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Arcadia of My Youth
subtitled by Animeigo

Featuring actual original Matsumoto art instead of some crappy cover picture drawn by baboons with grease pencils, this is probably your best bet for viewing a Harlock film unsullied.

At last, something that doesn't suck enormous wads of stinky cheese that Europeans call delicacies but secretly hate anyway. After the most recent entry into the "let's unspeakably violate Captain Harlock" hall of fame, anything would be a step up, but the year 1992 saw a real light at the end of a real tunnel, which was a real freight train that ran over me and killed me, which was too bad because it was carrying all these cool Arcadia videos I would've liked and can now only watch by spying through the windows of the still-living. This translation of the Arcadia feature film is, in fact, actually a translation, which gives it major points over most previous efforts. Plus, being subtitled, it doesn't subject us to any more ear-rending english voices the likes of which have caused us to wake up vomiting out our kidneys in days past. This is genuinely decent. Take a moment to appreciate it. I can take longer, because I'm dead.

In light of what has passed (and I use the word in the most kidney stone-esque sense) before, it almost seems trifling to pick nits here, but in the interest of honesty and completeness, I'm going to pick them anyway, and get it over with. First, I'll just say that the english name for the film as it appears on countless posters, books, and other paraphrenalia in Japan is "My Youth in Arcadia," not "Arcadia of My Youth," but frankly the title as translated by Animeigo is more literally correct as a translation, so despite my own preference, I'll let it pass without further whining. I'm not the biggest fan of left-justified subtitles, since speed-reading works by reading down the middle, not reading left-to-right as one would normally do. The actual translation is quite excellent, though the specific choice of phrasing can occasionally leave much to be desired; Emeraldas greeting the wounded Harlock with "Long time no see," is somewhat absurd in its flippancy, and the fact that this phrase is used once again as the old Tokargan soldier is greeted by the few surviving members of Tokargan resistance makes one wish for some more dramatically appropriate transliterations. There's one slight error in translation in the WWII flashback sequence, where Tochiro's reference to "Ragnarok" should actually be "Götterdammerüng." The term "Ragnarok" literally means "destruction of powers" ("gods" being the implication,) but the phrase spoken by Tochiro, "kamigami no tasogare" means "twilight of the gods," as does Götterdammerüng, a Germanic corruption of Ragnarok. But frankly the only real disappointment here is in the picture quality, which is somewhat grainy, particularly in the dark scenes (read as "nine-tenths of the movie.") My LD copies of Endless Road SSX, which contains some of the same footage, look far sharper, and they were made with normal, consumer-grade equipment.
The Arcadia DVD, now out of print and the victim of hideous price gouging.
For once, however, the upside is far heavier than the downside. The script comes across quite clearly for once, and my quibbles about the left-justification aside, the subtitles themselves are sharp and easy to read, though there are extended bits where a particular character's subtitles all appear in green for an entire conversation, which is somewhat confusing in intent, if nothing else. And it's nice to see the entire script appear, instead of the simplified, dumbed-down ones that often accompany licensed translations, presumably because the companies feel that their target audience reads on a fourth-grade level, which sadly enough is probably true.

If you're looking to experience some Captain Harlock in the best way possible, and don't have a decade to spend learning that pain-in-the-ass language those crazy foreigners speak, this is your best bet. The subsequently released DVD version, for the record, has a much-improved picture compared to the original VHS release, and while it's predictably short on bonus features, it does include the two original trailers and a section on "unusual facts," though one of them is flat-out wrong. The "Owen-Stanley Witch" segments of the film are based upon an issue of The Cockpit featuring Harlock and Tochiro, and not Harlock and Daiba, who decidedly does not appear in this film at all. The audio is also a bit tinny and hollow, but this was a 1982 film; it's likely that the sound wasn't all that crystal to begin with. Just ignore this stuff, and you should have a good old time. As if the living have any real problems compared to me.

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