Popularized first in Japan by veteran manga artist Mitsuteru Yokoyama as Tetsujin 28-go in the early 1950′s, the animated version was picked up by Alan Ladd for translation and distribution in America in the mid 1960′s. While Ladd and company had great success with the import of Astroboy, Gigantot sparked a negative response from American TV critics who saw it as little more than loud and empty. Even so, the program has proven to be so popular that it is remembered even today.
The grand-daddy of all giant robot cartoons, Gigantor remains one of the absolute best in its field. A simple enough premise sees young Jimmy Sparks who controls the massive robot via an almost equally massive remote control unit. Backed by his uncle Professor Bob Brilliant, the bumbling Inspector Blooper and the brave Dick Strong, Jimmy embarks on a wild series of adventures.
The cartoon also featured one of the most instantly famous signature tunes…
Without any flying fists, eye beams or backpack missiles, this cartoon may seem quite boring, but after sitting through a few episodes I can see hints of Herge’s Tintin stories as our team of adventurers put a stop to power-mad would-be world conquerors and the like. I was also quite shocked to see the level of violence in these toons. Since the version I had seen as a kid was massively edited, I had not witnessed the unusual image of young Jimmy Sparks firing back at soldiers with a side-arm. In fact, despite the innocent style of animation, there is a high body count in this series. For once I can excuse the censors. This may be who the program was initially aired in the states during prime time rather than in the morning.
Retaining its level of importance, Gigantor has been colorized and re-vamped since its initial run but purists agree that the original is best. While an America CGI-adaptation has yet to work its way into production, the character has also been adapted into a modern film in Japan using the title Tetsjuin 28.
But that’s not all!
A robot too big for the small screen, Gigantor is the subject of a 1:1 project erected in its creator’s hometown of Kobe that would recreate the giant robot in its true scale for all to see.