Based upon Buichi Terasawa's space-opera manga series, the 1982 animated film adaptation of Space Adventure Cobra features an ordinary office worker named Johnson living in the distant future who remembers nothing beyond the past three years of his arguably boring life. He seeks out a company that allows clients to experience their dreams as reality, and his subconscious produces a dream in which he is a space adventurer named Cobra with an Android sidekick called Lady Armaroid. He fights the Space Pirate Guild, an organized criminal entity and ends up allowing leader Captain Vaiken to escape.
Later, while he is driving home, he is involved in a car accident with a speeding driver who bears a striking resemblance to the Captain of the Pirate Guild. When Johnson mentions the resemblance, Vaiken affirms his identity, and threatens to kill him for information about Cobra. A now-interested and frightened Johnson goes home to solve his new mystery. Upon finding a secret room in his house, it is revealed to him that he once really was Cobra, and he was being heavily hunted by the Pirate Guild because he interfered badly with their criminal enterprise. He is armed with a psycho-gun that is concealed into his left arm, and finds that the bounty on his head by the Justice Federation of United Galaxies is especially high, due to his history as an unstoppable rogue. He had three years ago surgically changed his facial features and erased his memories so he could start over and live a normal life without the constant threat of enemy pursuit.
He is then enlisted by a bounty hunter named Jane to find her sister if he can, who has been captured by a strange entity known as the Crystal Boy. While out on his mission he finds himself strangely drawn to the fate of a mysterious wandering planet. He slowly uncovers his identity in his own memory throughout and gradually regains the knowledge and abilities necessary to carry out his tasks and regain his former status.