Star Blazers was one of the first shows to translate a Japanese anime cartoon into English for American audiences. It was also one of the first American cartoons to employ ongoing plotlines rather than the typical recurring weekly plots which was very exciting at that time.
Here in the States, the show began in 1979 and ran for 3 seasons with a total of 77 episodes. Star Blazers was an adaptation of Space Battleship Yamato from Japan which saw its 3 seasons air in 1974, 1978, and 1980.
The show takes place in the year 2199. In the first season, an alien race from a planet named Gamilon attack Earth in hopes of destroying humanity so that they can move here since their planet is dying. Although all of Earth unites against them, we essentially lose. Radiation from Gamilon’s bombs force the remnants of humanity underground. Even underground, the radiation will destroy the rest of humanity within one year’s time.
Fortunately, another alien species reaches out and offers help. Queen Starsha from the planet Iscandar offers a device that can remove the radiation and save Earth. The only catch is that Earth needs to send someone to retrieve the device, which is called “Cosmo DNA.” The queen has a solution for that as well, knowing that Earth couldn’t get to them on their own, and provides schematics for an engine that can be placed into any ship, turning into a spacecraft.
That’s where Star Blazers’ iconic spaceship comes in, the Argo. The Argo was once a battleship but, with Starsha’s engine added to it, that battleship becomes one of the coolest and most recognizable spaceships ever. The Argo is literally a battleship meant for the ocean floating through space instead!
The crew of heroes on the Argo, led by Captain Abraham Avatar and Dash Jordan, go on the mission to Iscandar with the Gamilons fighting them the entire way. Of course, they retrieve the Cosmo DNA and save Earth, but all that is just the first season. Season 2 continues the exploits of the crew of the Argo as another faction of aliens comes into the mix. This group, the Comet Empire, wants to capture and subjugate Earth rather that replace humanity. The leader of the Gamilons from season 1, Desslok, returns to aid the Comet Empire in hopes of getting his revenge. Finally, in the 3rd season, the Gamilons, now called “Galmons” are in a war with yet another alien species, the Bolar Federation. In their war, they accidentally damage the sun. Once again, there’s a one-year timeline on repairing the damage or all is lost. So, once again, the Argo is off to save everyone.
The inclusion of ongoing plotlines was really kind of a new concept in TV back in 1979 but an especially new concept in cartoons. Based on that alone, Star Blazers was a welcome show back then. It’s plot kept people coming back each week as they wanted to see what would happen. This added an element of fun to the series, it gave people something to talk about, to predict. The life and death almost post-apocalyptic story was unique in the landscape of more frivolous cartoons of the time. In short, this was sci-fi at its best. Even today, the show’s writing holds up. Sure, there’s a bit of campiness in the dialogue but not nearly as much as you’d expect from a series that is 40 years old.
The animation is also still very watchable. While anime has grown in popularity since 1979, it was a unique looking show back then. Therefore, the show was eye-catching and exciting. Today, with that added popularity of anime, Star Blazers blends in with other, similar shows, but is still very fun to watch regardless.
Exciting plotlines, fun characters, and great animation go a long way to making Star Blazers a memorably show. The action of the show got people hooked, but the ongoing aspect of the story kept them watching. While there have been series similar to Star Blazers since its release, there have been none with such an iconic ship as that battleship in space. That image, in its singular awesomeness, has stuck with me ever since. The Argo, then, is enough to warrant a watch. The rest of the cool factors that the show brings are just icing on that cake.
Star Blazers: An Early Animated Sci-Fi Classic
Writing - 8/108/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Acting - 8/108/10
Music - 8/108/10
Production - 8/108/10
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