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The Mike Toole Show - A Leijiverse of Possibilities

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Joined: 22 Sep 2007
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Location: LaSalle, Quebec, Canada
PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:30 pm Reply with quote
Regarding the topic, I used to think of Matsumoto's manga and stories stories as if they were building a multiverse (like how there's the DC Multiverse and Marvel Multiverse), given that there are various contradicting versions of the history of Harlock & Co. The connection between the stories may often sem confusing at times, but I respect the master's sense of creativity nevertheless.

As for Harlock, I have no preference between old and new. And oh yes, Matsumoto himself created and illustrated some of the sexiest and cutest women anime and manga have ever featured over the decades (I even have a crush on a number of them). In opinion, this mangaka shouldn't do a second girl character design standard unless it's for manga and anime not related to anything Leijiverse.

Regarding Dai Yamato Zero-Go, I was wondering if the Great Galaxy manga stories were a reboot of early Great Yamato manga stories, given the changes made after Nishizaki won the legal battles over Space Battleship Yamato. But if not mistaken, Nishizaki, according to webmaster Tim Eldred, won the lawsuit before the Dai Yamato Zero-Go OVA launched, which makes me wonder if the ship was always called "Great Galaxy" as opposed to "Great Yamato" or "Dai Yamato" within the OVA miniseries itself while the same anime used the "Yamato" word only in its title.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:32 pm Reply with quote
To answer the question in the prolog you should just kick out everyone that stupidly causes a potential fire hazard by talking away their badges or rethink how old someone needs to be that they need an adult with them.

As Meh as Cosmo Warrior Zero is the episodes on Heavy Meldar are the funniest. I love that giant mutant cow.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:42 pm Reply with quote
My first exposure to Matsumoto's work was when a Brazillian network aired Arcadia of My Youth as a 5-part mini series. It made a huge impression on me, and it made me go after every single Harlock anime ever made. I was a bit disappointed to find out that each Harlock project is set in its own continuity (except for Endless Orbit SSX, which is a direct sequel to Arcadia of My Youth) instead of forming a single ongoing saga, but each of them is enjoyable in its own way.

The original TV series was much sillier than I expected, but it's good fun, with a gorgeous Seiji Yokoyama soundtrack. I just find it funny that no one accuses it of being misogynistic. I mean, the whole thing can be construed as a story about freedom-loving men fighting against the tyranny of women, represented by the Mazone. Harlock even berates the Mazone Queen at some point, saying that "a woman's ambition is different than a man's ambition". Of course, it's pretty tame compared to Gun Frontier, where Sinunora is sexually molested in almost every chapter.

Arcadia of My Youth remains my favorite iteration of the franchise. Many people say it's dull, but I love its serious, somber tone, and the animation still looks great. Obviously, the Endless Orbit SSX TV series couldn't replicate that theatrical quality, but it's pretty close in tone, and I'm looking forward to watching the last 5 episodes subbed.

As for Harlock Saga, I was very intrigued by the idea of adapting The Ring of the Nibelung as a space opera, but I was surprised to see Matsumoto include literal Norse gods in it instead of creating alien analogues. It was OK, but the non-ending really irked me. Did the manga end like that, too?

Finally, Endless Odyssey was excellent. Great scripts by Sadayuki Murai, beautiful Nobuteru Yuuki character designs and Rin Taro back at the helm after decades. I just wish they didn't reintroduce Tadashi Daiba all over again, because otherwise it could have been a sequel to the TV series.

I hope S'more doesn't screw up the Galaxy Express 999 boxsets, because I always wanted to watch that show, and the legal streams aren't available in my country.

Last edited by Zhou-BR on Thu Jul 16, 2015 9:15 pm; edited 2 times in total
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Joined: 28 Dec 2009
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 2:54 pm Reply with quote
I have a bit of a gripe with Leiji Matsumoto and it's Gun Frontier.

I've been reading the manga and it's really insane with how it handles women. Every chapter a woman is either raped, murdered or rape-murdered. It's fun reading Harlock and Tochiro wonder around the west looking for the lost tribe of Japanese Native Americans but all the rape gets annoying. Especially when in the manga it's treated like something women should just expect men to do or that it's something that should be funny. Not even Go Nagai treats rape like that.

Oh well just my little hang up, I like most of the other works he's done. Anyway thanks for the column I enjoy reading it.
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Joined: 12 May 2012
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:00 pm Reply with quote
Just wanted to say that Captain Harlock and the Queen of a Thousand Years (yes, that) was my first 'real' introduction to anime -- I remember being so shaken up by a scene where Harlock tries to rescue Mayu, only to find that he had been tricked and that Mayu was a doll.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:21 pm Reply with quote
I love Leiji Matsumoto to pieces.

I mean, he can totally only draw three character designs, but they're three PRETTY character designs, so I don't fault him a bit. Those scenes where someone will look at Yuki Mori and say "Golly, she looks JUST like Queen Starsha!" or where Tetsuro will look at Maetel and say "She looks JUST like my mom!" always crack me up, because it's hard to see the resemblance when every Matsumoto lady looks exactly the same.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:37 pm Reply with quote
Outside of his Yamato work (which I love), I have had little exposure to Matsumoto. Sure, I saw Interestella 5555 and a bit of Harlock material here and there (but never completed anything), Queen Emeraldas (the episodes available over here), and the Galaxy Express movies, but that was a long time ago. The guy practically has a "star system" like Tezuka.

That Queen AMV was pretty neat, too.
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Joined: 02 Oct 2010
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:43 pm Reply with quote
I just finished the Space Pirate Captain Harlock last week. I loved it, and although it is pretty misogynistic, I write that off as a product of its times. I plan to watch all of the 'Leijiverse' over the next few years, but given there is no clear continuity, I find difficult to decide which order to watch stuff (the Relation Graph just makes me even more confused). Oh well, I'll just do what I do for everything else life, muddle my way through it.

...guys that look like potatoes...

You know, I spent the longest time trying to figure out why all the side characters in Harlock were short and misshapen. Endemic malnourishment? Was it symbolic of the earth's decline and corruption? Or of mankind's fallen morality? No, no, the dude just likes to draw potato-men.
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Joined: 21 Jun 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 3:58 pm Reply with quote
But what's your take on the Leiji-verse?

Although he does recycle them, I like Matsumoto's character designs. As for his stories...I've basically watched or tried to watch all of his legit American releases and have yet to find one that holds my interest. The ones that I finished felt like a chore, but I held on because I was waiting to "get it". I never did.

I like a wide variety of stories from different genres, eras, and artists, but I just can't get into the Matsumoto world and its stories. It's a shame because I know a lot of people out there think it's spiffy and I feel like I'm missing out on something special.

That said, I enjoyed your article. Thanks!
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 4:30 pm Reply with quote
When presented with these inconsistencies, Matsumoto himself will smile, and insist that no, all of the events in his manga and anime happened, and they're all part of the same timeline.

I never got to finish GE999 before the Matsumoto Otaku USA fan interview. But after I did, one thing bugged me which is surprisingly ignored by fans, considering it's so obviously paradoxical. Tetsuro is told that he can't interact with his past version of himself, and yet his successor does that very thing with him. If only I'd have finished the show sooner, I definitely would've broached that subject with him.

The “Herlock” spelling is a funny little point of contention; apparently, that was supposed to be the official spelling from the beginning, but it never caught on.

Someone told me they've seen the name Herlock on prior Japanese manga.

The Cockpit and DNA Sights 999.9 fared poorly enough that Urban Vision never released them on DVD,

Let's be honest. That's not the only reason Cockpit is not available in R1.

Also surprised you didn't mention the obvious parody of GE999 in the Excel Saga anime.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 5:25 pm Reply with quote
Dates for Harlock TV and GE999 movie 1 are each off by a year.

Danguard is kind of important, if only because Gunbuster drew a ton of inspiration from it in theme and robot size. Maybe not worth the watch itself just for that, but good to know where Anno was building/borrowing/stealing from.

I love the Leijiverse, even if it has gotten tiresome as of the late. I think the only entries I've enjoyed since the early 80s were Rintaro's Harlock OVA and Interstella which barely counts. The rest were hokey, low budget, and full of more childish antics than the works two decades prior. I've yet to see Gun Frontier or Galaxy Railways, but I doubt they add much to the mythos of the 'verse. I suppose there's some Yamato stuff as well, but I consider everything in that franchise after Farewell Yamato to be fanfiction.

I'm currently watching what little has been subbed by LE for the Queen Millennia TV series, but I've rewatched the film recently and it has some goddamn breathtaking visuals when the planet is crumbling and the arc is taking flight. That film needs a BluRay as dearly as Arcadia of My Youth, and a good sound restoration: gotta hear that Dara Sedaka tune in 5.1. I can't believe I actually shed a tear during that final shot of Yukino, truly tragic. My only wish was that they had made Hajime less of a potato person and more like the small human they did for Tetsurou in the GE999 films. Of course we know there's no true continuity between Leijiverse entries, but this La Andromeda Promethium II just can't be the same inhuman monstrosity that becomes the protagonist in the Maetel stories, that's just too sad, but Space Symphony Maetel seems to suggest it is when they included Larela.

Speaking of continuity problems, I love what happens to the Arcadia. First it's blue, then it's redesigned and green and we're supposed to believe it's still the same ship. But then in Space Symphony Maetel it's called Deathshadow using the original design, now green. And in Endless Odyssey he has the second Arcadia but refers to previous adventures onboard the blue ship. How nothing adds up or fits into nice little pieces can drive you mad, each show truly is in its own universe. Except for one thing, you didn't mention that Endless Orbit SSX is a direct sequel of the film. Of course, that show is still being subbed currently, slowly, and it's about the same as the 78 series, just many many more children and a different set of villains.

spoiler[Endless Odyssey ends, and it's goddamn amazing. It has easily the most badass scene Harlock's ever had, and probably the most ball-having and stoic scenes in all of anime. Glad I own the series, it's definitely worth the bargain bin price from Rightstuf.] On the topic of buying, the GE999 films on BluRay might look okay, but I really wish they hadn't DNR'd the hell out of it. I can't even understand why, when other old anime BluRays get decent restorations. Shame about the Cockpit, Slipstream by itself is worth the buy; that flight animation holds up against Area 88.

Personally I dig all of the reused Leiji woman design, it's timeless and classic and has unending uses and iterations. All he needs to do is change up the hair a little, maybe make it black or brown like Selen. I dig his whole mythos and wish some works had than more tenuous grasps that connect each of them together. And Ozma could have used a scene where the Arcadia flies down, blasts the mechanical worm with Harlock giving a thumbs up before departing again. That would have saved the characters and really bad end.

Melanchthon wrote:
I plan to watch all of the 'Leijiverse' over the next few years, but given there is no clear continuity, I find difficult to decide which order to watch stuff (the Relation Graph just makes me even more confused). Oh well, I'll just do what I do for everything else life, muddle my way through it.

...guys that look like potatoes...

You know, I spent the longest time trying to figure out why all the side characters in Harlock were short and misshapen. Endemic malnourishment? Was it symbolic of the earth's decline and corruption? Or of mankind's fallen morality? No, no, the dude just likes to draw potato-men.

The easiest way to watch is probably just going in release order. As for potato men, I see it as side characters literally less important and smaller than the main cast, thus smaller people. Children characters like Hajima and Tetsurou can be explained by them being kids.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 6:07 pm Reply with quote
Nice to see Matsumoto getting more attention. He is definitely among my top favorite creators of all time, and I really wish he were more active (Ozma was great IMO, but only 6 episodes Sad ). And yes, Emeraldas.... after watching the DVD ages ago I knew it wasn't finished and upon looking up some info I learned it was only the first half. It took a little while for the fansubs of the 2nd half to come out, but now I'm wondering if that was for the best...

What probably made the biggest impression on me, however, was the total lack of shout memes.

The cons we have in Colorado luckily don't have it nearly as bad as the east coast (we have plenty of shout memes, but not nearly as big of a percentage of annoying morons.... err, I mean "people", that shout em). Going to AX last year was an eye-opening experience in that regard, they don't put up with ANY of that crap there. I was standing behind this girl that shouted "I LOST THE GAME" in the middle of a huge crowd, and instead of anyone responding, EVERYONE in the whole crowd sighed and/or groaned in unison! It was such a touching moment it brought a tear to my eye.
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 9:41 pm Reply with quote
At the risk of being "that guy," I need to straighten out some of the details about Matsumoto's claim of ownership over Space Battleship Yamato. It actually started in 1998 and was all played out by the mid 00's. Nishizaki went off to prison for getting on the wrong side of some contraband, and Matsumoto stepped up to claim Yamato as his own. Lots of copyright scrubbing happened, Bandai got totally on board, and a renaissance of new products came rolling out, most significantly the Playstation games that refreshed the franchise.

Leiji made a lot of noise during this time about folding Yamato back into his universe, and his first major step was the Great Yamato manga in 2000. But when he unilaterally announced he was going to make an anime version, a bigger player stepped in - Tohoku Shinsha. As the owner of the Yamato anime rights, they weren't willing to play ball. So in 2003 Matsumoto retooled Great Yamato into Dai Yamato, got some funding together by premiering it as a pachinko game, then started up the horrendous 5-episode Dai Yamato Zero-Go OVA series, which had such a curse hanging over it that it bankrupted two companies before it could be completed.

During this time, the lawsuit played out in which Nishizaki was legally declared the creator of the franchise with Matsumoto as a contributor. Nishizaki was awarded sole rights to continue the saga, and that's exactly what he did. Matsumoto was awarded some visual rights, but none of the names. Therefore, he's been playing a game of "how cute am I" in recent few years by putting out products that look a LOT like things he designed for Yamato, but he launders them with a different name.

The biggest thing he's announced is an anime series called Cosmo Super Dreadnaught Mahoroba, named for a ship that looks like an "evil" Yamato. It appears to pull a lot of his standard tropes together, even moreso than before. He's roped in many of his old working partners to make it, which has created a rift among the ranks of Yamato veterans. Those who have sided with Leiji are now persona non grata at Yamato HQ.

It's all very unfortunate, but Leiji was the instigator of it. Now he's left with no option but to scrape around the edges. It shouldn't have worked out this way, but it did.

Incidentally, if the nod toward a detailed account of Yamato's development was meant to link to, it doesn't. However, if you go there and look on the home page for the quicklink titled "Yamato Origins" you can read the whole story. (Yes, I researched and wrote it. Really enjoyed it, too.)
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 03, 2012 10:46 pm Reply with quote
I'll admit that Nishizaki came up with the concept for Yamato, but to legally declare him the sole creator is pure bs. Matsumoto is clearly the sci-fi visionary of the pair, as anyone who sat through Nishizaki's later failed endeavors can attest. So IMO, they should be considered co-creators. But apparently, the definition of ownership is even more fuzzy in Japan than it is in the U.S., when you also factor in the Macross and Candy Candy disputes.
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PostPosted: Mon Jun 04, 2012 1:44 am Reply with quote
Sorry Mike but I can't agree with you on the "second boom in the 90s" thing. Although Leiji Matsumoto kept pumping out new anime during the 90s and the 2000s none of them made it big and most are forgetable at best. Saying that Interstella 5555 is Leiji's most successful "second boom" title is a sad testimony to his inability to create another hallmark anime.

There's also another thing I'd like to point out - I believe that the main reason Leiji Matsumoto never made it big outside Japan was because his series don't stand the test of time. Leiji's series have a tendency to look really bad a few years along the road. The original Captain Harlock series looks terrible today. The two Galaxy Express 999 movies, while still looking good, are paced so slowly today's anime audience will find it hard to appreciate them. It's sad but true.
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