Today we celebrate the birthday of legendary manga artist Mitsuteru Yokoyama (Giant Robo, Mahou Tsukai Sally, Babel II, God Mars, etc.) with a release celebrating his most successful character, Tetsujin #28 (known in the US as Gigantor).
Regular followers of my blog may notice that this release is quite similar to the way I celebrated Osamu Tezuka’s birthday last year, with Tetsuwan Atom episodes from different eras.
Here are the first two episodes of the live-action version, which debuted the year after the successful adaptation of Osamu Tezuka’s Tetsuwan Atom. I particularly like the actor they chose for Chief Otsuka; his acting, costume, and makeup are all very faithful to the way the character looks and acts in the manga.
Next, three of the later episodes of the first anime adaptation. The show ended a very successful 83 episode run of in late May of 1965, with Tetsujin being locked away in the Peace Memorial Museum after vanquishing all of the evil on Earth. But as we all know, evil never sleeps. Just over three months later the series returned with 13 new episodes. These are the first three of those episodes, featuring Magna X, a new robot antagonist from outer space. These episodes begin with Tetsujin being taken out of retirement and souped up by Professor Shikishima so that it can fly through space (obviously a hot topic in the midst of the space race era.)
And finally, an original broadcast of the first episode of the 1980 series revival, complete with subtitled commercials. Major thanks goes to Dougo13 for providing this from his amazing collection of old videotapes. The episode was recorded on Betamax by his friend in Nagasaki on October 3, 1980, two days after the first color episode of Tetsuwan Atom.
While I’ll always prefer the original anime, the 1980 color remake does have its strong points. I like Yasuaki Shimizu’s BGM soundtrack, which often has a jazzy and funky style. The show’s animation was produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha, one of my favorite studios. TMS is well known for its work on countless anime series (Lupin III, Orguss, Space Adventure Cobra, Famous Detective Holmes, Adventures of Gamba, Glass no Kamen, etc.) They’ve also carved out a niche for their work sub-contracting animation for American cartoons, such as Mighty Orbots, Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers, and some of the best episodes of Batman: the Animated Series.
Some people may remember seeing the edited English dubbed version (“The New Adventures of Gigantor”) on Cartoon Network in the 1990s. But I just discovered that the entire original, uncut version is available from Discotek in a Bluray box set, in Japanese with English subtitles. I still can’t believe how much amazing classic anime that company has released in the last several years, usually at a fairly reasonable price per episode. Also, someone pointed out in the comments that Amazon Prime members can stream 1980 Tetsujin for free. I’ll make a guess that this even works on one o’ them sci-fi future phones that shoots video and takes your blood pressure. Advertising keeps telling me I need one, but it feels like most times when I see someone staring at their little Star Trek radio, they don’t look quite as happy as the people in the ads.