The Week in Review – “Cagliostro,” “la Maison Petit en Cubes,” and “Captain Harlock”

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This week features one old thing and two new things.

La Maison Petit en Cubes is a classic favorite of mine. Well, actually, I should say that the first half of the short film is a classic favorite of mine. I do adore the entire short, but I never tire of watching, and listening to, the first five or so minutes. The music and mood are handled perfectly. I also adore the execution of the story: man recollects his past. By having the old man travel to his older homes, he remembers his past experiences in them. An interesting and creative way to execute that.

After watching this many moons ago, I proceeded to watch The Diary of Tortov Roddle. Some of them were good, some of them were forgettable; however, after seeing these two works, I have become of the opinion that the director–Kunio Kato–is one talented man. He may not be the most groundbreaking thing that has happened to anime, but I will definitely be looking out for more of his works. He, unfortunately, has not produced anything, to my knowledge, since 2008. I had seen this one before, so let us move onto the new stuff.

Shortly, I would like to talk about finally watching one of Hayao Miyazaki’s best films–his first, actually–Lupin the Third: Castle of Cagliostro. This film, in short, is one of the most charming films I have seen. It reminds me of why I like older Miyazaki: it feels so inspired and so original. It is an adventure story that is fun to watch and filled with lovely characters.

Being a resident on the island of O’ahu, I have the opportunity to attend the Hawai’i International Film Festival. This year would be my second year; last year, I saw the Wolf Children Ame and Yuki. This year, I saw Captain Harlock. I also have the opportunity to see The Wind Rises from Studio Ghibli and Rebuild of Evangelion 3.33: You Can (Not) Redo from Studio Khara.

Interestingly, Hideki Anno of Studio Khara worked with Hayao Miyazaki in the past; Hideki Anno is also the lead voice actor for The Wind Rises. Now, both of their films are at this film festival. Unfortunately, I will not be watching either of those films. I am not interested in The Wind Rises and I have already seen Evangelion 3.33. I am not really a fan of modern Ghibli–or rather, modern Miyazaki.

As for Captain Harlock, I must say that I was incredibly hyped for it–perhaps too hyped. I left the theater appreciating the film, but not as much as I thought I would. Visually, the film does not disappoint–this has to be the best CGI movie I have ever seen, ever, from any country. It is consistently impressive, and I was also impressed by the music, sound effects, and art direction.

The premise of the film is quite clever; further, there are a lot of interesting takes on classic sci-fi technology. Indeed, I think the producers of this film were quite creative with the sci-fi concepts, although that creativity takes a nosedive towards the end. However, once I went beyond the surface, I found this movie lacking in certain areas.

First, we have Captain Harlock himself. The movie is about him, and he is in the movie; and that’s it. Despite being the supposed main character, he is not the main character. Could this be ignorance of my part, as I did not watch the original series? Perhaps. However, I will contend that this movie lacked a sufficient attention to Captain Harlock. Let me explain.

In this film, there are actually three stories going on–two primary, and one in the background that is mentioned every so often. The first, and what seemed to be the most significant, involved the actual main character, his brother, and his brother’s wife. That seemed to be more important than Captain Harlock. Captain Harlock, then, is second in importance. Third, we have the premise, which is in itself a story that the characters are acting within, but is not made important. In fact, this third story is reduced in importance–and almost replaced–by Harlock’s story. This third story is actually the driving force for all of the characters, until it is superseded by Harlock’s story, which is sometimes superseded by the main character’s story. What is going on in this movie?

Second, I was happy with the movie and everything going on until the very end. The ending stinks; in fact, it is not an ending. I have no idea what made them do it, but in this ending the writers forgot about everything that happened. This forgetfulness happened a bit much too; for example, a gigantic superweapon powered by a neutron star is used and then forgotten for the rest of the movie. They made such a big deal about using this thing and then they forget about it? Did they just leave it in space? What happened to it? If only the leader of the entire galaxy can approve of its usage, then should not they be more concerned about it? In fact, there is another superweapon that they could have used to finish off Harlock, but they seemed to have forgotten about that one, too! They even fired it a couple of times! I digress.

All in all, I enjoyed Captain Harlock. I will say that your enjoyment will not be on the same level as mine, because I had the opportunity of watching it on the silver screen; the visuals are the best part.

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