The struggle for ruling the galaxy simmers while Cobra gets involved in all sorts of capers.
What They Say:
When the buxom blonde bombshell Dominique asks Cobra to infiltrate a Pirate Guild drug ring, how could he possibly say no? However, the drug ring operates under the guise of a popular sport called Rug Ball. It’s a game that combines football and baseball, where killing someone on the opposing team is considered to be a good play!
With the continued disruption of the Pirate Guild’s business, their pursuit for Cobra turns deadly as they hunt him and all he holds dear!
Contains episodes 16-31.
The audio presentation for this release is a nice step up from the usual in a way as we get the original Japanese language track in stereo encoded at 384kbps instead of the usual 192kbps. This gives the show a bit more oomph to it as it’s a bit cleaner and louder overall with a touch more warmth as well, which is to be expected from an older show like this with the way it was recorded. The series has a pretty good forward soundstage mix overall that, while not going big on directionality, comes across in a very smooth and clean way that makes it engaging to watch and listen to while also being very clean and clear. Dialogue is mostly a full feeling with how it comes across with little in the way of placement but the sound effects are solid and overall it hits the notes you’d expect for a show of this age without any problems such as scratching, noise, dropouts or distortions.
Originally airing in 1982, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original full frame aspect ratio. It’s spread across four discs with the sixteen episodes we get here as it’s done with four to each disc. To my surprise, and to the shows benefit, the bit rate for the video is kept right at the 9.5 for the vast majority of it and it definitely helps. The show, animated by TMS, has a lot of great hand animated detail to it and some great fluidity in a variety of scenes that comes to life here. Colors here are very appealing and the way the blacks and blues of the background hold up definitely help. There’s some natural film grain noise going on here since it’s a film based show but the end result is a series that definitely looks the best that I’ve ever seen it outside of a full on high definition presentation. Definitely a great looking show and exactly what a classic like this warranted.
The packaging for this release goes with a standard sized DVD case to hold the four discs where all of them are placed within the hinges inside rather than any against the interior walls. The front cover artwork gives us a great visual of Cobra in an actio pose from behind while placing Dominque behind him but facing us. There’s a great sense of sex and violence here with the darker background and the flames that are emanating from it that gives it a sense of raw power. It’s almost a bit too murky in some ways but it stands out with the way it comes across because it’s not the norm. The back cover gives us a shot of Cobra along the right in the same style that has him blending into the darkness while the left has all the details. The premise is well covered as is the origins of the show and production credits. Technical information is decently cover as are the extras. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for this release is really great with the materials it uses as we get the slick looking modern updates of the characters dominating the static screens across the four volumes. Similar to the first set, it’s more character pieces of different types that brings us the leads in a really great way that’s similar to the cover in style that also really comes across as the kind of artwork that you want to hang on the wall. The layout is simple with the logo along the bottom left with a connecting line to the navigation along the right, which notes the part and disc numbers for the release. Submenus are simple with not much to them besides extras and episode navigation but it all loads smoothly and easily, making for a good, positive experience.
While the extras were minimal for the first set, they’re even more so here as all we really get is a promotional video alongside the US trailer. It’s not much, but you don’t expect much from shows of this time period and anything is welcome.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The first half of Space Adventure Cobra brought a lot of fun to the table but it also had some surprises. Because of its age, I expected it to be mostly filled with single episode stories and the kinds of small adventures that would fit into the space opera aspect of things. To my surprise though, the bulk of that first half of fifteen episodes focused instead on larger storylines that dealt with exploring the Pirate Guild’s influence in the galaxy, the way the Galactic Patrol was operating and the mystery of the identical sisters separated at birth and spread throughout the galaxy. There was a lot of neat bits to it as it worked the space opera side of things since it could be rough and tumble but basically something that could be dealt with in a kind of loose way that didn’t have to adhere to, you know, physics. But it was fun and full of style, so it worked and it worked well.
With this set, there is ostensibly a larger storyline playing throughout it that goes to the end, but it’s very light and not altogether easily visible. The background plot involves the Pirate Guild continuing to exercise its might in order to take over the galaxy basically. It’s not exactly a surprise and it’s not exactly balanced as the Galactic Patrol is more reactive than anything. But the main focus that comes from it in a few different smaller stories revolves around various drugs that are being used to manipulate various worlds and governments and its citizenry. What it shows us though is some of the various worlds that the Pirate Guild has inserted its people into and the way they can manipulate situations to their advantage. At least until Cobra ends up on said world or satellite and ends up causing it all to fall apart. That of course eventually brings Cobra to the big party itself where the master plan is unfurled but is largely dealt with in the space of an episode. It’s not a great overall plot since it’s so light throughout, but it does help to give the final couple of episodes a bit more impact.
While we do get a number of individual stories, some better than others but all mostly simplistic and with the kind of classic fun that you’d expect from this series, we do get a couple of multi-episode storylines as well. The first one is the hardest of them though because it does a sports theme to it that involves Cobra going undercover to the elite tug ball team where the Galactic Patrol, through Dominique, is asking him to find out what kind of drugs are going through it. Tug ball is like a violent version of baseball that involves legalized murder on the field and the practices. The game itself isn’t all that well detailed when you get down to it as it has its own internal logic, but the fun comes in when you get the violent tier one team that dominates over all the others and Cobra ends up going for all the outliers in order to pull them together into a fantastic challenging team. It has its share of death and bullying to keep it moving along as well as some fun tug ball action itself but as a whole it just feels like it goes on too long for a space-sports storyline.
The other main arc that comes with this half of the series involves Cobra and Lady ending up on a curious world that’s made up of oceans of sand. While there’s the ability to make some Dune references at times, and sometimes it’s warranted, it goes in a very different direction as Cobra finds himself caught up in a strange war that’s been going on for years. The natives have found themselves overwhelmed by a group known as the Swordians, armored men with powerful swords that are seemingly indestructible. There’s a decent bit of scale brought into it but it just goes in that weird space opera/fantasy angle as we see that the swords themselves are alive and there’s an amusing hierarchy that exists when it comes to leadership and how they operate as a species. It’s definitely an odd kind of thing that’s created here, but it completely fits coming from a manga from the 70’s animated in the early 80’s. It’s not hard to imagine this playing across a TV screen and being a kind of silly and goofy thing that’s unlike other shows.
With the mix of bigger stories and a dose of smaller ones that are spread across it, Space Adventure Cobra comes to a good conclusion here with the larger storyline being dealt with. The show as a whole just has a good sense of fun about it as we meet a range of characters – many of whom who die of course – and some familiar faces as Cobra looks to live the good life as best as he can. This set is a bit weaker than the first set, largely because it doesn’t come across as well defined as that one did with its arc against the Pirate Guild and Crystal Bowie, but what we get here is focused more on the kind of adventures that Cobra gets involved with, sometimes alone, sometimes with Lady or Dominique, but usually with an array of new characters tossed in that shake things up. This is definitely a fun series, one that has long needed to be brought over, and we get a solid run of it here that will make fans of the show quite pleased while hopefully bringing in some new fans as well.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English Subtitles, Interview With Buichi Terasawa, English Pilot Episode
Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B
Video Grade: A-
Packaging Grade: B+
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B
Released By: Nozomi Entertainment
Release Date: May 6th, 2014
Running Time: 400 Minutes
Video Encoding: 480i/p MPEG-2
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.