After polluting their own planet beyond repair, a race of evil aliens target earth as their next home. Now it is up to a lone outcast and his robotic spacecraft, Baldios, to defend earth. But, first he must convince the distrusting human population of the impending danger.
Space Warrior Baldios is an anime TV series that originally aired from 1980 to 1981. At this time, the super robot genre from the 1970s was still raging on, and at first glance, Baldios looks to be yet another one of those shows. Three separate fighter crafts combine to form the titular mecha, which was quite the standard at the time. The well-known Mobile Suit Gundam, which premiered a year before hadn’t yet had have enough of a ripple effect on the industry to firmly establish the “real robot” genre. Despite this, Baldios does a fairly good job at distinguishing itself for the time.
on the planet S-1. Hopelessly polluted, the leaders of S-1 have two choices, either go along with military leader Gattler, who seeks to invade and take over another, less polluted planet, or the scientific community, led by Dr. Reigan, who are working on a device that they hope can help repair the environment. Gattler stages a military coup where S-1’s emperor is killed and he imposes himself as leader (or “fuhrer” as stated in the official US subtitles). Dr. Reigan is soon killed as well and his son, Marin is forced to flee in the craft Pulseburn. Gattler leads S-1’s populace and military forces, known as Aldebaran to space and Marin’s craft warps along with them to Earth.
Gattler puts top underling, Aphrodia, in charge of Aldebaran’s forces as it seeks to take over Earth. Aphrodia has a personal grudge with Marin, who killed her brother while seeking escape. Marin makes his way down to Earth and becomes a key part of the Blue Fixer organization, the main force fighting off Aldebaran. Although initially doubted as an alien invader, Marin becomes a key part of Blue Fixer, who soon create the Baldios robot as their main fighting force.
With the main narrative established, Baldios settles into its groove. Each episode tends to feature Aphrodia and the Aldebaran forces launching a new attempt to defeat Blue Fixer and take over Earth. And while the show is made up of mostly stand-alone episodes (with the occasional two—parter), it does a fairly good job at providing us with entertaining and non-repetitive storylines. In fact the mecha action of the show seems to take a back seat and is not a major part of each episode (although they do find a way to fit in the Baldios combining sequence in pretty much every episode). The character development of the show is fairly strong. Along with Marin, there’s approximately a half dozen central characters in the Blue Fixer organization and each gets some room for development and growth with their own focused episodes. Things rarely feel stale or repetitive. We also have several episodes that eschew the formula and focus largely on the Aldebaran side of things. While Gattler is pure evil, Aldebaran has several good people with in it as well and we meet several sympathetic characters in its ranks. Aphrodia gets a fair amount of development and it is interesting to see her views on Marin soften as the series goes on.
Technically, the series is never going to really impress. The character animation is rather shoddy, the music is repetitive and the mecha design is nothing special. Technically, other shows of the same era like Gundam and Ideon outshine it here. Yet the story and characters more than make up for it.
Things move to a head as we near the end of the show. The attacks by Aldebaran get more and more fierce, to a level where Gattler doesn’t care how much he environmentally damages the planet he is hoping to move his followers to. The show ends very abruptly (in the middle of a 2-parter in fact), and quite grimly. From what I have read, the show was cancelled, originally planning on 39 episodes, but only 31 got to air. This clearly shows. The recent US bluray release features 3 more episodes that were produced, one which acts as the penultimate episode and the latter 2 which take place after the aired finale and continue things. Although they don’t fully conclude the storyline they do feature a major plot twist which while shocking is also quite fitting. In order to see the complete ending, one will have to resort to the movie, which as of this writing I have yet to see.
Anyway, for ones who like mecha/sci-fi shows, and anime from the late 70’s and early 80’s, this show is worth the experience and comes highly recommended.
Baldios is basically a string of tragedies born from human greed and ambition. If you like old school space dramas, the chances are that you will enjoy this. I found it to be on par with the original Yamato, and even better in some ways.
Like many shows of the era, it is heavily influenced by Uchuu Senkan Yamato. So much so that the plot of Baldios and the original Yamato are basically the same thing, with the only real differences being that the alien race isn't blue and there is mecha action involved. Well, there's a bit more to it than that, especially at the
end, but the set up is almost identical.
The story is told at a mostly gripping pace. The first episodes are great and lock you in right away. Things inevitably slow down a bit, but there are some great two parters in there and overall I never felt like it came to a drag. The story is basically where this series is really going to shine. Trust and betrayal are a commonly occurring theme, as a big part of the show is about the struggle of the main character, Marin. He puts himself between a rock and a hard place as he decides to pilot the Baldios and fight against his own people on behalf of the people of Earth. The people of Earth are not very trusting of him though, including his own comrades, as he is one of the aliens. He goes through a lot of mental anguish over this and even goes back and forth between sides a bit. His motives and morality aren't really black and white, and he often succumbs to the overwhelming amount of stress put on him. He makes for an interesting, if not believable lead character, and is less one dimensional than the lead characters in these shows typically are.
The music is fantastic. Being the handiwork of Kentarou Haneda, this is no surprise. Although it's not his best work, it's still very good. His style and signature guitar riffs permeate all throughout the series and truly make up much of the personality of the show. It wouldn't be the same without him. There are great insert songs as well, with the most memorable one being a Isao Taira (Ideon, Bryger, Daiohja) tune. The show was produced in the early 80s, but for the most part it looks (and feels) like it's straight out of the 70s. There isn't much that is remarkable about the art, you can pretty much assume what to expect if you've seen an Ashi/Reed show or any old mecha.
One particularly weird thing about this show is the mecha elements. They are extremely tacked on. This show could easily exist without any mecha stuff, and whenever it comes up it feels forced. It really doesn't come up much to be honest though, and there are entire episodes with no mecha action. The beginning is a bit misleading with this. It feels like they wanted to make the mecha stuff feel important, but ultimately the emphasis put on the Baldios machine is all but completely dropped after the first half dozen episodes. You won't be coming out of this with many memories of the mecha using signature attacks and poses. Baldios certainly looks awesome though.
The production history for Baldios is a bit wonky. According to whatever info I could dig up (there isn't much), this is yet another cancelled series. The show was originally planned to have 39 episodes, or at least storyboards were conceived for 39 episodes. Only 34 episodes were produced, and 31 of those episodes actually aired. When the series was released on video, all 34 episodes were included though. If the movie is the canon ending, then episode 34 is not canon. It is basically a completely different ending, that is simplistic and leaves important questions unanswered. It is probably the result of a rush job/cancellation. The movie does some recap, but essentially picks up at the end of the huge cliffhanger in episode 33.
As for the movie itself, there are already some good reviews on it. It's great, and the best part of the entire experience. The grim atmosphere is at its most oppressive and the harsh reality of what has been going on is finally set in stone, and we watch everything crumble and hope completely fade. It's a powerful ending, and likely one you won't forget. I wouldn't really advise skipping the series if you want the full experience, as the characterization in the movie (recap parts) is weak, and not a very good substitute for the series. The recap parts also feel very janky and random, unfortunately. The new content in the movie though, is all excellent. Lastly, there are several versions of the movie. There is a lot of blood and violence, and it seems that most versions are edited. You'll want to watch the Japanese version if you want to see the original movie.