“My hand is reconstructed and I’m ready to spank you with it.”
Originally US audiences saw Starzinger within Force Five, a collection of five anime programs that played in the late 1970s and early 1980s. However, Starzinger is actually a remake of 1979’s Spaceketeers.
The setup is simple: Princess Aurora (Marieve Herington) is the only person who can become the new Queen of the Great Planet at the middle of the galaxy. But her way is certain to be fraught with peril, thus the need for bodyguards. Aurora’s bodyguards come in the form of three cyborgs. Leader of the “Three Musketeers” of cyborgs is Jan Coogo (Paul Oberle), the galaxy’s most fierce and reckless cyborg. Next to join the team is Don Hakka (G. Larry Butler), the rotund fighter with a heart of gold. And rounding out the trio is Sir Jogo (William Winckler), the scientist of the group. Together these four must make a journey of 30,000 light years in order to restore peace and balance to the galaxy and indeed, the entire universe.
The distributor of this set, Toei Animation Company, is responsible for the production of some of the most iconic anime, including Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon. I’m a huge fan of this style of animation — two of my favorite shows of the 80s are Battle of the Planets and Voltron. There’s something immediately distinctive about the style, with its emphasis on black outlines of everything and a strong bold palette consistent throughout. Not to mention the similar audio cues, specifically the explosions and “ahs” and “ohs” anime characters make to fill in a silence.
The most obvious positive of this set is the action. It’s an extremely dynamic show with chunks of action every few minutes. It also has distinct characters and while they may be annoying at times, they are at least well defined. However the most positive aspect is a cohesive narrative. Too many shows of the time simply ended without resolutions so I’m pleased to have a complete story within the set.
On the downside, I’m not sure whom Starzinger: The Movie Collection is intended for. Certainly the characters’ cursing would indicate the answer is not kids, while the tremendous amount of exposition would indicate it’s not adults, either. Not to mention at one point a character talks about satanic power. So this is an oddly targeted show that I can’t recommend for kids. Teens, however, may find it worth viewing.
I’ve already talked a bit about the video transfer but the 1.78:1 aspect ratio really does serve the picture well. The palette is very rich and has held up very well over the decades. Sure it’s not HD but it’s consistently rich, with exceptional black levels. The audio transfer suffers a bit more but it’s entirely due to it being a dubbed track as opposed to the native Japanese. The dialogue sounds hollow at times and the sound effects occasionally come out flatter than they should. However without a remastering everything sounds as good as it can, there’s no doubt about it. And the dated sound effects only serve to add an air of nostalgia to the viewing.
There are no special features.
Starzinger: The Movie Collection is a pure nostalgia piece. You’re not going to buy it for the story or the characters but rather because you remember watching it during its initial run.