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I remember this series from the 60's when I was a little boy. VHS
version of this anime series was available in the late 70's and early
80's and I watched it again back then. The drawings are effective but
rather basic, with lots of blank spaces. By the standard of later
Japanese animations like "Akira," "Ghost in the Shell," and "Cowboy
Bebop," it is rather sparse and basic to say the least.
I compared this animation with cartoonist Jiro Kuwata's original manga graphic novel "Eito-Man," on which the TV series was based. The graphic novel is much better drawn than the TV animation. The drawings in the graphic novel are much more sensual--like many of Kuwata's drawings. It is not very clear from the TV series, but Kuwata's graphic novel shows obvious influences from American comics like "Superman" and "Batman." Some anime connoisseurs say that "Eito-man" is Japan's answer to Superman and Batman.
Kuwata and late story writer Kazumasa Hirai added a touch of Buddhist philosophy to "Eito-Man." The word "Eighth Man" is really referring to Buddhist god Hachi-man. ("Hachi" in Japanese means "eight.") In Buddhism, Buddha reincarnates in the form of different gods to save humans. Hachi-man is one of those gods. Kuwata, who later became a born-again Buddhist, wanted his robot Eighth Man to be a manifestation of the Buddhist god Hachi-man so Buddha can save the innocent people from evil men and women. What is unique about Eighth Man's Buddhist influenced theme is that Eighth Man showed mercy to everyone--even to some villains. In one episode, Eighth Man, with a great risk to his own safety, saved the life of a gangster, who earlier tried to destroy him. The gangster greatly appreciated Eighth Man's deed and promised to reform his ways and be a good person. Story writer Hirai, with his Buddhist philosophy, must have believed that most humans--even some gangsters--can be salvaged. This is greatly different from other superheroes who just kill and destroy villains without showing any mercy to them. Even as a child in the 60's, I was greatly impressed with Eighth Man's sense of mercy and forgiveness.
Unfortunately, Jiro Kuwata could not complete his graphic novel series "Eito-man." In the mid 1960's, just before completing the last installation, he was imprisoned for illegal possession of firearm--which is a grave offense in Japan. (The story writer Hirai and his publisher hired another cartoonist to finish the Eito-man series. However, Hirai was not satisfied with the finished product.) In the 1970's, Kuwata suffered from depression and alcohol dependency. Later, he became a born-again Buddhist. Finally, in the early 1990's Kuwata, who by this time became sober and regained his confidence, finished the very last installation of the Eito-man series.
It is interesting that there is such a dynamic human drama even behind a children's cartoon series. I am glad that Kuwata, a child prodigy who completed his first graphic novel at the age of 13, overcame his alcohol problem and is currently utilizing his awesome talent. Kudos to Jiro Kuwata!! Also, may the soul of Hirai, who died in January of 2015, rest in peace.
I remember this gem from my childhood, and have bought several DVDs
from 8thman.com. I still enjoy watching these. In the pilot episode
Special Agent Brady is killed by a street thug but his soul is
transferred to a robot by Professor Genius. In this guise he will
continue his fight for justice.
This cartoon is of the same era as Speed Racer, Gigantor and Astroboy and is the start of Japanese anime.
The robot, 8th Man, has super reflexes, super strength, and can change his appearance at will. His alter ego is a private detective, Tobor (robot spelled backward). The only person who calls him into action is the local police chief, Chief Bumblethumbs. Bumblethumbs and Professor Genius are the only ones who know that Tobor is 8th Man.
Although not available commercially, "grey market" tapes of this show are
sometimes found at science fiction conventions. I vaguely remembered this
show from my childhood. Seeing it again was a shock; I didn't realize
was done this simply.
A police detective is shot and killed, and a wise old scientist (with white hair and cape) places his consciousness into a robot body. (Yep, the genesis of "Robocop" and its descendants.) Besides super strength and speed, he can impersonate anyone; the first episode has him morphing briefly into Kruschev and John Kennedy! Mostly he hunts down criminals with technological gadgets, with the occasional giant monster for variety. His secret identity as "Detective Tobor" is almost incidental; no serious conflict with his secret identity occurs.
Not only is it black-and-white, it's graphically simple; lots of white space with minimal detailing. One surprise is that the dubbing (done years before digital matching of animation to English dialog) works and sounds better than most early dubbed anime - especially the original "Speed Racer."
TOBOR the 8th Man can be found at Diamond Entertainment Corporation.
I have a VHS copy of the "Gold Gang" episode from them.
It's still in Black and White but the tape cover has a stunning colorized rendering of a Red with Black trimmed TOBOR.
It's Tape or Product number is 13085 of the "Cartoon Favorites" series.
It's like old times when I was in the 5th grade in Granite City, Illinois.
I'm still trying to locate more since DEC is only a distributor someone had to furnish the masters!
If you are a fan of Japan Animation, then I'm sure you'll like 8th. Man. 8th. Man came on American Television around 1964/65 & was only on air briefly.....particularly in smaller television markets. Taking place in "Modern Tokyo" (in the 60's), Tobor, the detective is shot & killed in the line of duty. The "Professor" is able to revive his brain & transfer it to a working robot....to fight crime & evil.....as 8th. Man. What I found really neat is that 8th.Man is able to "transform" into any person....male or female.....to fly, & take on almost any monster that attacks the earth. But the one enemy who is always after him & his "secrets" is the evil Dr. Spectra. For that time, 8th Man was cool & always won at the end of the episode. I was lucky to find a VHS with the 1st. 5 episodes a couple of years ago. It's unfortunate that this Classic Japan Animation is so hard to find. If by chance you find it & all 42 episodes, Grab it! & go back in time!
I first saw this cartoon around 1967. I used to watch it when I came home from school.It centers around a detective who was mortally wounded; his persona was transferred to that of a robot.So,he had a human mind inside of a robot's body.I remember he could run very fast and morph into any living being.Also, when things got too rough for him, he would sometimes consult Prof. Genius for help.The last time I saw this series was in 1969.Perhaps you can get videotapes at your video store.
I remember watching the 8th man cartoon series. He could run very fast and he would occasionally get weak and need what he called energy boosters located in a compartment on his belt or on his forearm, don't quite remember, he smoked them like cigarettes to recharge his powers I can remember his arch enemy had a bunch of rockets in his cape that he would unleash in an attempt to destroy Tobor, whose name was robot spelled backwards. I also recall a Mechanical like Tiger named Pulse or Pounce. I can remember a lot of perspective and different camera angles that produced different affects from sinister to extremely fast motion, especially being done in black & white.
Does anyone remember the unique opening to the show? It was animated in
the US by Trans Lux who had done zillions of animated films in the past
- including the great Felix the Cat cartoons in the late 50's and early
I, at the time, found it amusing that the quality of the American opening animation was superior to the Japanese content....As a further addition, the title song "Tobor the Eighth Man" was written and performed by the prolific Winston Sharples who did everything from Herman and Catnip to Popeye and Felix the Cat.I still remember the lyrics 41 years later.........
IMDb states the series dates from 1965, but actually the Japanese incarnation is from '64 on.......In LA. we got it in '66... Robert Hill
It is repeatedly claimed that Eight Man is the fountainhead from which
RoboCop and similar cyborg fiction comes. In point of fact, the crime
fighting cyborg was introduced with or before DC's Robotman (not to be
confused with later characters of the same name) in the Apr 1942
Star-Spangled Comics. (The original Robotman appeared routinely until 1953.
He was occasionally reprinted, and revived later.)
Setting that issue aside, I remember that as a child I loved "Tobor" (which is how this show was marketed in the US).
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