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Cobra (コブラ, Kobura) is a Japanese manga comic series written and illustrated by Buichi Terasawa. Set in the far future, the series tells the story of Cobra, who lives an adventurous life until his enemies begin to hunt him down. Cobra surgically alter his face and erase his own memory to hide from his foes and have a normal life. Eventually, he regains his memories and reunites with his former partner Lady Armaroid. Cobra travels the galaxy, fighting the outlaw Pirate Guild and fleeing the law-enforcing Milky Way Patrol. Cobra survives using his charm, wit and his Psychogun a weapon embedded in his left arm.
The manga was originally serialized in Shueisha's Weekly Shōnen Jump from November 1978 to November 1984. Later, Shueisha collected the chapters and published them in 18 tankōbon volumes. The Cobra manga spawned various sequel manga series, one-shots, a feature-length anime film, two anime series a 31-episode series in 1982, and a 13-episode series in 2010, two original video animations (OVAs), audio albums, video games, and other merchandise. In 2010, Alexandre Aja announced that a live-action film was in production.
In the United States, portions of the manga were published by Viz Media in 1990. The feature film was licensed by Tara for its release in American theaters in 1995. Urban Vision released it on home video in the United States in 1998 and Discotek Media re-released it there in 2012. In 1995, Manga Entertainment released the film in British theaters, and re-released it on DVD in 2008. Madman Entertainment acquired it for the Australasian region's release in 2007. The anime series was licensed in the Northern American region by Nozomi Entertainment for release in 2014.
In Japan, the Cobra manga has sold 30 million copies, making it one of Weekly Shōnen Jump's best-selling manga series of all time. Publications for manga, anime and other media have comparing the series to Star Wars and Barbarella, and the main character's attitude to James Bond. Its film adaptation received mixed reviews and Cobra the Animation has been well received by the public and by anime reviewers.
In the far future, an office worker named Johnson leads a dull and mundane life. One Sunday morning, his robotic servant Ben suggests that he goes to the Trip Movie Corporation company that enables its customers to experience a dream as though it was reality. Johnson asks to be a king of a harem, to be surrounded by beautiful women, and to command a battlestar.
In his dream, Johnson becomes "Cobra", an adventurer who explores space with his android partner Lady Armaroid. Cobra wields the Psychogun to fight monsters and the Pirate Guild. After a battle with the Guild, Cobra allows its leader Captain Vaiken to escape. Vaiken distributes Cobra's picture to other pirates, making him a wanted man. After the dream ends, Johnson describes the fantasy to an attendant, who is surprised because Johnson's dream should have been about being the king of a harem with no reference to pirates or to Cobra.
On his way back home, Johnson crashes into a speeding car, whose driver looks like Captain Vaiken. When Johnson mentions the resemblance, the driver reveals himself as Vaiken. He asks Johnson about "Cobra" and threatens to kill Johnson if he does not answer. Johnson unconsciously lifts his arm and a ray shoots out of his hand, killing Vaiken. The shot explodes Johnson's arm, revealing the Psychogun embedded in it.
Johnson rushes home, where Ben notices the weapon on his arm. Johnson then realizes that he remembers nothing from before the last three years. After looking into a mirror, he finds a knob and turns it to reveal a secret room. There, he finds the revolver which he used in his dream. At that moment, armed intruders break into the house and address him as "Cobra". A battle ensues and Ben's robot shell breaks to reveal Lady Armaroid, and together they kill the intruders.
Johnson starts to remember his previous existence as Cobra. Hunted by the Pirate Guild for meddling in their criminal enterprises, and tired of life on the run, Cobra surgically altered his face and had his memories erased. Lady Armaroid tells Cobra that the Trip Movie has triggered his subconscious to regain access to the memories of his former life. Cobra and Lady Armadroid resume their adventurous life together.
- Official Space Cobra page (Japanese)
- Official Cobra: Space Adventure page (Japanese)
- Official Cobra the Animation website (Japanese)