Review: Space Adventure Cobra Part One


Total recall has never been this good

'80s anime had a fondness for cribbing from classic sci-fi. You can see the influences of authors like Issac Asimov and Philip K. Dick and movies like Terminator and Alien in multiple shows from the era. Hell, the influence of Blade Runner alone can be seen in tons of series and OVAs of the era. Taking these ideas and mixing them up in the unrestrained minds of creators from that time and you can get some great stuff.

Space Adventure Cobra is interesting in that it takes a shard of an idea from a classic and then spins it out into its own epic. The familiar idea ends up going to places that you might not expect. Besides, even if you do expect it, you'll probably find yourself having a pretty good time.

Space Adventure Cobra Part 1 [DVD]
Studio: TMS Entertainment
Licensed by: Nozomi/Lucky Penny
Release Date: March 4, 2014
MSRP: $49.99

Johnson is your run-of-the-mill schlub. He goes to work, clocks in, does his time, clocks out and goes home. He'll occasionally go out for a drink, but he's otherwise as boring as can be. In need of some excitement and lacking in funds, Johnson hits up the TM Corporation to get some sweet dreams implanted in his head; it's certainly a lot cheaper than a trip abroad. In his dreams, Johnson is a legendary dead space pirate named Cobra who travels the stars in search of adventure and /or pretty ladies. While it wasn't exactly what he wanted, Johnson leaves satisfied, but finds that he can't let go of his dreams of Cobra. After suffering a near-fatal attack, Johnson realizes that he's actually Cobra in reality. Having gotten some heavy heat on his tail, the pirate altered his face and buried his memories to stay safe. With the news out that he's alive, Cobra abandons his old identity, grabs his sexy gynoid Lady Armaroid, finds his space ship and leaps back into the stars for more adventure.

I dug Cobra's initial premise, as it's straight out of Total Recall/We Can Remember It for You Wholesale. The concept of repressed memories that come back to bite you is an old idea, but one that I'm fond of. When you have the collected force of an entire Pirate Guild after you, drastic measures are necessary. Besides what you see here, little else is explained about Cobra's past, and that's fine by me. It's enough of a premise to get me interested in what new adventures and trouble a lead guy like Cobra can get into.

Speaking of Cobra, it's hard not to like the guy. Suave, capable, clever, he's a laid-back and fun-loving guy that just wants to have a good time. He likes pretty ladies and money. Imagine a bumbling Golgo-13 with a sense of humor and less murder and you're on the right track. He's a good foil against the strange members of the Pirate Guild that are hounding his every step. The standout villain is a cyborg named Crystal Bowie, named for his see-through exterior and for the original mangaka's affection for the English rock star. The guy's got enough menace to make up for most of the other weak-sauce pirates that try and take out Cobra on an episode-by-episode basis.

Cobra's designs definitely show their age. Everything from Cobra's look to the ladies he comes across to the ships that he encounters in space all look like they're from the early '80s. People who are used to newer sci-fi designs may balk, but I find it rather charming and it only adds to the show's personality. Actually, for a show that's over 30 years old, this release looks and sounds really good. I'm not sure if Nozomi used remastered audio and video, but the quality of the animation is quite sharp on a 1080p screen. There's no dub with this release, but that's no surprise for a show this old. I'm fine with the Japanese language track, as is. 

The only negative things I can think of are that Cobra doesn't really develop. He's rather static and doesn't change, but I think that's also inherent to the character. He's supposed to be one of the baddest pirates around, so there isn't any room for him to grow here; he's just trying to get the rust out of his joints. Some may find the copious amount of scantily clad '80s chicks a bit much, but it didn't bother me. I actually really like the female designs, as they're rather attractive in that Weird Science/Kelly LeBrock kind of way. Especially Lady Armaroid: I'm quite fond of her sleek, robotic curves.

I'd recommend the first part of Space Adventure Cobra to fans of classic science fiction and '80s anime. While those that are used to the sterile look of a lot of modern anime will likely cringe in spots, I feel that the hand-drawn nature of the show adds to its personality. And believe me, this show has plenty of personality between its goofy protagonist, the dastardly Crystal Bowie and the galactic treasure hunt that makes up a lot of this first part. There isn't a ton of depth, but the show doesn't pretend to be anything but a fun, sci-fi romp around the galaxy.

7.5 – Good. Films or shows that get this score are good, but not great. These could have been destined for greatness, but were held back by their flaws. While some may not enjoy them, fans of the genre will definitely love them.

You are logged out. Login | Sign up


Click to open photo gallery:


Space Adventure Cobra Part One reviewed by Pedro Cortes



Solid and definitely has an audience. There could be some hard-to-ignore faults, but the experience is fun.
How we score:  The Japanator reviews guide


Pedro Cortes
Pedro CortesAssociate Editor   gamer profile

Pedro Cortes has been known to swoon at the sight of a robot. This is understandable, as robots are pretty awesome. more + disclosures



Also on Japanator: Space Adventure Cobra Part One   (1)   From our database:

  • Review: Space Adventure Cobra Part One - Pedro Cortes
  • Space Adventure Cobra gets release date - Pedro Cortes
  • More related stories
    Filed under... #anime #Nozomi #reviews #Right Stuf



    You're not expected to always agree, but do please keep cool and never make it personal. Report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our community team. Also, on the right side of a comment you can flag nasty comments anonymously (we ban users dishing bad karma). For everything else, contact us!