The year is 2197. The Earth has been under attack from an alien race called Gamalons. Radioactive planet bombs have rendered the surface of the planet uninhabitable, so all the people have moved underground. By the year 2199, Earth is estimated to have one year left before it is completely unlivable. Captain Avatar fights a last ditch battle against the Gamalons near Pluto, but loses his entire fleet and is forced to retreat. During the battle, a strange ship crashes on Mars. Cadet trainees Derek Wildstar and Mark Venture, stationed on Mars, search the wreckage and find a message capsule on the pilot, a woman who didn't survive the crash. The capsule is taken back to Earth and analyzed to find a message from Queen Starsha of the distant planet Iscandar. She sends plans for a Wave Motion Engine, and offers a machine to remove the radioactivity from Earth. Plans are immediately made to travel the distance - 148,000 light years away and back again...
The quintessential anime space opera, this is such a classic it simply can't be missed. Though horribly dated, (airplanes and aircraft carriers in space..) the story is fantastic and the characters ARE the cliches. probably the first anime to really give you the feeling that the main characters might not survive. Very dark and magestic, once you get past the silly physics this is one of the best space operas written. Very highly recommended.