TV on DVD: “Gigantor: The Collection Volume 1”

Written by Television, TV on DVD

gigantorGigantor: The Collection Volume 1 (2009, Koch Vision)
purchase from Amazon: DVD

Things my son said to me when I put on Gigantor to watch: “What is THAT? Is that a robot?” “I like the theme song! (singing) Gi-GAN-tor. GI-GAN-TOR!” “Daddy, not everything in black and white is silent.” When I informed him that I would be watching Gigantor: The Collection Volume 1 to review, he exclaimed, “Wait, I want to watch them with you!” So he did.

Gigantor is a black-and-white animated TV series about a boy who can control a giant needle-nosed robot and the adventures they have. Its origins date back to the early 1960s with the comic drawings of Japanese artist Mitsuteru Yokoyama. Then called Tetsujin 28-GO, the adventures of the boy and his robot first appeared in a Japanese boys’ magazine and spawned a Japanese animated TV series. Its popularity caught the eye of writer/director/producer Fred Ladd, then enjoying great success having brought Astro Boy to the U.S. He acquired Tetsujin 28-GO to produce 52 English dubbed episodes of the original show. New scripts were written in English and the characters were renamed.

The robot became Gigantor and the boy who controls him was named Jimmy Sparks. As soon as it premiered in the United States, the show became an instant smash hit.

Throughout the 26 episodes included on the box set, Jimmy is involved in incredible events. He must help goofy Inspector Blooper, secret agent type Dick Strong, and the brilliant scientist, Dr. Bob Brilliant, stop the likes of Dr. Katzmeow, Professor Birdbane and Wizzer Deedoo from taking over the world with their nasty plots. Jimmy is apparently 12, though you’ll find him driving a car and placed in some pretty perilous situations. No worry though, because through the use of his radio control box, he can summon Gigantor to come to the rescue. Like most early television adventure shows, nothing is ever too dangerous and the villains are always surrounded by henchmen who are either cowards or buffoons. While some of the episodes could lag for me, my son kept shouting “cool” and “awesome” throughout the many imaginative sequences.

Technically speaking, the DVDs, digital transfers from the original 16 MM black, have not been remastered or cleaned up as we’ve come to expect with most archival DVD releases. There are scratches and specks of dust visible throughout each episode and the original sound has a slight hiss. While it’s great fun sitting down to watch these Gigantor episodes, you have to go into it knowing what you’re watching is comparable to old family movies shown on 8 MM or even VHS. While the technical aspect may be a disappointment, let’s face facts: anyone watching Gigantor is either an old animation buff (me!) or they’re under the age of 10 and don’t care (my son!) Because the stories are fun, the action exciting and the humor silly, it’s easy to look past these faults. Plus, it has one of the coolest theme songs ever — just ask my son.

Extras in the Gigantor The Collection Volume 1 include an interview with Ladd (the man can really talk) and a rather dry interview with Fred Pattern, a historian in anime who works for Animation World Magazine. Additionally, there is audio commentary by Ladd on the three-episode story arc that makes up the “Captain Spider” series (episodes 3-5). Finally, if you have a DVD-Rom, you’ll have access to six Gigantor comic books.