TechnoVoyager/Thunderbirds 2086 (1982) episode 01 (with bonus original broadcast versions)

Some of you may be familiar with the work of Gerry Anderson, creator of many Supermarionation puppet series for Lew Grade’s ITC Entertainment such as Stingray, Thunderbirds, and Captain Scarlet. Anderson also later produced live action SF series for ITC, like UFO and Space:1999.

Anderson’s puppet shows were a huge hit in the UK, but never quite managed to achieve the same success in North America, despite building a devoted cult following here. However they were very popular in Japan, dubbed into Japanese. I used to own a Japanese LaserDisc with their collected opening titles, both the originals and the Japanese versions with their different theme songs. I imagine this is probably available on YouTube somewhere.

Gerry Anderson’s most iconic and well remembered creation was the 1965 puppet series Thunderbirds. This show, set in the futuristic world of 2065, featured the adventures of International Rescue, a secret organization that used high-tech land, sea, air and space vehicles in their rescue operations.

TechnoVoyager’s version of the Thunderbirds shout of “F.A.B.!”

In 1982, Jin Productions (the company behind X Bomber in 1980) came up with an anime series heavily inspired by Thunderbirds. There were many differences: the TechnoVoyager team isn’t a literal family like the Tracy clan, and there’s no real espionage equivalent to Lady Penelope & Parker. There are also deliberate similarities: just as the original Thunderbirds used to respond to commands with the iconic: “F.A.B.!”, the TechnoVoyager team shouts out: “I.R.O.S.!”, the acronym for their international rescue organization.

I’ve subtitled the first episode, big thanks to drmecha for providing the DVD source. Probably a one-off, but I might get around to subtitling more eventually.

I’ve also included a couple of original broadcasts of the same episode with this release…

Thanks to Dougo13 for providing his original off-air Betamax recording of episode 1, taped by his friend in Nagasaki on April 17, 1982. If people enjoy these “original broadcasts with subtitled commercials” releases and want to see more, let me know in the comments.

This promo contains a reference to one of my all-time favorite tokusatsu shows…
Who shot J.R.?

Because of the show’s many similarities to the original Thunderbirds, the English-language rights to series ended up getting bought by ITC and rebranded as a sort of reboot to the franchise. TechnoVoyager was set in the year 2066, right around the same time as the original series, so the dubbed version was moved 20 years further into the future. It’s not generally considered to be Thunderbirds canon by Gerry Anderson fans, but more like a fun re-imagining of the show.

English scripts for the dubbed version were written by Owen Lock and Robert Mandell. Like much dubbed anime of this era, there’s little evidence that the writers made any use of actual translated scripts as a reference, although they would occasionally make a lucky guess based on the visuals. These English scripts also tended to contain jokes and references to various movies and TV series, such as A Clockwork Orange, or (in the case of this episode) The Honeymooners. The dubbing supervisor was Peter Fernandez, best known as the voice of Speed Racer, as well as being the English dubbing director for that show and many other classic anime series.

I first became aware of Thunderbirds 2086 around 1983 or 1984, when several 3-episode compilation “movies” aired on cable TV and were available in video rental stores. Does anyone else remember the “IRO Data Cube” that linked these episodes?

The full series started airing in the Chicago area on WGBO-66 in 1986, and here is a Betamax recording of the same episode dubbed in English. TechnoVoyager #1 was actually shown as episode #11 of TB2086, but since this one was a self-contained rescue story that doesn’t touch the show’s loose story arc, it really doesn’t matter what order it was slotted in.

Get all three versions of TechnoVoyager #1 from Nyaa or Mega.

Several years ago I subtitled the first couple of episodes of X Bomber, the Go Nagai series from Jin Productions that was heavily inspired by Gerry Anderson’s Supermarionation shows. I removed those from my site when the entire series became available in both English-dubbed and English subtitled versions on a single SD-BD from Discotek. I bought this myself and highly recommend it, still available from online retailers. I would be very happy if eventually Discotek ended up buying the rights and doing the same type of dual release of TechnoVoyager and Thunderbirds 2086. I don’t know how complicated the rights situation is with the different versions, but I can dream…

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4 Responses to TechnoVoyager/Thunderbirds 2086 (1982) episode 01 (with bonus original broadcast versions)

  1. Jon T says:

    Apparently, the rights situation with Thunderbirds 2086 is that it’s effectively been grouped with the original Thunderbirds series and, as with the original show, is wholly controlled by ITV Studios.

    Where this has become an issue is that, unlike the other ITC Gerry Anderson series that are more easily available for licensing by others, such as Network in the UK, the original Thunderbirds series is more tightly overseen by ITV – this is one of the main reasons why there’s only a cropped “widescreen” Blu-ray of the series in the UK put out by ITV directly, for instance.

    The original Thunderbirds series is essentially off-limits to Network due to this reason, and this supposedly affects Thunderbirds 2086 as well since it carries the Thunderbirds name. Where the situation has become even more problematic is that there is ostensibly a distinct lack of awareness by ITV themselves that they do in fact own Thunderbirds 2086 since it was an ITC series. No one has been able to clear the situation up as of yet.

    It would have been welcome to have had a hybrid Blu-ray release along the lines of X-Bomber, especially as there are many differences between TechnoVoyager and Thunderbirds 2086, to the extent of the latter having new/revised animation at times.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Nanto says:

      Yeah, I kinda figured that the rights situation with ITC would be too complicated for a hybrid release like this to be realistic. Thanks for the info.

      Network has done such a great job of remastering so many ITC series from 35mm to Bluray. It’s a shame that UK fans are stuck with a cropped 16:9 BD set of Thunderbirds.

      Like

  2. fmuldoone says:

    Very cool! Thanks so much for this. I for one would love to see more releases of original broadcast episodes with subbed commercials. I love that kind of stuff. A few years ago I got my hands on some off-air Betamax recordings of English subbed Japanese programming capped from Hawaii’s KIKU-TV, and the vintage commercials were like a time capsule.

    On the subject of ThunderBirds 2086, here’s a bit of trivia. Robert Mandell took a business trip to Japan as part of the English localization process. While there, he saw the Space Adventure Cobra anime and was so impressed with the quality of TMS’s work that he made sure to contract them a few years later to provide the animation for a show he created called The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. James says:

    I wanted to let you know how happy I am to see this! One version of the show would have been enough to satisfy me, but to get the DVD version and the original broadcast version, as well as the Thunderbirds 2086 dub of the episode…well, I’m ecstatic! Thank you!!

    I’ve been a fan of Technoboyger for years now, and, as much as I enjoy Thunderbirds 2086, I’ve longed to see the series presented as it was originally produced, without things like Starcrusher added to the mix. Besides, how can you go wrong with a series that had talent like Noboru Ishiguro, Kazufumi Nomura, Kazuhiko Udagawa, Kenzo Koizumi, and Yasushi Ishizu as part of the main staff. Heck, one episode of the series even had guest characters designed by a pre-Macross Haruhiko Mikimoto!

    I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the fantastic music by Kentaro Haneda! Man, I wish they’d bring out a complete soundtrack for this show! I’ve got the album they released when the series was first airing in Japan, but there’s so much more that wasn’t on it…! Haneken was a musical genius, and is sorely missed.

    Anyway, I truly hope that this will grow beyond being just a one-off presentation. I was actually going to suggest it as a possible project for you once you finished the Lensman TV series (Like your plate isn’t already full enough! I’m still hoping to see more of the 1960s Cyborg 009 and Starzinger). While I agree with you that this would be a perfect fit for a company like Discotek to release, until that day comes (If ever), I hope you’ll consider continuing with this series!

    Thank you again for this wonderful surprise!

    Liked by 1 person

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