film & game reviews, the retro way.
(US - Dan Woren)
(US - J.C. Henning)
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(US - Catherine Battistone)
Based on the Japanese manga, Space Adventure Cobra is an animated feature from 1982 following the exploits of Cobra, a blond, cigar-smoking Han Solo type with a "Psycho-Gun" embedded into his arm who goes around fighting evil space Guilds and such.
Space Adventure Cobra is a surreal action flick that could be described as kind of a cross between some cheesy 70's cop show, Zardoz, Flash Gordon, Barbarella, Space Pirate Captain Harlock and Star Wars. The character of Cobra was inspired by French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo, who was mostly famous in the 1970's for over-the-top French action thrillers. Cobra's partner is a mouthless robot gal called Lady Armaroid. She's usually in charge of piloting the ship and secretly lusts after Cobra, when she's not delivering exposition. There's an obvious charm to Space Adventure Cobra: it's corny as hell but in exactly the right way.
You've got the cool tough guy hero who spouts out corny one-liners, sexy space ladies wearing not very much at all when they are wearing something, a Yoda-style mentor in a bubble, snow gorillas, a James Bond opening title sequence, funky music and an arch-enemy amusingly called Crystal Boy, easily one of the least threatening bad guy names ever. The latter's character design is creative, though, as he's made of glass, gold, claws, guns, just about anything you can think of. To give you an idea of what you can expect from this movie in terms of tone, think the anime series Space Dandy if it was tongue-in-cheek by accident.
The plot is appropriately ludicrous and somewhat confusing unless you've read the manga but it essentially boils down to a treasure hunt, the search for some Ultimate Weapon, Crystal Boy wanting to destroy an entire galaxy and Cobra butting heads with snow gorillas (don't ask) while getting friendly with the Royal triplets. "Royal" being the ladies' last name, except in the English dub where it's Flower. This feature isn't particularly kid friendly as, apart from the action sequences and the light-hearted, wise-cracking Lupin The Third-style protagonist, it's mostly a trippy, busy and gratuitous romp. With the amount of random nudity this movie has and the random violent moments, plus the fact that Crystal Boy is genuinely creepy, this is one for older viewers.
That said, it is a funny flick and the adventure itself is effortlessly engaging so anyone can get a kick out of it. What lets the film down a bit is its animation which feels a little too much like a lower budget saturday morning cartoon at times. However, even this added layer of cheesiness works quite well in combination with the trashy vibe of it all. Unless you're a fan of pulpy, goofy 70's/80's sci-fi, then you'll probably write this one off as too silly. Indeed, this falls quite easily under the guilty pleasure banner in that respect but there's definitely a simple charm to it and, as a good old-fashioned piece of space-set nonsense, it works.
I'd be lying if I said I didn't enjoy Space Adventure Cobra. It may look and sound a bit clunky at times and it's all rather ridiculous but it's also tons of fun. Worst comes to worst, you'll get a good laugh out of it so why not check it out?
Enjoyably camp space opera.