UFO Robot Grendizer (UFOロボ·グレンダイザー UFO Robo Gurendaizā?, sometimes romanized as UFO Robo Grendizer) is a super robot TV anime and manga created by manga artist Go Nagai. It was broadcast on Japanese television from October 5, 1975, to February 27, 1977, and lasted 74 episodes. The robot's first appearance in the United States was as a part of the Shogun Warriors line of super robot toys imported in the late 1970s by Mattel, then in Jim Terry's Force Five series, both under the title Grandizer. It is still widely popular in the Middle East and was especially popular in continental Europe and in the province of Quebec under the title, "Goldorak."
The Vega homeworld has become unstable due to the exploiting of Vegatron, a powerful radioactive ore. Seeking to expand his militaristic empire and find a substitute planet to settle upon, the ruthless King Vega unleashes his armies — composed of flying saucers and giant robotic monsters — and turns first against neighbors such as Fleed, a highly advanced but peaceful world. In a tragically ironic twist, the invaders' blitzkrieg turns against them: the once verdant, idyllic Fleed is turned into a radioactive wasteland. Too late, the only known survivor of the royal family, Prince Duke Fleed, manages to steal the Grendizer, the robotic embodiment of the Fleedian God of War, from the Vegan invaders who plan to use it to spearhead their invasion fleet. Grendizer is a giant robot that interfaces with Spazer, a flying saucer that enables the robot to fly.
Fleeing Vegan space by flying at faster than light speed, Duke enters our solar system and switches course to Earth, making a rough landing in Japan, on the slopes of Mount Fuji. He is befriended by Doctor Umon, a noted scientist who oversees a research laboratory called the Space Science Lab near a small ranch. The kindly Umon takes in the young humanoid alien as his son, under the assumed name of Daisuke, and assists him in hiding Grendizer. Taking the name Daisuke Umon, Duke Fleed works at the ranch run by Danbei Makiba (based on Abashiri Daemon of Go Nagai's manga Abashiri Ikka).
Roughly two years later, Kouji Kabuto returns to Japan after studying abroad in a flying saucer he personally designed and built (called the TFO). He heads to the Space Science Lab after hearing of multiple sightings of "flying saucers". He plans to contact the aliens if possible and make peace with them. Daisuke, however, scoffs at the notion and fears that these aliens, the Vegans, led by generals Blaki and Gandal, are preparing to attack Earth. Kouji ignores his warnings and flies out to meet the incoming saucers, only to discover the horrible truth. In order to save Kouji and protect his adoptive homeworld from destruction, Daisuke is forced to return to his true identity as Duke Fleed. He unearths Grendizer from its hiding place under the lab and sets off to fight his enemies.
The Vegans establish a base on the dark side of the moon and start to attack Earth from there. Kouji discovers Duke Fleed’s true identity and their bitter rivalry soon turns to friendship. The daughter of Danbei Makiba, Hikaru, also discovers Daisuke’s secret and becomes a pilot in order to assist him despite his objections. Later on, it is revealed that there were two more survivors from planet Fleed: Duke’s younger sister Maria Grace Fleed and a man who had rescued her and fled to Earth, raising her under the guise of her grandfather. Caught in a crossfire between Grendizer and a Vegan beast, he reveals to Maria that she is the last survivor of the royal family of Fleed (under the belief that Duke was killed) before dying from his wounds. Maria swears revenge on Grendizer and its pilot. She tries to ambush Duke, Kouji and Hikaru at the Space Science Lab, but the fight is short lived. Maria’s attacks brings Duke’s necklace (which is the same as the one she wore) into view and the truth is revealed. The lost siblings are reunited at last and Maria becomes the last addition to the team.
As the conflict nears the end, it is shown that Duke Fleed was engaged to King Vega’s daughter, Princess Rubina, prior to the attack on Fleed. When Rubina discovers that planet Fleed is no longer polluted with Vegatron radiation and that her fiancé is alive and well, she rushes to Earth to bring him the good news. Unfortunately, one of King Vega’s generals uses this opportunity to ambush Duke Fleed, and Rubina is killed when she takes a shot aimed at Duke. This makes Duke even more determined to wipe out the Vegan menace once and for all.
King Vega decides to gather his remaining forces and make an all-out attack on Earth, destroying the Moon Base to coax his troops into fighting to the end and finally succeed in invading Earth and taking it as their new home planet. Duke and company go out to intercept them in Grendizer and the newly-designed space combat Spazers. After a fierce battle, they finally manage to destroy the Vegan mothership along with King Vega himself. Soon afterwards, Duke and Maria bid a tearful farewell to Earth and their friends and return to help reconstruct planet Fleed.
The original concept was shown in a 1975 30-minute pilot movie War of the Flying Saucers. The movie had the same basic plot, with a few changes: Daisuke appears as the Professor's biological son, the enemy was Princess Teronna from Planet Yarban, and the robot's original name was Gattaiger (gattai is Japanese for "combine"). The series, which started later the same year, is considered another sequel to the Mazinger series, partly because of the inclusion of Mazinger Z's pilot Koji Kabuto, and having giant robots, which made it a "Super Robot" mecha anime.
The Grendizer robot and Daisuke have been included in two short Go Nagai cross-over features: UFO Robot Grendizer vs. Great Mazinger, and Great Mazinger, Grendizer, Getter Robot G: Decisive Showdown! Great Sea Beast., in which the various super-robots combine forces to take on the seemingly indestructible Dragonsaurus which emerges from the sea and proceeds to destroy Tokyo; even Boss Borot makes an appearance.
Grendizer is best remembered as one of the first anime shows to have a huge success in Europe and Canada, particularly in France and Quebec (titled Goldorak), Italy and Malta (titled Goldrake), where it holds a strong following even today. Grendizer was also one of the most popular anime series ever shown in Arabic countries. Grendizer is also popular in Russia.
The French version of the show has the characters named after stars, planets and galaxies: Duke Fleed becomes Actarus (from the star Arcturus), as both his alien and Earth name; Kouji Kabuto is Alcor, Doctor Umon is Professeur Procyon etc. The Italian version, which uses the French adaptation, uses almost all the same names.
Although set in Japan, which can be seen from the air on several occasion, the series was given an American Western feel by including a ranch where Duke Fleed and Kouji Kabuto would work in their spare time. The ranch owner, Danbei Makiba, and his children would dress in cowboy/girl outfits (though they also appeared in traditional Japanese clothes on occasion) and even had a neighbour who wore a Mexican sombrero. In spite of this the series was not a success in the US. Only twenty-six episodes of Grendizer were shown on American TV as part of the multi-mecha show Force Five, out of the total of 74 in the original series. Many character's names were changed: Grendizer spelling was changed to Grandizer; Duke Fleed was Orion Quest, and his alias was Johnny Bryant; Planet Fleed's name was changed to Antares, and so on. This corresponds to the first season and story arc (ending with the death of one of the main villains, who is replaced afterwards). Although Mazinger Z was later imported to the United States, Kouji's character appearing in both Tranzor Z and Grandizer was not acknowledged.
The licensed dubbed version for some French-speaking countries was officially announced in 2006. In 2005, a major crisis led Toei to take legal actions against DVD customers, all French megastores, and two major French anime publishers in France, Belgium, Italy, Switzerland and Luxembourg. The crisis started with the official release of unlicensed Goldorak DVD by Manga Distribution and Déclic Image websites and on Ebay. By November 28, 2005 the Manga Distribution and Déclic Images publishers were sentenced to pay €7,200,000 to Toei and Dynamic Planning for selling unlicensed DVD boxset.
Production information & staff
- Episodes: 74
- Airtime: Sunday, 19:00 - 19:30
- Network: Fuji TV
- Production: Toei Doga
- Original: Go Nagai, Dynamic Production
- Producer: Masahisa Saeki
- Planning: Higashi Kasuga, Mineo Kachita, Koji Bessho
- Series director: Tomoharu Katsumata
- Episode director: Tomoharu Katsumata, Yoichi Kominato, Yasuo Yamayoshi, Tsunekiyo Otani, Hidenori Yamaguchi, Kazukiyo Shigeno, Yoshikatsu Kasai, Takenori Kawada, Masamune Ochiai, Hiroshi Shitara, Kazuya Miyazaki, Johei Matsuura, Osamu Kasai, Tokiji Kaburaki, Kozo Morishita, Masayuki Akehi, Kazumi Fukushima
- Character design: Kazuo Komatsubara
- Art designer: Tadanao Tsuji, Iwamitsu Ito
- Music: Shunsuke Kikuchi
- Lyrics: Kogo Hotomi
- Theme song performance: Isao Sasaki
- Opening Theme: "Tobe! Grendizer" (とべ!グレンダイザー Tobe! Gurendaizā?, translated as "Fly! Grendizer") by Isao Sasaki, Columbia Yurikago-kai and Koorogi '73
- Ending Theme: "Uchuu no Yuusha Grendizer" (宇宙の勇者グレンダイザー Uchū no Yūsha Gurendaizā?, translated as "Grendizer, hero of the space") by Isao Sasaki
- Cast: Kei Tomiyama (Daisuke Umon / Duke Fleed), Hiroya Ishimaru (Koji Kabuto), Kosei Tomita (Danbei Makiba), Joji Yanami (Dr. Genzo Umon / Emperor Vega), Kazuko Sawada (Goro Makiba), Chiyoko Kawashima (Hikaru Makiba), Kenichi Ogata (Banta Arano / Blacky), Rihoko Yoshida (Grace Maria Fleed), Kazuko Sawada (Lady Gandal), Kazuko Sugiyama (Naida), Noriko Ohara (Rubina), Ryoichi Tanaka (Zuril Jr), Keiichi Noda (Captain Gorman), Nobuyo Tsuda (Hara Arano), Hiroshi Otake (Boss)
Dynamic Superobot Wars and Dynamic Heroes
UFO Robot Grendizer returns in 2002 in the 6th chapter of "Dynamic Superobot Wars" and in 2004 in Dynamic Heroes (ダイナミックヒーローズ, dainamikku hi^ro^zu?), also known as Nagai Go Manga Gaiden - Dynamic Heroes (永井豪まんが外伝 ダイナミックヒーローズ, nagai gou manga gaiden dainamikku hi^ro^zu?) and as Go Nagai manga heroes crossover collection - Dynamic Heroes, is a Japanese manga based in several works of Go Nagai, including most of his most famous robots, such as Mazinger Z, Getter Robot and Great Mazinger. It was originally published in monthly manga magazine e-manga from Kodansha, from June 2004 to July 2007.
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- "UFO Robot Grendizer (1975's anime TV series) - animemorial.net". animemorial. Retrieved 2009-05-18.
- "Toei Animation And Dynamic Planning Wins!!". Toei Animation. 2005-11-28. Retrieved 2008-10-15.
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- UFO Robot Grendizer (Japanese) at Toei Animation website
- UFO Robot Grendizer at Toei's corporative website
- UFO Robo Grendizer (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- UFO Robot Grendizer (Japanese) at The World of Go Nagai webpage
- Goldrake - Atlas UFO Robot (Italian) at the Enciclo'Robopedia website
- UFO Robot Grendizer (Japanese) at Animemorial
- UFO Robot Grendizer (animated film) (Japanese) at Animemorial
- Ufo Robots Project - Italian Fan Grendizer Movie in CG (CG movie and images) (Italian) at URP no profit project
- UFO Robo Grendizer (movie) (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- UFO Robot Grendizer: Akai Yuuhi no Taiketsu (animated film) (Japanese) at Animemorial
- UFO Robot Grendizer: Akai Yuuhi no Taiketsu (animated film) (Japanese) at allcinema