DVD
Tetsujin 28
Volume 1 - Monster Resurrected

Starring (voice): Motoko Kumai, Shigeru Ushiyama and Minoru Inaba
Manga Entertainment
RRP: 14.99
MANG5002
Certificate: PG
Available 24 April 2006


As World War II rages, scientist and pacifist Professor Kaneda has no choice but to help develop weapons for Japan. Kaneda's planned masterwork is a giant, near-invincible robot called Tetsujin, but after 27 attempts at a prototype he is still unable to perfect the deadly machine. That is until he hears the news that his wife and unborn son have been killed in the US bombings of Tokyo. With the project now his only reason for living, Kaneda is finally driven to complete his finest creation, Tetsujin 28, naming it Shotaro after his lost son. Unable to bear the thought of the Tetsujin being used as a weapon of mass destruction, Kaneda leaks the whereabouts of his research lab to American intelligence. During the subsequent carpet-bombing assault on the island by US forces Kaneda is killed and all his work is destroyed. Unfortunately, what Kaneda did not know what his new-born son actually survived the attack on Tokyo...

The Tetsujin 28 anime, better known in the States as Gigantor, was one of the first shown on Japanese television in 1963; its historical significance lays in the fact that it was the first Mecha anime and a massively popular one. Without it, it is possible that there would be no Gundam or Macross, or at least not in the way we know them. This disc does not present the original story, but an updated version designed to appeal to both an older audience who would have remembered the original and their kids who are coming to it for the first time. The original manga was so popular with a young audience that it has been remade a number of times including a computer game and a live action film of Tetsujin 28 (2004).

This retro series was created in 2004 and ran for 26 episodes. Although each of the five episodes on this DVD is fairly short the animators have made a great choice of not letting too much of the story out. Each supplementary character is introduced a little at a time making you want to watch more to discover what happens.

The animation is a strange mix. On the one hand, you have some quite detailed backgrounds, whilst on the other, some of the characters are simplistic in the extreme, one can only assume that this was a deliberate choice by director Yasuhiro Imagawa and writer Mitsuteru Yokoyama, in order to give it a retro feel which would appeal to the earliest audience who have all grown up now. The music by Akira Senju has a grand orchestral feeling to it. The main theme is the strangest, it sounds like little more than a jolly Nazi marching song... very strange.

In the first episode The Resurrection of Shotaro, we are given the back story of Shotaro Kaneda's father's invention of the giant robot No 28. The series, as a whole, has a very antiwar message, so we discover that Shotaro's father could not live with the idea that his creation would be the potential cause of so much death. In a moment of moral conscience he calls in the American air force to destroy his research complex, burying his robot forever. However, ten years later, unbeknownst to the professor his son has survived the fire bombing of Tokyo and grows to be a kind of Enid Blyton boy detective. When by accident Tetsujin 28 is reactivated it heads for mainland Japan.

In No28 Vs No27 the monster has landed and is causing death and destruction, though no one really knows why. Shotaro is shocked to find that his father had created such an engine of destruction. But what is the reason for the robot heading towards Professor Shikishima's factory? Is it because he is trying to resurrect the robot project? Shotaro has to decide how he feels about his father creation and whether it would be better to destroy it.

The Arrival of Monster Robot finds Shotaro discovering a green hulk like creature, but things are not as straight forward as they seem. Shikishima, seems intent on burying any information of the project. With the mystery deepening Shotaro turns to a friend of his fathers who is now in prison. Before he can work out what is really going on another giant robot, the Black Ox, appears and attempts to steal the tank containing the green creature.

The Other Tetsujin Project sees the story getting very dark. Dr Franken has escaped from prison and the Green monster is missing after the rampage of the Black Ox. Shotaro find a clue at a graveyard which leads him to discover that the missing green creature is biological and has been altered to create a monster. Using his genius powers of deduction he tracks down the lab which was used to create the monster only to be confronted by Dr Franken.

The last episode on the disc, Tetsujin Vs Black Ox, sees the final exciting conclusion to the story, wherein we discover just who the creature is and what Shotaro will do with Tetsujin 28.

The DVD menu is a strange, at times annoying, affair consisting of an image of Tetsujin 28 with the various option circling his waist, miss an option and you have to wait for it to come around again, still it's in keeping with the retro feel of the DVD so I guess it can be excused. There is an impressive range of audio options in both English and Japanese. You can choose from vanilla stereo, 5.1 or DTS, though to be honest apart from the greater clarity the latter two options don't really make enough use of the other speaker to make that much of a difference.

The extras aren't great for such a modern amine, mostly just a bunch of trailers and non-credit opening scenes. It would have been nice to see a feature comparing this incarnation with the original.

So good kudos for a great little series, and a fat raspberry for the poor extras, I would still recommend it as a must have for lovers of anime of all ages.

Charles Packer

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