Posted on Sunday, December 27th, 2009 by Brendon Connelly
I think that we should first of all indulge in a little primer on Tesujin 28-go aka Gigantor, my favourite giant robot of all – because, yes, I do like some giant robots, honest.
Created in the mid-50s as a Manga series, Tetsujin 28-go tells the story of a three-storey tall robot invented to help fight on behalf of Japan in World War 2. By the time the robot is perfected – which is after 27 failed builds, if you couldn’t guess – the war is actually over and so there’s nothing else to do but… er… give the remote controlled weapon-bot to a ten year old boy. Don’t ask me, I’m only passing this along – it was Mitsuteru Yokoyama that actually baked it all up in the first place.
Luckily, this young lad doesn’t use the robot the way I think many kids would (you’d have to see the Twilight Zone episode It’s a Good Life for a portrayal of young ‘uns with extreme power that I might buy into more easily) and instead puts it to use fighting crime and, of course, other giant robots. Evil ones, mind. What a good lad! The kid gets away with it because the chief of police is both very nice and obviously a bit of a soft touch when it comes to the kids.
There’s already a CG-animated version of the story in development at Imagi studios, though the relative failure of their Astroboy movie may slow that process down or even stop it altogether. They released an early-early teaser on their official website and, to my eye, it looked rather unattractive.
For a different attack on the material, we can look to Mamrou Oshii, the director of The Ghost in the Shell, Avalon and The Sky Crawlers. During a presentation to launch his latest picture, Assault Girls, Oshii announced that his next live action picture will be a new version of the classic big-bot story.
The director has already adapted the material once before, mounting a stage production just earlier this year. The show featured a 6-metre tall (ie. one third scale) stage robot that was reportedly capable of free standing movement. Here’s a couple of pictures I found via Google Image Search that should give you some sense of its scale and design.
The Gigantor name comes from the US version of a 1960s Tetsujin TV series, a show that has unfortunately suffered the triple ingomony of dubbing, colourisation and editing to remove violence from the action scenes.
There don’t appear to be any details of Oshii’s specific plans for the feature film as yet, but I’m certainly intrigued by his engagement with the story and hopeful that he’ll be able to bring us a version that taps better than ever into the inherent promise of the basic set-up.