Lupin III as Cobra is an anti-hero due to his criminal background, a shameless flirt with the "woman of the day" that accompanies him on his adventures, is deceptively smart despite his smug attitude and is not afraid to kill off members of the Pirate Guild that he crosses paths with. The series also mixes around comedy, adventure and the occasional dark developments to compliment the title's premise.
Cobra mostly follows our titular hero and his cyborg partner Lady Armaroid in their adventures traveling space as they cross paths with an intergalactic criminal organization called the Pirate Guild, which he was a former member of. In a way, the series has parallels to
However, Cobra does have quite a bit to it that allows it to distinguish itself from the famous anime thief. Unlike Lupin, Cobra isn't completely episodic with its story as there are several arcs scattered throughout the series in which Cobra comes at odds with criminal activity linked to the Pirate Guild. The most notable ones that stick out from this consist of a fairly long arc where Cobra tries discovering the whereabouts of an ultimate weapon connected to triplet sisters, the famous Rug Ball competition and Cobra crossing paths with influential Guild leader Salamander. The series also offers up some rather creative implementations of its sci-fi premise such as Cobra's spaceship able to shift its form, his Psycho Gun, a diverse number of alien and robotic threats confronted by Cobra and the mentioned Rug Ball game. The series is also not as slapstick as Lupin as it has a somewhat more realistic bent to it despite its sci-fi setting.
Still, the show isn't without its imperfections. Like Lupin, Cobra does dabble into a few episodes that feel rather out of place with its setting and premise such as an episode where our lead crosses paths with a trouble-making genie. In addition, the series is a bit on the chauvinist side as mostly every relevant woman in this series is dressed in some kind of revealing attire, often get lusted for by Cobra and other men in the series and we usually get nude shots of them. Episodes also suffer from a fairly repetitive plot structure at points with Cobra gawking with attractive women and not being seriously challenged by most enemy Pirate Guild threats, with only Crystal Boy and Salamander being serious threats to our lead.
Visually, Cobra is rather dated as its animation style is a product of its time with the way character and scenery designs are drawn. However, the makers of the series do surprisingly well with concealing its rather limited animation as it was rather hard for me to notice shortcuts. Also, I did not notice many instances of degradation of character detail during distant camera shots or scenes of heavy movement that took place onscreen
Overall, I'd think of Cobra as a somewhat more serious spin of Lupin III having its own unique pros and cons. It is not as episodic as Lupin and features some nice elements of world building from its sci-fi lacking from the gentleman thief's title. However, Cobra is a bit more chauvinist in its treatment of women and suffers from some of the similar issues Lupin has with its episodic storytelling format. Regardless, Cobra still offers enough to give it its own unique feel and is mostly trying to have fun with the adventures and antics of its titular lead. If you're a fan of 80s anime, Space Adventure Cobra is a memorable title of the era that is worth checking out at least once.
Last updated Saturday, January 31 2015. Created Saturday, January 31 2015.