Thursday, April 22, 2021

Star Blazers, Episode #5



In the fifth episode of Star Blazers (1979), the damaged Argo is dragged into the gravitational pull of the planet Jupiter.  After passing through a layer of dense clouds, the Argo unexpectedly finds a “floating continent” and sets down there for repairs.

Unfortunately a Gamilon fighter base is also secretly stationed on that very continent, and a terrifying trap is sprung.  Wildstar does battle with an enemy fighter, but for Argo to escape the Gamilons, the wave motion gun must be tested for the first time. 

Fortunately, the gun works.  

In fact, the weapon is so powerful and destructive that it obliterates not just the Gamilon base, but the entire floating continent.  Captain Avatar concludes that the ship “used too much power” and must be “very careful in the future.” 

Meanwhile, the Gamilons are stunned at Argo’s power, and now the game is truly afoot.

Only 361 days remain until Earth’s destruction…




The Argo’s shakedown or trial-by-fire continues in this episode as the wave motion gun is deployed for the first time.  The power of the thing is incredible, and a little frightening.   Watching this episode, I wondered if that was actually the point.  Much of Japanese genre entertainment features terrifying technological advances, from Gojira’s (1954) Oxygen Destroyer to Star Blazers’ wave motion gun. No doubt, this is a result of the country’s well-founded fear about nuclear warfare.




The implicit question of any such weaponry is, simply: what kind of man does it take to control a technological innovation of such terror and raw power?  In this case, fortunately, Captain Avatar is that man, and he is depicted as wise and eminently reasonable.  His response to the deployment of the powerful weapon is to pull back; to think about the future and the proper application of the device.  He promises to be very careful in the future. This is indeed a reassuring strategy, and again, I  find myself drawn to Avatar.  I like his sense of calm and “centered-ness.”

I won’t make any more comments this week about Argo being able to traverse the distance from Mars to Jupiter without the star drive (after harnessing that incredible power to reach Mars from Earth), since I covered it thoroughly last week.  I will note, however, many of the beautiful images this week, like Argo listing to one side in the rainbow-hued atmosphere of Jupiter, or the white-hot flower and destructive flare of the wave motion gun.  I also love the visuals of Argo skimming the ground and lifting off - its nose ascendant -- as it leaves the floating continent.

Instead, I’ll only note that this animated series has done a good job so far of getting viewers on the side of the beleaguered Star Force.  Although the wave motion gun is a terrifying thing, there’s also a sense of accomplishment and triumph in the destruction of the bad guys.  Although the Argo defeated the ultra-menace missile and survived an engagement with a Gamilon carrier, this is the first instance in which the Gamilons have really taken it on the chin, and had their arrogant confidence shaken.  They were clearly not ready for the Argo to bear so much power, and it’s good to see the conquering aliens rocked back on their heels, at least a bit.  

The Argo, we now see, can at least defend itself on its long journey to Iscandar.  But after damage on Mars and repairs on Jupiter, the great battleship better get moving…

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