Gigantor: The Collection, Volume 1

Gigantor: The Collection, Volume 1
Along with Astro Boy and Speed Racer, Gigantor graced North American television screens in the '60s, introducing the world of anime to an audience all too ready to absorb risqué political allegories, awkward exposition and the simultaneous fascination and damnation of technological advancement. While American's discovered Gigantor, a giant terrorist-fighting robot controlled by a 12-year-old boy named Jimmy Sparks in 1966, the concept was developed by Mitsuteru Yokoyama in the late '50s under the title Iron Man #28. Given the success of Astro Boy in the U.S., writer/director Fred Ladd was able to take the source Japanese cartoon and translate it for Western audiences, making some edits, amendments and differing conclusions along the way. The resulting cartoon adhered to a predictable template, wherein evil Europeans dominated global territory, terrorist leaders brainwashed and kidnapped central characters, and wars were waged over water and diamonds in India and Africa, while Gigantor, Jimmy and Dick Strong (yep) waged battle to protect the greater moral good. Throughout the 26 episodes in the four-disc box set there are virtually no character development or plot variation, rather a surprising amount of violence and edutainment as the gang fight Captain Spider, General Von Cueball, Mr. Ugablob, Professor Birdbrane and so on. This DVD set is a direct transfer of the source material, which means scratches and dirt galore, along with a low mono soundtrack. Included are lengthy interviews with Fred Ladd, who discusses his attraction to the material, how it was developed and who voiced the characters, in addition to anime historian Fred Pattern, who provides some context for the show and America's concept of anime. Fred Ladd voices commentary on the three "Captain Spider" episodes, providing a great deal of matter-of-fact titbits and anecdotal information. While the series is perhaps amusing and borderline surreal by today's standards, anime fans and purists should be pleased with the inclusive box set. (E1)