Tetsujin 28-gō (鉄人28号 Tetsujin Nijūhachi-gō?, literally "Iron Man #28") is a 1956 manga written and illustrated by Mitsuteru Yokoyama, who also created Giant Robo. The series centred on the adventures of a young boy named Shotaro Kaneda, who controlled a giant robot named Tetsujin 28, built by his late father.
The manga was later adapted into four anime TV series, the first in 1963. It was the first Japanese series to feature a giant robot. The 1963 series was later released in America as Gigantor. A live action motion picture with heavy use of computer generated graphics was produced in Japan in 2005.
During the final days of World War II, the Japanese military is secretly developing a superweapon that help save the Japanese Empire. After twenty-seven failed attempts, Dr. Kaneda completes a three-stories high, remote-controlled robot. The robot is officially named Tetsujin 28-go. The war, however, is already over, and Dr. Kaneda dies of heart failure shortly after completing Tetsujin 28. Rather than becoming the military's key weapon, Tetsujin 28 is given to Dr. Kaneda's ten-year-old son, Shotaro. Under the Shotaro's control, Tetsujin is put to work stopping criminals and enemy robots.
- Shoutarou Kaneda (金田 正太郎 Kaneda Shōtarō?): The ten-year-old son of Dr. Kaneda. He is Tetsujin's assigned controller, with a deep emotional attachment to the robot. Shotaro is a boy detective famous throughout Tokyo, and in the manga, 1963 series, and 2004 series, can be seen frequently driving a car.
- Professor Shikishima (敷島 博士 Shikishima-hakase?): Dr. Kaneda's assistant, later Shotaro's mentor and guardian. He is caring and very dedicated to his work, but usually looks serious and deadpan. He is married, and has a son named Tetsuo.
- Inspector Ootsuka (大塚 署長 Ōtsuka-shochou?): The Chief of Tokyo Police. He is warm in personality and very enthusiastic, which isn't to say he doesn't take his job seriously. He is very close to Shikishima and also takes care of Shotaro, even acting as a surrogate father in the 2004 series.
- Kenji Murasame (村雨 健次 Murasame Kenji?): A former intelligence officer who begins to help Otsuka and Shotaro's work. His appearances in the 1960's and 2004 series are startkly different; he is immediately Shotaro's ally in the 1960's, but in the 2004 series, his brothers Ryuusaku and Tatsu are killed during Tetsujin's revival, causing him to seek revenge for several episodes. In the original manga, he and Ryuusaku are the leaders of a criminal organization.
- Professor Shutain Franken (不乱拳酒多飲 博士 Furanken Shutain-hakase?): A reclusive mad scientist who created the robot Black Ox. He is calm and very knowledgeable, but unfortunately uses his talents to create dangerous robots. In the original version of the 1960's series, his name is Dr. Black Dog.
- Superhuman Kelly (超人間 ケリー Chōningen Kerī?): An American man who volunteered himself to be turned into an android as part of a wartime experiment. As a result, his body is entirely robotic with the exception of his brain, and is often covered in bandages. In the 2004 series, he steals his brother Johnson's identity in order to kill the doctor that made him this way.
Tetsujin 28-go was serialized in Kobunsha's Shōnen Magazine from July 1956 to May 1966, for a total of 97 chapters. The series was collected into 12 tankōbon volumes, which are re-released every ten years.
As he had written in Ushio magazine in 1995, "When I was a fifth-grader, the war ended and I returned home from Tottori Prefecture, where I had been evacuated. The city of Kobe had been totally flattened, reduced to ashes. People said it was because of the B-29 bombers...as a child, I was astonished by their terrifying, destructive power." Another influence on Tetsujin's creation was the Vergeltungswaffen, a set of wonder weapons designed for long-range strategic bombing during World War II, and the idea that Nazi Germany possessed an "ace in the hole to reverse [its] waning fortunes". The third work to inspire Yokoyama's creation was the 1931 film Frankenstein, which shaped Yokoyama's belief that the monster itself is neither good or evil.
1963 TV series
The 1963 TV incarnation of Tetsujin 28-go aired on Fuji TV from 20 October 1963 to 25 May 1966. The series initially ended with 84 episodes, but then returned for 13 more, for a total of 97 episodes. The series had mostly short plots that never took up more than three episodes, but was generally more light-hearted than the anime that would succeed it. Shotaro, Otsuka, Shikishima and Murasame functioned as a team in this version. Only 52 episodes were ever dubbed for the english broadcast.
1980 TV series
The 1980-81 Shin Tetsujin 28-go (New Tetsujin 28) series was created with 51 color episodes based on a modernized take upon the original concept art. In 1993, Fred Ladd and the TMS animation studio converted the series into The New Adventures of Gigantor and had it broadcast on America's Sci-Fi Channel from September 9, 1993 to June 30, 1997.
Tetsujin 28 FX
This was the sequel to 1980's Shin Tetsujin 28 and follows Shotaro's son Masato, who controlled a new edition of Tetsujin and worked at a detective agency with other children. Among them were Shiori Nishina, granddaughter of Chief Otsuka. The Tetsujin FX was controlled by a remote control gun, which had to be fired at the robot for it to take its commands. The series aired on Nihon TV from April 5, 1992 to March 30, 1993, totaling 47 episodes. It has been brought over to Latin America, but never released in english-speaking countries.
2004 TV series
Written and directed by Yasuhiro Imagawa, the 2004 remake takes place ten years after World War II, approximately the same time as the manga debuted. The new TV series has been released in the United States under its original name Tetsujin-28 by Geneon and in the United Kingdom by Manga Entertainment, the first time a Tetsujin-28 property has not been localized to "Gigantor" in America or other English speaking nations. The television series focused mainly on Shotaro's pursuit to control and fully understand Tetsujin's capabilities, all the while encountering previous creations and scientists from the Tetsujin Project. While not fully based on the original manga, it followed an extremely different storyline than in the 1960's series.
On March 31, 2007, a feature length film, entitled "Tetsujin 28-go: Hakuchu no Zangetsu" (which translates as "Tetsujin #28: The Daytime Moon") was released in Japanese theaters. The film used the same character designs and scenery as the 2004 TV series, albeit the movie remade the series from the beginning. Among the changes, a new character "Shoutarou" debuted, Shotaro's older half-brother who was in the same airforce troop as Ryuusaku Murasame. As well, a character named Tsuki, with a heavily-bandaged body, attempts to murder Shotaro. There are currently no announced plans to release the film in other countries, despite the film's large success in Asia.
2005 live-action film
The live action movie was released in the US on DVD by Geneon Entertainment in 2006 and has been licensed for a UK release by Manga Entertainment. The movie centers on Shotaro, who is living in the modern age with his widowed mother. Tetsujin 28 is accidentally discovered, and Shotaro's mother explains that it was left for Shotaro. He, with the help of Chief Otsuka and an older female classmate, learns to control Tetsujin. In the meantime, a Dr. Reiji Takumi activates Black Ox and plans to attack Tetsujin.
On December 26, 2008, Felix Ip, the creative director of Imagi Animation Studios, revealed screenshots from a computer-animated teaser video featuring Black Ox and Tetsujin. On January 9, 2009, the Japanese animation company Hikari Productions and IMAGI launched the project's website. The teaser features Dr. Franken with nearly the same name that he had in the 2005 movie, him also being the leader of a terrorist organization, and Shotaro being designed to look more like Daisaku from Giant Robo: The Animation. The movie has not yet been finalized, as its further production depends on worldwide success of the Astro Boy movie and the upcoming Gatchaman film.
In the Americanization of the 1963 Tetsujin 28 series, which was done by Fred Ladd, all of the character names were changed, and the wartime setting removed. Mainly, Shotaro Kaneda became Jimmy Sparks, Dr. Shikishima became Dr. Bob Brilliant, Inspector Otsuka became Inspector Ignatz J. Blooper, and Kenji Murasame became Dick Strong. The series' time period was pushed forward to be in the year 2000. The 1980 TV series was also exported to America in 1993, retitled as The New Adventures of Gigantor, with most of Fred Ladd's names intact. The 2004 TV series, released on by Geneon, retained all of its original names.
Appearances in other media
A number of characters and robots from the Tetsujin 28 series appeared in Giant Robo: The Animation, an original video animation series that was based on many of Mitsuteru Yokoyama's works. Kenji Murasame appears as an immortal special agent in Paris. In the manga Giant Robo: The Day the Earth Burned, Chief Otsuka, Ryusaku and Kenji Murasame appear throughout the battles. In one of the Giant Robo parodic spin-off OVAs, the "Ginrei Special", a version of the original Tetsujin appears under the name "Jintetsu." As well, in the third OVA, there is a Shotaro lookalike named Ruudo who lives in the desert.
In both the anime and manga of Akira, the main character is named Shotaro Kaneda, and there is also a Colonel Shikishima.
The anime was also spoofed on an Saturday Night Live parody from TV Funhouse called Torboto, in which there is a Tetsujin lookalike that is fitted with torture devices. Torboto ends up torturing at Guantanamo Bay, and George W. Bush and Dick Cheney appear drawn in a style very close to Yokoyama's.
- Hornyak, Timothy (2006). Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots. Kodansha International. pp. 58–59. ISBN 4770030126.
- Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination. University of California Press. 2006. pp. 103–114. ISBN 0520221486. Cite uses deprecated parameter
- "New Tetsujin 28 Teaser". Felix Ip.
- "Imagi Launches Tetsujin 28 Site with CG Test Teaser". Anime News Network. 2009-01-09.
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- Tetsujin 28 robot toy (1980 TV series) toy pictures and details
- Tetsujin 28-go (6965) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Tetsujin 28-go (1980 TV series) at TMS' English website
- Tetsujin 28-go FX at TMS' English website
- Tetsujin 28 (2004 TV series) at Manga UK's website
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