The series may try to mimic "Star Wars" and "Thunderbirds" but that combination equals awesome. It's a surprise to me as I typically have little like for any Japanese series.
In the year 2999, an unidentified alien fleet suddenly appeared out of the Thalian Zone into our solar system. Pluto base had already been taken by them, and they head towards Earth. Star Fleet, commanded by Earth Defence Forces sends the X-Bomber to engage the enemy.
By the first episode, it seems that the series follows the same overused alien invasion plot that two Anderson series already had, "Captain Scarlet & the Mysterons" and "UFO". (and later on, "Terrahawks") However by the end of episode 2, we learn that the fleet has bigger intentions. Fleet Commander Makara demands the hand over of the F-01. The rest of the series follows the crew of X-Bomber going into deep space just to battle the Imperial Alliance and figure out what exactly the F-01 is.
While it goes on the high note that the series has the strong influence from Anderson and "Star Wars" along with animem, the series has a charm all of its own. It was particularly dark for any other children's series of its time in the UK, even darker than any Anderson series proved to be. About half the cast is dead by the end of the series. The puppetry was obviously a little less sophisticated than "Thunderbirds". The puppets were controlled via rods beneath the set and went with a combination in the more proportioned puppets of the "Captain Scarlet"-era puppets while having anime styled features on the puppets. This gives the puppets a resemblance to the puppets used in "Space Patrol", the quirky little 60's puppet series. The faults in the puppets and sets are nothing to me, and the work put into the sets are still terrific stuff. This best work being the detail put into the villians overly detailed armor and clothing.
It was surprising to me that I enjoyed this series as I am really not a person who typically enjoys Japanese media. But even the fact that this series is made by Go Nagai, a Japanese writer bringing perverted wonders, holds well with me because this series is a magnificentally carried out piece of art. It is a shame that this series is very underrated in its home country of Japan. The series is still obscure in the UK, but has many more fans for the reason that the plot was nothing new to Japan.
The English dub holds its distinction for being amongst one of the least butchered Japanese work. The voice acting is outstanding including actors with previous cridentials such as Jay Benedict and Mark Rolston from "Aliens" and Garrick Hagon from "Star Wars".
The show may not be as budgeted as "Thunderbirds" but this series goes into my top favorite puppet series.