Hotshot space-cop Justy Kaizard tracks down rogue psychics before they can harm others. He tangles with notorious criminal Magnamam Vega, and fries his brains in front of his six year old daughter, Asteris. This traumatic sight triggers Asteris’ latent psychic powers, transforming her into a sixteen year old amnesiac hottie, whom the guilt-ridden Justy adopts as his little sister. Years later the Crimina Esper, a cadre of psychic alien terrorists, hijack the Sigma 3 space shuttle, threatening to kill all hostages unless the Cosmo Police hand over Asteris. Aided by gal pal Jilna Star, Justy hatches a plan that swiftly backfires when the aliens reawaken Asteris’ memories. His beloved kid sister becomes a floaty-haired psychic menace out for revenge.
Quite popular throughout the early days of anime fandom, Cosmo Police Justy (or plain: Justy as it was known amidst the fan-sub market) was action-heavy with a relatively absorbing plot, easy to follow even without subtitles. Essentially a moody, space film noir, its fragmented storytelling, layered with flashbacks is admirably economical and effective. The film contains the roots of a good story, but running a mere 44 minutes these aren’t developed beyond anything more than an anecdote. Actually, this is quite deliberate, since Justy is one of many anime videos created to promote an ongoing manga. The idea being, fans hooked by the animation could follow Tsugo Ozaki’s sci-fi adventure, then serialized in Shonen Sunday magazine. Promotional OAVs (original anime videos) flooded the market in the eighties and nineties, to the eternal frustration of British and American fans who could never get their hands on the manga.
When seen today, the nostalgia factor kicks in. Justy harks back to an era when blue-skinned villains looked like David Bowie in his Ziggy Stardust period; the word “Esper” was Japanimation’s favourite catchphrase for psychic phenomena; and soundtracks were bubblegum pop, heavy on the synthesizers and slap-bass. Justy and Asteris’ space duel is an impressive, hyperkinetic affair and the unfolding narrative is scattered with striking sci-fi imagery (mile-long spaceships, swanky space stations, cosmic forces painted with psychedelic excess), but director Osamu Uemura indulges too many pans across empty space and silly frolics with Asteris in the garden. Chief hindrance is Justy himself, a seemingly invincible hero who shrugs off attacks without breaking sweat.