Yes, it`s CGI made, but name one movie in the genre that isn`t 70% computer animated anyways...
The movie, produced by Toei, is the biggest CGI effort so far to come out of the land of the rising sun, with a production budget of 30 million. Harlock, or as we europeans of the Club Dorothee generation know him by Albator, is a space pirate... but one with a mission and a dark secret.
Humanity has expanded across the universe, but as they don`t really find something as good as what they left behind centuries ago, they are starting to return, sparking the Homecoming War. Earth was designated a sanctuary which no-one was allowed to enter anymore.
As the Arcadia lands at a colony, new recruits are tested and if needed, `planked`, and Logan is the only one that can answer the question `Why do we sail?` The answer is Freedom btw. But there seems to be an odd thing going on with him, as a patrol ship emerges and confirms that the operative is aboard.
Ezra, Logan`s wheelchair bound older brother and Perfectus of the Legion from the Gaia Coalition, is the man behind infiltrating Logan into the Arcadia crew, as the Coalition knows Harlock is up to something, but not exactly to what, and they want to take him down before he breaks their power. Logan learns about the Dark Matter engine, the huge central computer and the alien controlling the power supply of the vessel, Mimii, the last of her race.
As Logan goes around spying on the ship, it`s revealed Harlock knows all along that he is an agent, but never the less let`s him be. Together with bosun Kei, Logan goes on a mission to blow up a planet, and Kei reveals to him Harlock`s plan to reset the Genesis Clock, a chain of 100 planets that could that way alter time, and rewrite it all as mankind has royally screwed up the way they went into the galaxy. Logan sets the detonator as his dropship falls down a chasm, but Harlock himself goes down to save him. We learn Logan was in love with his brother`s wife Nami, and how the accident happened that left her in a life support tube and his brother in a wheelchair. He goes on to threaten Harlock, but he speaks these fantastic words, leaving Logan to reflect on himself.
"Find your own truth... and when you do, freedom will mean something"
As they tow the stricken Orpheus and it`s captured crew along, they get to see Earth for the first time... and then the holograms are scrambled revealing the true, Dark Matter infested state of Earth. This is Harlock`s secret.
During the Homecoming War, he commanded a modern, dark matter driven ship to prevent anyone from entering, but couldn`t take it as high ranked officials did keep going there, while prohibiting the rest of mankind. He turned on them, then crashed his vessel in the planet so the unleashed Dark Matter would create a layer that no-one could penetrate, making it a true sanctuary.
However, the dark matter and Earth reacted different to his fate, binding him, Mimii and his engineer into the Arcadia, forever linking them together and transforming it in the mighty `ghost ship` he now commands, and what made him immortal.
Upon this revelation, Logan sets loose the Orpheus and they take over the ship, Harlock and his crew sentenced to death as the vessel will be destroyed.
Ezra kills Nami for her betrayel though, and upon hearing this Logan travels to Earth and finds... a flower. Earth is healing herself and life is starting to grow again... the truth finally revealed before him.
He frees the captain and the crew, and as Mimii reappears, the dark matter engine springs back to life right at the moment the decommissioning was about to start. The crew revives, bound to the vessel now as well, and the Arcadia breaks her moorings and sails again. They set sail for Earth, the Coalition in pursuit, to destroy the holocasters and while Logan broadcasts about life he found there, the true face of Earth is revealed to the whole galaxy. In desperation, the Coalition, fearful of it`s power being broken, fires the planet scattering Jovian Accelerator, blasting a piece of the moon but the Arcadia intercepts the shot and crashes on Earth...
Logan becomes the new steering man of the Arcadia under the gaze of Harlock, and as the whole ship now powers to it`s maximum as the captain has been redeemed, it blasts of into the sky and towards new adventures and guided souls!
The movie has great CGI, it has a strong politics and intrigue arc, epic spacebattles and for me a lot of nostalgia... so what is NOT to like. Harlock has more flair then Jack Sparrow, and the Arcadia makes the Flying Dutchman look like a cruise ship, "breathing" black fog where it shrouds itself in.
If you ever saw the anime, you MUST watch this movie. If you didn`t... also!
Oh, and the ships look fully brickable, though the Arcadia might be a challenge with her organic lines, I think I`ll give the Gaia fighter at least a go ;-)