Sunday, June 23, 2013
Star Blazers Episode #14
In the 14th episode of the Japanese anime series Star Blazers (1979), the U.S.S. Argo has been trapped for roughly three weeks in the turbulent "Octopus Star Group." Mark Venture seeks a channel through the surrounding space storm, while crew morale plummets over the 21-day span of entrapment.
Nova suggests a party for the crew because "everyone is on edge," and Captain Avatar begins to worry about the ship's supplies. How long can they sit and wait for deliverance? What price will Earth pay for this delay?
When Venture's channel appears in space, Avatar orders the Argo through at top speed, but a Gamilon ship lurks in the darkness...waiting to strike.
In terms of Star Blazers and it brand of storytelling, I've developed a strong affinity for the stories which don't feature Desslok or Gamilons as main characters. By my estimation, the best episodes have been those that focus squarely on the Star Force crew, and its challenges surviving the longest-ever journey into uncharted space.
One episode has been devoted to the crew leaving the solar system, and making its (sad) goodbyes to family and friends on imperiled Earth. Another stand-out installment involved the capture of a Gamilon pilot, and the memories the pilot evokes in Wildstar. We witness his painful history in flashback, and gain an insight into the character we don't get in the typical "Gamilons-invent-new-weapon-to-stymie-Star-Force" tales.
This week, we follow along that same character "track." And again, the episode is very enjoyable and intriguing. From the episode's first moments, the crewmen are at each other's throats, worried and anxious. The lack of forward momentum for the Argo calls everything into question. What if the crew can't save the Earth in time? What if the ship runs out of food on the way to Iscandar?
In this atmosphere of irritation, low-morale, and worry, meanwhile, Wildstar experiences more bad dreams of his past on Earth, and the death of his parents. The week's most valuable crew member turns out to be Nova, who alone seems to understand what is happening to the crew, and struggles to enhance morale as camaraderie breaks down.
I enjoyed how this Star Blazers cleverly gets at an idea I firmly believe about human life, or at least about my own. People say that sharks must always be moving forward, or they'll die. I don't know if that's true, per se, but the observation seems accurate about human nature.
Mankind must always be seeking the next horizon, the next challenge, or he stagnates. I believe an argument could be made that our small, bitter politics of today are actually killing the human race. We stopped dreaming big after the moon landing in 1969 (the year of my birth), and now we see only austerity and limits, and terra firma.
In some sense, we need the challenge of what's out there, over the next summit, to move forward. That's the Argo's crisis this week. It's marooned in that multi-tentacled storm, and unable to go back or go forward. The ship and her crew are paralyzed, and when paralyzed, humans start turning on each other; they turn inward.
Fortunately, our heroes escape this trap in space, and again resume the long odyssey to that distant planet, Iscandar.
Only 280 Days left!