When I mention Force Five to others they usually have no idea what I am referring to. So here we go to set the record straight. From what I understand Force Five was mostly a New England-thing. Some in the Atlanta area down south have seen it broadcast as well locally. Force Five was an anime television series of the late 1970’s and early ‘80’s. It was Japanese mecha anime with English language dubs. (As a kid I knew it was Japanese because often there were signs with Japanese characters in the frames. These could not be dubbed out, I suppose.)
Force Five was on 5 days a week following another similar anime, Star Blazers. (I tolerated Star Blazers but Force Five that followed was my real interest.) It was actually 5 different animes. The line-up in the Boston area was:
Monday: Danguard Ace (Planetary Robo Danguard Ace)
Tuesday: Starvengers (Getter Robo G)
Wednesday: Spaceketeers (SF Saiyuki Starzinger)
Thursday: Grandizer (UFO Robo Grandizer)
Friday: Gaiking (Space Dragon Gaiking)
Spaceketeers was basically filler material in my estimation; not worthy to be in the line-up. Danguard Ace, Starvengers, Grandizer and Gaiking were far superior for action, heroism, adventure and just “dreaming big”. Starvengers was by far my favorite of this series.
Starvengers (or Getter Robo G) was the creation of Go Nagai and Ken Ishikawa . Here is its history:
Getter Robo (51 episodes) 1974-1975
Getter Robo G (30 episodes) 1975-1976
Getter Robo Go (50 episodes) 1991
Getter Robo: Armageddon (13 episodes) 1998
New Getter Robo (13 episodes) 2004
Starvengers or Getter Robo G had a simple story-line: the evil alien Pandemonium Empire led by Emperor Ramsorch and Colonel Fuhrer (an Adolph Hitler type) versus those defending the Earth: Dr. Copernicus, his daughter Ceres, Hummer, Paladin, Foul Tip. Joey, Ceres young brother, if I recall correctly, also participated in the adventures.
Hummer, Paladin, and Foul Tip piloted three individual interceptors that when combined formed one of three robots: Star Dragon (Hummer’s lead), Star Arrow (Paladin’s lead) or Star Poseidon (Foul Tip’s lead). Ceres piloted her own Spaceglider and assisted the others in fighting the Pandemonium Empire. “Getter” means “changeable” or something like that in Japanese. So the original title makes sense.
Later, Battle of the Planets (1978-1985), in the same anime genre, would gain my favor. Battle of the Planets cast five young people as G-Force: “Always five acting as one”. It built on the ascendancy of the Star Wars popularity of the time. On further analysis, Battle of the Planets seemed to have taken cues from Starvengers: Mark as “Hummer”, Jason as “Paladin”, Princess as “Ceres” etc. This may have been the first cartoon series with a handicapped character: Keyop. The opening theme is still memorable!
Hopefully some will see something deeper in these shows than either violence, cool imagery, passions or fodder for video games. These shows were not simple diversions or “mindless entertainment”. They are more akin to fairy tales whereby truths are presented in simple — or at least different — language. They are surely in the league of Toliken’s Lord of the Rings. Good is always presented as good and evil presented as evil. (Unlike today’s WWE (f.k.a. WWF) and other shows). Having and fighting for a noble view of life against forces bent on destruction are always timely themes. The realities of nature and grace are presented as metaphors: human action, will and perserverance (nature) and “special powers” or “superior technology” (grace).
Anime has changed quite a bit from the 1970’s and 1980’s. Getter Robo: Armageddon and New Getter Robo are not for children. These new series have much more flawed heroes and "real life themes" from what I understand. Nevertheless they have made my Amazon “Wish List.”
Let’s wrap it up before I start writing about Mazinger Z and the like.