X-Bomber

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X Bomber
X Bomber (LD-Box).jpg
X Bomber LD-Box released in Japan
Also known as Star Fleet
Bomber X
Bombardero X
Vegskip X
Sternenflotte
Genre Tokusatsu, Science fiction, Fantasy
Created by Go Nagai
Voices of Toshio Furukawa as Shiro Ginga
Shigeru Chiba as Bongo Heracles
Mami Koyama as Lamia
Banjo Ginga as Emperor Gelma
Hidekatsu Shibata as Gen. Kuroda
Mikio Terashima as Dr. Benn
Naoki Tatsuta as Bigman Lee
Norio Wakamoto as Capt. Custer
Reizo Nomoto as Kozlo
Rihoko Yoshida as Bloody Mary
Katsuji Mori as Capt. Halley
Yūji Mitsuya as PP Adamsky
Narrated by Yuzuru Fujimoto
Theme music composer Kyoji Yamamoto
Opening theme Soldier in the Space
Ending theme The Drifting Galaxy
Country of origin Japan
Original language(s) Japanese
No. of seasons 1
No. of episodes 25
Production
Executive producer(s) Kimio Ikeda
Keisuke Fujikawa
Producer(s) Kimio Ikeda
Camera setup Ryuji Kawasaki
Running time 22-26 minutes
Broadcast
Original channel Fuji TV
ITV
Picture format NTSC 4:3
PAL 4:3
Audio format Mono
Original run October 4, 1980 – March 28, 1981

X Bomber (Xボンバー Ekkusu Bonbā?) is a marionette tokusatsu TV series. It was created by manga master Go Nagai, and produced by Cosmo Productions and Jin Productions. The show aired on Fuji TV from October 4, 1980 (1980-10-04) to March 28, 1981 (1981-03-28), with a total of 26 episodes (including the pre-series pilot episode),[1][2][3] and was billed in Japan as being filmed in "Sūpāmariorama" (スーパーマリオラマ), a puppeteering process similar to Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation works.

Background[edit]

This show can be considered somewhat of a cross between Ken Ishikawa's Getter Robo and Star Wars. As in Getter Robo, the show's protagonists ride three vehicles that combine into a giant robot. Big Dai X, the robot in X-Bomber, is more similar to the kind seen in the popular Super Sentai series than a regular Nagai robot.

The show's opening and ending theme songs ("Soldier in the Space" and "The Drifting Galaxy", respectively) were performed by the Japanese hard rock group Bow Wow, while Kazutaka Tazaki (of Baja Revolution) and Nakayuki Sakuraba (of Adbaloon) provided additional music for the show.

The puppets of X-Bomber were controlled from below the set using rods, and as a consequence were generally seen only from the waist up. Whereas Gerry Anderson's series were episodic in nature, X-Bomber had an overall story arc, with sub-plots and new characters being introduced as the series progressed, leading to a definite end. Similarly, rod puppets were used in Gerry Anderson's 1967 series Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons canned as "under-control" puppets due to their inability to walk-whereas everywhere else they were marionettes. Anderson would later use Rod puppets in Terrahawks.

Star Fleet[edit]

X-Bomber was renamed Star Fleet and dubbed by English speaking actors for broadcast in the UK on ITV. The show was broadcast there on Saturday mornings, first airing on October 23, 1982 (1982-10-23),[4] the day before Star Wars UK TV Premiere. Due to its broadcast slot, the advertisements shown before, during and after each episode frequently included children's Public Information Films.

Drawing heavily on diverse influences such as Star Wars, Japanese Anime and Gerry Anderson's various "Supermarionation" series, the show ran for twenty-four half hour episodes (twenty-five in Japan - two of the episodes being edited together for the English version). The English version's theme song was composed by Paul Bliss,[5] and was later covered by Queen member Brian May and Van Halen guitarist Eddie Van Halen. This was released under the name "Star Fleet Project".

The screenplay was adapted for English by Michael Sloan, who in later years would create the popular TV series The Master and The Equalizer.

Actress Denise Bryer ("Commander Makara") and editor Tony Lenny both went on to collaborate with Gerry Anderson and Christopher Burr making another memorable sci-fi series, Terrahawks.

Plot outline[edit]

The year is 2999 and the Earth is at peace following the Space Wars. The safety of the human race is ensured by Earth Defense Force (EDF). Shortly before the turn of the fourth millennium, the peace is broken by the appearance of a gigantic alien battle cruiser. Powerless to defend itself, the EDF's Pluto base is completely destroyed and the evil Commander Makara reveals that the same fate awaits the Earth unless the mysterious F-Zero-One is handed over to her.

Unaware of the nature of F-Zero-One and fearing retribution, the EDF presses into action an untested, incomplete weapon, codenamed X-Project, from its hidden moon-base. The X-Project is revealed to be a powerfully-armed spacecraft named X-Bomber.

The series then follows the adventures of the crew of the X-Bomber, namely Doctor Benn, Shiro Hagen, Barry Hercules and John Lee who are joined by PPA, Lamia and her guardian Kirara. They set off to discover the nature of the F-Zero-One and try to protect it from the increasingly desperate Commander Makara and her menacing overlord, the Imperial Master.

Eventually it is revealed that Lamia herself is the mysterious F-Zero-One, a powerful alien destined to bring peace to the galaxy at the turn of the millennium. The series continues with Lamia gradually discovering her true nature and powers while the Imperial Alliance attempts to capture her and destroy the X-Bomber. The series climaxes with the X-Bomber crew destroying Commander Makara and Lamia finally confronting and defeating the Imperial Master and bringing peace to the universe.

Episodes[edit]

Ep# Eng Ep# Title Director Original air date First English air date
SP n/a "Super Space Machine X Bomber - Takeoff Preparation Complete (TV Pilot Presentation)"
"chō uchū mashīn X bonbā hasshin junbi kanryō" (超宇宙マシーンXボンバー 発進準備完了) 
October 4, 1980 (1980-10-04) n/a
1 1 "Scramble, X-Bomber"
"sukuranburu X bonbā" (スクランブル・Xボンバー) 
Rikuo Mikami October 11, 1980 (1980-10-11) October 23, 1982 (1982-10-23)
2 2 "Super Powerful Imperial Alliance Fleet"
"kishū geruma kantai!" (奇襲ゲルマ艦隊!) 
Rikuo Mikami October 18, 1980 (1980-10-18)
3 3 "Find F-01!"
"F-01 o sagashidase!" (F-01を探し出せ!) 
Rikuo Mikami October 25, 1980 (1980-10-25)
4 4 "Wipe Out the Transport Fleet"
"yusō sendan shōmetsu su!" (輸送船団消滅す!) 
Akira Takahashi November 1, 1980 (1980-11-01)
5 5 "The Mysterious Ship Skull!"
"nazo no hansen dokuro gō!" (謎の帆船ドクロ号!) 
Akira Takahashi November 8, 1980 (1980-11-08)
6 6 "X-Bomber Goes Forth!"
"tabidatsu X bonbā!" (旅立つXボンバー!) 
Rikuo Mikami November 15, 1980 (1980-11-15)
7 7 "Mortal Combat In The Gravity Graveyard!"
"jūryoku hakaba no shitō!" (重力墓場の死闘!) 
Rikuo Mikami November 22, 1980 (1980-11-22)
8 8 "An Attack Beyond Tears!"
"namida o koete jūgeki seyo!" (涙を越えて銃撃せよ!) 
Rikuo Mikami November 29, 1980 (1980-11-29)
9 9 "Target: the Captain"
"oitsumerareta shireikan!" (追いつめられた司令官!) 
Rikuo Mikami December 6, 1980 (1980-12-06)
10 10 "Galaxy Adrift"
"ginga hyōryū" (銀河漂流) 
Rikuo Mikami December 13, 1980 (1980-12-13)
11 11 "Farewell, the Eternal Battlefield"
"sayonara eien no senjō!" (サヨナラ永遠の戦場!) 
Akira Takahashi December 20, 1980 (1980-12-20)
12 12 "Our Mortal Enemy Is Captain Carter"
"shukuteki wa kasutā taii" (宿敵はカスター大尉) 
Akira Takahashi December 27, 1980 (1980-12-27)
13 13 "Battle To The Death: X Bomber Vs. the Imperial Alliance"
"gekitō! X bonbā tai geruma gundan" (激闘! Xボンバー対ゲルマ軍団) 
Rikuo Mikami January 3, 1981 (1981-01-03)
14 14 "Lamia, Girl Of Destiny"
"shukumei no shōjo ramia" (宿命の少女ラミア) 
Akira Takahashi January 10, 1981 (1981-01-10)
15 15 "X-Bomber: Death on Planet M"
"X bonbā M boshi ni shisu!" (XボンバーM星に死す!) 
Rikuo Mikami January 17, 1981 (1981-01-17)
16 16 "Lamia Kidnapped"
"tsuresarareta ramia" (連れ去られたラミア) 
Rikuo Mikami January 24, 1981 (1981-01-24)
17 17 "Asleep In The Ice Prison"
"kōri no rōgoku de nemure!" (氷の牢獄で眠れ!) 
Noriyasu Ogami January 31, 1981 (1981-01-31)
18 n/a "Bloody Mary's Promotion!"
"buradi marī shōshin!" (ブラディマリー昇進!) 
Noriyasu Ogami February 7, 1981 (1981-02-07) n/a
19 18 "Destroy the Prison Planet"
"rōgoku wakusei o bakuha seyo!" (牢獄惑星を爆破せよ!) 
Kiyotaka Matsumoto February 14, 1981 (1981-02-14)
20 19 "F-01 Assassination Plot"
"F-01 ansatsu sakusen" (F-01暗殺作戦) 
Kiyotaka Matsumoto February 21, 1981 (1981-02-21)
21 20 "M13: Full Frontal Attack Begins!"
"M13 sōkōgeki kaishi!" (M13総攻撃開始!) 
Kiyotaka Matsumoto February 28, 1981 (1981-02-28)
22 21 "M13: A Battle with No Tomorrow"
"M13 ashita naki tatakai!" (M13明日なき戦い!) 
Kiyotaka Matsumoto March 7, 1981 (1981-03-07)
23 22 "Board the Imperial Alliance Mothership"
"geruma bokan e totsunyū seyo!" (ゲルマ母艦へ突入せよ!) 
Noriyasu Ogami March 14, 1981 (1981-03-14)
24 23 "The End of Earth"
"chikyū zettaizetsumei!" (地球絶体絶命!) 
Rikuo Mikami
Noriyasu Ogami
March 21, 1981 (1981-03-21)
25 24 "A New Beginning For the Galaxy"
"ginga shinseiki gannen" (銀河新世紀元年) 
Rikuo Mikami
Noriyasu Ogami
March 28, 1981 (1981-03-28) April 16, 1983 (1983-04-16)

Source(s)[1][2][3][6][7][8][9]

Some Episodes for the English version of the series were either renamed to fit the changes made or badly translated from the original titles. Although the episodes weren't officially named during the original series' run, the English DVD release confirms their titles.[10]

English voice cast[edit]

Two of the English voice actors, Jay Benedict and Garrick Hagon, had appeared in Star Wars (1977) portraying Deak and Biggs, two of Luke Skywalker's friends on Tatooine (though Hagon's role was reduced in editing and Benedict's scenes were cut altogether). Benedict later went on to appear in Aliens (1986) as Newt's father, Russ Jordan. Again though, his scenes were cut from the film, but were restored in the extended Special Edition of Aliens which was released on home video in 1992. Mark Rolston also appeared in Aliens as Pvt. Drake.

The English cast list of Star Fleet was relatively small, with most voice actors doing the extra voices in the series as well. Credits were only made based on the main characters who appeared in the first episode, with the credits being reused each episode afterwards.[11] Due to this, viewers are left to speculate whether or not any new voice actors were brought in for other characters as the series progressed or if a member of the main cast provided them.

In comics[edit]

Two relatively unknown manga were also created in 1980. One was drawn by Naoki Kamohara and published in the magazine Monthly Shōnen Jump by Shueisha from June 1980 (1980-06) to August 1980 (1980-08) and the other was drawn by Makoto Ono in the magazine TV-kun by Shogakukan from November 1980 (1980-11) to April 1981 (1981-04).[1]

British comic magazine Look-In ran strips based on Star Fleet for 32 weeks beginning in January 1983.

Home video[edit]

The original Japanese version of the series was released in its entirety in a LD-box in 1993 and by Pioneer LDC in a DVD-box in November 29, 2002 (2002-11-29).[12][13] Both sets also contained one of two compilation movies created from Star Fleet, in English with Japanese subtitles. Both sets have since gone out of print.

In Bulgaria the The Thalian Space Wars and Space Quest For F-01 tapes were released by Multi Video Center with Bulgarian dub.

In the US, eight video tapes were released which also contained compilations of the series' episodes, albeit in a less-drastically edited format.

It is possible to obtain VCD copies on eBay. These are usually taken from the American Tapes and tend to be of poor quality.

In the UK, only three Star Fleet video tapes were ever released. The first and rarest contained episodes 4 and 5 of the series. The other two were compilation movies entitled The Thalian Space Wars and Space Quest For F-01. The series has not been repeated on UK television since the late 1980s.

A DVD set of Star Fleet was released in the UK on February 9, 2009 (2009-02-09) by Fabulous Films.[14][15] Included in the DVD set are all 24 episodes, remastered, and restored to their original UK broadcast format. Beyond the episodes, the set also includes stills and a double-sided poster, as well as a comicbook and a comprehensive 'making of' documentary, which includes contributions from series creater Go Nagai, Dr Benn voice artist Peter Marinker, Brian May, Paul Bliss and Gerry Anderson.

As a result of this release, several videos have been removed from YouTube. X-Bomber The Game, the freeware fan project, was issued with a request to remove the game from its website.

Further to the DVD release, Paul Bliss' soundtrack has been released on CD and is available via mail order.

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c "Xボンバー" [X bomber] (in Japanese). Japan: The world of Go Nagai. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  2. ^ a b "TV Xボンバー - allcinema" [TV X Bomber - allcinema] (in Japanese). Japan: allcinema. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  3. ^ a b "TV list" (in Japanese). Japan: The world of Go Nagai. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  4. ^ TV Times Magazine, page 38, 23-29th October 1982
  5. ^ Paul Bliss discography at Discogs
  6. ^ "Xボンバー" [X Bomber] (in Japanese). Japan. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  7. ^ "Xボンバー #1~13" [X Bomber #1-13] (in Japanese). Japan. Retrieved 2009-12-21. [dead link]
  8. ^ "Xボンバー #14~26" [X Bomber #14-26] (in Japanese). Japan. Retrieved 2009-12-21. [dead link]
  9. ^ "Xボンバーのあしあと" [X Bomber footprints] (in Japanese). Japan. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  10. ^ http://www.amazon.co.uk/Star-Fleet-The-Complete-Series/dp/B00171EE9E
  11. ^ "SFXB". United Kingdom: Andy Thomas. Retrieved 2011-04-09. 
  12. ^ "Xボンバー DVD-BOX" [X Bomber DVD-box] (in Japanese). Japan: Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  13. ^ "Xボンバー DVD-BOX <初回限定生産>" [X Bomber DVD-box (First time limited production)] (in Japanese). Japan: Geneon Universal Entertainment. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  14. ^ "Star Fleet - The Complete Series [DVD]". United kingdom: Amazon.com. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 
  15. ^ "TV". Catalogue. United kingdom: Fabulous Films. Retrieved 2009-12-21. 

External links[edit]