HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Morfalous, Les
Dreambuilders
Everything Went Fine
Lux AEterna
Rum Runners
Fairy and the Devil, The
Mad God
Outside the Law
I Remember Mama
Superman Unbound
Lawrence of Belgravia
House Across the Lake, The
Wonder Park
Hornsby e Rodriguez
Operation Mincemeat
5 Kung Fu Daredevil Heroes
Scoob!
Earwig
Offseason
Peau Douce, La
Double Indemnity
Na Cha and the Seven Devils
Deep Murder
Superman vs. the Elite
Adam Project, The
Osamu Tezuka's Last Mystery of the 20th Century
Horse, La
Buffaloed
Train Robbers, The
Let Sleeping Cops Lie
Abominable
Funeral, The
Burning Sea, The
Godzilla Singular Point
Ace of Aces
Innocents, The
Beast and the Magic Sword, The
Last Hard Men, The
Found Footage Phenomenon, The
Night Trap
   
 
Newest Articles
3 From Arrow Player: Sweet Sugar, Girls Nite Out and Manhattan Baby
Little Cat Feat: Stephen King's Cat's Eye on 4K UHD
La Violence: Dobermann at 25
Serious Comedy: The Wrong Arm of the Law on Blu-ray
DC Showcase: Constantine - The House of Mystery and More on Blu-ray
Monster Fun: Three Monster Tales of Sci-Fi Terror on Blu-ray
State of the 70s: Play for Today Volume 3 on Blu-ray
The Movie Damned: Cursed Films II on Shudder
The Dead of Night: In Cold Blood on Blu-ray
Suave and Sophisticated: The Persuaders! Take 50 on Blu-ray
Your Rules are Really Beginning to Annoy Me: Escape from L.A. on 4K UHD
A Woman's Viewfinder: The Camera is Ours on DVD
Chaplin's Silent Pursuit: Modern Times on Blu-ray
The Ecstasy of Cosmic Boredom: Dark Star on Arrow
A Frosty Reception: South and The Great White Silence on Blu-ray
You'll Never Guess Which is Sammo: Skinny Tiger and Fatty Dragon on Blu-ray
Two Christopher Miles Shorts: The Six-Sided Triangle/Rhythm 'n' Greens on Blu-ray
Not So Permissive: The Lovers! on Blu-ray
Uncomfortable Truths: Three Shorts by Andrea Arnold on MUBI
The Call of Nostalgia: Ghostbusters Afterlife on Blu-ray
Moon Night - Space 1999: Super Space Theater on Blu-ray
Super Sammo: Warriors Two and The Prodigal Son on Blu-ray
Sex vs Violence: In the Realm of the Senses on Blu-ray
What's So Funny About Brit Horror? Vampira and Bloodbath at the House of Death on Arrow
Keeping the Beatles Alive: Get Back
   
 
  Starbirds It's Romeo and Juliet with giant robots
Year: 1978
Director: Tadao Nagahama
Stars: Akira Kamiya, Miyuki Ueda, Hisashi Katsuta, Kazuyuki Sogabe, Osamu Ichikawa, Yoko Kuri, Hiroya Ishimaru, Kazuko Yanaga, Kazuya Tatekabe, Kenji Utsumi, Makio Inoue, Mari Okamoto
Genre: Animated, Science Fiction, Romance, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Winged aliens from the dying planet Baam decide to conquer planet Earth and make it their new home. They attack just as dashing young space pilot Kazuya Ryuzaki (voiced by Akira Kamiya) and super-cool sidekick Duncan (who cuts quite a figure with his towering afro, tanned shades and disco jumpsuit with a strap-on samurai sword!) fly back from a failed diplomatic mission. As conflicted invasion commander Richter (Osamu Ichikawa) bombards the planet with giant mecha monsters the Earth Defence Force put Kazuya in control of humanity's last hope: a giant super-robot called Daimos. In the midst of battle, Kazuya saves a mysterious girl named Erika (Miyuki Ueda). She has no memory, so neither are aware that she is not only the princess of the alien invaders but Richter's sister to boot. As Kazuya and Erika fall in love they discover there are good people on both sides.

A feature length compilation movie of the forty-four part anime Toshio Daimos, this impassioned super-robot saga was re-titled Starbirds for its American video release and cable TV broadcast as a cash-in on (what else?) Star Wars. A similar fate befell Go Nagai's similarly robot-themed puppet show X-Bomber (1980) which reached British television under the alternate title of Star Fleet and was also re-edited into a feature film on video. Much like X Bomber, Starbirds managed to make a vivid impression on a handful of science fiction fans that caught it at a young age. In part due to the fact that despite a deceptively kitsch, colourful comic book surface, the story touches on morally complex themes.

Often likened by fans to Romeo and Juliet with giant robots, Toshio Daimos was the third in director Tadao Nagahama's conceptual trilogy of 'romantic super-robot' stories. It arrived in the wake of Combattler V (1976) and Voltus (1977), the latter of which was also released in America by the same company behind Starbirds: New Hope Productions (see what they did there?). In place of a simplistic space opera where noble heroes oppose dastardly villains, Nagahama crafts a scenario where both sides exhibit positive and negative qualities and conflict springs from misunderstanding, prejudice and political manipulation. Admittedly not all of the thematic nuances remain intact in the hasty English dubbed version. Yet wisely key antagonist Richter (or Roderick as re-christened in the dub) emerges a truly faceted character. No one-dimensional villain but a deeply conflicted soul with his own code of honour. A driven warrior Richter fights for the survival of his race but comes to genuinely admire humanity's bravery or determination. Rightly or wrongly these were qualities Japanese viewers recognized in their own experience of war. As a result super-robot anime like Toshio Daimos had an emotional resonance for their audience unlike any western cartoons. They paved the way for even more ambitious works like Yoshiyuki Tomino's groundbreaking mecha saga Mobile Suit Gundam (1979).

The feature length version packs in enough space dogfights, karate robot battles and grand scale mayhem rendered in lavish detail to satisfy an action-craving cartoon fan. Many of the surreal monstrosities Katsuya battles evoke classic Toho monster movies that were otherwise too costly to make in the Seventies. While the breakneck pace slightly curtails the love story it remains affecting thanks to Nagahama's artful cinematic techniques and some disarmingly impassioned drama. The already heightened melodrama is amped-up even further by a hysterically camp English dub that over-emphasizes each plot point. Even so Starbirds entertains, fusing together everything Japanese kids found cool in the late Seventies (including the most absurdly over-elaborate hero-jumps-into-a-giant-robot sequence) along with a heartfelt plea for interracial tolerance. Like Shakespeare the plot piles on the tragedy and angst although the third act climax is strangely similar to Flash Gordon (1980). Right down to that weird electronic wedding march.

Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

This review has been viewed 1907 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
Andrew Pragasam
Graeme Clark
Mary Sibley
  Desbris M
  Sheila Reeves
Paul Smith
   

 

Last Updated: