Anime Meta-Review


Space Adventure Cobra


By Date



This Page


Title Info

  • type: movie
  • grade: archaic
  • source: commercial
  • form: dub
  • dur: 85
  • made: 1982
  • Review created: Tue Jul 31 10:59:41 EST 2001
  • mod: none

This movie used to play on one of the local channels many (many) years ago. Apparently they found a license somewhere and as a result felt sort of obligated to play it. It was fairly old and clunky then and it hasn't become any more modern over the intervening time.


The movie starts with a beautiful woman, in a rather striking body-suit, earning her daily bread. The fact that this involves chopping the head off a devilish `mad monk' making it clear she's no ordinary woman. As you can guess she's a tough bounty hunter, and for her the big prize is the space pirate cobra who carries the largest bounty in the galaxy. At least this is what she informs the rather energetic and buoyant guy who's trying to pick her up. However when the two of them come under attack it turns out that he is, in fact, none other than the space pirate herself.

In a similar way it turns out she's a little bit more complex herself. As one of the last survivors of an ancient and wandering world she has a rather complex prophecy to fulfill, and Cobra is now at the center of it. Unfortunately, arranged on the other side, are a brutal organisation who rule the galaxy, an evil and seemingly unstoppable lord of death as its leader and also one or two other nasty surprises. But cobra is a tough customer himself. He fears nothing and is not one to turn down the request of a beautiful lady. Especially when it turns out a vital part of the prophecy is her undying love for him.


The story is a very strange mixture. To begin with the story structure, and I'll get to the animation in a while, feels very old fashioned. It's a weird mixture of shounen action / adventure, with some action sequences, mixed with an attempt to be `mature'. As such the simple story, action focus, and `mature' sequences give a really old feel to it.

Why am I putting quote marks around `mature'? well, because while it's obviously intended to be an adult show the way in which it goes about it is weird. Even ignoring the fact of the generally quite simplistic story and plotting. The main thing is that there's lots of attractive women in the story. Indeed every living thing we meet just happens to be a beautiful woman, generally equipped with either minimal clothing or something nice and form fitting. There's also a high body count as the robotic soldiers of the empire chase Cobra down, because while he's seemingly invulnerable it doesn't seem to extend to those around him. Put these together and you can see there's not too much reason to be attracted, or even interested, in those around him. Yep, lots of beautiful women being either brutally, or melodramatically, killed. It's really a rather cheap way to add power and pathos to the production.

Even worse than women getting randomly killed are the `spiritual' parts of the story. These occur because the prophecy involves multiple people and has a degree of magic (the power of love even) involved. This tends to include a nude woman, with the clever addition of two stars at certain strategic points, floating through the waters of a dream world. It's just so dated, and hard to take seriously. And the dialogue that goes with it will prove to be too much for all but the most tolerant. It's, well, corny despite the best efforts of the original creators.

And then there's Cobra himself. He's the very familiar archetype of an action hero. Seemingly careless and casual he's actually amazingly talented, strong and armed with one of the most powerful weapons in the galaxy. In addition to having various starships at his command. He alternates between man of action, sensitive individual and devil may care clown in a largely unbelievable fashion. He's like a model of male fantasy rather than a particularly deep or coherent character. If you think of a slightly more grunt, but less clever, Lupin you'd have the model exactly. Oh, and if you don't know who Lupin is then shame on you.

In the final summary it is the age of the tape, and more importantly the thoughts behind it, that limits this title. It's just such an odd mix of simplistic story telling with attempts (namely nudity and violence) towards complexity that are largely unsuccessful. It does have it's moments, since it literally pounds on every emotional lever it can reach, but I don't know that many, save anime historians and completionists, will find the experience worth the effort. It's not bad, it's even quite watchable, it's just a tape whose time has passed it by.

The animation itself is rather interesting. It's dated of course, but different elements get a different amount of attention. The technical quality of the animation is generally not high. There's some dreadful visual effects, including the `spiritual' sequences, to make up for the low detail and clunky action. The items of technology look terrible and many of the action scenes feel like a 80's kid show due to the simplistic and boxy design. On the other hand all efforts are lavished on Cobra himself. He gets some quite complex physical (such as swimming through a shag pile rug) and action sequences some of which are surprisingly good. It seems the animators either enjoyed animating Cobra or they decided to focus their `action' budget on him. Whereas his opponents, save the big baddy, are totally stock clunk-a-bots. The series is not helped by the dub although it's actually pretty reasonable for the period. Likewise the addition of music by Yello, a western band now only heard in the background of adverts, adds to the dated feel of the production.

Other Reviews

  • Akemi's AnimeWorld review A long and insightful review of the kind akemi does well. It seems to feel the same as I although it is expressed differently and probably better. Cheesy, Dated, but still somewhat original and occasionally cool. They also liked the villain, although he was Lord Necron (crystal boy?...gah) in my copy.


Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:25 WST 2009