With a population of 18 billion people the Earth is no longer big enough to house everybody. Colonies have been established throughout the solar system and are now home to 5 billion more people. On Mars a project to melt the Polar Regions for a water source reveals designs etched into the surface of Mars that closely resemble the Nazca lines.

Millie Willem (Rachel Huggett) is a Space Linguist and a member of the Mars project investigating the lines. Millie is sent to Minerva Base, which is orbiting Jupiter, to see Chief Engineer Eiji Honda (Tomokazu Miura). Honda is the head of the Jupiter Solarization project. Since some of the colonies are far out in the solar system they are farther away from the sun. The Solarization project is working on a way to turn Jupiter into a mini-sun that will help support the outer colonies and provide a new energy source.

Millie is on the Minerva Base to tell Honda that his project may have to be put on hold. Her theory is that aliens visited the solar system 100,000 years ago leaving the carvings on Earth, Mars and the Moon. The lines, or messages, hint that the key to their message may be found in Jupiter’s red spot. Before the Solorization project can continue the hint needs to be investigated. Millie and Eiji take a research ship into the red spot. Inside they find an alien space ship. The ship is transmitting a message that, so far, they have not been able to decode.

In the meantime Captain Hoger Kinn (Irwin Ron) and Doctor Inoue Ryutarou (Akihiko Hirata) are on a mission to check out an area of space known as “The Comet’s Nest”. The area is a ring of space dust and ice that usually releases three comets each year. There is concern that the number of comets has declined recently. Two unmanned space probes have disappeared. Kinn and Inoue are going there to find out what is going on. Due to the distance involved they will be in hyper sleep for most of the trip aboard a special ship known as The Arrow. A malfunction onboard wakes the men up early. They discover a black hole is responsible for the decline in comets. The black hole also consumes them and their ship. The data sent back Minerva Base shows that the black hole is headed towards Earth’s sun.

The only way to stop the black hole is to destroy Jupiter thereby changing the direction of the black hole and diverting it away from the sun. The job is made harder due to a rebel faction known as the “Jupiter Church” whose members intend on foiling the Jupiter Solarization’s plans.

“Sayonara Jupiter” AKA “Bye Bye Jupiter” was released in 1984 and was directed by Sakyo Komatsu and Koji Hashimoto. It is based on the 1982 novel “Sayonara Jupiter” by Sakyo Komatsu.

It was a kind of bipolar movie. Half fascinating and half ridiculous. The special effects were actually decent most of the time, at least the explosion stuff. The plot was very involved and, in some spots, a little difficult to follow. There were a lot of various threads and sub-plots. I can understand needing them since they are interconnected in some way. It’s tough to take a book and reduce it to two hours on screen. The general plot itself is a little strange, turning Jupiter into a sun, but that’s the basis that sets the film in motion.

What I had a problem with was the whole Jupiter Church thing. They’re hippies on a beach trying to destroy a base in outer space. Why? Take a swim, play with your dolphin. Another weird thing was the sex scene between Eiji and his girlfriend Maria. What’s with the antigravity sex? I’m not even sure it’s possible. You have no traction and no leverage. Stuff like that made the movie ridiculous.

The space arrow was a little strange but its demise was fascinating. I would have liked to have seen more about the Nazca lines but that was just another plot device. In addition the switching between all the languages started giving me a headache. One person is speaking in Japanese and another is responding in English. I realize it’s an international project but pick a language. There were far too many drawn out boring parts for a two hour movie. Part of the time I was enjoying it and part of the time I was itching to fast forward. Altogether it was OK but there are far better Japanese films out there.

This was Akihiko Hirata’s last feature film before he died. Hirata appeared in dozens of films. He played Dr. Serizawa, the inventor of the oxygen destroyer from “Godzilla” 1957. He was also in “Rodan” 1956, “Mothra” 1961, and “Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster” 1964. He had a small part but just to see him in the movie was a plus.

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