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[Lensman box art]
AKA: SF 新世紀 レンズマン (SF Shinseiki Lensman)
Genre: Sci-fi
Length: Movie, 105 minutes
Distributor: Currently unlicensed in North America, previously licensed by Streamline Pictures
Content Rating: 7+ (mild violence)
Related Series: Galactic Patrol Lensman
Also Recommended: Outlaw Star, Space Adventure Cobra, Star Wars (non-anime)
Notes: Based very loosely on the Lensman novels by E.E. "Doc" Smith. This review assumes no prior knowledge of the material, and focuses on the anime as a separate, standalone work rather than treating this in the context of the original novels.



Kimball Kinnison has plans to leave his family's farm for a chance at an education. However, a ship crash-lands on his home planet, and a mysterious man hands his lens to Kim. Kim's life gets turned completely around as he must escape the home he has known all his life and venture into unknown territory in an effort to escape the forces who want the Lensmen destroyed: the Boskonians.


This is a rather loosely based adaptation of an old novel by E.E. Smith, which explains why seeing Lensman makes me think of the Star Wars movies. Star Wars, of course, was actually influenced by the original Lensman novels, but this anime makes those similarities all the more apparent.

Not only that, but the whole art style and presentation reminds me ever so slightly of Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors, with our hero being torn from his family and sent on a mad scramble across the universe (except that Jayce's father is still alive, while Kim's parents are killed in the beginning of the movie). The similarities are still there, even though Kim is a good deal more mild-mannered than Jayce.

The art and animation is actually quite good for a film this old, meshing in CG graphics made on Cray-1 supercomputers, which, while looking a bit dated now, were impressive enough back then. It does have that aura of "Saturday morning cartoons" over it, which I appreciate very much. That's just the nostalgia in me, though.

The European dub is actually pretty good for an old Manga feature like this, and I AM thankful for their decency not to "fifteen" this one like so many other anime features released in Europe back then. I'm afraid I don't remember much of the music, but since I don't really have any bad memories about this movie, I can only assume that I was satisfied with it.

While the character development isn't the world in this movie, the story manages to engage and keep you on your toes, despite being perhaps a tad predictable and old-school. And while some scene settings and plot points practically screams the 80s, the movie itself has managed to age pretty well ... again, like the Star Wars movies.

One thing that should be noticed, though, is that the movie itself is pretty clean. There is little in the way of violence, save for some people dying or being wounded. Don't go in here expecting gushing blood, though, or even fan service. Those are pretty much nonexistent.

Since this movie is getting on its years now, I don't think you can get it on DVD ... which is a shame, really. Lensman is among the few remaining out-of-print anime that should definitely be rereleased on DVD. While not exactly a timeless classic, it IS a rather nice movie which will awaken nostalgia among the older anime fans.

I hope Lensman will be taken into consideration by a Western distributor in the near future. It certainly deserves it.

An almost timeless classic. (EDITOR'S NOTE: I should warn that people expecting any faithfulness to the original source material would be wise to avoid this film entirely, as they will be quite disappointed or bewildered by the final product.)Stig Høgset

Recommended Audience: Suitable for most people, since objectionable material is pretty much nonexistent. There is some minor violence and a few deaths.

Version(s) Viewed: UK VHS (Manga), English dubbed
Review Status: Full (1/1)
Lensman © 1984 Kodansha / MK Company
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