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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. Several new stories were published alongside colored reprints of some previous ones over the following years, and most of those were adapted to an OVA and a second TV series that were released in 2009-2010.

Both adaptations were closely watched by Buichi Terasawa and preserved both the plot and style of the original. What is even more awesome, in 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.

In 2019, there was a Seinen Web Comic sequel named Cobra: Over the Rainbow serialized in Comic Hu magazine and penned by the same Buichi Terasawa himself. Although it was meant as a direct sequel to the original series in order to tie up some loose ends, it went unfinished after six chapters due to Terasawa's passing in 2023.

A Rail Shooter video game adaptation, Cobra: The Arcade, was developed and released by Namco in 2005 exclusively for arcades. It is a Time Crisis spinoff and features a card system that allows the player to save their records and earn unlocks. Earlier there had also been Cobra - Kokuryo's Legend and The Space Adventure, two menu-driven adventure games that saw release on the PC Engine. The latter one saw a Western release on the Sega CD.

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

Space Adventures Cobra 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: Most of the planets in the story are livable and thriving with strange creatures.
  • 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.
  • Alternate Landmark History: In "Hell Crusaders", Moai statues are revealed to be avatars of Martian gods.
  • 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.
  • Ambiguous Ending: In the end of "Blue Rose", Cobra is sure enough that Secret is an amnesiac Dominique because he's figured that both have a mole on their left nipple. However, Dobbel hallucinates Dominique as he dies and remarks that he did kill her under Salamander's orders in the past. This plot thread was ultimately never resolved due to Terasawa's passing.
  • Animate Inanimate Object: "Magic Doll" is set in a planet where any mechanical object that enters it is turned into a living creature. Most spaceships turn into dragons, while the one Mario owned shifts into a Spider Tank.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Author Appeal: Asses. Femme fatales. Red-haired women crawling on all fours and shooting lasers from their mouth (Rajaki in "The Extradimensional Race", the Motorcycle Girl in Goku: Midnight Eye and the Cyberwolves from "The Psychogun").
  • Balloon Belly: Taken to its logical conclusion here.
  • Become a Real Boy:
    • The "Six Heroes" arc involves a race of barbarian dragons who fight each other with enslaved mental projections of human warriors to keep from driving themselves into extinction. Those projections vanish when their master is killed unless they become real by experiencing enough powerful emotions.
    • In "Magic Doll", Xanadu is a doll made by Mario that gains life from being exposed to the magic of Planet Mahadoma despite not being mechanical. She somehow becomes fully human at some point, as she remains self-aware in the period that the Magic Spring was turned off and finds herself bleeding from a scratch.
  • Blood Sport: Rugball, a violent mix of Baseball, Rugby and American Football.
  • Bookends: The first story arc of the series begins and ends with Cobra killing a one-eyed woman. Many years later, "Over the Rainbow" began with Cobra killing a brunette woman with forehead marks and was left unfinished with Cobra killing a tentacle monster with a appearance similar to that woman. So, the entire franchise ended up bookending with Cobra killing near identical-looking women.
  • Bowdlerize: In the anime, there are some key changes to the scene of Cobra learning Dominique had been assassinated and the subsequent Mook Horror Show. Her back was skinned and put on display, but not all the way to her legs. When Cobra is about to go on a Roaring Rampage of Revenge, he says "None of you bastards are leaving here alive!" but "This is the first time in my life... that I'll be happy to kill all of you" is omitted. The anime also doesn't let Cobra kill the guy he says that to by hanging, and him goring the remaining minions with the Psychogun is more equivalently replaced by him incinerating them with massive laser beams.
  • Breather Episode: The heist for the Dragon Crystal at the Rune Museum goes very smoothly with Cobra and Vega escaping the place while completely avoiding conflict with the museum's guards, who happen to be all female. It's the most casual and non-violent saga of the manga, and it's actually surprising for that many women to be within a square mile radius of Cobra without being senselessly killed off by villains or monsters.
  • Butterface: Several nude alien females in the story have beautiful humanoid bodies with horrendous faces on top, possibly as a way for Terasawa to get away with drawing nipples on them under the excuse of Fan Disservice...
  • The Casanova: Cobra, all the way.
  • Casual Danger Dialogue: Cobra makes small talk with enemies and taunts them about all the time.
  • Character Title: The series goes by Cobra, Space Cobra, Space Adventure Cobra and Cobra The Space Pirate depending on the version, and said Cobra is obviously the blond man in red himself.
  • 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.
  • Cool Ship:
    • Cobra owns the Turtle spaceship, named after its carapace-like shape. Depending of the adaptation, it is either a different ship that unfolds into a serpentine train or is a large ship that doesn't look like an animal at all.
    • In the "Six Heroes" arc, Crystal Bowie owns a giant mothership shaped like a snail.
  • Cool Train: The Hell Crusaders arc involves flying locomotives.
  • Creepy Cool Crosses: The Hell Crusaders have Iron Crosses on their uniforms, pilot coffin-like crafts in the shape of a cross and even have a mothership shaped like a giant cross.
  • Cyborg: Many characters, friends or foes.
    • Cobra himself, who lost his left arm to a horned barbarian's axe and had it replaced with his signature Psychogun.
    • Lady Armaroid was once human, but her brain had to be put in a mechanical body to save her life.
    • Crystal Bowie lost most of his body when he, as the aforementioned horned barbarian, was originally beaten by Cobra. He was somehow rebuilt into a skeletal glass form.
  • Dark Action Girl: Plenty of women in the series.
  • Death by Adaptation:
    • In the anime, Doug, Pumpkin and Bud are killed by a projection of Salamander right after their failed assassination attempt. In the manga, only Doug is killed by Saboira and the other two are not seen again.
    • 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.
    • In the manga, Dominique is supposedly Killed Offscreen and the truth behind the Identical Stranger Secret Sanders was never revealed due to Terasawa's passing while writing "Over the Rainbow". In the anime version, she survives with amnesia and soon reunites with Cobra in the end of the Salamander saga. The film adaptation, however, unambiguously kills her along with Jane and Catherine.
  • Dem Bones: "Magic Doll" appears to feature undead, mace-wielding, horned skeletons in Cool Shades that serve a descendant of Count Dracula. However, they are all normal people disguised by magic.
  • Denser and Wackier: The "Hell Crusaders" arc, the last major one of the original manga, involves some dark themes but has lower stakes than the "Six Heroes" saga did and is quite more comedic and over-the-top. Cobra acts even more irreverent around villains and poses as a doctor to perform a flawless surgery on a military commander. Then he calls himself "California Dream" and surfs a flood of sand to grab an artifact before the Hell Crusaders can.
  • Disposable Woman: Owning to the series' Spy Fiction roots, very few women could even hold a conversation with Cobra without getting killed a page or two later to upset the hero. In Time Drive Cobra loudly curses this tendency to Emeralda, who he knows will eventually become the near-full cyborg Lady Armaroid due to illness, when two innocent female allies are suddenly murdered right in front of them.
  • 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.
    • One of the few things that cause Cobra to drop his cigar is the sight of a fat woman in a bikini.
    • Black Sword Zero opens a mechanical gate by fusing into the statue of a naked woman carved on it, causing the doors to split open.
  • Dracula: "Magic Doll" features Dracula III, a Christian vampire who gets tans in his coffin.
  • Drop Dead Gorgeous: Hardly a volume goes by without half-naked female corpses being presented in eroticised fashion, which was made even more blatant in how the anime adapted certain death scenes. Buichi Terasawa particularly liked using an ass-based variant of the Dead-Hand Shot trope to portray female corpses.
    • The initial "Royal Sisters"/"Ultimate Weapon" story arc was full of this trope, to the point it lampshades the Spy Fiction genre's fixation with dead naked women when Cobra claims to be James Bond right before he kills a blonde in a sling bikini with a punch to the gut. She kisses him in her dying moments to use her lipstick as a trap and collapses posed like a starfish, with some guards later finding and examining both her corpse and that of her likewise scantily-clad partner that Cobra eletrocuted to death. The only adaptation of this scene that comes off like a subversion is the Cobra The Arcade one, where the blonde horribly explodes into smithereens.
    • One short story has Cobra tricking Sheila, a female spy dressed in a Chainmail Bikini, into falling for her own trap and being ravaged by a swarm of bullet-like beetles sensitive to light. The anime adaptation portrays her Multiple Gunshot Death in a very violent fashion while still sticking to Bloodless Carnage and making it seem clearly eroticized as she moans and convulses all over the screen in slow motion for 20 seconds before dying.
    • A distraught Cobra discovers Dominique has been Killed Offscreen when he finds not even a corpse but instead just the ripped skin of her tattooed back and buttocks put on display, in a reference to Goldfinger that's Played for Horror.
    • Early in the "Eyes of God" arc, Cobra figures a woman couldn't have commited suicide because "no beauty would shoot herself in the face". The arc also features three practically naked female villains scheming against Cobra. Two of them get overly gruesome and barely offscreen deaths, so to compensate the author gives the Big Bad Papillon a body double pretty much so he could draw as many gratuitous views of her corpse as possible.
    • The "Wandering Women" arc involves a crowd of preserved female corpses barely covered in jewelry drifting in the bottom of the ocean. When the Girl of the Week, who's only dressed in a bikini and is distinctly portrayed with erect nipples, is revealed to be a traitor who attempts to get rid of Cobra to keep the treasure to herself, she's shot dead and sinks alongside the sacrificial women.
    • The "Hell Crusaders" arc has a couple instances of half-naked henchwomen being killed in ways that read as provocative and features a race of frog-like aliens that kidnap naked damsels to eat their brains. Further Monster Misogyny is seen from the Nazi-like Fuhrer Goldman, who decorates his Evil Lair with severed female heads and scantily-clad corpses mounted on the walls because women in that planet have rubies growing out of their heads and he seeks the secret graveyard they are supernaturally drawn to die on.
  • Evil Versus Evil: "Hell Crusaders" takes place in a planet where the titular army of mercenaries and multiple factions of alien races compete against each other for world domination. Most of the Crusaders are scumbags led by a Nazi-like mass murderer of women, the Medusa are cruel bitches who kill anyone in their way and the other aliens are likewise Always Chaotic Evil monsters.
  • Eye Scream: Cobra blasts out the eye of a 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.
  • Fan Disservice:
    • It's a pulp adventure comic with partially or fully naked women being killed all over the place, including instances where some poor scantily-clad girls get incinerated or devoured alive. Towards the end of the series, Cobra points out loud how tasteless it is for a villain to use loads of severed female heads and corpses like trophies, and that's before he comes across a harem of half-dead looking sex slaves painted in gold.
    • Sometimes Terasawa got away with drawing women with exposed nipples in the comic by making them aliens with monstrous faces.
    • Early in the "Black Dragon King" arc, an overweight and middle-aged woman in a bikini flirts with Cobra. He's so horrified that he drops his cigar.
  • Fanservice: There's a pair of Cobra artbooks titled "Cobra Girls" full of sexy lady pin-ups in which one section is titled "Sticking-out BUTTOCKS". That sums up the entire series.
  • Fanservice Extra: Several scenes focus on random strippers and other half-naked hostesses while Cobra is wandering or narrating something, even clashing with the mood of certain situations, like him reflecting on how Salamander had both Dominique and Lady assassinated.
  • Faux Action Girl:
    • The bounty hunter Jane is introduced early on as if she's a main heroine for the series, but she barely does anything before she is captured, brainwashed by parasites, and forced to kill her own sister Catherine. In the manga version, she is mortally wounded by a collapsing ceiling in a fight against Cobra and some mooks and soon dies while still brainwashed, without knowing anything. The adaptations barely treat her any better, as she might survive the parasites and fight for a while longer but is still tragically killed (by Crystal Bowie or Hammerbolt Joe depending of the version) and is replaced by her Suspiciously Similar Substitute sister Dominique.
    • Ursula in the "Six Heroes" arc is complimented by the otherwise cruel Crystal Bowie for being a determined female warrior who only lives to fight, and yet she gets so badly overpowered, outwitted and mortally wounded over and over that it's just pitiful. She ends up near-entirely cyborgfied for a Mirror Match against Lady just to get punched senseless into a waterway, never to be seen again.
  • Fembot: Lady Armaroid, Cobra's most 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. A blueprint of it in the "Secret of the Psychogun" chapter reads:
      PSYCOGUN (sic)
      USA: CHAN
    • Crystal Bowie, who is named after singer David Bowie.
    • Also, the setting's currency is the kuredito (credit).
    • The Hell Crusaders' mothership has "HELL CRUSEDERS" engraved on its side. The scenario they are featured in also features songs with English lyrics written on the pages of the manga.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: Cobra's goal in the "Rugball" arc is to infiltrate Lando's base and gather proof of his involvement in drug trafficking. He fakes an injury during the match against the First Team and has an awfully easy time getting into the database room because all the guards are busy watching the game. The tension is in how Cobra needs to collect the data immediately to hide it into one of the balls, return into the match before it ends and hit the ball out of the park so Dominique can get it.
  • 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.
  • Insistent Terminology: "Hell Crusaders" takes place on Mars, but it is never directly referred to by name aside from the local gods being mentioned to be Martians. It is always called "this planet" and when Cobra is warped into Deimos he just calls it the "little moon".
  • 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.
  • Losing Your Head: "Hell Crusaders" features a race of aliens named Medusa after how the females can Body Surf by detaching their heads and using their teeth to slice the necks of other people, regardless of their sex.
  • 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.
  • Male Gaze: In addition to the other fanservice tropes listed on this page, every woman can count on at least one panel focusing on her mostly uncovered rear end.
  • Men Don't Cry: The anime adaptation notably changes the scene of Cobra lamenting Dominique's death so that he's sitting next to a wall with his head low in shame but is not driven to tears like in the manga. And even in the manga, that is the only time he ever cries despite facing several other tragedies afterwards.
  • Monster Misogyny:
    • Multiple arcs in the series have villains who drug lots and lots of women into becoming their mindless slaves. "The Psychogun" even has one who leaves a group of half-naked women paralyzed in place, posed like statues, via constant neurotoxin injections.
    • Targrave is a grotesque plant-man who injects parasite seeds into women by tongue kissing them. He brainwashes dozens of innocent policewomen and strippers to force them to attack Cobra, who ruthlessly kills all of them in the ensuing chase scene.
    • The "Lightning Planet" story is the one aversion of this trope in the entire series. Cobra infiltrates a museum staffed entirely by women, but there's no gratuitous slaughter of them by either their own robot dinosaurs or Cobra himself, and no villains are involved to kill them either. Cobra just steals the artifact he's looking for and escapes without any harm happening to the hostess-guards at all.
    • The "Care for a Robot?" story involves a bunch of female beekeepers being killed after the bee-like robots they used are hijacked by a murderous A.I. The one woman who Cobra manages to help just gets uncerimoniously crushed by a rock in the following chase scene.
    • In the Black Dragon King arc, a sports teacher tells Cobra that her students, who are all young women, went "swimming" outside the spaceship they are on. Cobra then apathetically points to the girls being devoured by space sharks, saying it's too late to do anything about it.
    • The Hell Crusaders arc features a race of frog-like aliens that kidnap naked damsels to eat their brains. Then there's the Nazi-like Fuhrer Goldman, who decorates his Evil Lair with severed female heads and scantily-clad corpses mounted on the walls because women in that planet have rubies growing out of their heads and he seeks the secret graveyard they are supernaturally drawn to die on. Cobra even calls it the most misogynistic thing ever.
  • 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, others with Barbie Doll Anatomy and some characters' breasts are barely covered with pasties instead. Rajaki, the feral villainess in volume 10 in particular, is topless with no visible nipples in all of her scenes even though plant-like mutant women in the same arc are uncensored. Some prints of the manga, like the colored version, also censored most of such scenes.
  • No Swastikas: The anime adaptation removes references to Nazism in the climax of the Salamander arc. The villain's true identity is still Hitler but he's somewhat obscured, never described as a Nazi by Cobra and there's no huge Nazi Swastika on the gate to his chamber.
  • Nuke 'em: To invade Planet Mahadoma, the Pirate Guild tries to nuke the Magic Spring that turns all mechanical objects in the planet into living beings. But despite them trying to do it as fast as possible, the torpedo still turns into a giant fish and starts attacking them. They manage to shoot a barrage of nukes in the brief period that the Spring is turned off, but Xanadu manages start it back again in time for all of the missiles to transform into fireworks.
  • One-Steve Limit:
    • There are two love interests named "Yuko" in the story. One is the granddaughter of Jingoro, the creator of the Turtle, and the other is the daughter of Tesshin, the creator of the Psychogun. This repeated in Goku: Midnight Eye, where there's both a "Yoko" and a "Yuuko".
    • There are two evil femme fatales both named "Eris" involved in scenarios set in the ocean.
  • 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.
  • Pop-Cultured Badass:
    • Cobra often references Earth pop culture that's ancient by the time of his era.
    • Cobra gets into a fight with a descendant of Dracula in the "Magic Doll" saga, but puts away the Psychogun when he tosses a nearby guitar in the air and the vampire risks being vulnerable to catch it. After all, how could the owner of a Rickenbacker 325 be evil?
  • Post-Script Season: The "Six Heroes" arc featured Cobra's final confrontation with his archnemesis Crystal Bowie with the fate of the universe at stake. It was followed by the similarly long but not nearly as impactful "Hell Crusaders" saga with a new cast of supporting characters and antagonists before the manga's original run ended on a short Dénouement arc where Cobra helps a young do-gooder out before riding off into the sunset.
  • Precocious Crush:
    • Misty, a barely 15 years-old girl with electric powers, crushes hard on Cobra during the "Six Heroes" arc. Cobra is rather disturbed by Misty but also can't help but tease her back every so often for laughs. He gives her a "Shut Up" Kiss on the mouth and a plot point is made out of it when he's disguised as an enemy and kisses her again to assure her that she'll be safe.
    • "Magic Doll" has the almost 15 Hot Witch Lana annoyed with Cobra trying to retrieve the voluptuous pieces of the doll Xanadu while she's standing "perfectly cute, sexy" and alive right there. Unlike with Misty, Cobra never indulges her.
      Lana: Are you saying I'm a child? Do you want to see how womanly my body is?!
      Cobra: Wait three years, and then I'll ask you to show me.
    • "Over the Rainbow" then had the 15 years-old Dorothy lusting over her escort Cobra. Terasawa died before he could finish the series, so how far he would've pushed it this time is anyone's guess.
  • Pretty Boy: Cobra, before he changed his face. Now he has a "big nose", "droopy eyes" and grinning "loose lips".
  • Production Throwback: In The Psychogun, Gypsy Dog walks a pair of barely-dressed and feral female cyborgs called "Cyberwolves" around like attack dogs. They are pretty much the "Motorcycle Girl" from the author's Goku: Midnight Eye, which in turn resembled Rajaki from Cobra's "Extradimensional Race" arc.
  • Putting on the Reich: The Hell Crusaders are evil soldiers dressed in uniforms with Iron Crosses on them and that are led by a Fuhrer called Goldman, all without being directly associated with Nazis.
  • Random Events Plot: There are three major arcs in the original series — the search for the Ultimate Weapon, the revenge against Lord Salamander and the gathering of the Six Heroes. The other sagas are standalone adventures that at most slightly build on Cobra's backstory. Among those, only the "Black Dragon King" arc sets a major plot point to be followed on later.
  • 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, whose name should be an eyecatch, is eventually revealed to be a subversion; she pretends to be a full android but has a human brain.
  • Rocket Punch:
    • Hammerbolt Joe, one of the episodic villains, 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.
  • Serial Escalation:
    • The original manga's major sagas go from a quest for an invincible shapeshifting weapon to Cobra taking revenge on a galactic overlord who's actually Adolf Hitler, to Cobra overcoming the Mind Rape of a giant demon identified as Satan, to fighting multiple villains over a race across dimensions and then the Grand Finale where he gathers The Chosen Many to fight an Evil God-possessed Crystal Bowie on a battle for the fate of the universe.
    • The "Hell Crusaders" arc then lowers the stake a little, with Cobra infiltrating an organization in order to disarm a bomb bullet that's been shot into his chest and fighting a Nazi-like villain who seeks a secret graveyard covered with the skeletons of women who have rubies growing out of their foreheads.
  • Sexy Discretion Shot: Cobra is obviously often implied to have sex but is never shown on the act. This rule actually stuck even after the series went seinen, contrasting with Goku: Midnight Eye, which did have multiple sex scenes.
  • Sexy Packaging: The covers and artwork for the series often put more emphasis on the half-naked ladies featured in it than on Cobra himself.
  • Shout-Out:
  • 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 the "Black Dragon King" arc (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. In the manga, it is hinted she is Not Quite Dead and is the amnesiac Secret but this is never confirmed.
  • 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" serves this purpose in the anime series.
  • Trapped in Another World: The "Extradimensional Race" arc involves Cobra being lost in parallel universes trying to drive his car to a "white rabbit" robot that can set things right. Each dimension of course involves a conflict with local evildoers.
  • Used Future: It is Space Adventure, after all.
  • Wham Shot: When Cobra finds Dominique has been assassinated, he stumbles in shock and starts punching the walls while cursing his failure to protect her. However, it's only after he drops to his knees and screams her name that it's dramatically revealed that her murderer didn't even leave a corpse, but instead skinned her tattooed back and mockingly left it on display. In the anime, this is shown as soon as Cobra enters the room.
  • Why Am I Ticking?: The premise of the "Hell Crusaders" arc is Cobra being hit in the chest by a time bomb bullet from a hitman by said organization and joining them to find a way to disarm it.
  • Worthless Treasure Twist: In "Blue Rose", multiple characters seek the titular treasure, each with a different theory of what it is. Ryuju believed it is a potion of immortality, and dies from Rapid Aging while trying to help Cobra and Lady. Jack thought it is a stash of diamonds, and Cobra lets him die believing he was right. The badly wounded Zailar claims it is an artifact that'll allow him to communicate with a girl he accidentally killed in a horrible war and let him find redemption, so Cobra tells him it lies in the bottom of Belbarad's hallucinogenic ocean of drugs so that he may at least die happy as well. In the end, Cobra and Lady talk about how Belbarad is just a ruined and inhospitable ancient resort planet that became the stuff of legends because of the sole remaining "teleportation ticket" leading to it — there never was any treasure, just like there's no such thing as a Blue Rose.
  • Would Hit a Girl: No men in the series, Cobra included, have any qualms about harming and killing female enemies. In fact, the first story arc, the "Over the Rainbow" sequel and some other sagas in-between practically rush to make him kill some femme fatale as if to underline how cold-blooded he can be.
  • Wrecked Weapon: The "Eyes of God" arc involves the Psychogun breaking down and Cobra acquiring a copy from Yuko, the daughter of its creator. Cobra actually tries rejecting the Psychogun and retiring so he could marry Yuko, but she is killed by a sniper and he's forced to return to the world of danger again.
  • Your Mind Makes It Real: One of the latter stories of the manga, which was adapted in the 2010 anime, 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