I just watched the 1980 Japanese anime classic, Force Five: Starvengers. I’ve loved this movie since I watched it in re-runs as a kid. I just recently rewatched it and I thought I’d go over the story and some of my favorite parts with you right now.
I do this from time to time where I step visually through a movie or TV show I loved and playfully make fun of it. Let me show you just how much fun and awesome this cartoon is.
Force Five: Starvengers is a re-edited version of the Japanese show Getter Robo G, which was itself a sequel to another anime series called Getter Robo. Both of those Japanese shows originally aired in the 70s in Japan. The re-edited Starvengers aired in the US in 1980 during an animated programming block called Force Five that featured four other giant robot cartoons; Gaiking, Grandizer, Dangard Ace and Spaceketeers. Each show would air on a different day of the week. The Starvengers robots would become a part of the Shogun Warriors toy line.
We learn that a team at the Copernicus Laboratory have developed three advanced aircraft. The first aircraft (on the left) is code named Star Dragon and flown by the awesomely named Hummer. The second aircraft (in the middle) is code named Star Arrow and flown by the awesomely coiffed Paladin.
I’m not kidding about Paladin’s hair. Check out this better picture of his anime hairdo that defies any sort of man made law be it physics, gravity or awesomeness.
Of course there’s a girl member of the group and of course she is the perfect looking anime hottie. Her name is Series and there’s an implied relationship with Paladin (of course).
Back to the robot ships above. Just looking at them, the aircraft don’t really seem different than any other fighter craft. But these three aircraft can combine together to form three different giant robots. The three different robot formations are based on which aircraft is in control. The three robots formations are Dragon (left), Arrow (middle) and Poseidon (left). Each robot has different weapons, functions and skills that separate it from the other robots.
Here’s an animation I made of the three aircraft combining into Dragon formation. The one they do most often.
As the story begins, the third aircraft, code named Star Poseidon, has no pilot (due to the previous pilot being killed in the first movie Getter Robo, but that’s never mentioned). Then, the head of Copernicus Labs’ son (Or nephew? I’m not sure.) runs into a man, nay, a force of nature, known only as Foul Tip.
Foul Tip, or ‘Tip’, is a simple man. He loves eating and baseball. And we are constantly reminded of both. It’s insinuated that he plays professional baseball, but that’s literally all we know about him. And due to the impending crisis, Tip is drafted into the Starvengers without preamble, without any cursory background checks nor any previously revealed flight experience. “Sure, guy we literally met 5 minutes ago, fly one of our multi-billion dollar advanced robot attack planes. What could go wrong?”
And yes, Foul Tip is wearing a catcher’s uniform as his flight suit. Like that sh*t would work when his body is pulling 4Gs fighting off other giant robots. Oh, and Tip speaks in mostly baseball metaphors during battle. Subtle, Coen-like character work is going on here, my friends.
Let’s talk about the bad guys. The Pandemonium Empire.