Crown Jewels of Anime: Galaxy Drifter Vifam

Posted by Guest Author on May 16, 2008 in Animation |

Galaxy Drifter Vifam: robots with a group of 13 children

In this exclusive series our guest author Tim Eldred picks the top ten crown jewels of anime:

As a guy who started watching anime in 1980, I was lucky enough to catch the virus when the medium was in a creative upswing the likes of which simply hasn’t been seen since. Of course, there was great stuff before that, but never in quite so much abundance. The early 80s in particular were chock full of shows that had the power to make me (A) cry like a baby or (B) leap out of my chair like a sports fan. And any show that could do both became a crown jewel in my eyes. They haven’t all been officially exported yet, which means a lot of people still have an opportunity to experience them for the first time. Here’s number 5 on my top ten list:

Galaxy Drifter Vifam

1983 was a banner year for SF anime on Japanese TV. The best writers were producing their best stuff at this time, and despite the preponderence of seemingly endless dynasties of giant robots every story had new turf to stake out. Vifam was a shining jewel in this crown, artfully combining said robots with a group of 13 children (who pretty much summed up the target demographic of the time) who are forced to grow up fast after their entire planet is swarmed by an alien enemy and strands them on a spaceship in the middle of hostile territory. If that sounds a little like Battlestar Galactica or maybe even Infinite Ryvius, that’s because it is. But the resemblance ends there.

Galaxy Drifter Vifam

The brilliance of Vifam is that the kids never stop being fun to watch. They rise to every occasion, fall on a few others, get caught up in just about every conflict you can think of, yet never strike a false note or lose their authenticity. It sounds corny, but your heart will go out to every one of them at some point in the series. It’s also a case where the writing, directing, acting, timing, and the musical score are so perfectly integrated that you almost don’t even need a translation for Vifam to work its magic.

Which is a good thing, because it happens to be another gaping hole in the long line of classics that have not yet been exported out of Japan.

Fortunately, where the import companies turn a blind eye the best and brightest of the fansubbers can save the day.

Below: The opening titles for Vifam, and under that toy models from the show.

Galaxy Drifter Vifam - toys

Galaxy Drifter Vifam - toys

Tim Eldred is a graphic novelist, TV animation artist, and hopeless fanboy. You can see his work at and

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