the world of full-length film.
Takahashi’s ability to capture the atmosphere and power of Appleseed through music led to him working with Aramaki on all three computer animated outings of the franchise. In fact, since meeting, Aramaki has insisted that if he’s directing, he wants Takahashi by his side taking care of sound. The twosome even worked together on Aramaki’s short for Halo Legends as well as Starship Troopers: Invasion, utilising Takahashi’s ability to muster up quality battle music, the pinnacle of which he may have reached with this intense theme from Harlock:
After listening to that, it’s almost difficult to believe that Takahashi started his career by penning catchy jingles in commercials. Way back in the summer of 1987 he managed to win an advert audition, and then followed the path of catchy TV tunes for nearly a decade, until making his debut as a singer-songwriter in 1996 with his single Just Only Love, released under EMI.
These days, Takahashi has taken a backseat in the world of pop music, and instead of fronting his own work, he can be found penning hits for a number of huge Japanese stars, including J-pop diva Koda Kumi and boy bands such as EXILE, SMAP and Arashi. Of course, he still works in film and anime music too, where he’s recently been responsible for music from the anime renditions of X-Men, Wolverine and Iron Man, as well as the animated outings of Resident Evil and Dragon Age. Takahashi is truly a one-man music-making machine.
Far, far in the future, or perhaps the distant past... 500 billion displaced humans long to return to the planet they still refer to as home. Captain Harlock is the one man standing between the corrupt Gaia Coalition and their quest for complete intergalactic rule. Seeking revenge against those who wronged both mankind and himself, the mysterious space pirate roams the universe in his battle cruiser, the Arcadia, defiantly attacking and pillaging enemy ships. Gaia Fleet leader Ezra sends his younger brother, Logan to infiltrate the Arcadia and assassinate Harlock. But Logan will soon discover that things are not always what they seem and that legends are born for a reason. Based on original characters and stories created by Leiji Matsumoto. Includes bonus DVD disc containing the original Japanese edit with English subtitles and over 40 minutes of extra content.
The life and legend of Leiji Matsumoto's anti-hero
The new Harlock's ship is positively monstrous, a skull-faced battering ram that smashes other spacecraft to flinders. The press notes suggest the darkening of Harlock is a reflection of the times, and of modern Japan.
Paul Jacques goes on the prowl at the London Super Comic Con
Cosplayer Kasey Wolfe goes for a beardy version of Gohan from Dragon Ball Z, caught by our roving photographer Paul Jacques at the London Super Comic Con. Dragon Ball Z is out now on UK DVD from Manga Entertainment.
When is it okay for a real-life disaster to become entertainment?
How soon is too soon? The question’s raised by the new Godzilla trailer, the first half of which seems to be all about recreating traumatic events as fantasy, just three years after they occurred. Specifically, the trailer opens with a disaster at a Japanese power station, before segueing into images of a giant wave sweeping into a town with devastating force. Both images seem less ripped than Xeroxed from the headlines of March 2011, when northern Honshu (Japan’s mainland) was struck by an earthquake which caused a tsunami, killing thousands, and the meltdown at Fukushima.
Mochi-tsuki (rice cake pounding) takes place during all kinds of Japanese celebrations such as Festivals and New Year. Yesterday I got to try it myself, and I have to say that there is nothing quite like the taste of fresh mochi.
Tom Smith finds another band with an unspellable name
Meet Ling tosite sigure. Their name may be confusing to pronounce (for anyone interested, it’s more like ‘rin tosh-teh shi-goo-reh’), but that didn’t holdback Japan’s music-loving community from rushing to their local CD-shops and grabbing a copy of the band’s latest album i’mperfect, out now also in the UK thanks to JPU Records.
One of the biggest, best and most jam-packed weekends of anime madness yet
“By focusing on 'Everything about Anime,' and 'offering more opportunities to experience animation,' we aim to create an event that can be enjoyed by people of all ages and that contributes to the future of animation.”