A great power, an energy source has been discovered that can be the panacea to Earth’s energy. And yet there is always a catch in finding or discovering any powerful MacGuffin device… the karmic baggage. Our protagonists are not the only ones who have an interest in this great source of power and it is up to them to save the Earth yet again. Except this isn’t your run of the mill gang of heroes. Our cast if a famous name in terms of anime, if not legendary. The brain child of Shotaro Ishinomori… one of the founding franchises of modern anime and manga. The beloved nine of Cyborg 009 are ready to go on yet another adventure; this time we look at the 1980 film Legend of the Super Galaxy, or Defenders of the Vortex.
Released during the airing of the reimagined 1979 TV series, Legend of the Super Galaxy would tell an alternate story that takes place several years later where all nine cyborgs are brought back together for a new special mission. This time the foe is not Black Ghost, nor of this Earth. This is a unique tale, a tale of heroes and villains, a tale of sacrifice, love and even the usual action all set mostly this time in outer space. Saving the the Earth from an evil organization is one thing, but encountering extraterrestrial forces outside our native homeward is another. The superhero genre is one thing, but as a space opera, it is something else.
Cyborg 009 in the guise of a space opera? How can this be possible? The height of the genre was in full swing during the release of this film and in many ways, yeah why not give it a try? It’s like from my eye an injecting of a lot Leiji Matsumoto styled influence. Particularly Space Battleship Yamato as this was a hot sci-fi property at the time. And yet it works very well for our cyborg soldier team in terms of making them seem like a true family with the heightened melodrama… I’m such a sucker for these types of movies, how about you? The romance between 003 (Francoise) and 009 (Joe), the rescue of Princess Tamara as well as the self sacrificial act of 004 (Albert) in Legend of the Super Galaxy give this film just a little more added punch to the usual story dynamics of Cyborg 009. Even though this movie was available on VHS back in the day here in the west, dubbed of course, it was one that was never on my radar. Yet as a film seen years after the fact, this brought back the tingles of nostalgia that drew me into anime in the first place.
Our collective nine cyborgs have always had a special place in my heart as well as other fans. More so because they don’t remind me of a team, but more so a family. Everyone has a back story and despite being from different backgrounds and ethnicities, everyone views themselves as fellow brothers and sister. This family bond is very present in Legend of the Super Galaxy. All nine work together as a team and fight together not because it is our job, but because they genuinely care for each other and also for the fate of the planet Earth. There is plenty of heart between their relationships and Legend of the Super Galaxy may perhaps be the most impactful adventure these nine go through in terms of showing that being cybernetically enhanced can never hide the true feelings of the highest form of human feeling… compassion.
With so much Cyborg 009 available, and with material constantly getting modern face lifts, does Legend of the Super Galaxy still hold up in more contemporary settings?. As a sibling to another Toei film from 1980, Toward the Terra, Legend of the Super Galaxy, like it’s twin, is a reflection of anime at that time. A large scale space opera that is in and of itself a fine film of action, drama and compassion (why can’t they make ’em like this anymore?); this is what drew me to anime in the first place and stills harkens me back for more. We have a showcase for a big budget franchise that has heart, soul and a plot beyond dazzle and display. I’ll keep this one on my shelf.