Back in the 1970s my brother and I used to get up early every weekday morning (in the summer time!) to catch a cartoon show called Starblazers. This was long before the term “anime” was a thing. To be honest, we didn’t even know the show was from Japan and probably wouldn’t have cared if we did. To us, it was just a great space adventure with lots of action and an exciting story line.
Years go by…
It seems I’m not the only one who remembers that old show. Like all the campy classics of sci-fi (I’m talking to you Lost In Space) it has a dedicated fan following that has kept it alive over the years. Alive and thriving perhaps, because it now has a live action movie in it’s name.
In this story, the Earth is being bombarded into an uninhabitable ball of rock by the evil alien Gamilons. But there is hope! A strange message arrives from the distant planet of Iscandar promising a gift called “cosmic DNA” that will restore Earth to life, all humanity has to do is go and get it. With resources stretched to their limits, the people of Earth use an ancient battle ship’s hulk to construct a starship capable of reaching Iscandar before it’s too late. The ship to be resurrected? The Yamato!It dosen’t take a great historian to see where the originators of this space opera got their ideas.
Made in Japan, at a time when survivors of the American bombardment were still around, the inspiration is obvious. The Yamato was perhaps the greatest battleship ever built. The Imperial Japanese Ship boated the largest ship cannon in history (19″ muzzle width compared to the American battleship’s 16″…size does matter). In the American version of the show the ship is called “the Argo” which, perhaps, compares cosmic DNA to the Golden Flees.
Recently I’ve discovered there is now a live action movie of Starblazers. It’s unapologeticly Japanese. Witch is fine by me as America saves the world in every other film, I figure it’s about time some other country got a turn. Themes of courage and self sacrifice run through both the cartoon, and the live action film, as our heroes take a very samurai attitude to serving in a space navy.
To be frank, they over do it at many points and the show can get a bit hokey. That being said, Starblazers is still a great space opera with a lot of well done characters and daring do. Proudly, I will admit that the show is part of the science fiction pantheon that I refer to as “my influences.” If you have an hour or so to kill and a bowl of popcorn, I recommend you click on the link above and enjoy.