Anime DVD Review: Star Blazers – The Quest for Iscandar – The Complete Series 1 Collection

Star Blazers – The Quest for Iscandar – The Complete Series 1 Collection is a DVD box set that contains six DVDs; all 26 episodes that comprise the first Star Blazers series are included. Star Blazers is the English version of the Space Battleship Yamato series, so I am using the names from the English dub in this review instead of the original Japanese names.

Star Blazers – The Quest for Iscandar – The Complete Series 1 Collection
English Publisher: Voyager Entertainment
Release Date: September 26, 2001

Of the three Star Blazers series, this one would be the best-known. In the year 2199, Earth is under attack from the Planet Gamilon; the Gamilons have been attacking the Earth with radioactive Planet Bombs, and it has made it impossible for humankind to live on the surface of the planet. Humanity has to retreat into deep underground cities; unfortunately, the radioactivity is seeping underground, and it is predicted that mankind will become extinct within one year.

During the first episode, Earth’s space fleet fights a desperate battle against the Gamilons out in space. Earth’s fleet is losing the battle and all seems lost until a mysterious spaceship zips past and crash lands on Mars. Two recruits stationed on the planet, Derek Wildstar and Mark Venture, find a woman clutching a message capsule. The woman is deceased, but the recruits take the capsule back to Earth.

It turns out the capsule is a message comes from Starsha, the queen of a planet called Iscandar. Included in the capsule are the blueprints for a faster-than-light engine, so the Earthlings can make it to Iscandar to get a device called the Cosmo DNA that can cleanse the radiation damage on Earth, and be able to return to their home planet in one year.

A spaceship is built inside the ruins of the Yamato, a Japanese battleship that sunk during World War II; the ship is renamed the Argo. Captain Avatar, along with the crew of the Argo, undertake the mission to Iscandar; on the way, they have encounters with the Gamilons, who try to destroy the Argo.

This is the series that got me interested in Star Blazers when I saw it on television when I was a kid. Outside of the name changes, I believe that this is a decent dub. Yes, I know some things were edited out and changed when the English dub was produced, but the dub really didn’t feel much of a need to talk down to the children that the series was being marketed to. While there’s the occasional line that can be a little cringe-worthy, there aren’t very many of those. It really is no wonder why Star Blazers performed as well as it did in North America in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

When it comes to the DVD set itself, it should be noted that there are some errors when it comes to the chapter marks on the DVDs. However, the messed up chapter marks are the only real complaint I have with this set.

The first disc contains the first five episodes of the series, as well as two bonus features. The first bonus feature is labeled as “Planet Earth: 2199 A.D.,” and it’s a text-only feature that talks about the history of the war between Earth and Gamilon. However, if you let a page of the text just sit without clicking on “Next” after a pre-determined amount of time, the DVD will automatically move you onto the next page, whether you’re done reading the first page or not. Personally, I found that aspect of the feature to be rather frustrating.

The second bonus feature is “The Argo Inspection Tour.” This is an external visual inspection, where you can choose what area of the Argo you want to see. From this menu, you are taken to a page that includes stills from the show and production art related to that section of the ship.

The second disc contains four episodes of the series, as well as four bonus features. The first feature is a “Crew Roster.” This feature includes pictures for the major crew members on the ship, as well as a brief write-up for each character (which includes that character’s original name from Space Battleship Yamato). There is a trailer for the third disc of this set, as well as a splash screen that includes the address for the official Star Blazers website.

The best bonus feature on this disc, however, is the inclusion of a scene cut from the second episode of the series; this scene depicts the sinking of the original battleship Yamato in 1944. Unfortunately, due to the changes made to the series for the English dub, this just wouldn’t have worked. Also, considering that Star Blazers was being produced just a little over 30 years after the end of World War II, it was probably thought that including this scene and retaining the name Yamato wouldn’t go over well in America.

The third disc contains four episodes, as well as one bonus feature. This feature is labeled as “Interior Deck Configuration.” This is similar to “The Argo Inspection Tour” on disc one; however, the interface on this feature is terrible. For whatever reason, I couldn’t choose a particular location to look at, even though it has a menu configuration like the inspection tour. It would only let me select the Captain’s Cabin, and you had to progress from there. This feature also consisted of stills from the show and production art.

The fourth disc contains four episodes, as well as one bonus feature. Even though it’s only one feature, it’s a rather extensive feature. This bonus feature includes several selections to learn more about the Gamilon Empire: history, personnel, spacefleet, fightercraft, bases, weapons, and mecha. Each section has text, and is illustrated by production art and stills from the show.

The fifth disc in the set contains four episodes, as well as two bonus features. The first feature is labeled as “Equipment of the Star Force.” This feature includes labeled production art of the various mecha, weapons, and equipment used in the series; in fact, it even includes a film projector.

The second feature is labeled as “Friends & Enemies.” This is a gallery of the minor characters, done in the same way as the “Crew Roster” on disc two; however, I thought it was rather interesting that Queen Starsha wasn’t included in this feature, since it is due to her that the Star Force goes to Iscandar in the first place.

The final disc in the set contains the final five episodes of the series, as well as one bonus feature; this is the “Argo Mission Map.” It’s divided into four sections: three for the trip to Iscandar, and one for the return trip to Earth. There are dots on the maps for each place the Star Force visited in the series. If you click on a dot, it shows the date(s) they were there, as well as a write-up for what happened at each place. The write-up is illustrated with stills from the show.

The six discs were originally available individually; however, the individual discs are no longer in print. At this point, if you want to own the entirety of the first Star Blazers series, then this box set is the best way to go. However, it should be mentioned that these DVDs were originally released in 2001, so the menu interface on the discs can feel a little “clunky” at times in comparison to more recent menu interfaces. Since this DVD release is the only legal way to get these episodes in North America, I’m willing to overlook the menu interface.

I wrote this review after watching a copy of Star Blazers – The Quest for Iscandar – The Complete Series 1 Collection that my husband and I purchased.

Additional posts about Space Battleship Yamato/Star Blazers:

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