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Manga / Space Adventure Cobra

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Imagine a book about space adventures from The '80s. Make the overall tone a bit Darker and Edgier, slightly increase the amount of naked female body, keep the funny level the same and give the main character an Arm Cannon. Make it all into manga and anime adaptation. Give it an awesome, very Eighties female vocal opening and ending.

Here you have it — Space Adventure Cobra. A Space Opera / Science Fantasy manga by Buichi Terasawa published between 1978 and 1984, and later adapted to a feature-length anime film and then an anime TV series. An anime sequel and an OVA were released in 2009-2010.

Both adaptations were closely watched by author of the original manga, Buichi Terasawa, and preserved both the plot and style of the original. What is even more awesome, in the recent sequel titled Cobra the Animation they even recruited the same voice actors in Japan for both Cobra (Nachi Nozawa) and Lady Armaroid (Yoshiko Sakakibara). Preserving the character design helped a lot too.


It also spawned a Seinen Web Comic sequel named Cobra: Over the Rainbow, which is also serialized in Comic Hu magazine and is penned by the same Buichi Terasawa himself.

A video game adaptation, Cobra: The Arcade, was developed and released by Namco in 2005 exclusively for arcades. Gameplay-wise, it is Time Crisis in the skin of Space Adventure Cobra, and features a card system that allows the player to save their records and earn unlocks. Earlier there had also been The Space Adventure, a menu-driven adventure game that saw release on the Sega CD.

Not to be confused with The Cobra Trilogy, which also involves space adventures.


Space Adventures Cobre provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: The late 1990s' full-color re-edition of the manga makes heavy use of CG imagery for backgrounds, vehicles and monsters. Those updated elements are still the work of Buichi Terasawa, and are certainly gorgeous — going easily into Scenery Porn. But they also stand out rather sharply with the original 2D-art.
  • Action Girl: Lady and many secondary characters.
  • Adaptational Heroism: Sandra, in the original series, was the Arc Villain of the Ultimate Weapon arc and a greedy woman with delusions of grandeur who would have her own female members killed for the slightest defiance. In the movie, however, she's now one of Cobra's allies and almost none of her villainy from the TV series is shown.
  • All Planets Are Earth-Like
  • Alternate Continuity:
    • In the 1982 movie that came before the anime series, there are several major changes to the plot involving the Royal Sisters who have been changed from the triplets of a notorious pirate who tattooed the location of a deadly super weapon on their backs to them being alien triplets from an artificial planet at least one of which is destined to become queen and change the route of their artificial planet, preventing it from colliding with a star.
    • The failed pilot for an English dub of the series had the entire plot changed. Cobra himself had been changed from a legendary pirate that vanished after declining an offer to join the pirate guild (called "The Dark Side Clan" in the dub) to the leader of a resistance fighting against said Dark Side Clan.
  • Amazonian Beauty: In the anime, the two cyborg executioners for Cido Penitentary are quite muscular and are even taller than Cobra who's not a small man. In the manga, the executioners are a bit smaller and lighter of build.
  • Anti-True Sight: Cobra's prosthetic left arm, which hides his deadly Psychogun, doesn't just look normal at casual glance: it contains highly sophisticated countermeasures that can fool even the advanced metal detectors and X-ray scanners equivalent of this Space Opera setting. Any such device would just show a perfectly normal bone-and-flesh arm upon scanning, allowing Cobra to come and go undetected even in highly secured areas.
  • Arch-Enemy: Crystal Bowie, a prominent member of the Pirate Guild who rivals Cobra in combat abilities. He and Cobra eventually realize their mutual hatred comes from them being Connected All AlongBowie was the warrior who drove fear into Cobra's heart and severed his left arm, just for Cobra to get Bowie mortally wounded by his own axe in retaliation.
  • Arm Cannon: The Psychogun, Cobra's left arm cannon. Its beams are mind-controlled and become more powerful the more focused Cobra is.
  • Anyone Can Die: Most of Cobra's allies are not lucky. Catherine, Jane and even Dominique all get killed, though the latter seems to somehow return as an amnesiac Secret.
  • Attack the Injury: Not an improvisation but an actual well-thought tactic. During the Rugball arc, Cobra obtains the medical files of the Opposing Sports Team, positing that Rugball being such a Blood Sport, long-time practitioners naturally have some old injuries that aren't fully healed even by futuristic medical science. Thus he makes his teammates learn the specific weak spots of every opponent; it doesn't insure victory against the champion team, but it definitely gives the underdogs an edge.
  • Balloon Belly: Taken to its logical conclusion here.
  • Biseinen: Cobra, before he changed his face.
  • Blood Sport: Rugball, a violent mix of Baseball, Rugby and American Football.
  • The Casanova: Cobra, all the way.
  • Casual Danger Dialog: Cobra makes small talk with enemies and taunts them about all the time.
  • Charles Atlas Superpower: Cobra has a grip strength of 500 kg. With his right, non-cybernetic arm.
  • Cigar Chomper: Cobra always has a cigar stuck in the corner of his mouth. Some of those cigars hides useful gadgets, though, like a flashlight or underwater breathing apparatus.
  • Combat Stilettos: A frequent accessory of female outfits.
  • Composite Character: In the TV anime, Mirale Judd, head of the Elrado sect, is combined with Dominique.
  • Cool Gun: Cobra's Psychogun. Specifically, it can fire without the need for line of sight. Though it'll drain Cobra mentally with overuse. Awesomeness has its price, you see.
  • Cyborg: Many characters, friends or foes.
    • Cobra himself, with his left arm.
    • Lady Armaroid was once human, but her brain had to be put in a mechanical body to save her life.
  • Dark Action Girl: Plenty of women in the series.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the manga, Mirale Judd is a major supporting character during the final stretch of the Salamander arc. In the anime, Mirale is revealed to have been Dead All Along, with her role instead going to an amnesiac Dominique serving as her body double.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: The evil Targrave the Magician is a muscular plant-man who loves holding down beautiful women to force his long, thick vine into their mouths and planting a seed into them.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: Hardly a volume goes by without female corpses being presented in eroticised fashion, given the abundance of femme fatales and damsels who wear nothing more than bikinis into the battlefield.
  • Eye Scream: Cobra blasts out the eye of the Pirate Guild leader. This is part of the reason why he later recognizes him as the boss of a Casino, when he was still amnesiac.
  • Fake Memories: Cobra has erased his own memory in order to evade his pursuers, and regains it by accident.
  • Fembot: Lady Armaroid, Cobra'smost trusted companion, is a woman who was forced to become almost entirely cybernetic because of a disease.
  • First-Episode Twist: Johnson is actually the space pirate Cobra after faking his death and giving himself amnesia.
  • Foreshadowing: Even before it's revealed that Lord Salamander is Adolf Hitler, there are already several things hinting to it.
    • For starters, Salamander calls his master plan the Third Reich.
    • The salute his subordinates do for him is the Nazi salute.
    • And finally, his subordinates refer to him as The Fuhrer.
  • Girl of the Week: Some stories have Cobra hanging out with love interests that don't appear again afterwards. Particularly unlucky ones either get killed by villains due to his Cartwright Curse or are evil themselves and get killed by Cobra after betraying him.
  • Grass Is Greener: The manga begins with this; Johnson, a Generic Guy with generic dreams of adventure chooses to pursue such a dream in a Lotus-Eater Machine, only for the machine to unlock memories of being Cobra, an adventurer with dreams of a simpler life who chose to get Magic Plastic Surgery and Laser-Guided Amnesia.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • The Psychogun.
    • Crystal Bowie.
    • Also, the setting's currency is the kuredito (credit).
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice:
    • Cobra got messily impaled in quite a few scenes but this could only knock him out for a few hours at worst. Memorably, the first time it happens he shrugs it off and taunts his confused assailant before killing him. ...Then the hero admits to himself that yes, he nearly just died there.
    • One of Iron Head's minions shoots Cobra on the arm with a poisoned harpoon, but he fires a even larger one from a cannon back at her, piercing her abdomen and killing her instantly.
    • Jane and Dominique in the 1982 Film.
  • It Only Works Once: In the Royal Triplets arc, Cobra defeats Crystal Bowie using an unorthodox strategy of launching his cybernetic arm through the Psychogun's barrel, propelling it at a lethal speeds. It works and Crystal Bowie is defeated. However, come later in the Six Heroes arc and the The Psychogun series, Crystal Bowie is revealed to have been repaired and faces Cobra again. The minute Cobra tries the same attack, Crystal Bowie sees it immediately and grabs his arm before it can hit him.
  • It's Personal: Cobra declares war on the Pirate Guild upon failing to save both Catherine and Jane. The same goes for Lord Salamander after he kills Dominique as well.
  • Jackass Genie: This one not only curbstomps Cobra with ease, but also goes around stealing loot from planets and forcing beautiful women into his harem. Worse yet, he controls his harem by poisoning them with a magic fruit that makes them balloon up painfully until they explode.
  • Leotard of Power: Being this kind of series, many girls wear sexy leotards but the one who particularly kicks ass and even shown to match wits with Cobra in them is Jane Royal.
  • Loveable Rogue: One of anime's most absolutely charming scoundrels. Think of him as a Japanese Han Solo mixed in a blender with Arsène Lupin.
  • The Man Behind the Curtain: Lord Salamander’s physically imposing appearance is ultimately revealed to be a psychic energy projection from his true body, a decrepit and mummified Adolf Hitler.
  • Morph Weapon: The "Ultimate Weapon" is the main MacGuffin during an early story arc. When finally discovered, it looks rather inconspicuous: an ovoid fitting in the palm... from which an eye open. But then, if this eye catches sight of any weapon, it can turn into a copy of it... whether a sword, a gun or a tank. And the Weapon can also turn its wielder into a freaking giant along with its own scaling up. When confronted with this, Cobra takes great care of avoiding that the Weapon could become a spaceship....
  • Ms. Fanservice: Most of the women in the series, in addition to being good-looking, wear rather revealing clothing and frequently appear in states of undress.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: Crystal Bowie; Cobra himself too.
  • Nipple and Dimed: Zigzagged. Some scenes in the manga portray women with defined nipples and others don't. The feral villainess in volume 10 in particular is topless with no visible nipples in all of her scenes, unlike how most of the borderline nude female characters cover their breasts with pasties. Some prints of the manga, like the colored version, also censored most of such scenes.
  • Out-of-Clothes Experience: The sisters Jane and Catherine Royal are seen together, naked in a void, as they are dying.
  • Pastel-Chalked Freeze Frame: Anime director Osamu Dezaki is the Trope Maker, and Space Adventure Cobra is likely the Trope Codifier.
  • Platonic Life-Partners: Lady Armaroid and Cobra. Through thick and thin, one will watch the others back, and they literally are as thick as thieves. The trope is practically lampshaded in the text game when Hammerbolt Joe kidnaps Lady; Cobra himself calls her his invaluable partner. And in the anime movie, Lady is shown to care for him, offering to dance with him, and more than willing to stay up for long periods of times helping him train with the Psychogun. It helps both are badass pirates who know their way through combat.
  • Rated M for Manly: It's an action series about a stylish manly outlaw at his physical prime going on adventures across the galaxy with palpable amounts of violence and female nudity.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Cobra and Lady. It's in the clothes.
  • Reset Button: In one of the later episodes, Cobra accidentally unleashes an unstoppable ancient weapon that WILL destroy entire civilizations. As a result a little robot chicken guardian has to rewind time, retconning the entire episode out of existence.
  • The Reveal: Lord Salamander's true identity is Adolf Hitler.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better: Both in manga and old TV series, Cobra carries a custom six-shooter. (The bullets are of a special alloy that can pierce some armors even the Psychogun can't go through, however.) In some versions it's actually a portable mortar, with Cobra refusing to use it inside his ship for fear that he'd destroy the vessel. It's back in the new TV series.
  • Robot Girl: Some of Cobra's female encounters aren't quite human. Lady Armaroid herself; the name should be an eyecatch.
  • Rocket Punch:
    • One of the episodic villains in the first TV series has a very well-guided version.
    • Cobra himself can launch his fake arm in that way. It returns too.
  • Rugby Is Slaughter: Rugball is baseball plus violence. Named after rugby. Nevermind that no rules seem to be related to rugby at all, or that players are padded as in American football.
  • Rule of Cool: Replaces the laws of physics. Every episode.
  • Science Fantasy: While this is largely a science fiction series, there are also lots of fantasy elements thrown in, including genies, fairies, magic, etc.
  • Space Pirates: Although in the original Japanese it's more of a "Space Mafia", which describes better the organization. In the Swedish dub they are literally called the "Pirate Mafia". So does that mean they scam you out of your money, after they've plundered you?
  • Space Police: The Galaxy Police opposes the Pirate Guild and fights smuggling, slave trading, and so on. Agent Dominique occasionally recruits Cobra to fight Guild schemes.
  • Space Whale: Not a whale, but in one story (later used for the first PC-Engine game) the spaceship Cobra is on in the beginning gets eaten by a giant hammerhead shark.
  • Spared by the Adaptation: Dominique in the original TV series.
  • Stripperiffic: Every. Female. In. The. Series. Ranging from very skimpy to virtually nonexistent.
  • Squishy Wizard: Averted with King Galtan. He's a gigantic genie who overpowers Cobra's spaceship and has had his head blown off with the Psychogun, which only amused him. Later he has a magic fruit stuck in him that balloons him up until he explodes, but he got better in seconds.
  • Super Strength: In the manga, Cobra is imprisoned along with a Heavy Worlder native from Jupiter. The Jovian tries to bend the bars of the prison but he isn't strong enough. Cue Cobra... not only does he bend the bars with ease, but he actually rips apart the cell bars with little effort.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: "Shi no Koshin"
  • Used Future: It is Space Adventure, after all.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: The third arc of the new series takes place on a mountain that disappears when characters start doubting it.
  • Zeerust: The series takes place in the future, but looks as if it was stuck in the 1960s.

Alternative Title(s): Cobra