Long ago, my brother and I were watching a random cartoon on local television. In it we saw an appalling sequence: a man wanders an alien forest with trees like jellyfish. Suddenly ghoulish babies surround him, dendritic stalks sticking out of their distended heads. They seem about to attack, a sickly grin on each of their faces, their eyesockets empty like a skull.
A willowy girl arrives, an alien since her skin is colored oddly, and she says something to the man. She mocks him as he cowers in panic and confusion.
All of this is in Japanese with no subtitles. We had no idea what it was from. This is in the dark years of television, when even TV Guide couldn’t really tell you what you were watching on some channels, and I think this was on KTSF or conceivably channel 38, which also showed East Asian programming.
I searched for this sequence for years, wondering what it was. I knew it had to be in the Leijiverse, since the woman looked like the women in Star Blazers / Yamato, or Captain Harlock. In vain – Captain Harlock hasn’t really been collected very competently in subtitled or dubbed versions until very recently.
Well, at last I am happy to report that, after years of searching, I’ve finally found where it was from – it’s episode 18 of the original Captain Harlock (alternately Season 2 Ep 4), about 17 minutes in. The girl is Lady Patras, Mazone agent, and the babies are baby Mazone. She laughs at the traumatized man because she was posing as his daughter, and apparently her entire childhood was a ruse.
KIRBY: almost 30 years after that traumatic incident, we can finally begin closure
Captain Harlock spends a lot of time fighting the Mazone, who are each like a cross between a Amedeo Modigliani painting on acid and a fascist broccoli dominatrix. They are alien plant women. This plant woman is Mazone warrior No. 6789, space combat squad commander Patras (occasionally spelled “Patoras”), and she’s been posing as “Midori,” the daughter of Chief Engineer Maji.
ZACH: They’re like broccoli jellyfish trees
ZACH: With demon children
ZACH: Like, mini pinheads
BRAIN: so imagine seeing this randomly on local TV
BRAIN: with no subtitles
BRAIN: …when you are 8
ZACH: That’s either a recipe for greatness, or disaster