In the far future, an office worker named Johnson leads a dull and mundane life. One Sunday morning, his robotic servant Ben suggests that he go to the Trip Movie Corporationâ€”a company that enables its customers to experience a dream as though it were a reality. Johnson asks to be a king of a harem, and to command a battlestar.
In his dream, however, Johnson instead becomes "Cobra", an adventurer who explores space with his android partner Lady Armaroid. Cobra wields the Psychogun, a cybernetic arm-laser gun, to fight monsters and the Pirate Guild, an organized crime syndicate of pirates. After a battle with the Guild, Cobra allows its leader Captain Vaiken to escape. Vaiken distributes Cobras picture to other pirates, making him a wanted man. After the dream ends, Johnson describes the fantasy to an attendant, who is surprised because Johnsons dream should not have any reference to pirates or to Cobra.
On his way back home, Johnson crashes into a speeding car whose driver looks like Captain Vaiken. When Johnson mentions the resemblance, the driver reveals himself as Vaiken. He asks Johnson about "Cobra" and threatens to kill Johnson if he does not answer. Johnson unconsciously lifts his arm and a ray shoots out of his hand, killing Vaiken. The shot explodes Johnsons arm, revealing the Psychogun embedded in it.
Johnson rushes home, where Ben notices the weapon on his arm. Johnson then realizes that he remembers nothing from before the last three years. After looking into a mirror, he finds a knob and turns it to reveal a secret room. There, he finds the revolver which he used in his dream. At that moment, armed intruders break into the house and address him as "Cobra". A battle ensues, and Bens robot shell breaks to reveal Lady Armaroid, with whom Johnson kills the intruders.
Johnson starts to remember his previous existence as Cobra. Hunted by the Pirate Guild for meddling in their criminal enterprises and tired of life on the run, Cobra surgically altered his face and had his memories erased. Lady Armaroid tells Cobra that the Trip Movie has triggered his subconscious to regain access to the memories of his former life. Cobra and Lady Armadroid resume their adventurous life together.Cobra () is the main protagonist and eponymous character of the series. Cobras signature weapon is the Psychogun, which can target putative enemies without having a line-of-sight. Using the Psychogun drains Cobras mental energy, but his superhuman stamina compensates for it. He also carries a Python 77 Magnum revolver as a backup weapon. Cobra was voiced by Shigeru Matsuzaki in the film adaptation, by Nachi Nozawa in the first anime, and by Naoya Uchida in Cobra the Animation. Dan Woren voiced him in the Urban Vision release, while John Guerrasio voiced him in Manga Entertainment version.
Lady Armaroid (, Amaroido Redi, originally "Armaroid Lady") is Cobras long-time partner and is the serious half of the duo. She and Cobra share a deep, unspoken trust; in times of need they always help each other. Lady is a top-class Armaroidâ€”a mechanical cyborgâ€”derived from advanced technology recovered from an ancient, lost civilization on Mars. She possesses superhuman strength but does not carry a weapon and is rarely involved in physical combat. When Cobra is away on an adventure, Lady supports Cobra by piloting their spaceship, the Tortuga. In the Manga Entertainment dub, Lady Armaroid is renamed Andromeda. Yoshiko Sakakibara voiced Lady in the film, in the first anime, and in Cobra the Animation. In the Urban Vision release, Joan-Carol OConnell voiced her, and she was voiced by Tamsin Hollo in the Manga Entertainment dubbing.
Jane Royal (, Jen Roiyaru) is the first of the triplet daughters of Captain Nelson that Cobra meets. Each sister has a unique tattoo on her back which, once assembled in a chromatic sequence, form a map leading to hidden gold, diamonds, and the fabled Ultimate Weapon. In the Manga Entertainment dub, Jane Royal is renamed Jane Flower. Jane was voiced by Akiko Nakamura in the film, and by Toshiko Fujita in the first anime. Barbara Goodson voiced her in the Urban Vision release, while Lorelei King voiced her in the Manga Entertainment version.
Catherine Royal (, Kyasarin Roiyaru) is the second of the triplets whom Cobra meets after Jane asks him to rescue Catherine from the Sidoh Penitentiary. Catherine is a timid school teacher, and is the only sister who is not involved in a violent occupation. In the Manga Entertainment dub, Catherine Royal is renamed Catherine Flower. She is voiced by Toshiko Fujita in the film, and by Yuko Sasaki in the first anime. In the Urban Vision release, Mari Devon voiced her, while she was voiced by Lorelei King in the Manga Entertainment dubbing.
Dominique Royal (, Dominiku Roiyaru) serves as an officer in the Milky Way patrol. Dominique possesses great strength and co-operates well with Cobra, often looking the other way when her professional duties would require her to arrest him. She hires him to resolve an unpleasant matter of drug trafficking involving the Rugball Federation at the Rand Stadium. In the Manga Entertainment dub, Dominique Royal is renamed Dominique Flower. Dominique was voiced by Jun Fubuki in the film, and by Gara Takashima in the first anime. Wendee Lee voiced her in the Urban Vision release, while Lorelei King voiced her in Manga Entertainment version.
Crystal Boy (, Kurisutaru Boi, originally "Crystal Bowie") is Cobras arch-enemy who regards Cobra as the only man worthy of becoming his adversary. Crystal Boy is a humanoid cyborg with a golden skeleton and a body made from indestructible, polarizing glass. He works for the Pirate Guild led by Lord Salamander. Crystal Boys signature weapon is a claw which he can attach to his right hand. The claw can crush anything, and he also uses it for slitting his victims throats. The claw has a built-in laser gun which can also be used as a grappling hook or fired as a projectile. In the Manga Entertainment dub, Crystal Boy is renamed Lord Necron. Crystal Boy was voiced by Goro Mutsumi in the film, and by Kiyoshi Kobayashi in the two anime adaptations. In the Urban Vision release, Jeff Winkless voiced him, while he was voiced by David McAlister in the Manga Entertainment dubbing.
Sandra (, Sandora) first serves as the ruthless and cold-hearted leader of the Snow Gorillasâ€”the local branch of the Pirate Guild on her home planet. Later, Sandra hounds Cobra and tracks him to the planet on which the Ultimate Weapon is hidden. Sandra was originally ordered to retrieve the Weapon and hand it over to the emissaries of the Guild, but she uses it for her own ends and turns against the Guild until Cobra stops her. In the Manga Entertainment dub, Sandra is renamed Nadia. Sandra was voiced by Reiko Tajima in the film and in the first anime. Catherine Battistone voiced her in the Urban Vision release, while Lesley Martin voiced her in Manga Entertainment version.
Lord Salamander (, Rodo Saramanda) is a mysterious, deep-voiced man dressed in samurai armor. After he unites the Pirate Guild under his command, Salamanders unquenched ambitions lead him to seek absolute control over the galaxy. Lord Salamander rarely appears in person, but demonstrates a powerful telekinetic ability when he does. He can also teleport, incinerate an enemy by will alone and make his enemies think they see someone else. He uses this trick and his other powers to dispose of Doug, Pumpkin and Bud. In the final episode, he is revealed as the spirit of Adolf Hitler, which was revived 3000 years after his defeat. Lord Salamander was voiced by Hidekatsu Shibata in the anime.
Cobra is Buichi Terasawas debut manga series. Previously he had written and illustrated between twenty and thirty science-fiction shojo (targeted towards girls) short stories for manga contests held by manga magazines, with one of them earning an honorable mention. Terasawa created Cobra by combining the spaghetti western subgenre and Japanese stories featuring a "wandering swordman". The Psychogun was created before the titular character, and Terasawa wanted to create a hero who would be able to carry a concealed weapon. According to Terasawa, his concept of a hero has been greatly influenced by "spaghetti westerns with a James Bond-type spin to them." He also drew inspiration from the French actor Jean-Paul Belmondo. In general, Terasawa has been influenced by films, including the James Bond film series, Akira Kurosawas films, and Disney films prior to The Little Mermaid (1989). For example, Jane Fondas performance in the cult science-fiction film Barbarella (1968) served as a direct model for his character Jane, whose hairstyle was also inspired by Princess Auroras in the Disney animated film Sleeping Beauty (1959). For his storytelling, panel layout, and narrative pacing in general, he draws influence from manga artist Osamu Tezuka, who mentored him.
Written and illustrated by Buichi Terasawa, Cobra was first published in 1977 in Shueishas Japanese shonen manga magazine Weekly Shonen Jump as a one-shot edition. It was later serialized, running from the November 6, 1978 issue to the November 12, 1984 issue of Weekly Shonen Jump, and released under the magazines Jump Comics line in eighteen tankobon volumes between August 15, 1979 and August 15, 1985. Cobra was re-published from February 10, 1988 to November 10, 1998 in a ten-volume aizoban edition under Jump Comics Deluxe entitled Space Adventure Cobra.
The manga series was only partially released in the United States by Viz Communications in 1990 in a series of twelve books. This English-language publication covered the origin story and the Royal Sisters saga, with dialogue adapted by the American comic book writer Marv Wolfman and published under Viz Communications Viz Select Comics line. The complete manga was published in several other countries. In France, the manga was first published by Dynamic Visions, and later reprinted by Taifu Comics. Its first volume was released in the 1990s Brazil by Dealer, being one of the first manga to be published in the country. The manga was also published in Italy by Play Press, in Taiwan by Tong Li, in Hong Kong by Culturecom, and in Thailand by Vibulkij.
Shueisha released Cobra in kanzenban form with the title Space Adventure Cobra: Handy Editionâ€”which included volumes one through tenâ€”from October 19, 2001 to February 4, 2002. Shueisha later created three kanzenban magazine series based on the Cobra manga under their Shueisha Jump Remix line. Irezumi no Onna Hen,, which spanned two volumes, was published on October 7, 2002, and on October 21, 2002; Rugball Hen, which spanned two volumes, was published on November 2, 2002, and on November 18, 2002; and Shido no Megami Hen, which spanned three volumes, was published from June 9, 2003 to July 7, 2003. Media Factory also published Cobra in a kanzenban edition; it was simply called Cobra Kanzenban, and spawned twelve volumes released between August 23, 2005, and June 23, 2006. Cobra was also sold as an e-book, Space Adventure Cobra: Galaxy Knights for a limited time.
The seinen manga magazine Super Jump published several Cobra sequel or spin-off series. The first was titled Cobra: Seinaru Kishi Densetsu,, which was serialized in 1986 in a special issue of Weekly Shonen Jump. It was then published in a single tankobon by Shueisha in 1988 under the magazines Jump Comics Deluxe line. Space Adventure Cobra: The Psychogun, a fully colored "computer graphics" manga, was serialized in Super Jump in 1995. A "computer graphics" sequel called Space Adventure Cobra: Magic Doll was serialized in Super Jump from 2000 to 2002. Along with several other series serialized in Super Jump, they were published from 1995 to 2002 in Jump Comics Deluxe under the title Space Adventure Cobra.
Space Adventure Cobra: Magic Doll was re-serialized in the Monthly Comic Flapper magazine by Media Factory, and was published under its MF Comics line as Cobra the Space Pirate: Magic Doll Zenpen and Cobra the Space Pirate: Magic Doll Kohen on February 23, 2006, and September 22, 2006, respectively. In addition, Media Factory published six Cobra one-shots; the first one, Cobra the Space Pirate: Kokuryu O, on March 23, 2006, and the last one, Cobra the Space Pirate: Time Drive, on April 23, 2009, all of which were also under MF Comics. To celebrate the series 30th anniversary, sixteen manga were reprinted and released by Media Factory; on May 23, 2008, Cobra Fukkatsu and Irezumi no Sanshimai were released, and Magic Doll concluded it, with its release on July 7, 2009. Since October 25, 2014, Media Factory is republishing Cobra the Space Pirate through its MFR Series.
TMS Entertainment adapted the manga into a film titled Space Adventure Cobra, which was released on July 23, 1982, in Japan. It was directed by Osamu Dezaki, with screenplay by Terasawa and Haruya Yamazaki, and retold the Cobra involvement with the Royal Sisters, and his fight against Crystal Boy, which was the first major arc of manga. In Japan, the film was first released on DVD on June 25, 2001 by Digital Site, and re-released by Happinet on August 29, 2008. Manga Entertainment released the film in British theaters in 1995. The Manga Entertainment versions dub had an alternate soundtrack performed by the pop group Yello. An American dub was created by Carl Maceks Streamline Pictures, and was released in American theaters on August 20, 1995, by Tara, and was later distributed by Urban Vision on VHS format on June 16, 1998. The film was released in the Australasian region by Madman Entertainment on December 5, 2007. On April 8, 2008, Manga Entertainment released it on DVD. On January 3, 2012, Hulu started to host the English dubbed version of the film after an agreement with TMS. Discotek Media released the film in the United States on DVD on August 21, 2012. Matthew Sweets music video "Girlfriend" used excerpts from the film, and become one of the most-watched videos on MTV.
Cobra was adapted into an anime series titled Space Cobra directed by Dezaki that aired on Fuji Television between October 7, 1982, and May 19, 1983. The episodes were released in eight DVDs and a DVD box set on October 25, 2000 by Digital Site in Japan. The series was released in Northern America by Nozomi Entertainment in two parts; the first was released on March 4, 2014, and the second one is available since May 6, 2014.
Cobra was adapted into two OVAs and a television series that were created by Guild Project and animated by Magic Bus under the Cobra the Animation line for the series 30th anniversary. The first of the series was The Psychogun, which was released direct-to-DVD between August 29, 2008, and February 27, 2009. It was written, storyboarded, and directed by Terasawa. Its sequel OVA, Time Drive, was released between April 24, 2009, and June 26, 2009. It was co-directed by Terasawa and Kenichi Maejima. Both OVA series were later released in Blu-ray box set on February 19, 2010. The anime television series Rokunin no Yushi, directed by Keizo Shimizu, aired on BS 11 between January 2, 2010 and March 27, 2010. Crunchyroll streamed the first OVA series between December 18, 2009 to on January 8, 2010. The two episodes of Time Drive were uploaded on January 1, 2008, and Rokunin no Yushi was simulcasted as it aired in Japan.
In 2008, Buichi Terasawa said he received a Hollywood offer to purchase the rights to a live-action film adaptation of the series. He stated it was "off-the-record", and that if it happened it would be partly standalone and separate from his original manga. However, in 2010, Alexandre Aja announced he had purchased its rights, and that he planned to direct a live-action film adaptation of Cobra. Aja was inspired to create this film adaptation because the original manga was one of his childhood favorites. Aja wrote the script with Gregory Levasseur, and produced the film with Levasseur, Marc Sessego and Alexandra Milchan. Aja said he wanted to create a "tent pole-sized live action franchise". On April 30, 2011 a teaser poster depicting promotional concept art for Cobra: The Space Pirate, along with a release date scheduled for mid-2013, was unveiled. In September 2013, however, Aja admitted that making the film will be "very hard" as "to do a new kind of Star Wars, its expensive" though he stated "we are trying everything, we will make it." In July 2014, Aja revealed it was estimated that the project would require a budget of over $150 million, and that he was seeking to have an A-list actor to help attract a funder.
The soundtrack of the film was composed by Osamu Shoji. It used a single opening theme and a single ending theme, and its lyrics were written by Tetsuya Chiaki and composed by Saburo Suzuki. "Daydream Romance" by Shigeru Matsuzaki was used as the opening music and "Stay" by Eve was used at the end. The subsequent animes music was scored by Kentaro Haneda. The lyrics for "Cobra" and "Secret Desire", the opening and the ending themes respectively, were written by Kayoko Fuyomori and composed by Yuji Ohno; both were sung by Yoko Maeno. The animes music was compiled into two albums; Space Cobra: Original Soundtrack and Space Cobra: Complete Soundtrack were released by Nippon Columbia on September 25, 2003, and April 21, 2004, respectively.
The musical score for Cobra the Animation was composed by Yoshihiro Ike. The opening theme from The Psychogun is "Kizudarake no Yume" by Yoko Takahashi and it ending theme is "Wanderer" by Shigeru Matsuzaki. Both were released as singles on August 27, 2008, by Nippon Columbia. The second OVA used "Time Drive" by Sasja Antheunis as its opening theme and "Kimi ga bi Waraunara" by Shigeru Matsuzaki as its closing theme. "Cobra the Space Pirate" by Sasja Antheunis and "Kimi no Uta" respectively were used as opening theme and closing theme for Rokunin no Yushi. On March 24, 2010, both were released as singles by Nippon Columbia. A soundtrack containing music from both OVAs and a compilation of music from the anime series were released on January 20, 2010, and April 14, 2010, respectively. Cobra Song Collection, which encompassed music from the soundtracks of the film, two OVAs and two anime series was released on March 31, 2010 by Nippon Columbia.
In 1982, Popy Electronics created the hand-held games Space Cobra Professional and Space Cobra the Psychogun. It was followed by Cobra: Kokuryu O no Densetsu, released in 1989 for the PC Engine, and Cobra 2: Densetsu no Otoko, released for the PC Engine in 1990, which was released in North America and Europe for the Sega CD as The Space Adventure - Cobra: The Legendary Bandit.
The Cobra manga has become the basis of two artbooks. An artbook focusing on the female characters of the series was released as Cobra Girls on February 1, 1988. Concept designs of the manga were added to a Cobra artbook titled Cobra Wonder: Concept Design Arts of Cobra World, which was released in July 17, 1997, and included two Cobra???s side storiesâ€”Bara and Maho no Funeâ€”first published in Super Jump in 1988. Popy and Bandai included Cobras ground vehicle, the Psychoroid, in the Japanese Machine Robo toyline, where it gained the ability to transform into a robot. Japan later exported this idea to the United States as part of the Super Gobots toyline under the name "Psycho", designed by Murakami Katsushi. In Japan, action figures, T-shirts, kewpie dolls, Cobras Psychogun and Crystal Boys claw replicas, stamps, and limited-edition whiskey bottles were sold as merchandise for the series.
Approximately 40 million copies on Cobra have been sold, making it one of Weekly Shonen Jumps best-selling manga series of all time. Cobra made Terasawa, who at the time was 22 and was little known, famous. The English version of Cobra was named as one of the "The Top 25 Translated-To-English Manga of All Time" by Wizard magazine. Ivevei Upatkoon of EX online magazine praised it as a "rich fantasy" that was unmatched by any other. She said the main character took "after James Bond, albeit somewhat on the silly side, and the costumes and bizarre worlds are but a shade shy of plagiarizing Barbarella". She was impressed that the series "is surprisingly devoid of the sexual innuendo and exploitation that anime fans have come to associate with decorative female characters"; it avoids the stereotypical, beautiful women, and instead creates its own "extreme" world. Upatkoon also said that modern readers might find the manga dated and would be discouraged from reading it, despite the improvement in artistic quality as the series progresses. Writing for Anime News Network (ANN), Jason Thompson described Cobra as "a significant piece of manga history". Thompson wrote that the women of the series have a "realistic physique and not some moe jailbait or grotesque bakunyu explosion". Thompson deemed Cobra as a parody of both Western action heroes and Star Wars and 1970s shojo science fiction and its concept of beauty".
The anime film received mixed reviews from critics. Otaku USA???s Daryl Surat wrote that Cobra is a type of classical pulp series. While declared its protagonist is "part Han Solo and part Sean Connery-era James Bond" who does not fit the modern-day anime hero standard. Surat also said, "when people speak of the 1980s as the golden age of anime sci-fi, its because of things like Space Adventure Cobra". Sandra Scholes of Active Anime commented it reminded "Barbarella, Zardoz and Star Wars all mixed together." Writing in the Fandom Post, Darius Washington thought it was "more like the Derek Flint films" than James Bond and that Cobras adventures "could be comparable to worlds depicted in Outlaw Star and Bodacious Space Pirates." Tim Henderson from ANN praised it for staying true to the manga and "holding its own with a modern audience". Henderson stated that the series carries a theme of "love as a power beyond compare", which battles with the main characters playboyish air. Overall, Henderson said the movie is a masterpiece and classic that is worth viewing to know the mediums foundations. On the other hand, Charles Packer of Sci-Fi Online called the plot pure nonsense and the dialogue almost laughable. He said that the animation looks like a Saturday morning cartoon, stating it crosses between that of an old anime and a new one, complete with interesting "psychedelic moments".
The anime television series received mostly praise. Pedro Cortes from Japanator asserted, "Space Adventure Cobra is interesting in that it takes a shard of an idea from a classic and then spins it out into its own epic." Cortes praised its "charming" designs, while criticized the main character lack of development as "the only negative thing." He added, "There isnt a ton of depth, but the show doesnt pretend to be anything but a fun, sci-fi romp around the galaxy." ANNs Theron Martin praised its "surprisingly solid" art "for a series of its era" and affirmed, "it does stand up well as high-spirited, fun-loving action fare with occasional darker overtones." Chris Beveridge of The Fandom Post said, "Its simple but full of adventure, interesting characters and locations and a sense of fun that definitely makes it work in a very good way" and has "a solid visual design." Washington, in a review for Otaku USA, commended that it "is entertaining overall" and has "an overall fun vibe" because of it "smooth" art; he, however, criticized what he called "serious misogynistic tendencies."
Cobra the Animation: The Psychogun and Rokunin no Yushi have been well received by fans; the OVA was among the best-selling for two weeks, and the sixth volume of the anime series was one of the best-selling DVDs for one week. Chris Beveridge from Mania.com praised the anime series and its visual design, comparing to the The Psychogun ones, but said it is not for those who are unaware the original series. He said the anime has "a healthy dose of action, the kind of sexuality thats a trademark of the series ... as well as a good bit of silly fun". In the second episode review, Beveridge said it "seems to be following much the same kind of pace and structure" as the OVAs. Its animation was compared with the Darkside Blues; ANNs Erin Finnegan said it was a "gritty" animation, but that from episode five, the animation quality looks more modern and much less gritty. Beveridge said the animes idea is simple, but added it is "also not a show you see often since it doesnt center around teenagers, schools or the harem concept". He said it is not "a great show", but that "it gives us something different than the usual"â€”the reason it is "enjoyable".