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Space Adventure Cobra: The Movie (DVD Details)

Unique ID Code: 0000105089
Added by: Jitendar Canth
Added on: 9/7/2008 14:10
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    Space Adventure Cobra: The Movie (DVD)

    7 / 10


    There's always a sinking feeling that accompanies a DVD-R. Usually it's a disc that is completely unrepresentative of the final product, a cut down sample episode, or a film stripped of extras and presented in the wrong aspect ratio with a mono soundtrack. Even if it is intact, putting a dual layer feature on a single layer disc means that there will be such degradation in quality that it isn't worth commenting on the technical aspects. I got a DVD-R of Space Adventure Cobra. The presentation is professional enough, the disc specs are identical to the final product (I guess that a 99 minute film will happily fit on a single layer disc in the retail version), and there doesn't seem to be anything missing. Except that I've been sent a copy of the R4 Madman disc, not the final disc that Manga will be releasing. Given that a lot of anime released in the UK comes via Madman anyway, it shouldn't be such a big deal, but there will be obvious differences, not least in the disc's logo.

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    Space Adventure Cobra is a trip down memory lane for anime fans, a series and movie from the early eighties based on a manga that ran from the seventies onwards, hot on the tracks of the success of Star Wars, and the enthusiasm for pulp sci-fi space opera. Space Adventure Cobra takes a heavy dose of Star Wars, a soupcon of James Bond, and a Barbarella dressing to create something that is memorable to say the least.

    Cobra is the galaxy's most notorious pirate, a man with a 7 million bounty on his head, and a psycho gun implanted in his arm. It's safe to say that he's sought after, which is why he's changed his appearance and is lying low. A bounty hunter named Jane Flower is searching for Cobra, but not for money. There's a legend of a wandering planet named Miros, that was devastated in a collision with another world, but sent three of its daughters into the void to survive and one day come back to be Queen. That will happen if all three sisters fall in love with the same man. Jane is one of those women, and Cobra is the man who's destined to restore her and her sisters to the throne. Only there is a snag. Miros harbours a dangerous secret, and the evil Mafia Guild, led by the formidable Crystal Boy wants that world to put its plan for universal domination into motion. When Jane and Cobra go looking for her sisters Catherine and Dominique, they aren't prepared for what they find.

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    It's a 1.85:1 letterbox transfer, which is perfectly fine to zoom, as long as you're watching the English dub (or speak fluent Japanese). I did notice some compression artefacts around busy motion, but DVD-R.

    The animation itself is stupendous. That's the look of the thing, not the actual proficiencies in animation or technical skill, although for a film pushing 30 years, it's held up surprisingly well. The film takes the classic 50s vision of the future, statuesque women, muscle-bound men, skin tight or revealing clothing, lots of chrome feminine androids, adds a little seventies world design with futuristic planets and giant spaceships, and coats it with a hefty dose of psychedelia, with trippy dream sequences and extreme colours, along with a storyline steeped in free love, and the ample nudity and buxom women you would expect from such.

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    You have a choice between DD 5.1 Japanese with translated English subtitles, or a DD 2.0 English Stereo track. The subtitles are extremely zoom unfriendly, which means you wind up wasting a good portion of a widescreen aspect. The Japanese track gives a little ambience and music to the surrounds, but is otherwise pretty front focussed. The English dub is an old Streamline dub supervised by Robotech supremo Carl Macek, which means it plays a little fast and loose with the translation, and the music is different from the original version. It's pretty easy to listen to though.

    The theme songs (Japanese version) could have used some subtitles, and there are one or two typos in the subtitle track.


    I got a piracy warning exhorting me to rescue the Australian film industry, along with trailers for Highlander: The Search For Vengeance, the Castle of Cagliostro, and Lupin the 3rd: Dead or Alive. Naturally you'll see something different.


    Speaking of something different… Cobra is not your typical anime. As mentioned before it truly is a blend of Star Wars, James Bond and Barbarella, with bits and pieces of futurism all the way from Metropolis to Star Wars, with a lengthy stay in the fifties for its world and character designs. The story is pure sixties hokum, with a philosophy of free love at its core that is very much of its time. When the key story point is that three sisters have to fall in love with the same man to inherit the throne of a world, you can already see Jane Fonda in the cast of the live action version. If ever there were a Barbarella animation, it would look something like this.

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    Please take note, that if you are of the 'cartoons are for kids' mindset, then steer clear of this disc. There is nothing gratuitous enough to warrant a high rating, but nudity abounds, beginning with a title sequence that takes a lot of inspiration from Maurice Bender's work for the Bond movies. All three of the female protagonists are prone to get their kit off, and there is a planet full of freedom fighters of Amazonian stature, who have a habit of wearing their underwear on the outside (It worked for Superman).

    The story is simple enough, a quest that needs to be fulfilled, replete with heroes and villains, and twists and turns. Cobra is a happy go lucky hero (inspired by Jean-Paul Belmondo), practically impervious to damage, and with a gun literally hidden under his sleeve. He's a charmer with the ladies, and his wandering eye quickly focuses on Jane Flower. He just isn't expecting to get her sisters as part of the package deal. He flies the cosmos in a super spaceship named the Turtle and with a female android co-pilot named Lady, whose designer must have had to take several cold showers in the process of her creation. The villain, given the rather unimpressive moniker of Crystal Boy, is visually a formidable creation, occupying the Darth Vader role in the story. He must have been a devil to animate, a golden endoskeleton surrounded by an impenetrable glass body. He uses his own ribs as weapons, literally reaching inside himself to gird himself for battle.

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    The trouble with Space Adventure Cobra is that it is an adaptation of a manga, heavily compressed in terms of time, and while it is supposedly raunchier than the 31-episode television series, it all comes at a cost. It really did feel like I was thrown into the deep end, and while Cobra has a back-story and a history, it's all something that I'm not privy to. While the pace of the film is zippy, and the story put together well enough, character development is practically non-existent, and without the background knowledge, I can only take the film at face value. It does get a little dull pretty quickly, despite the obvious eye-candy. But surprisingly, given the nature of the film, and the era that it comes from, there is a tragic undertone to the story, it isn't all happy go lucky, and our hero does suffer through proceedings. It manages to give the film some emotional weight where the characters fail to. Space Adventure Cobra is certainly different, and it's well worth a look-see if you wonder how it was all done once upon a time. Many UK discs are just Madman discs with a few surface changes, so I'd expect the final release disc to be similar to this one except for the trailer reel. I wouldn't hold my breath for an anamorphic transfer, but if Manga can fix the subtitles to make them zoom friendly, that will be worth turning cartwheels for.

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