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AKA: SF西遊記スタージンガー, SF Saiyuuki Starzinger, Spaceketeers, Festival de los Robots: El Gal
Genre: Space adventure
Length: Television series, 73 episodes, 23 minutes each
Distributor: Currently unlicensed in North America; formerly licensed by Jim Terry Productions
Content Rating: 10+ (mild violence, warfare, redshirt deaths)
Related Series: N/A
Also Recommended: Captain Harlock, Cosmo Warrior Zero, Crest / Banner of the Stars, Star Blazers
Notes: This review is based on the Swedish dub. Only 24 episodes were released in Scandinavia, so this is as far as the review goes for the time being.

This series was released in North America in 1980 and released as part of the Force Five series, which has long gone out of print.
Rating: Three StarsThree StarsThree Stars

Starzinger

Synopsis

Princess Aurora from the Great King planet has been given the task to save the galaxy from an evil force that turns normally harmless beings into evil creatures. With her, she has Jan Cogo (Jean Kugo / Jesse Dart), Don Hakka (Porkos), and Sir Djorgo (Sa Jogo / Arimos).


Review

I'm usually not one to turn down the opportunity to get a hold of older animated works whenever it arises, so when I came over some information about an old series that has been created by not only Leiji Matsumoto, but also Tezuka Osamu ... well, I pretty much jumped at it. And, well ...

It's not that it's a bad series. I'm just not sure what elements Starzinger has that make it a disappointment with me, though let it be said that I might have expected TOO much from it, what with the two major names on the credit list.

Starzinger is a children's Saturday morning cartoon feature at heart. This is easily discernable by its somewhat formulaic episode-by-episode plot, the way the character keeps shouting the attacks they do and ... well, the kind of comedy you get from this show. Also, it's worth to note that it's a somewhat loosely based sci-fi version of Saiyuki (The Journey West. Jan Cogo is obviously meant to be modeled after Son Goku, this being made quite apparent by his circlet. Rounding off the cast is Don Hakka, taking the pig-man Cho Hakkai's place, and Sir Jorgo, replacing the water demon Sha Gojo. And in the place of Sanzo, we have Princess Aurora, a veritable princess all the way down to the pink attire she usually wears.

The first and most apparent problem I had with this series is the Swedish dub. I have to apologize to my neighbors to the east right now, but this needs to be said: Starzinger's Swedish dub is quite frankly bad. This goes especially towards the people playing Jan Cogo, Don Hakka and Sir Djorgo -- the people we're gonna see the most in the duration of the show. They keep overacting their roles, and also make it quite clear that the show's intended audience are younger children. This IS an old show, and, I realize, probably also an old dub.

Being a children's show, this also means that comedy acts will be repeated a lot. Don Hakka's general clumsiness is a good example of that, not to mention the source of the main bulk of it. If you plan to watch this, prepare to watch him stumble a lot and fall into doors.... repeatedly. Also, he will always, ALWAYS, fall into his ship face first and have the canopy give him a solid knock to the back of his noggin when he finally manages to straighten himself out. And, being a rather rotund fellow, he barely fits in his own ship as well, not that it bothers his appetite any. As for other character's easily recognizable traits, we have Sir Djorgo and his calculator. Whenever a problem arises, there's apparently always an answer to be found on it if you just press the required buttons. This starts a cycle of various icons blinking in a sequence (including the trademark TOEI sombrero mouse, it would seem) before finally settling on a no less cryptic symbol, though Djorgo obviously knows very well what it means. Obviously, Sir Djorgo is Queen Cosmos' resident computer nerd, and he can always be counted for finding solutions to odd quandries in the same way you can count on Jan Cogo and his Astro Bat? (what's wrong with the word "lance"?) ... whenever there's ass needing to be kicked.

And so it goes throughout nearly twenty episodes, facing the oddest enemies. (Robo orangutans? Robo raccoons with ripple-laser firing tails?) The show is also fairly moralistic. The team of boys, who are certainly gung-ho about their job when there's fighting to be done, usually needs to be told not to "kill any monsters, because they're just transformed planetlings, after all" by Princess Aurora again and again. (You would think they would learn after the two or three first times or something.) Occationally, the show will go all dramatical on you, usually involving one of the main characters and the unavoidable death of someone they befriend. Predictable as this may be when it first starts, it's quite a departure from this show's normal "get to a planet, defeat evil, move on after moral lesson" path. It does it's part of adding watchability to the show itself despite its rather bad dub and somewhat odd logic workings. (The Queen Cosmos have travelled for weeks -- months, even -- but any of the other ships can apparently make the trip back to earth in a matter of hours? And don't get me started on the time freeze/object replacement used as a plot point later on.)

What it boils down to is that, while I may be a Leiji Matsumoto fan, I have no emotional attachment to this show whatsoever. Despite this, I can say that while the show didn't quite live up to my expectations, it's not really a major disappointment either. The entire collection will hardly make a dent in your wallet, seeing as the Swedish R2 releases are rather low-budget and low-key -- obviously meant for fans of the old show. I do find it puzzling that they would exclude the opening episodes among the 24 chosen out of 73, but you can at least rest easy on the last episodes being included. For the asking price, it's definitely a worthy purchase for the old fans, and I guess that's what counts.

Fans of the old show may want to add another star if they're willing to go through this show with a substandard dub.Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: Things can turn pretty violent at times, though this is by no means a gory show. The topic strays all too often towards warfare, which means deaths at a somewhat substantial rate despite Princess Aurora's best efforts to prevent it. That's just about the only thing about this show that can be considered unsuitable for the very youngest, though.



Version(s) Viewed: R2 DVD from Ozon Media AB, Swedish dub
Review Status: Partial (24/73)
Starzinger © 1978 Toei Animation
 
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