The Nihon Review - Anime Reviews & Editorials

Cobra the Animation

Title: Cobra the Animation
Genre: Action/Adventure
Company: Magic Bus
Format: 12 episodes
Dates: 2 Jan 2010 to 27 Mar 2010

Synopsis: Cobra is your everyday intergalactic mercenary space pirate; a mysterious past, a laser gun in his arm, a cigar permanently stuck to his mouth, and a roaming eye for the ladies. For money, pride, love, or a debt from his past, he takes odd and dangerous jobs across the stars. He’s ready for fist fights, car races, treachery, magic, and anything else this wild and kooky universe can throw his way. The only question is: Is the universe ready for Cobra?

The Highlights
Cobra: is the man.
Setting: Equal parts imaginative and random.
Side characters: Quirky and colorful, just don’t get too attached.

Somewhere in the gap between new anime seasons, a rift in the time-space continuum opened up a portal to the early 1980s, and out of this dimensional hole came Cobra the Animation. Something of a two-decade late sequel to the original Space Adventure Cobra, Cobra the Animation is a throwback to the sci-fi adventure shows of old. Beefy dudes shooting lasers and hunting treasure, crazy villains driving wacky vehicles, and buxom babes wearing hilariously impractical outfits (Imagine Johnny Quest with a lot more T&A). And like the character of its namesake, Cobra just pops back up from its journey through the eons, puts a new cigar in its mouth, and goes about with what its business, relatively unchanged.

The titular character is a refreshing sort of protagonist by being neither a scrawny milquetoast high school kid nor an obnoxious and thoughtlessly grandstanding macho dude. Always at the ready with a cheeky remark, Cobra (the man) is tough, slick, and most impressively clever, often solving problems with his head where brute force and laser beams alone fail. He’s a measured blend of Duke Togo’s skilled professionalism and Lupin III’s wisecracking personality. In short, he has charisma; a personality so magnetic that it can carry this sort of adventure show all on its own.

Thankfully Cobra the Animation smartly fills around the main man with complementary characters and flexible setting elements. The fictional world is the writers’ plaything, molded to fit the needs of the current story. Cobra’s universe throws realism out the window, principled only by the Law of Cool. To go from pterodactyl jet chases to archeology dig site explorations to mobster underworld fight clubs to illusion projecting biological supercomputers in the same story arc illustrates how the universe of Cobra the Animation is randomly thrown together. The ancillary characters are equally eclectic, coming in various shapes, sizes, and outsized personalities. Rarely do they last more than one or two episodes, so their impressions are short and sweet.

What makes this oldschool approach work is handling its sheer ludicrous excess with a hand for measured control. Its goofy premises is rife with ironic traps and pitfalls, but its sharp script and quick pace places Cobra’s straight and serious execution on the right side of competence. Cobra has a rare ability in precise plotting and efficient characterization that makes its ridiculous stories, like a battle between humanoid frogs with frickin’ laser beams attached to their frickin’ backs fighting a mind-controlling dragon made of pure energy, as awesome as it should sound. The producers over and over again introduce simple yet imaginative concepts without convoluting the picture with unnecessary details.

Ultimately, Cobra is transient entertainment. Not for deep thinking, high minded artistry, or made with lasting legacy in mind, Cobra is a literal explosion of ideas and a seeming incongruous mess. Yet this kids’ adventure show of yesteryear – now curiously tagged with terms like “classic”, “nostalgic”, and “adult” – concocts a mixture with the skill and technique of a seasoned chef, and serves something more delicious than its chunky consistency and funky texture might initially suggest. Cobra the Animation is simple fun that doesn’t outstay its welcome, and there isn’t a much better compliment to give than that.

The Rating: 7

Reviewed by: kadian1364

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