Prince Planet is the English name given to one of the earliest Japanese TV anime series, Planet Boy Popi (遊星少年パピイ Yūsei Shōnen Papī?), when it was televised in America in the mid-1960s. A 52 episode monochrome anime, it tells the story of a member of the Universal Peace Corps from the Planet Radion coming to Earth on a mission to determine if this world meets standards for membership in the Galactic Union of Worlds and assist its inhabitants during his stay. While on his mission Prince Planet adopts the identity of an Earth boy named Bobby and gains comrades who work together alongside him combating evil forces both alien and terrestrial.
Production Overview and History
Prince Planet was originally produced in Japan by TCJ (Television Corporation of Japan) for Dentsu advertising in conjunction with K. Fujita Associates and aired on the Fuji Television network in 1965. This show was one of the first heavily merchandised shows in Japan, with simple things like shoes getting the "Planet Boy Popi" logo. An English-dubbed version was released by American International Television Productions in 1966 and produced by James Nicholson and Samuel Z. Arkoff. The dubbing was performed in Miami at Copri Films International and directed by Mark Harris with dialog scripting by Reuben Guberman (who also reworked The Amazing 3 for Erika Productions in 1967). The American theme was composed by Guy Hemric and Jerry Styner, who'd previously written songs for several of American International's "Beach Party" movies.
The main characters that appear throughout most of the series are all introduced by the fourth episode. In episode #1, Prince Planet arrives on Earth and meets a girl, Riko or Diana Worthy in the English-dubbed version and her father, Pops Worthy, who live on a large ranch. In episode #2, a wrestler known as Dan Dynamo, billed as "The strongest man in the world" joins the Prince Planet team. Episode #3 introduces Warlock, who is said to be the "Master of Martian Magic", although his Martian origins seem to be more of a contrivance added to the English dub. The last major team member is a magician named AjiBaba, from the desert of the eastern hemisphere who debuts in episode #4 as an arch-enemy of Warlock. Many of the episodes involve battles with Warlock until episode #30 when Krag from the planet Kragmire banishes (throws) Warlock into the depths of space and becomes Prince Planet's major nemesis until the end of the series. Warlock finally returns in the second-to-last episode of the series.
Powers and abilities
While on Earth, Prince Planet exists usually as Bobby, a normal appearing boy. But when the need arises he will transform into Prince Planet to fight enemies or protect his friends. He transforms similar to Captain Marvel (DC Comics) by holding his pendant with both hands and saying "Peeeeeee Pazow!!" with the "Pazow" being added to cover the Japanese "Popi".
When transformed into Prince Planet an appropriate costume comes with the transformation which resembles the apparel worn by the people of his native world including a helmet, which all male members of Radion society seem to wear. Prince Planet's main powers are not altogether unlike those of Superman, and it is interesting to note that in the original Japanese his home world is named "Planet Crifton". His pendant endowed powers include super strength, flight, and resistance to harsh environments like outer space although he can be injured in his transformed state. Prince Planet's most interesting power is using his superior intellect along with the energy of the pendant to transform material objects at will; this power is very useful to create needed weapons, transportation or other devices.
A recurring plot element of many episodes hinges on a limitation resembling that of Green Lantern in that his pendant must be recharged, but he can't perform this himself. Replenishing of the pendant's energy is handled from Planet Radion. As his energy supply diminishes, the "P" in his pendant goes from black to white like a thermometer in dropping temperatures. On his home planet, in the "power tower" there is a person whose job is to monitor the pendant's energy level and ensure it doesn't run too low. Of course he often seems to be "asleep on the job" while Earth and Prince Planet are hanging in the balance and sends energy to the pendant at the last possible second before disaster. Even completely deprived of the pendant's power, Prince Planet can still physically put up a good fight and his high intellect makes him a cunning and formidable opponent.
Two factors contributed to the hasty demise of Prince Planet as a desirable property for domestic broadcast, one being the fact that monochrome programing was becoming less desirable to television stations with the ever-growing popularity of color television. The other was negative parental reaction to cartoons containing what was perceived as excessive violence for children's television. While fighting for right, Prince Planet's opponents were often killed and this was obvious even despite some editing of the dubbed prints to remove some of the violent scenes. Prince Planet kills Warlock and Krag in the last two episodes before returning home to Radion, and they were not the only villains he blasted away with his pendant. In addition to human violence, the Prince was not overly sensitive to Earth fauna either... for instance in one episode, he transformed a whale into transportation for his friends, effectively killing the whale. Even so, Prince Planet is known to have been televised in the U.S.A until around 1976 in the Chicago area (WSNS Channel 44) on stations hungry for afternoon TV for children to watch after school and Prince Planet claimed many faithful adherents throughout the Sixties and those later years. Prince Planet was also televised on WUTV channel 29 Buffalo, New York, the summer of 1975.
English Dub Voice Talent
- Catherine "Bobbie" Byers (voice of Prince Planet, Bobby, various female voices)
- Mark Harris (voice of Dan Dynamo, various voices)
- Kurt Nagel (voice of Ajababa, various voices)
- Arnie Warren (voice of Warlock, various voices)
- Frank Schuller (voice Of Krag, various voices)
- Sandy Warshaw (voice of Diana Worthy, various female voices)
- Jeff Gillen (voice of Pop Worthy, various voices)
- Other voices performed by: Reuben Guberman, Lawrence Tobin, Jerry Burke
- 1. A Boy From Outer Space
- 2. Giant On The Matters
- 3. The Formidable Rival
- 4. The Arabian Magician
- 5. Flying Jellyfish
- 6. Dinosaur Men
- 7. A Big Showdown
- 8. Robot Island
- 9. The Overgrown Lizard
- 10. Shaberia
- 11. Fancy Machine
- 12. S.O.S. Global
- 13. Gold Picker
- 14. Attack Of Radioactive Ants
- 15. The Great Space War
- 16. The Star In Memory
- 17. The Space Zoo
- 18. The Stolen Mt. Fuji
- 19. Pirate Satan
- 20. The Planet Terror
- 21. Robot No. 9
- 22. Goodbye Saturnean
- 23. The Earth Zero Hour
- 24. The Ghost Space Ship
- 25. Battle On A Desert Island
- 26. Secret Under The Sea
- 27. The Rocket Pilot
- 28. Gaist, the Devilish
- 29. The Gift From Prince Planet
- 30. Gollen, the Formidable Foe
- 31. The Pollen Bomb
- 32. Operation Rico
- 33. Rico, The Great Detective
- 34. A Spy From The Necro
- 35. The Demon Scientist
- 36. The Young Spies
- 37. Alan, The Secret Agent
- 38. The Magic Gloves
- 39. Robot Prince
- 40. Rico's Adventure
- 41. The Lion In Desert
- 42. Crisis On The Earth
- 43. The Horror Of A Snowman
- 44. Revenge In The Valley
- 45. The Comet Missile
- 46. The Mystery Of Mummy
- 47. The Mystery Of Organ
- 48. Horror At 10:10 P.M.
- 49. The Birdman Racket
- 50. Secret Path Into The Earth
- 51. Ajababa's Children
- 52. The Star At Home
Other Foreign Releases and Dubs
Prince Planet was televised in Australia and aired in Melbourne in March 1967 on Channel 9 at 5pm weekdays. The series was as well known in Australia. It last appeared on Australian television in 1974 on The Super Flying Fun Show, a weekday breakfast television series.
In Brazil, Prince Planet aired between 1970 and 1975. The characters were known by the following names:
- Diana Worthy - "Estrellita"
- Dan Dynamo - "Bruno Retti" or "Strong"
- Warlock - "Capirote"
- Krag - "Kilitrone"