Monday, March 9, 2009

Gigantor: the eternal struggle

Judging from my referrals there is a fierce desire among the internet-enabled classic anime fans to experience again the New Adventures Of Gigantor, the 1980 Tetsujiin-28 series that was dubbed into English in the mid 1990s and broadcast on the Skiffy Channel for a brief season or two. I don't have any news on the availability of this series - though rest assured I will be alerting you all the moment something breaks - but darn it, I can't sit idly by while people want to experience Gigantor, specifically his New Adventures. So, here are some toys!!

I was lucky enough to pick up some merchandise from this show in the late 1980s when nobody cared about anything that Kenichi Sonoda didn't work on. Here's one of them - a little package of rubber stamps. If you ever wanted to mark all your possessions with the image of Jimmy Sparks and/or his super robot, this was just the thing for you.

The rubber is getting a little brittle after 29 years, and my last stamp pad dried out and gave up the ghost years ago, but darned if we can't make out some pretty good likenesses here. Also some not so good ones.

Once you've exhausted all the fun possibilities of your Gigantor Stamp Set, it's time to move on to more physical pursuits - namely, the Gigantor Top!

Diligent students of the Japanese language will no doubt be able to translate the katakana emblazoned across Tetsujin-28's mighty iron chest - it reads "Chara-Koma", "chara" being shorthand for "character", and "koma" being the Japanese word for "top", the kind you wrap a string around and spin. There, don't say you never learned anything from Let's Anime.

The top itself is metal and screen-printed with a handsome pic of Gigantor, only slightly marred by a giant pin sticking out of his upper thigh. The string has been lost in the mists of time, but rest assured it gave a mighty spin worthy of the name "Gigantor".

And please. Don't even pretend to try to claim that America knows not of Gigantor the Space-Age Robot. There once was a time when Gigantor fever gripped the nation, where young people wanted nothing more than to grab a pistol, put on a pair of shorts, and fight crime with a giant robot. As evidence I present this item from the 1960s:

No, I don't bathe with this every day. But I would if I could.

Oh, powers that be - how much longer must we wait before The New Adventures Of Gigantor appear on DVD - or at least back on basic cable? Let's get it together here guys!

In the meantime I have a desperate plea from one of my readers, who is looking for a cartoon glimpsed briefly on television in Kazakhstan. I'll let Clive tell the story:

I've been looking for a War Animation for years now without any luck.
I caught sight of some of it on TV in Kazakhstan, but I didn't see the
title or any credits, and my letters to the TV stations, Animation and
Anime experts and anyone else I thought could help have either been
unsuccessful or simply met with silence. I am really interested in
finding it, but I don't think I'm any closer to finding it than when I
started. I have a feeling it's an Anime but I have no way of proving
it until I see at least a still from it.

Here's some basic information about it:

Animation Type: 2D (drawn); Colour

Animation Style: The look of the Animation seemed similar to animated television episodes, one-off specials or direct-to-video releases. The character movements were done in limited Animation (much less than the usual 24 frames a second). The look of the Animation suggested it was made from the late 1970s to the early 1990s.

Notable Camera Movements: Two shots that occur side by side have stuttering zoom effects as opposed to the standard smooth zoom:

1) A zoom into a close up of a little boy’s concerned face.
2) A zoom into a close up of a little toy wagon rolling down the street.

Where It was Seen: an unknown local television channel from Almaty, Kazakhstan, in 1996 or '97. I was channel hopping and cam across it then. It was overdubbed in either Russian or Kazakh and I'm sure the language underneath it was English, but it wasn't lip-synched, just lip-flaps. This suggests that it was available in English at some point.

Music: There was a classical theme that was quite low and melancholy with a female classical vocal on it.

If you have any information on this mystery war animation, please get in touch with Clive via his Myspace page here!


Chris Sobieniak said...

Should be of note that "The New Adventures of Gigantor" was on SciFi Channel, I'm not sure if it was on Cartoon Network at all, but I remember it being on SciFi anyway.

d. merrill said...

Whups, my bad.

Tim Eldred said...

There was a 1971 anime series called Animentary - Decision. 26 episodes. Very limited animation, dramatized events from WWII. I've got several eps on commercial VHS tapes, but I've also seen it in release on DVD. This is the only war anime I know about other than Leiji Matsumoto's 'The Cockpit.'

Chris Sobieniak said...

Animentary - Decision sounds like quite a nifty name when you think of it!

Glad to help Dave!

Kiggy said...

In 1985 WAPA TV station in Puerto Rico showed a Mexican dub of Tetsujin 28 Go/Gigantor with the bilingual title "Iron Man 28? (pronounced "Veintiocho" in spanish).

Also all the characters names were in spanish.

Kiggy said...

? = "

my bad