Gigantor Vol. 1 (1964)
By: J.R. McNamara on June 27, 2010  | 
DVD
Madman | Region 4, PAL | 4:3 | English DD 2.0 | 644 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Credits
Creator: Mitsuteru Yokoyama
Country: Japan
External Links
IMDB Purchase YouTube
Japanese animation, or anime, has, throughout my life, always been important to me. As a kid, shows like Kimba, KumKum, Astro Boy and Marine Boy were cartoon staples of my television diet. As a young teen I grew into things like Robotech, Battle of the Planets and Starblazers, and as an adult films like Akira and Spirited Away, and TV shows and OVAs (Original Video Animations) like Witchblade and Tenjho Tenge (I quite liked Pokemon as well, but don't like to make that common knowledge) joined them but I had never been exposed to Gigantor. Sure I had seen pictures, and heard Helmet's cover of the soundtrack (on the Saturday Morning Cartoon's Greatest Hits CD) but I have never actually had the opportunity to actually watch this important piece of Japanese/ American animation history.

Once again, I have to thank Madman for exposing me to a previously unseen anime that I had always wanted to see. This release is a four disc collection featuring 26 episodes of the black and white series of Gigantor

Gigantor is based in the future. Well, the year 2000 to be exact, and follows the adventures of Jimmy Sparks, the gun-totting, car-driving, 12 year old controller of the peace keeping robot Gigantor. He and his uncle Bob Brilliant, and other occasional characters, like secret agent Dick Strong (snigger) and policeman Inspector Ignatz J. Blooper fight the good fight against a barrage of evil-doers.

Gigantor was originally a Japanese cartoon Tetsujin 28-go, which was based on the manga Tetsujin 28 by Mitsuteru Yokoyama. Fred Ladd, producer of the English version of Astroboy, formed the company Delphi Associates, gave it an English dialogue track and took this anime to the USA where it became a much loved cartoon.

They are basic stories with basic animation, and some truly horrible vocal acting, but they are quaint enough to be well worth a watch. I really would suggest this would only be appreciated by real history of animation fans, and not just casual cartoon watchers.
Video
I am willing to give the quality of this show a bit of a break as it was released in 1964 but I must point out that it has a lot of small artifacts on it, which seem to come from the original animation cells. Gigantor is presented in a full frame 4:3 aspect ratio, the way it would have been presented on TV originally.
Audio
The audio is presented in Dolby 2.0 and is clear enough, but at a really low volume: I had my volume up far more than usual to be able to hear it properly. Again, it is from 1964, so I am willing to cut it some slack. A warning though, the 'GI-GAAAAAAAAANT-TOR' part of the title song will stay with you for far too long afterwards!
Extra Features
There are some great extras on this collection.

There is a wonderful interview with writer/director/producer Fred Ladd (or as he recounts the Japanese referred to him as Fled Radd) which is fabulous. This is a slightly rambling historical origin, not just of Gigantor, but of Japanese animation in America. Ladd also provides commentary on several episodes, occasionally repeating tales told in this interview, but also a lot of new stuff is recounted.

Anime Historian Fred Patten of Animation World Magazine also gives an interview which is a fascinating history of Japanese animation. Really interesting.

If I am to be critical of these two features, I must say that they are just footage of the gentlemen involved talking, with no images of the characters discussed shown over their commentary. These pieces are literally just their talking heads telling their tales. Don't get me wrong, these are two fascinating pieces, but visually, they are just images of two guys talking. I would have really liked to have seen some images of the things and people discussed.

This disc also has trailers for Astro Boy (Deluxe DVD Collection), Adventures of Tintin (75th Anniversary Collection), 5 Centimetres Per Second and Kimba the White Lion (Deluxe DVD Collection)
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
It's not the greatest cartoon ever made, but from an animated historical point of view, this is a must have for anime fans. What really makes this collection special is Fred Ladd's involvement: his tales are as important a part of animation history as anything Disney, Warner Bros or Hanna Barbera ever did. Yet again, I must give Madman a standing ovation for the respect given to a piece of animation history.

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