Examining Old School Anime: The Beatitude of Suffering in Captain Harlock

In thinking about a Christian theme to pick out from Space Pirate Captain Harlock, the image of Mayu standing determined before the crucifix in her school’s chapel continuously comes to mind.  Mayu is the orphaned daughter of Captain Harlock’s friend, whose final wish was for her to be raised on Earth.  Because of his promise. Captain Harlock refuses to let Mayu join him in his ship, the Arcadia, despite the many hardships she is forced to undergo.  In episode two, the villains demand that she write to Captain Harlock in order to draw him to Earth where he might be captured.  Mayu refuses and is forced to repeatedly clean the chapel from dawn through night of the same day in order to break her will.

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As I think of these circumstances, I cannot but recall a Christian’s plight during one’s lifetime.  We wish to be united with our Savior in heaven, but we are compelled to labor until the allotted time.  In these labors, our primary guides for action are the Ten Commandments and the Beatitudes.  In a way, all moral theology in Scripture may be said to be an elucidation of these commandments and counsels.  However, the fulfillment of these instructions can only be accomplished through much self-denial and suffering–the last and greatest Beatitude specifically requires suffering: “Blessed are those who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.”  St. Francis de Sales gives some salient reasons why this is the greatest Beatitude, but I have forgot why–it might be the very reason I am about to give: the eighth one contains all the rest.

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When we are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, we are poor in spirit through being unable to enjoy our possessions, because pain and suffering distract us from them.  We become meek through submitting to the will of God, who permits us to suffer for the sake of righteousness.  Suffering, barring some special grace, obviously produces sorrow.  Suffering for righteousness sake heightens our thirst for the same.  In bearing wrongs patiently, we practice mercy.  Our hearts become purified due to God being the sole object of our suffering (“…theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven”).  In our following the example of Him who suffered first for the redemption of the world, we become co-workers with God in bringing about the reconciliation of men with God: “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions,” (Colossians 1:24).  Though we may not have the physical image of the Crucifix to look at as we suffer like Mayu does, we indeed come closer to the image and likeness of Christ Crucified by patient endurance.

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As much as the world of Captain Harlock is filled with apathetic people, our own world is filled with apathy about religion.  In the same way, people seek everyday entertainments or are bogged down in the pursuit of necessities to the neglect of their spiritual welfare and the goods of Christ.  Christ says: “I have come to bring fire on the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!” (Luke 12:49)  We ought to pray that God sends us more souls like Mayu who place righteousness above comfort and pleasure.  Then, the world shall surely be set on fire!

At any rate, give Captain Harlock a shot.  It's a classic and is streaming on Crunchyroll.
At any rate, give Captain Harlock a shot. It’s a classic and is streaming on Crunchyroll.

8 thoughts on “Examining Old School Anime: The Beatitude of Suffering in Captain Harlock”

    1. Oddly enough I had forgotten that Mayu existed. Kiruta was my favorite character and I would argue that he was the true hero of Captain Harlock.

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        1. Whoops, didn’t realize you hadn’t finished it. But I’m biased because he’s basically a grittier version of Zenigata, a truly heroic character and an inspiration to me.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Often this series moves slowly and most of the suspense built up in the episode dies down by its conclusion. So, it’s rather hard to follow. However, I’m finding that I’m enjoying these old classics–too many new shows seem hackneyed.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. What a great reminder! I’m being reminded over and over again this year that suffering is essential to our faith (not that I’m particularly suffering, but this lesson is being impressed upon me through many ways).

    Wonderful post!

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    1. Thank you! Every Christian has their own particular Cross to bear—though, we fall far short of the sufferings endured by early Christian martyrs. I feel that, in modern times, the part of the Passion Christians most participate in is the Agony in the Garden–especially with the prevalence of people suffering from doubt, depression, and despair.

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