Star Blazers: Quest for Iscandar
Earth is threatened by the forces of the alien race from the planet Gamilon, who is bombing the planet to a radioactive wasteland. To survive, the human race fled underground, building their cities there.
Then, one day, the people of Earth receives a message from Starsha of planet Iscandar. She knows of planet Earth's plight, and offers them the Cosmo DNA as well as the plans to a new type of space engine. The people of Earth rebuilds the ancient battleship Yamato into a space faring cruiser renamed "The Argo" and heads off into space, lead by captain Avatar.
Will they succeed in reaching Iscandar, despite Gamilon ruler Desslok's effort to thwarth their plans? And will they be able to make it back within a year and save the planet from its radioactive curse?
When the opportunity to purchase one of Leiji Matsumoto's oldest and best known titles arose, I was practically tickled pink. Having been on a Matsumoto binge over the last year, and with almost all of the titles (save one) keeping a high standard, I really looked forward to when I would be able to take in this adventure that has its 30 years anniversary this very year. 30 years!
Well, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised to find that there were some issues given the age of the series. Sure, I didn't expect the world as far as art and animation went. And the art and animation IS dated, there's no question about it. What I DIDN'T expect, however, was to see the transfer -- all the nicks, scratches and noise disturbances in it -- to be included as well. This is particularly evident in some of the space battles, where animation consisted of various animation cells being moved around to create a sense of depth. But with large marks on said cells, the scenes didn't exactly look the way they should have.
Another issue would be the dub. Let me first say that the dub isn't outright BAD, but again, you hear that this IS a rather old series. You might chalk some of that up to the fact that the sound quality isn't the best inthe world either, but let me again remind you that this series is 30 years old and should be expected to some degree. That doesn't stop me from thinking the dub could have been a lot better, though. Derek Wildstar, the REAL main character of this show, along with most of his buddies are decidedly average through their dubbed voices. IQ-9's voice comes across as the worst one, sounding like any other robot on just about any B-movie you have ever seen. Oddly enough, captain Avatar has a very good dub, as does Gamilon dictator Desslok, who has a silky-smooth voice to go with his sophistically evil demeanor. I wish I could say the same about his underlings, though, and especially his second in command, who sounds more like a completely deadpan firemarshall Bill. Given the fact that firemarshall Bill is a character played by Jim Carrey, I thought that something like this would be impossible to do. Cheers to Starblazers, I guess, for proving me wrong.
Thankfully, the series itself is a joy to behold, despite my random difficulties with taking it seriously due to the somewhat corny dub. The characters play off against each other quite nicely and their efforts at reaching Iscandar works out rather well, especially in the light of the way they are portrayed; as a bunch of rookies trying out new technology for the first time. They don't necessarily succeed with everything on the first try -- they even stalled the Argo's motor on their first attempt at starting it up -- but their continuous efforts, which ultimately lead to success, does lend this series its credibility despite the at times seemingly insurmountable odds they are put up against.
Basically, if you plan to watch this series, you need to keep in mind that the visual and aural parts of the show has deteriorated badly. If you're willing to look beyond all that, though, you will find a solid series that once introduced an entire generation to the animated medium and was a big influence on Leiji Matsumoto's rise to fame. It's history in the making, despite the dented and worn appearance, and -- as the saying goes -- there's definitely life in this old dog yet.
(If you demand great visuals and great efforts from the voice actors, you will probably want to remove a star or two. You'd be missing a milestone in the making, though, but it's your choice) — Stig Høgset
Recommended Audience: There's quite a lot of offscreen redshirt deaths, occationally being shown via exploding fighter crafts. Outside of that, violence is limited to a fistfight or two. There's no blood or gore to be found at all, and neither is there any particular fanservice to speak of. Basically, this is a show for all but the very youngest or those who don't like dated sci-fi shows with so-so visuals.
Version(s) Viewed: R1 DVD, English Dub
Review Status: Full (26/26)
Star Blazers: Quest for Iscandar © 1974 Academy Productions
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