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DVD Review: Starzinger: The Movie Collection


Starzinger truly is a classic sci-fi anime show. Made and released in the 70s, it was heavily edited down from 73 episodes to 23 episodes to be part of the Force Five anthology series, a collection of five different sci-fi anime shows that aired in the U.S. during the late 70s and early 80s. Each show of the Force Five series would air on a specific day of the week, and Starzinger, known as Spaceketeers, aired on Wednesdays.

That show was just a few years before my time so I never had a chance to check it, but that's changed now that a heavily edited version has been released on DVD as a 3-movie collection called Starzinger: The Movie Collection. If I hadn't known this show was made back in the 70s, I surely would have figured it out upon seeing the animation, which is classic 70s anime. The transfer to DVD was pretty good, but it clearly wasn't cleaned up and remastered like some of the Disney films.

The story follows Princess Aurora and her quest to restore balance to the universe. To do this, she must travel to the great planet in the center of the galaxy, as this planet emanates an energy force which at one time maintained peace throughout the galaxy, but has now grown weak. Without this energy, cells throughout the galaxy become mutated causing peaceful aliens to turn evil and destructive. And only Princess Aurora can restore this energy.

Sounds epic! Before she sets out on her quest she is assigned a guardian, a hot-headed cyborg in named Jan Kugo (Jesse Dart in the Spaceketeers version), and she is told that on her quest she will find two other cyborg guardians that will assist in her journey. These turn out to be Don Haka and Sir Djorgo. Each of the cyborgs has a different color uniform, with Kugo being red, Haka being green, and Djorgo being blue. And then the princess is in pink, of course.

The voice acting isn't the greatest, but it's not terrible either. It's definitely been redubbed since the Force Five days as they use the characters' Japanese names rather than the Spaceketeers dubbed names. What's bad is when they aren't able to match the lip movements. Instead of adjusting the lip movements or rewriting the dialog to fit better with the lip movements, they just stop talking when their character's mouth closes and continue talking when it opens, even in the middle of saying something where no pause should exist. And this isn't just occasionally, this happens all the time!

The movies don't really flow like movies, they seem like a series that is being squished down to fit inside a movie, but since that's exactly what they are I can't really fault them too much on that. There's a lot of action but not a whole lot of character development (some, but not a lot) and we never get time to get engaged with these characters and feel for them, which makes the action all seem less exciting, and the story less interesting. I enjoyed seeing classic 70s anime for the sake of finally getting to see some classic 70s anime, but taken as entertainment I have to say I found myself pretty bored by these movies. I'm sure some people will enjoy them for the nostalgia value.

The first disc in this 2-disc set contains the first movie, and the second disc contains movies two and three. It's really unfortunately that no extras were included as I would really have loved to learn more about the production of this show into a movie and the influences this show has had on other anime both in Japan and North America. I think something like that would have added a lot of value to this release. So I'm disappointed to say that unless this show holds some nostalgia value for you, I think you'll probably want to pass on buying it, but if you can get it on Netflix or something then you may want to check it out.

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