Wow - where do I start? The animation is flawless on this breath-taking reboot of a classic franchise. The re-animated characters are well realized and the concept, story line and pace are both accessible and gripping. That's it - I could just stop here because not much else to add that would be too radically different from the above, but what would be the fun in that, right?
Captain Harlock is an immortal space pirate, complete with a skull-and-crossbones bow on his dark-matter propelled ship called Arcadia. Much like their maritime ancestors, the pirate crew of the Arcadia engage in good old-fashioned plundering of mainly government ships with impunity, often appearing out of nowhere in a cloud of dark-matter from which the ship's skull-and-crossbones emerges to devastating effect. The visual effects are amazing.
Harlock is one mean fella on a mission to disrupt a corrupt government that has barred all humanity from returning to Earth. The animosity began when space colonists started trying to return to Earth following the collapse of the human space empire and the impending death of the species. However, 500 Billion colonists is rather much for a planet that struggles to hold even 7 Billion people today, so a cataclysmic 'Homecoming Battle' ensues which gives rise to a totalitarian regime called the Gaia Coalition who proclaim the Earth as a protected no fly zone apart from themselves.
The Arcadia, led by Captain Harlock embark on a mission to rewind the clock of time back to a period before the homecoming wars in order to destroy the evil coalition before it even comes into existence. This involves resetting the "Genesis Clock" by placing a hundred time-disrupting explosive devices at specific time junction nodes across the universe. With most devices already in place the crew stop off at a backwater planet to recruit more hands for the last part of the mission - to plant the last device on Earth itself!
Harlock's crew include lieutenant Kei, a wraith like alien called Miime, and loudmouth named Yullian, They are soon joined by a plucky new recruit named Logan who unknown to them is a spy and brother to Admiral Ezra of the Gaia Coalition. His mission, to stop the Arcadia from reaching Earth by any means necessary.
However, with the aid of flashbacks, we come to understand that Logan is a victim of his rather mean spirited and jealous brother who emotionally blackmailed him into this suicide mission, fueled by sibling rivalry and a common tragic love interest. The plot soon starts to unravel as Logan gradually uncovers the origin and history of the Arcadia which forces him to question his own loyalties. Suffice it to say Logan's conflict plays a pivotal role in the outcome of the mission for both sides. Great story with a gratifying reveal at the very end.
Now back to what I was gushing, er saying at the start, this for me has to be the gold standard for anime and / or any sci-fi animation. It has all the ingredients: a great story, well established characters, amazing graphics and visual effects plus one heck of an iconic ship. Did I mention the flawless animation? As you can probably tell, I can't recommend this strongly enough to any fan of sci-fi, anime, space operas etc. Go ahead, watch it first and you can thank me later.