The Influence of Johnny Sokko
From what I've
learned, Giant Robo exists in three
incarnations. It started out as a manga by Mitsuteru
Yokoyama. Next came the 60's live action show, Johnny
Sokko and his Flying Robot, which appeared both in Japan
and then on U.S. television in the 70s. Then for a long time
there was nothing, until director Imagawa
resurrected Giant Robo and many of Yokoyama's other manga
creations in Giant Robo: The Animation.
I have never seen
Yokoyama's original GR manga (and probably never will) and I
wasn't around yet when Johnny Sokko was on the air. However,
thanks to David Haug, I
was able to obtain a copy of the entire Johnny Sokko series for a
very reasonable price.
If you're thinking of
buying Johnny Sokko in the hopes of getting a cool live-action
version of the anime Giant Robo, beware, it is actually quite
different. The story is much simpler, and the acting and special
effects are, well...You'll either laugh or groan. As crazy as it
all was, I personally liked it, and I now see why so many adults
who grew up watching Johnny Sokko cherish the series.
For your information
I have created a list of things I noticed in Johnny Sokko that
carried over in some form to the Giant Robo anime. There are some
spoilers here. ('Giant Robot'
refers to the robot of the 70's and 'Giant Robo' refers to the
robot of the 90's.)
- Johnny Sokko's name is Daisaku
in the Japanese version.
- The evil organization
'Gargoyle' is known as BF dan (BF Organization)
in the Japanese version. The members of Gargoyle salute
their leader by raising an arm with the hand outstretched
(like Genya, Alberto, and Ivan from episode 1).
- Giant Robot is known as Giant
Robo in the Japanese version. (These three
things I found out because now and then the English
voices would oddly stop, and the original Japanese
dialogue came through.)
- The remote-control wristwatch
is the same, and the boy-robot friendship is too for the
most part. It is even said of Giant Robot at one point
that it "almost acts human, that robot".
- GR-2, the
robot with a crescent blade on its head, makes two guest
appearances. In Johnny Sokko it's called Torozonn and
Giant Robot rather violently destroyed him.
- The organization of justice
which Johnny is a part of is called Unicorn.
It's probably more than coincidence that several of the
robots in the Giant Robo anime (including Giant Robo
himself) have a gold crest emblazoned on their foreheads
picturing the head of a unicorn.
- Giant Robot is nuclear
powered. He also grunts as an affirmation, flies, carries
Johnny in his hand, eyes flash when activated, etc.
- Giant Robot was built for
destructive purposes but was 'stolen' (voice-registered
to Johnny) and converted to do good.
- There is an episode where
Giant Robot is in chains that I found to be very
reminiscent of Giant Robo episode 6. There is also an
incident where Robot gets his eyes burned out that
reminded me of the episode 7 hole-in-the-face.
- This is probably a long shot
but there is a mummy villian wearing a trenchcoat who
looks a LOT like the bandaged Murasame Kenji of episode
Here are some things in Johnny
Sokko that are very different from the anime!
- Unlike Daisaku, Johnny Sokko
is a force to be reckoned with even without the robot.
The kid can chuck grenades with the best of 'em! He also
has a gun and a jetpack.
- There is no mention of a
- Giant Robot's fighting style
is a lot more active: Wrestling, pinning, hurling
monsters, narrowly dodging attacks, kicking, headlocks,
basically using any method possible to win. His abilities
are also different from Giant Robo's and include such
talents as Eye Lasers and Flaming Breath.
- The top bad guy, Emperor
Gillotine, is from outer space and sort of resembles an
octopus (or a guy in a really funny costume).
- None of the main good
characters (the Unicorns) die, which is particularly
amazing considering all the shooting that goes on in this
show. However they have some very close calls, and Johnny
appears to have been shot in the last episode (don't
worry, he's fine). Many nameless Gargoyle and
Unicorn agents got plugged full of lead, I'll admit that.
- Instead of cliffhangers,
Johnny Sokko episodes tend to end with everyone standing
around smiling and waving at Giant Robot.
And what I thought were the most
- Giant Robot carrying an
entire cruise ship.
- That weird noise whenever the Unicorns made their
official hand gesture.
- The jet planes that resembled
- Whenever the voices suddenly
- The UFO that blew up for no
- The little birthday
celebration Unicorn threw for Giant Robot.
- How Jerry Mono says something
can't happen and then it usually does.
- The very fact that Giant
Robot flies at a speed of Mach 19.
- How monsters that appear to
have been totally destroyed return in later episodes.
- When Johnny actually lost the
- The clarinet that shot
bullets when it was played.
- The house of evil nuns.
- The clearly Egyptian pyramids
in Saudi Arabia.
- The last episode (sniff,
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