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28th January 2015
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My Science Fiction Life

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Star Fleet

1980

TV: Star Fleet

Creator: Michio Mikami, Akira Takahashi, Keisuke Fujikawa

Recollections...

...and I'm Barry Hercules, Doc!arrow icon

1982, and I was about 10 years old at the time. Star Fleet was shown on Saturday mornings on ITV/Central Television.
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Puppet-tastic!arrow icon

I watched this as a child, maybe eight or something.
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Commander Makara. Rules.arrow icon

During the TV broadcasts back in the early 80s; I must have been about eight or nine at the time.
more from F-ZeroOne

More recollections...

In Depth

Star Fleet

Science fiction puppets from Japan.

When Pluto Alpha Base falls to alien invaders, the Terran Star Fleet is forced to fall back on an untested prototype warship.

Retitled for its UK broadcast in 1982, Fuji TV's X-Bomber featured puppets based on designs from manga artist Go Nagai. For many British children, it was a first encounter with the tropes of Japanese science fiction, including suicidal heroism and spaceships that combined to make a single giant robot.

Elements lost in translation included Japanese rockers Vow Wow, whose theme was replaced in English by one from ex-Moody Blue Paul Bliss. References to several other science fiction works were also left behind. Space pilot John Lee was originally “Bigman” Lee in homage to Isaac Asimov’s Space Ranger, while mentor Dr Ben was originally Ben Robinson in deference to Lost in Space. Meanwhile, jive-talking black pilot Bongo gained the more acceptable name Barry.

But marionette shows can't stretch their budgets as well as animations can. Star Fleet flopped in Japan, where only 12 episodes were shown. It enjoyed greater success in the UK, where 24 episodes made it on the air.

Work nominated by GundamZero.

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