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Once Upon a Time... Space

Il était une fois… l’Espace (Once Upon a Time… Space) is a French/Japanese animated science fiction TV series from 1982, directed by Albert Barillé. The series was animated in Japan by the animation studio Eiken, and is thus considered to be anime as it also aired on Japanese TV, albeit not until 1984, under the title Ginga Patrol PJ (銀河パトロールPJ, Galaxy Patrol PJ). In contrast to the show’s success in the West, the series’ Japanese broadcast was consigned to an early-morning time slot and attracted little attention.

Plot

Once Upon a Time... Space differs from the rest of the Once Upon a Time titles in the sense that the series revolve on a dramatic content rather than an educational premise. The series still has a handful of educational information (such as an episode discussing the rings of the planet Saturn).

The series succeeds Once Upon a Time... Man. It reprises almost all of the characters from the previous series and adapts them into a science-fiction context.

The story is about the confrontation between several galactic powers. Among them there is the Omega Confederation (of which Earth is a member), the military republic of Cassiopeia (led by General The Pest) and a powerful supercomputer which controls an army of robots. A group of super powerful creatures called the Humanoids later appear in the series.

The series follows the adventures of space police members Pierrot and Mercedes (aka Psi). Pierrot is the son of Colonel Pierre and President Pierrette. The series has a more egalitarian message than its predecessor as the supreme leader of the good guys is a female President and Psi is a co-protagonist. The original series instead focused on male protagonists.

The scenarios of several episodes adapt elements of Greek mythology, other mythologies, and European legends. Among them are the Apple of Discord, Atlantis, David and Goliath, the Olympian Gods, and Prometheus. Other episodes deal with the existence of God, the relationship of man with modernity and machines, the limits of technology, comparisons between armed peace under the rule of a dictator and the difficulty of maintaining order in a democracy, etc. Higher spiritual beings encountered at the beginning and the end of the series. Some planets visited by the characters are replicas of the Earth at a specific era in its history, thus allowing some didactic interludes over the nature of these eras.

The series contains little to no violence, the heroes mostly use non-lethal stun weapons in combat. The exception is the use of disintegrating laser beams against wild animals.

The Earth does not play a central role in this series. The capital of the Confederation is on the planet Omega, far from Earth. The Confederation is composed of multiple allied powers: Aldebaran, Auriga, Cassiopeia, Hydra, Scorpio, and Vega. The Confederation has a democratically elected government and a President.

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