Of the countless series of giant robots produced in Japan over the two decades from the '70s to the '80s, only a handful managed to make their mark outside the archipelago. Many beautiful series remained confined to their country of origin and... to Italy. Thanks to its many local channels, whose budgets did not allow for the acquisition of American content, Japanese series did truly invade the peninsula and imposed themselves on the imagination of young viewers. While elsewhere only one or two giant robot shows achieved a certain notoriety, in Italy an impressive pantheon of mechanical creatures gradually made their way into program schedules and viewers' hearts.
Many have achieved cult status, making it difficult to pinpoint the most memorable. Yet there is one that stands out radically from the rest, as much for the charisma of its characters as for its resolutely innovative tone. It's obviously the work of the immense Yoshiyuki Tomino, future creator of Mobile Suit Gundam. His first work as director, Muteki Chojin Zambot 3, was resolutely innovative, but terribly dark. The last episode was a real shock for viewers of all ages. This undoubtedly explains why the next series, Muteki Kojin Daitarn III, was much lighter and brighter, but it didn't prevent its creator from giving the characters and plot the depth they deserved.
The series follows the adventures of Haran Banjo, son of a scientist on Mars. His father, Dr Haran Sozo, created extraordinary machines there, cyborgs with artifical intelligence, which he named Meganoids. Having come to the conclusion that they were superior to their creators, the Meganoids, led by Don Zauker and his cruel right-hand woman Koros, massacred Sozo's family. Only his youngest son, Banjo, managed to escape to Earth in one of his father's creations, the giant (120m!) robot Daitarn III, built from Martian materials (including the special alloy "chogokin", well known to toy collectors) and powered by solar energy, also taking with him a mountain of gold. Because gold is the sinews of war.
From his luxurious villa, Banjo undertakes an all-out war against the Meganoids, whose ambition is to improve the human race and build a cybernetic empire destined to dominate the solar system.
Unlike the heroes of his time, Banjo is driven not so much by the desire to protect as by the desire to destroy, in order to satisfy his thirst for vengeance. His hatred of the meganoids is never concealed, and his goal is to eradicate every last one of them, without mercy. An expert in martial arts, he likes to kill his cyborg enemies with his bare hands, to prove to them the superiority of man over machine.
Deliberately inspired by 007, he loves luxury and beautiful girls. It's only natural, then, that he should be surrounded by a sultry blonde (a little silly) and a devastatingly charming brunette (brilliant), as well as a butler well-versed in all military techniques and etiquette.
Created in 1978 by Sunrise, just a few months before its illustrious successor Gundam, and by virtually the same team, the series arrived in Italy in 1980. Its frenzied opening credits and the irresistible charm of its characters quickly made it a major success. This exceptional success, probably greater in its adoptive homeland than in its country of origin, meant that only little merchandising saw the light of day, beyond the various incarnations of Daitarn himself. So it's high time someone paid tribute to one of the finest series of the '70s, which this year celebrates the 45th anniversary of its creation.
If ever there was a Westerner capable of tackling such a task, that would be our director, whose love for the series knows no bounds. The first step in this undertaking was the creation of an official logo, which will accompany our announcements over the coming weeks and which we will soon unveil here... before inviting you, in a few weeks' time, to take a trip back in time... to a neighboring planet, Mars... and rediscover with us a little of our childhood.