It feels impossible to discuss this episode without using it as a discussion point in a much larger argument about the pros and cons of updating classic series. Though I’ve only just watched the COBRA movie prior to this, I think I've got its deal enough to group it with LUPIN III and DIRTY PAIR for having a very specific kind of imagination, tone and… actually… tone regarding its imagination. I guess there was just something in the zeitgeist of anime at the time. It favored cheeky n’er-do-wells going on breezy capers in zany, satirical and borderline-burlesque fantasy universes that packed pretty much everything and the kitchen sink in respect to sci-fi concepts.
In that respect, this iteration of COBRA is an absolute joy to dive right into (and that phrasing’s doubly-fitting since Cobra literally dives into a surreal time travel with no time wasted on exposition). I can’t think of enough ways to describe how much I enjoy this kind of fast, smirking breed of retro of fantasia… so it’s maybe more useful to bring up the “con” side of the discussion here.
Yeah, this is an OVA put together for the show’s 30 anniversary, and it’s intended strictly as a treat for longtime fans. There really is no aim to preach to anybody outside of the choir. However, it’s a shame, seeing so many elements working here, and thinking this franchise could still resonate with a modern audience, but then also realizing that that the good stuff’s hampered by an almost-thoughtless devotion to the certain vestiges of the past.
The design of Cobra’s signature “Psycho Cannon,” and the whole personal style of his past self, are just painfully dated - - and their datedness is acerbated by the clunky CG tech’s that’s been awkwardly inserted onto the lush 2D cells in a painfully-misguided attempt at updating the show. Again, I had a grand ol’ time, but it’s still a shame to see such a bang-up crew’s efforts going in the wrong direction in one small-but-crucial area.
Watch this episode, " Time Drive” here and decide for yourself.