Production HistoryIf you're only interested in Star Fleet as you remember it and you're not into anime (Japanese cartoons) you might want to hit the "Next" button now to move on to a reminder of the plot. If on the other hand you're curious about how a Japanese tokusatsu (catch-all word for Japanese fantasy style shows) series ended up on British TV screens well before the likes of Pokemon and Power Rangers did, read on.
When I first watched Star Fleet I don't think I was aware of its Japanese origins at all, because I was a) very young and b) Japanese imports weren't all that common at the time. However, others more enlightened than myself know a great deal more about the show's origins as X-Bomber in Japan in 1980, a couple of years before the English language version was created. Although this site focuses more on Star Fleet than X-Bomber, the articles section does include a lot of material relating to the Japanese show. If you're interested in more Japanese material, including more images of the show in production, have a look at Big Dai X, Shane's site.
As a starting point, have a look at the Manga Max article, which details the early Japanese history of the show in great depth. The original X-Bomber series was in part the work of Go Nagai, who was responsible for many other anime titles around that time, such as Devilman. You can have a look at Go Nagai in the gallery. The series wasn't that popular in Japan, althought it's now (December 2002) been released on DVD in its home country. This is probably due to its similarity to other tokusatsu, sentai and anime shows - new to the British, not so new to the Japanese. As you'll see from the other articles in that section, Star Fleet is a somewhat evolved form of the X-Bomber series.
However, X-Bomber's influence is still present in the English Star Fleet comic strips and annual, in that they use names which are derived from X-Bomber rather than Star Fleet. As Phil Green explains, the artists working on the English material only had access to the advertising material for X-Bomber before its westernisation. Some names were anglicised in that material, but other names, like some ship names, weren't - which is why I sometimes mention alternatives.
Incredibly, a member of the original Japanese crew has been in touch and as a result we've some serious inside information on how the show was created. Even luckier is that I have an old University friend, Eleanor, who works in Japan - as a translator. Funny old world isn't it? So you can now hear about the original Japanese production from Toru Kubo who played the Imperial Master - apart from Dai-X, the only character to be played by a man in a suit.
Star Fleet, the English dub and re-edit of X-Bomber, in no way mentions the original creators of the show or who's responsible for the puppetry - there are only voice and sound credits, all English names. For more on why that's the case, read my interview with one of the people behind the English language version - Louis Elman. The appendices of the Manga Max article give full details of the English production. Unfortunately when Mr Elman contacted the Japanese production company (JIN Production) following the success of the show here in the UK, he was told that the puppets had been destroyed, which meant that a planned second series could not be made.
Although the articles and interviews sections contain a great deal of reference information, it's worth bearing in mind that other sections like the characters pages also contain material of historical interest. You'll also find that the forum can be a good place to look for information, or ask for it. The other Star Fleet sites are also well worth a look, particularly where merchandise is concerned. My thanks to those who've contributed hard facts about the show.
So, that was X-Bomber - how much of Star Fleet's plot do you remember?
Last updated 14 December 2013