Sunday, December 4, 2011
You never forget your first time (in space)
As an adult, I notice how knowledge the importance of what has gone (the nature of the solar system, in birthing this voyage)in STAR BLAZERS, which is exciting because it relates the experience of going beyond what is known. The exciting picture of the planets I got as a child watching this also mixed, for me, the solar system with all of the stars, and gave me some sense of Earth as somewhere in vast outer space. Strangely, I acquired the impression that the center of the universe was somewhere besides Earth, and that I was on Earth! I marveled at how I found myself deeply comfortable with the thought of existing in space---such a fundamental picture of my reality, today.
In 2199, Earth's surface has been ravaged by radiation caused by the planet bombs of a cruel star-faring race called the Gamilas. Captain Avatar commands the last functioning star cruiser of our planet, fighting further out in the solar system against the Gamilon armada. When he realizes they must flee and fight another day, his office Alex Wildstar disobeys orders and fights a hopeless rear-guard action so Avatar can take his crew of 471 safely back to Earth. In the original 1974 program aired in Japan, Momori (translates "to protect") Kodai will not turn back out of honor; how can he then face his dead fleet mates before him, if he has not fought their enemy to the death? Alex Wildstar here and his twenty men battle out of a sense of altruism; he makes himself the sacrifice necessary for his ingenious captain to continue serving the Earth, so the planet's not left without defense. The mystery that leads to the Yamato's discovery---resurrection of a battle ship from the last war between the nations of Earth---concurs with the fall of Earth's last coordinated space defense. At this darkest time, scientists realize Earth will become utterly lifeless in the space of a year. Now, we meet Derek Wildstar and his best friend Mark Venture, as they discover a Martian crash, containing a beautiful lady's lifeless body, and a holographic message of the salvation of Earth, if only they can travel to planet Iskandar---further away than any human has ever traveled---using the wave motion energy plan supplied. This gnostic sort of salvation must find a worthy Avatar.
Only by leaping into the void can a valiant Star Force of volunteers vie for the rescue of their world. The ship, in the original creation, is the true character, representing Japan, and Japan, representing the world. Truths to cosmic dangers never before faced are the keys that must be found by the bonded crew, all dedicated to the journey and return from Iskandar with the Cosmos DNA method and restore life on an oceanless, greenless planet Earth.
How new phenomena will interact with the ship is the story engine of STAR BLAZERS. It's not unlike the story of STAR TREK, but what fascinates me is the knowledge this was my very first space opera---I didn't remember seeing STAR WARS movies until I was older, in those pre-affordable-VCR days that went on a little longer if you were working class (or in a non-Western country). I only knew Star Wars from the record & picture book packages, which were my favorite thing before I got into comic books, the main toy Mom and Dad allowed us on their fixed budget; in fact, EMPIRE STRIKES BACK is where the story begins for me.
But STAR BLAZERS, I watched every weekday afternoon with utter devotion. I knew, so long as I got to see STAR BLAZERS, I had been judged as relatively well behaved that day. That would've been the one thing to take away from me if I hadn't! After that cartoon went off, I was more than happy to run back out and play until dark. I was disappointed the other programs on TV weren't STAR BLAZERS and really only stopped to watch things that were as fun as my imagination or I wouldn't sit still. THREE'S COMPANY is probably the first thing I watched that didn't have special effects!!! Except for John Ritter. I have identified with Jack Tripper all my life (though I haven't watched the show much since Dad died: he loved it, too!).
I realize, too, that radiation poisoning---a resonant theme in STAR BLAZERS---is the danger of greatest height in my 'danger bot' premiere story. There are massive hazards occurring all around---in the expanded version, the forces of nature represent the many challenges for which Danger Bot is needed, with a tsunami and earthquake. Perils born of nature---in this case, the nature of space---overwhelm the human experience, but with courage, creativity and ingenuity, such as seen in Japan this past spring (2011), there can be survivors. NO wonder it was entirely appropriate for me to revisit STAR BLAZERS: I'm writing, creating, problem-solving, for the precocious five year old within. It's a good thing to remember---a good way to love your self in a way that takes a step towards actually changing the world.
STAR BLAZERS is a fine example of the ambassadorship of the arts; the descendants of people with which my nation warred now passed their philosophy and the best of themselves through culture, towards our most impressionable youth. Crossing national boundaries---and age, for I was a good bit younger than the viewership the programmers eventually found carried its popularity, for it was no talk-down-to-you little kid's show---these creators gave me a compassionate understanding of their culture, planted a desire to identify with the best lights of other lands. That's a sacred purpose.
Meanwhile, our remaining t-shirts are available at Convention Special Price, for $12 each plus $3.00 for shipping & handling.
You know, I was happy to write about Captain Avatar when I started this post; I wanted to jump off from talking about experience to his refreshing, taciturn, stoic wisdom--- and it really became about what this little show really means to who I am. I'm probably going to really freak out when I go back to BATTLE OF THE PLANETS/ SCIENCE NINJA TEAM GATCHAMAN!!! And don't get me started about Peter Parker...that's who everyone at my Aunt Linda's church thought I was, because that was my answer. I couldn't believe they'd taken me seriously for six months! I mean, doesn't EVERY body know Peter Parker is Spider-Man? I couldn't believe it.