The Original Pop Art Anime
- Episodes : 31
- Genre : Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Space
- Airing Date : October 7, 1982 – May 19, 1983
- Studios : Tokyo Movie Shinsha
Space Cobra Introduction
Are you bored with your everyday life and your under paying job? Instead of that vacation you could never afford, you can have your dream vacation through Trip Movies (think of Recall from Total Recall). That’s what Johnson, the main character, decides to do. He requests that he’s a space commander with a harem but instead, is given the adventures of Cobra, the world’s greatest space pirate. After he finishes his Trip Movie, he visits a casino and meets the owner, who resembles one of Cobra’s pursuers in his dream.
As it turns out, Johnson was really Cobra the whole time (who purposely had his memories erased and got plastic surgery) after discovering that hidden in his left-arm, is Cobra’s psycho-gun, which uses mental energy as output. After recuperating his memories, the Space Guild and Galactic Police force are again in pursuit of him as he once enjoys a life of adventure and excitement.
What We Liked About Space Cobra
If you’re someone who loves 1960’s British and American pop art along with spaghetti westerns, Star Wars, and James Bond, this is the anime for you. Space Cobra is the ultimate homage to pop culture as a whole between the sixties and seventies and if you’re into that, then we promise this anime is right up your alley.
1. An Influential Anime
While Space Cobra takes a lot of inspiration from the pop culture of the baby boomer era, on the same token, it also inspired other popular anime. For starters, it partially influenced City Hunter. Ryo and Cobra share many qualities as super human sharpshooters with tremendous strength who have a relaxing attitude, but deep down inside, they care about other people. Shinichiro Watanabe has admitted that Cobra inspired him to make Cowboy Bebop and Space Dandy, and Hideki Kamiya admitted that Dante from Devil May Cry takes inspiration from Cobra as well.
2. An Excellently Organized Story
Though it’s not as episodic as Cowboy Bebop, Space Cobra has three excellently organized story arcs that are different from one another to the point that you don’t have to watch previous episodes to understand what’s going on. It’s very easy to follow and excellently paced. The side characters beyond Cobra and Lady Armaroid all contribute something to the arc and the villains are unique as well. It knows when to portray comedy, drama, and intensity at the right moments. So not only is the pace balanced, but so is the atmosphere.
3. An Awesome Soundtrack
The soundtrack has funk and soul. Considering the era that it came out in, it just feels natural to the atmosphere of where it can be casual in one second, to exciting and dangerous in the next. It knows how to suck you into the moment. It just matches the psychedelic colors, the skin tight clothing, and the action. As for the opening theme, it feels like a classic James Bond theme song.
1. Outdated Technology
Despite taking place in the future, this anime does show its age through its use of how it likes to save data. In today’s real world of USB and cloud drives, Space Cobra which was broadcasted in the early 1980s still has microfilm as a means of saving data. If you’re old enough to remember that, then you may get a kick out of it. For some of you younger readers, you probably never used microfilm in your life and laugh at it.
2. Sexist Depictions of Women
For a large majority of the series, be prepared to see (well-endowed) women wearing thong bikinis, etc. Buichi Terasawa, the original manga creator, seems to be an ass man and he’s not afraid to show it. If such depictions turn you off, then we strongly discourage you from watching it. Though females tend to be depicted sexually, some men at times do get the same treatment but not to the same extremes. There is some nudity but no depictions of sex.
3. Underdeveloped Main Cast
One character that is criminally underused and underdeveloped is Cobra’s partner, Lady Armaroid. She has a huge presence in Cobra’s life but the original series that we are reviewing does little to explore her. Thankfully, adaptations that come 20+ years later finally get to allow viewers to see and learn more about her but that’s a different review for a different time. Cobra as a character is mostly the tabula rasa type. He doesn’t develop because he doesn’t have to, so he is who he is. He has superhuman qualities, but down to earth emotions and the series does a great job of portraying that. However, you do get more fleshed out characters through the Royal Sisters and they’re done well.
Space Cobra is one of those old school titles you really need to watch once in your lifetime. It was doing anime as a psychedelic experience long before JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. Considering how it’s a product of its time you truly feel it in both the good and the bad, and you just have to take it for what it is. It may not be as deep and philosophical as Cowboy Bebop, but the series doesn’t aim to be that. Space Cobra takes you on an adventure like no other and while it may be full of danger and surprises, to someone like Cobra, it’s just another day in the office and his perspective just makes the anime fun to watch and if there are ever Trip Movies in the future, you may want to be Cobra, too.