Space Pirate Captain Harlock HC
Publisher: ABLAZE
Release Date: March, 2022
Price: $24.99
Creator(s): Leiji Matsumoto (writer); Jerome Alquie (artist)
Format: 168 pgs., Full-Color, 6.75" x 10.25", Hardcover
ISBN: 978-1-9509-1254-4
Age Rating: Young Adult
ICv2 Rating: 3.5 Stars out of 5

This book is beautiful and confusing, in a number of ways. More like an extension of the classic anime series than a traditional manga volume, this one was illustrated in color by French artist Jerome Alquie (see "Exclusive: Ablaze to Publish New ‘Captain Harlock’ Saga"). It’s a visually rich translation from the anime and has some absolutely stunning art, converting the old images from a movie screen onto paper.

That said, some of the artwork is distracting because anime character art that was traditional in the 1970s isn’t as common now. With main characters, both good and evil, who are drawn semi-realistically, having the sidekicks be sort of "chibi" style, short and weirdly cartoony, may jar some modern readers out of the story.

Also, the basic plot and setting are very "old school," in that things don’t always make perfect sense, but you just have to go with them. Captain Harlock’s personal handgun, for example, does whatever the plot requires it to be able to do in the old anime, and there’s a bit of that here as well.

Leiji Matsumoto, who also wrote Starzinger and directed Space Battleship Yamato, is a legend in the manga and anime world, with a career that began in the late 1960s. The story for this volume is a new one, but it fits into the world of the original Captain Harlock stories, which is one of interstellar warfare and "space pirates" like Harlock, who have become independent freedom fighters in a complex situation.

While not a standard manga volume, this belongs in the hands of readers who want more of the classic stylings, and the color adds a new dimension. It’s a shame that the very old character designs may weaken its appeal for new readers.

--Nick Smith: Library Technician, Community Services, for the Pasadena Public Library in California.

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