Once Upon a Time... Space

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Once Upon a Time… Space
Created by Albert Barillé
Developed by Procidis
Voices of Roger Carel
Annie Balestra
Vincent Ropion
Alain Dorval
Composer(s) Michel Legrand
Country of origin France/Japan
No. of episodes 26
Production
Running time 26 minutes
Release
Original channel FR3, Fuji TV (Japan)
Picture format SECAM (576i)
Original release 1982
Chronology
Preceded by Once Upon a Time… Man (1978)
Followed by Once Upon a Time… Life (1987)
External links
Production website

Il était une fois… l'Espace (English: Once Upon a Time… Space) is a French/Japanese animated science fiction TV series from 1982, directed by Albert Barillé.

The series was animated in Japan by the animation studio Eiken, and is thus considered to be anime as it also aired on Japanese TV, albeit not until 1984, under the title Ginga Patrol PJ (銀河パトロールPJ, Galaxy Patrol PJ). In contrast to the show's success in the West, the series' Japanese broadcast was consigned to an early-morning time slot and attracted little attention.[1]

Synopsis[edit]

Once Upon a Time... Space differs from the rest of the Once Upon a Time titles in the sense that the series revolve on a dramatic content rather than an educational premise. The series still has a handful of educational information (such as an episode discussing the rings of the planet Saturn).

The series succeeds Once Upon a Time... Man. It reprises almost all of the characters from the previous series and adapts them into a science-fiction context.

The story is about the confrontation between several galactic powers. Among them there is the Omega Confederation (of which Earth is a member), the military republic of Cassiopeia (led by General The Pest) and a powerful supercomputer which controls an army of robots. A group of super powerful creatures called the Humanoids later appear in the series.

The series follows the adventures of space police members Pierrot and Mercedes (aka Psi). Pierrot is the son of Colonel Pierre and President Pierrette. The series has a more feminist message than its predecessor as the supreme leader of the good guys is a female President and Psi is a co-protagonist. The original series instead focused on male protagonists.

The scenarios of several episodes adapt elements of Greek mythology, other mythologies, and European legends. Among them are the Apple of Discord, Atlantis, David and Goliath, the Olympian Gods, and Prometheus. Other episodes deal with the existence of God, the relationship of man with modernity and machines, the limits of technology, comparisons between armed peace under the rule of a dictator and the difficulty of maintaining order in a democracy, etc. Higher spiritual beings encountered at the beginning and the end of the series. Some planets visited by the characters are replicas of the Earth at a specific era in its history, thus allowing some didactic interludes over the nature of these eras.

The series contains little to no violence, the heroes mostly use non-lethal stun weapons in combat. The exception is the use of disintegrating laser beams against wild animals.

The Earth does not play a central role in this series. The capital of the Confederation is on the planet Omega, far from Earth. The Confederation is composed of multiple allied powers: Aldebaran, Auriga, Cassiopeia, Hydra, Scorpio, and Vega. The Confederation has a democratically elected government and a female President.

Psi's origins are unknown but some fans theorize that she is of Mediterranean, South American or Indian descent.

Cast[edit]

  • Colonel PierreRoger Carel
  • President PierretteAnnie Balestra
  • Lieutenant/Captain PeterVincent Ropion
  • Psi (Mercedes) … Annie Balestra
  • Positronic brain android Métro … Roger Carel
  • Commander JumboAlain Dorval
  • Petit Gros
  • Grand Ordinateur
  • Professor Maestro … Roger Carel
  • 20th century Maestro
  • General The Pest … Alain Dorval
  • The Dwarf … Roger Carel

Spacecraft[edit]

The French illustrator Philippe Bouchet (better known as Manchu) worked on some of the spacecraft and set designs.

Omega Confederation:

  • Flea
  • Hummingbird
  • Spider
  • Dragonfly
  • Blue bird
  • Omega Cruiser
  • Omega Shuttle
  • Cosmopolitan

Cassiopeia:

  • Nautilus
  • Murene
  • Battle cruiser

Earth:

  • Ursus

Episodes[edit]

  1. The Planet Omega
  2. The Saurians
  3. The Green Planet
  4. Towards Andromeda
  5. The Cro-Magnons
  6. The Revolt of the Robots
  7. The Planet Mytho
  8. The Long Voyage
  9. In Cassiopea
  10. A Planet Blown to Pieces
  11. Shipwrecked in Space
  12. The Giants
  13. The Incas
  14. In the Land of the Dinosaurs
  15. The Rings of Saturn
  16. The Unstoppable Menace
  17. Earth
  18. Atlantis
  19. The Strange Return to Omega
  20. The Revenge of the Robots
  21. The Humanoids
  22. An Hostile World
  23. City in Flight
  24. The Great Computer
  25. The Battle of the Titans
  26. The Infinity of Space

Characters[edit]

The series features the following characters.

  • Colonel Pierre. He is the head of the Omega Space Police and the husband of the President of the Confederation. He is a happily married man, strict and highly moral.
  • Pierrette. President of the Omega Confederation, wife of Pierre, and mother of Pierrot. She is a smiling figure and a skilled politician. She governs by building consensus among Council members.
  • Pierrot . He is the son of Colonel Pierre and President Pierrette . He joined the Space Police of the Omega Confederation after completing his studies. He finds himself in command of a dragonfly-type vessel. He begins the series with the rank of lieutenant, and he later becomes captain. His promotion is a reward for his bravery in saving the Earth from an attack by a remote controlled rocket. He is a kind, brave man with a curious mind and a thirst for discovery.
  • Mercedes, nicknamed "Psi". She is a young woman, calm and composed. She is particularly intuitive, precognitive, a telepath, and a skilled hypnotist. She tries repeatedly to convince Pierrot that her precognitions are both relevant and accurate. He initially distrusts her visions, a source of conflict among them. Gradually, Pierrot comes to trust her more. The characters are love interests to each other. She is very reluctant to kill, preferring to use her weapons to stun and paralyze enemies. She has great respect for living things. However, she is aware of the malice and deceit of Naboth.
  • Metro. A robot, specifically an "android positronic brain". He is the robotic equivalent of Professor Maestro, that is to say, he is a scholar among the robots. He manages to defeat opponents by cunning. He was created by Maestro , but Metro thinks (rightly) that he is both more resourceful and intelligent than its creator. He has the same personality as his creator, whiny, old fashioned, doting and with great curiosity to know the functioning of the human species. He accompanies Pierrot and Psi in their patrols and helps out in perilous situations. He was destroyed in a crash and will be recreated. He is a great help for the police officers as he highlights the peculiarities of visited worlds.
  • Commander Jumbo. He serves under Colonel Pierre. He is direct and impulsive, preferring a good fight than endless the discussions. He does not hide his aversion to members of Cassiopeian government.
  • Professor Maestro. He is a scholar, the dean of the Omega Confederation. He has an advisory capacity to the council. Doting, grouchy. He is the voice of wisdom but tends to give overly technical explanations. Consequently he is often cut off when speaking. He is the creator of Metro , which he made in his image. There is some amusing tension between creator and creation. The main Omega Fleet vessels are also created by the Master.
  • Little Jumbo. He is the best friend of Pierrot. They followed the training course of the Police Academy together, and they know each other for a long time. He is the son of Commander Jumbo and he inherited the same temperament as his father, namely a preference for fights. He has a non-standard physic, and incredible strength. He is somewhat unbalanced, but kind at heart.
  • General The Pest. He is the supreme head of the constellation Cassiopeia. He is an aggressive, authoritarian, stupid, and narrow-minded man. He lacks in common sense and wants above all to annex the rest of the universe. He is the archetypal villain. Although he managed to rise to power by election, he does not respect the rules of democracy and dismisses the members of the council when they oppose his decisions. He believes he manipulates the forces of the Great computer, while it is indeed he who is manipulated. He represents a member sate of the Omega Confederation, but President Pierrette has to devote great efforts to keep him in check. She switches tactics between diplomacy and intimidation to reason with him.
  • The Dwarf. He is the consul of Cassiopeia and representative of the General The Pest to the Omega Council, until the departure of Cassiopeia from the Confederation . He is the chief advisor to the Pest, but he is smarter than his master. He manipulates his leader and pulls the strings. He understands that Psi has strange powers and wants to keep her activities monitored.
  • The Great Computer. He appears towards the end of the series (ep.21). He is the mastermind of the Humanoids. He is a villain with noble motives, as he wants to prevent humans from making war. But he pursues this goal beyond the point of reason and imposes a totalitarian dictatorship. He was created by an Earth scientist who was tired of conflicts. At the end of his life, the scientist programmed his creation to pursue this goal. Never questioning this goal, the Computer uses radical means to trigger the greatest disaster of the universe. He is the symbol of the cold methodical machines, which can not properly replace human judgment.
  • Maestro of the 20th century. He is an Earth man who was placed under hibernation at the beginning of 21st century. He stays like this for about a millennium and then wakes up in planet Omega.

Broadcast information[edit]

Country Television broadcasts
France France FR3 **
Finland Finland MTV3
Australia Australia SBS
Canada Canada CBC Television, Télévision de Radio-Canada **
Italy Italy RAI **
Greece Greece ERT
Spain Spain Televisión Española (TVE) **
Netherlands Netherlands Katholieke Radio Omroep (KRO) **
Switzerland Switzerland SSR (French)
Belgium Belgium RTBF, BRT
Argentina Argentina Crustel S.A. */**
Japan Japan Eiken Co. Ltd., aired on Fuji TV */**
Norway Norway NRK, Norsk Rikskringkasting
Germany West Germany WDR, SWF
Austria Austria ORF
Sweden Sweden SVT
Portugal Portugal RTP
Republic of Ireland Republic of Ireland RTÉ
Iceland Iceland Sjónvarpið
United Kingdom United Kingdom Channel 4
Israel Israel Logi
Poland Poland Telewizja Polska (TVP), TV Puls
South Africa South Africa SABC
Taiwan Taiwan Taiwan Television (TTV)
Hungary Hungary Minimax
Czech Republic Czech ČT1

* Production company
** Contributing co-producer

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Once Upon A Time: Space," The Anime Encyclopedia: Revised and Expanded Edition by Jonathan Clements and Helen McCarthy, Stone Bridge Press, 2006. p. 465.

External links[edit]