Fans of golden age anime and Adult Swim rejoice! You now can have a complete set of the legendary series, “Gigantor.”
Well, the American version anyway.
For those who don’t understand what in the world is going on, a brief history.
Anime, aka animation made in Japan, was first brought to the U.S. courtesy of the show “Astro Boy.” The American who brought the show over here was one Fred Ladd, who openly admits one of the reasons he did it was he paid about “three bowls of rice” per episode. At the time, Ladd worked for a subsidiary of the National Broadcasting Company, NBC Enterprises.
Encouraged by the immediate success of “Astro Boy,” Ladd formed a production company called Delphi with the late Al Singer. They set up a distribution deal with the company Trans-Lux and then went about hunting up a new property. It didn’t take them long.
Originally called “Tetsujin 28-go,” “Gigantor” was created by another giant of Japanese comics, Mitsutero Yokayama. Seeing his competition, Osamu Tezuka, truly cashing in with Astro Boy, Yokayama signed up with an international Asian ad agency, Dentsu, to create an animated series based on his comic. In his world, the giant robot was actually a secret weapon created during World War II to literally stomp the American Navy into the briny deep. The giant robot was never deployed, and years later is discovered by the son of its creator. With WWII over, the boy decides to use his discovery for world peace.
In his translation, Ladd vigorously scrubbed any world war references out of the series. Because the animation of the first 26 episodes was considered too crude by Dentsu, he started the series with episode #27. He only ran 52 episodes of the series due to syndication standards. The young boy became Jimmy Sparks. He aided and abetted by the scientist Bob Brilliant and the klutzy Inspector Blooper and secret agent Dick Strong. The show was then initially picked up by New York City’s WPIX-TV (Channel 11) in 1966.
The show was an immediate hit. It even beat out top rated network news shows such as Walter Cronkite and “The Huntley-Brinkley Report.” From there, it didn’t take long before the series became a phenomenon.
Each episode was loaded with some of the greatest puns, such as villains with names like “Dr. Katzmeow.” This in part was due to the scripting of another anime legend, Peter Fernandez, who would soon go on his own with “Speed Racer.”
Every episode also included some kind of spectacular robot/monster/gangsters for the mighty iron giant to pound into the ground. What kid could resist that? Not many, apparently.
Besides, what bigger dream could an elementary or high school-aged boy have than his own giant robot at his beck and call?
With this latest set, you get the last 26 episodes of the series as well as some interesting memories from Ladd. Yes, the interviews were done when the man is well into his 80s, and he tends to repeat himself a bit. Yet the stories he tells can be fairly fascinating, particularly when he recounts interacting with Yokayama.
Otherwise, this is a fine collection to file alongside your other sets of golden age anime. As Adult Swim found out when they then aired it for two years at 5:00 a.m. in the morning, the giant robot still has fans, and is getting new ones all the time. Become one yourself.