Sunday, September 15, 2013

Star Blazers Episode #26

The first season of Star Blazers (1979) comes to an end with episode 26.  The Argo makes its return trip to Earth as Captain Avatar succumbs to “space radiation sickness.” 

At the same time, Desslok makes a last-ditch attempt to destroy the Star Force, this time using a special cannon. 

The Argo escapes destruction, but Nova nearly gives her life to activate the Cosmo DNA after the ship is contaminated with Desslok’s “radioactive sleeping gas.”

Finally, the Argo sees Earth again…and prepares to come to its rescue.

The final chapter of Star Blazers sees the long-expected demise of my favorite character, gruff but brilliant Captain Avatar.  The series has been building-up towards the character’s death for some time, and the moment doesn’t disappoint now.  In fact, the moment is highly emotional.  Avatar sees Earth for the final time, gazes at a photograph of his wife and son, and then…passes away.  I love how in his last moments he focuses on the things he loved in life, and that were meaningful to him as a human being.  It's a touching moment and one that focuses on humanity, rather than space opera tropes.

With Avatar’s death, Derek Wildstar’s heroic journey is also, essentially, complete.  He is in command of the Argo, he defeats Desslok, and he has learned all the lessons he needed to learn from Avatar.  Still, this episode nearly deals him a major setback: Nova almost dies to save the ship.  In fact, this segment forecasts The Wrath of Khan (1982) to some extent: with a character sacrificing his or her life for the safety of the ship, braving a toxic environment to do so.

The only disappointment here, really, is yet another return engagement by Desslok.  

Once more, the Gamilons get their asses handed to them by the Star Force.  They can’t eke out even a minor victory against a single Earth ship, which makes them -- with their vast resources – a kind of lame villain.  The worst aspects of Star Blazers as a series involve the repetitive plot of Gamilons devising a secret weapon (ultra-menace missiles, reflex guns, Desslok mines, and so on…) and still failing to stop a single Earth ship.  They really do transmit as rather pathetic.  They have a vast Empire and they can muster nothing in terms of credible defense/offense.

The strength of Star Blazers, as one of my good friends, SGB, has noted trenchantly, is the emotional impact of the long journey to Iscandar.  It's a journey of loneliness, desperation, and for Wildstar emotional maturity and growth.  I'm glad I watched the series from star to finish, though in honesty, the same story could have been told far more effectively and judiciously in perhaps eighteen installments.  There are so many stand-out shows in the Star Blazers canon, but also so many time-wasters with new Gamilon weapons being used to endlessly attack the Argo.

There are two more Star Blazers TV seasons to watch, but I'll return to them another day.  Next week, on Sunday, I begin blogging Firefly (2002).


  1. John thank you for the kind comment. I truly feel that Star Blazers was a rare animated series aimed at children in the '70s with very realistic emotional impact. I know there are scenes from certain episodes that still haunt me from my boyhood in '79. A rare event in children's animated series. Beware the second season Comet Empire. Desslok even grows in character development with Wildstar and Nova with more emotional scenes.

    I love your "Gamilons get their asses handed to them by the Star Force" comment, well said. :)


    1. SGB,

      Thank you for your comments on Star Blazers that helped me contextualize and understand the series better. You have been a great help in that regard, and I appreciate it so much!

  2. Donald G8:41 PM

    John, sorry to see that you're holding off on the Comet Empire, as that was the series I was really looking forward to reading your insights on. For me, there's more focus on politics in that one - I swear it's like "'I, Claudius' in Space" - and there are some bits that prefigure STIII: The Search for Spock.

    1. Donald G,

      Have no doubt: I will definitely return for the Comet Empire soon...but I have to save up for the DVDs first! :)

      I'm looking forward to the series, for sure...

  3. John, thanks so much for your coverage of this series. I'm an anime fan (as you know), but I missed out on this series entirely. The series that pulled me in as a kid was "Robotech", so I'm an anime generation ahead of the "Starblazers" group. Still I had heard a lot about this show and have been curious to check it out. Your reviews have only reinforced that. Thanks again!

    1. Roman,

      Thank you for sticking with my coverage of Star Blazers Series One. I have long been intrigued by what I know of Robotech, and I would like to watch it very much. One of these days...