Monday, February 28, 2011

Giant Robo (ジャイアントロボ) and the Romanticist Japanese

Yesterday, I wrote about the world's first robot marathon that was held by Japan. See that article and some very funny videos here.

Japan has always had a certain flair for robots (be they real, giant or otherwise) and when I was a kid growing up in America, we always thought it was strange. Even though my mom was Japanese, us kids living in the Midwest USA thought these Japanese cartoons and TV shows were not cool.

How little did we realize that this 60's Japanese Kitsch was extremely cool.... The ones who weren't cool were us dorky kids who wouldn't recognize cool if it came up and slapped us in the face!

When a good friend and regular reader sent in a Youtube video link to Giant Robo for me after reading that article about the robot marathon, I clicked on it and watched. "Ah!" I thought, "I remember this TV show! His finger is a rocket!"

A few seconds later, when the theme song to Giant Robo came through the computer speakers, my wife heard it and ran over like an excited little girl and exclaimed, "I loved this TV show! When it ended, I cried and cried!" (She almost started to cry too!)

When my wife said that to me, tears came to my eyes! She reminded me of my mother; and, her emotions remind me, once again, just how romanticist and delicate the Japanese can be.

I love this country and these people. 

Here's the story of Giant Robo... Just one more clue into why the Japanese have a fascination with robots and giant radioactive creatures from space and the bottom of the ocean....

Giant Robo first appeared in 

The Giant Robo manga (comics) first appeared in a weekly comic book called Weekly Shōnen Sunday on May 1967. Written by Mitsuteru Yokoyama, Giant Robo tells the story of Daisaku Kusama, the titular Robo and an evil secret society known only as "Big Fire." In October of the same year, a live-action adaptation premiered on TV Asahi

To see the very final scene of the final episode of Giant Robot - when he destroys the bad guy and destroys himself in the process - thereby saving the entire world by sacrificing himself - watch this one. The part with the final episode begins at about 4:37. Giant Robo meets his most deadly and dangerous adversary so far. The only way to destroy this evil creature is by flying into space and crashing into an asteroid and killing the monster and himself in the process.

Talk about making the ultimate sacrifice!


Fact of the matter is that, even though this was a hugely popular show with the kids and the ratings were good, the productions costs were way too high and sales to sponsors were not good. Maybe, since this was the 1960's, and before Japan's Economic Miracle, kids weren't a choice marketing target.

Watch this with any Japanese who is between 40 ~ 50 years old and they'll probably start crying. This is so very Japanese. The idea that a guy will kill himself - sacrifice himself - for the good of his loved ones is a theme that is steeped in tradition and a part and parcel of the Japanese psyche. In this country, the true hero is considered anyone who will do anything to save his loved ones.

See? I told you the Japanese are quite romantic!

To see more geeky stuff about Giant Robo click here.

Thanks to Ira Hata

1 comment:

Ira Hata said...

Like your wife, I loved the show, Mike. Although I was born in Santa Monica, my Japanese blood clicked in whenever a Japanese program was aired (dubbed in English or not).

For a long time, I though Gigantor and Kimba The White Lion were American cartoons. They were very different from the other crap airing on TV those days and I often wondered who the creators were.

Anyway, I'm happy the link brought back good memories. God knows we need them nowadays with all the BS going around...