Galactic Patrol Lensman

Tagged: TV

Japanese animated tv series (1984-1985). Original title Galactic Patrol. Based on E E Smith's Lensman series. Academy Productions, Madhouse, MK Productions. Directed by Hiroshi Fukutomi. Writers include Masaki Tsuji and Haruya Yamazaki. Voice cast includes Toshio Furukawa, Banjo Ginga, Mami Koyama and Tomiko Suzuki. 25 25-minute episodes. Colour.

Episode one's opening narration explains that "such a long, long time ago ... two galaxies approached each other ... one was called Arisia, the other was called Eddore", their collision forming new Stars. Each galaxy was already home to a powerful Alien species: one, the hate-filled, war-loving Eddorians threatened the young civilizations that grew from these stars; so the other, the good and wise Arisians, developed the Lens, Technology that gives the bearer super-powers.

We then learn the Galactic Patrol, an alliance of Earth and other planets, is losing its war against the space pirates of Boskone, agents of the Eddorians. During a Boskonian attack teenage pilot Kimball Kinnison (Furukawa) ("call me Kim") is forced to use his Spaceship's escape pod and finds himself approaching the forbidden star Arisia. Here he has an out-of-body experience with an Arisian, who says they have waited a long time for someone like him to appear on Earth: he is now implanted with a Lens and unhelpfully told he'll have to learn by experience how to use it. On returning to Earth he is given a new patrol ship: with its crew he regularly defeats Boskone's plans – the powers of his lens usually turning out to be remarkably apposite for the crisis faced.

This television series was made in conjunction with the film Lensman (1984), with the same character designs and personalities, as well as many of the voice actors. Though it shares the same characters and background as its source material, the series (like the film) was tailored to bear a close resemblance to Star Wars (1977). Aside from Kimball now being a teenager, the human van Buskirk (Ginja) becomes a bulky Alien/human cross (see Genetic Engineering) and tough Clarissa MacDougall (Koyama) is more of a romantic interest; furthermore, the cute Robot, Sol (Suzuki), only a minor character in the film, now joins the crew as one of Kimball's main sidekicks.

Galactic Patrol Lensman is not a sequel to the film but an alternate retelling: Kimball has a totally different origin story, whilst the Arisians and Eddorians are more prominent. It was not a success, with only 25 of the planned 39 episodes being made. But if the viewer is not concerned by its deviations from the source material, they will likely find this a moderately fun – if not particularly memorable – Space Opera.

The controversy over the making of the film and series, and their resulting unavailability, is discussed under the entry for the film. That original film should not be confused with Lensman: Power of the Lens (1987), edited from the series' first four episodes and dubbed into English. [SP]

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