"With a suave personality and demeanor similar to James Bond and Lupin the Third, Cobra gets into these predicaments, only to naturally save himself by fighting and outsmarting aliens, pirates and a whole slew of other villains and monsters."
In the late 70’s and early 80’s, during the advent of adult animation when animated features were joining the growing list of adult-oriented “cartoons”, Space Adventure Cobra began a 31-episode run from 1982 to 1983 on Fuji Television in Japan. Directed by the late Osamu Dezaki, Space Cobra follows the adventures of the space pirate, Cobra; the hyper-athletic, liquor loving, charming rouge with no distinct allegiance to anything other than leisure and angering the Space Pirate Guild.
Making it’s north American debut, Nozomi Entertainment has published a two-part DVD collection of the original Space Adventure Cobra series based on one of Weekly Shonen Jump’s highest-selling Manga series. (Read our review of Space Adventure Cobra Part One here). Never not snarky and super-confident, Cobra often finds himself getting into trouble mouthing off and being sarcastic. With a suave personality and demeanor similar to James Bond and Lupin the Third, Cobra gets into these predicaments, only to naturally save himself by fighting and outsmarting aliens, pirates and a whole slew of other villains and monsters.
Accompanied by his female-android companion and co-pilot, Lady Armaroid, and his arm-welded super-weapon, PsychoGun, the duo travel from adventure to adventure in their ship The Tortuga, most often disrupting plans and schemes of the Space Pirate Guild or helping characters they meet throughout the galaxy.
"Exuding the sexuality and psychedelic aesthetic of the late 70’s, Dezaki stays true to original creator, Buichi Terasawa’s vision of an adventure filled, sci-fi satire with colorful and mesmerizing animation that’s aged very well."
The never-ending list of humanoid, alien and android friends and foes bare much resemblance to other sci-fi films of the era, such as characters in Barbarella and Heavy Metal. Space Cobra is never lacking in voluptuous women wearing revealing metallic and leather outfits or unique alien species in any episode. Femme fatales are abound throughout the series as well, creating a balance between seductive sirens and eye candy for Cobra’s (and viewers) voyeuristic tendencies. There are tons of alien creatures as well, adding to the dimension of fantasy and pseudo-universality, with many alien designs based off of various animals or bearing humanoid features with a few discrepancies such as extra eyes or elven ears.
Exuding the sexuality and psychedelic aesthetic of the late 70’s, Dezaki stays true to original creator, Buichi Terasawa’s vision of an adventure filled, sci-fi satire with colorful and mesmerizing animation that’s aged very well. Throughout part two of the DVD collection, there’s tons of unrelenting action sequences that are truly impressive to this day, accentuating the super-humanoid feats of Cobra, his friends and his foes. There are some awesome shoot-outs, fight sequences and chase scenes that shouldn’t be missed.
"I would recommend Space Cobra to nearly anyone who says they’re a fan of either anime or animation."
The show and its animation style is a true gem for its time period, clearly having influenced other contemporary mega-popular space opera animes such as Cowboy Bebop, and even this year’s Space Dandy. With an episodic, spaghetti western formula that makes it easy for viewers to jump in and enjoy a few episodes without following an over-arching plot, Space Cobra - much like Cowboy Bebop - is accessible even for casual fans of anime, with its sense of humor, high-action and wonderful animation.
One of the most admirable traits of Japanese animation and the sci-fi adventure genre are its universal appeal to viewers anywhere in the world. With so much inspiration drawn from international film, animation and culture of the time, Space Cobra is an anime to be revered for helping open up Japanese animation to an international audience in the 80’s. The release of Space Cobra also adds value to the collection of notable anime that’s physically available in north America. I would recommend Space Cobra to nearly anyone who says they’re a fan of either anime or animation. I’d only suggest part two of the DVD collection for serious collectors, however. With a price tag of $37.49 per set, it’s hard to justify purchasing only half of a 31-episode series when it comes with no additional features other than a few trailers. But, if you already bought part one, do yourself a favor and complete the collection.
Review by: Chris Suarez | Review Format: DVD | Running Time: 400 Minutes