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As we rejoin the action, the Yamato Argo has just visited unholy destruction on a Gamelon carrier that foolishly ventured within range of the main guns.  I’ve always wondered what those guns actually fire – looks like a plasma beam, recoils like an artillery shell, sounds like short-wave radio bouncing off the ionosphere on a cloudy Friday evening.

In any case, the score is now Star Force: 1.  Gamelons: 0.

For his part, Leader Desslock (the Gamelon’s supreme commander, for the uninitiated) is not, shall we say, overly concerned.  A “foolish gesture”, he sneers, his slender fingers tracing delicate patterns in the hot, radioactive Gamelonian air.  Even better, his generals on Pluto have a plan:  use the Yamato Argo Star Force as a test target for their new super-weapon.

The weapon in question?  None other than… wait for it…

The Ultra Menace Missile.

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This is what happens when the Gamelons build a forward base in your solar system.

Not making that up.  Also, don’t speak Japanese, so cannot assess the quality of the translation for you.  Still, you have to wonder.  Was there a first generation weapon called the Menace Missile?  Followed by the Extreme Menace Missile?

Whatever the case, the Ultra-Menace Missile (UMM) is nothing to sneeze at.  Don’t believe me?  Let’s break it down with some basic math:

Fact #1:   It is between 2.7 and 4.7 billion miles between Pluto and Earth, depending on where the planet and planetoid in question are in their respective orbits at any given time.  We’ll split the difference and call it 3.5 billion miles.

Fact #2:  We know it takes less than one day for the UMM to travel from the Gamelon base on Pluto to Earth (we know this because every episode ends with an update of the doom counter, the number of days until Earth is uninhabitable.  All the action described herein happens with the clock stuck at 364 days).  Here again, we shall split the difference and assume the UMM is in transit for 12 hours.

Fact #3:  The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second.

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Math Problem #1:  3.5 Billion Miles / 12 hours = 81,000 miles per second = 44% of the speed of light.  That’s the average speed, which doesn’t even take into account the acceleration profile.

Fact #4:  Though we don’t know exactly how big the UMM is, we do know that its large size is one of its distinguishing characteristics.  Is it the size of a bus?  A Saturn V rocket?  An aircraft carrier?

Well it doesn’t really matter, does it?  It also doesn’t matter what sort of explosive power that thing is packing – it could be none at all.  Because the real “ultra” in “ultra menace” is the fact that it travels at relativistic velocities!  Never mind the planet bombs the Gamelons have been raining down; the UMM hitting Earth is going to make the asteroid that did in the dinosaurs look like a bottle rocket bouncing off the side of the Golden Gate Bridge.

Except… well, except there is the Argo to consider, with none other than Derek Wildstar on the guns.

I mean, dude never even blinks. The UMM hits Earth’s atmosphere, with a remaining expected transit time of let’s say (300 miles  / 81,000 miles per second) = a little less than .004 seconds.  The Star Force sees it coming on radar, somehow, never mind the fact that the UMM would be, like, RIGHT BEHIND the returning radar reflection since it’s traveling ALMOST THE SAME SPEED RADAR GOES.

Wildstar?  He just eyeballs it.  Growls “finally” at the camera once that idiot Mark Venture actually gets the wave motion engine started, and calls out some instructions for the gun crews like a seasoned veteran.  “Turn twenty degrees!  Adjust sightlines!”  The gun barrels swivel slowly in response; Venture orders the Argo 15 degrees to port; the camera pans back, and we see the ship veer off… to the RIGHT.  Damn rookie bridge crew!  But it don’t matter.  Wildstar don’t care.  He takes a breath, pulls the trigger, those weird plasma beam thingies lance out, and BOOM!

This happens:

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That’s right, “Leader” Desslock.  It’s gonna take more than several tons of hardware traveling near light speed to take down the Star Force.  Because, you know, STAR FORCE!!!

And then, finally, this:  the Argo deploys its single most bizarre feature, its in-atmosphere wings.  Even in cartoon land this is just plain silly; it’s like putting a squirrel suit on a semi truck.  But atmospheric wings the Argo has, so atmospheric wings it deploys, and then sails blithely away, leaving the laws of physics weeping softly in its wake.

There are only 364 days left.  Me?  I’m bullish on their chances.

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I’m watching Star Blazers again.  Not, mind you, Space Battleship Yamato, but the actual American version, the honest-to-God Star Blazers of my youth.  Season One:  The Quest for Iskandar, with its unspeakably awful voice acting and crazy translations, Derek Wildstar, Captain Avatar and Leader Desslock – the works.

And I’m going to blog about it, and there’s not a damn thing any of you can do to stop me, other than of course to sprain your right index finger trying to click “back” on your browser as fast as humanly possible.

No?  Still with me, and up for the journey?  Then let’s jump right in.

First, ship naming conventions.  I had  forgotten that in Star Blazers the ship itself is called the Argo, not the Yamato.  Not a bad choice, if we accept as given the need to remove all the scary Japanese-sounding names for American consumption (remember this was 1979, seven years before Datsun would suck it up and rebrand itself the far more ominous “Nissan”).  The Argo was of course Jason’s ship in his quest for the golden fleece, so given that the Star Force is questing after the Cosmo-DNA from Queen Starsha of Planet Iskandar, it makes sense.  

Still, though:  

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We’re off… to find a fleece…

 

VS

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That’s more like it.

 

It definitely loses a little something, doesn’t it?

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Aw yeah!

And speaking of Queen Starsha, this does have to be addressed.  Aware of the plight of the humans, she dispatches a ship which covers the astronomical distance from Iskandar to Earth, somehow runs the Gamelon blockade out at Pluto (more on that in a moment), reaches Mars – only to crash land (because, y’know, faster-than-light travel easy; making successful planetfall hard), but then be found, and thus succeed in its mission in delivering to the Earthlings:

Plans, and a map.  

Plans, as in, how to build a wave-motion engine (and gun!), and a map, as in, how to get to Iskandar, and Queen Starsha herself, who has the Cosmo DNA, which can rid the Earth of all the horrible radiation imparted by the Gamelon’s planet bombing (remember:  Japanese cartoon!  The world’s experts on nuclear-nightmare-inspired science fiction.).  

Why, you might ask, didn’t Queen Starsha just send the Cosmo-freaking-DNA on the ship itself?  Why put the Star Force to all this trouble?  This plot point is in fact addressed, although the answer is basically she just couldn’t so stop asking.  Why do I have the feeling this came up in a production meeting somewhere, way back in the day, one of those aw-shit moments where everyone in the room suddenly realizes the whole thing makes no sense at all?  Sort of like that why-doesn’t-Gandalf-just-have-one-of-the-eagles-drop-the-ring-into-Mount-Doom-as-soon-as-he-even-suspects-just-on-general-precautionary-principles moments we’ve all had in retrospect? 

Anyway.  She just can’t.  There is a whole line of dialog that makes this clear.  As this is all of course being written from a place of love, we shall take it it as given, and move on.

Next up:  The Ultra Menace Missile!