Growing up enthralled by the anime mecha of Robotech and Voltron, I never suspected that a previous generation of TV nerds had been under the spell of the Japanese sci-fi masters — I was too busy envying my brothers the rich sci-fi they had available to them, like the original Star Trek and even some Doctor Who.
A coworker has been trying for months to get me to blog about Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot, a Japanese series dubbed into English in the 1960s that she remembered fondly from her childhood. I had never heard of it until she introduced me. Though it’s taken me a while to embrace it, it’s wonderfully campy and horrendously violent at times — and not only do the characters run around with Western-style revolvers fighting monsters alongside a giant robot — the titular little boy of the series runs around shooting bad guys with his six-gun. For reals.
My coworker described the eponymous Giant Robot as a pharaoh-bot, but to me he looks more like a giganticized version of Twiki from the 1970s Buck Rogers TV show. Of course that’s backwards: maybe Twiki was inspired visually by the Giant Robot?
There is no official U.S. home release of Johnny Sokko currently in print, but there’s a ton of videos on YouTube (see “eye-opening” sample above) and legit downloads are available from iTunes, Amazon and Hulu.
What forgotten treasures do you want to share from the television vortex?
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