Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: 1966 Movie

Plot: Nine individuals are kidnapped by the evil war-mongering organization known as Black Ghost. While in their clutches, they’re forcibly turned into cyborgs, meant to act as weapons of war. The cyborgs manage to escape Black Ghost, but they soon return to destroy the organization and stop their evil deeds once and for all.

Breakdown: In my last manga volume review, I mentioned that 007 suddenly changing into a child, whom I dubbed Lil’ 007, was a forced change to help advertise the Cyborg 009 movie that was being released around the same time. Well, this is that movie, baby.

That’s right, we’ve finally reached the first animated venture into the franchise, the 1966 Cyborg 009 movie directed and written by Yugo Serikawa and co-written by Takashi Iijima.

The movie is a reimagining of the origin story of the 00 Cyborgs, condensed to fit a full storyline in a little over an hour. There are many changes to the origin story made throughout this movie. Some changes I really liked, others not so much. Some changes were made for understandable reasons, like animation limitations and time constraints, and others I can’t find a single goddamn reason for.

Let’s enjoy a gentle stroll down Cyborg 009’s first movie.

The movie starts out with Joe Shimamura in the middle of a race. I haven’t posted it yet, but in my review for volume eight I mention that Joe becomes a famous racecar driver after a four year time skip in a time of peace. I kinda wondered why he became a famous racecar driver because he had never expressed an interest in racing before. But I guess it kinda made sense because his trademark power was super speed.

Him choosing a profession where he easily became famous, especially considering he technically had an edge in his cybernetics giving him vast knowledge and skills in piloting vehicles of all types, was more confusing, though. You’d think he’d want to keep a low profile.

However, this is not a movie based on volume eight. Quite the contrary. That part of the manga was actually based on this part of the movie.

Joe was the most drastically altered character in the entire movie. They removed his delinquent backstory, seemingly made him full Japanese instead of mixed race (marked by him having black hair instead of his trademark brown hair…..barring that one time he went blond.) and just made him a….really good racecar driver?

Qfsgxsq0 o

They boring’d the hell out of Joe, and I really have no clue why. Is it just because they didn’t want their main hero being a delinquent?

The fact that they seemingly made him full Japanese instead of mixed race is the most disappointing, though. A big part of his backstory was that he was constantly ostracized for his appearance. He never felt like he belonged because he was a mixed race boy living in 1960’s Japan. That was also one of the factors in him becoming a delinquent. The fact that the 00 Cyborgs accepted him fully without caring about his heritage was very important to Joe.

Now he’s just a normal Japanese guy who became a successful racecar driver? Couple that with the fact that they retained the whole spiel about 009 being the best cyborg on the team because he was the latest model with all the best powers and that he becomes a combat specialist and leader of the team immediately just cuz (acting like he’s a seasoned war vet even though there’s no way he has any battle experience) put in a dash of saying he’s also the bravest of them for no real reason, and you just made yourself a Gary Stu, good sir.

Black Ghost operatives cause Joe’s car to crash. He’s unconscious, basically dead, and they kidnap him right under everyone’s noses, which confuses me.

In the manga, all of the people that Black Ghost kidnapped for this project were specifically targeted because they were down-on-their-luck individuals who wouldn’t be missed by many people, if any at all.

You have Ivan, who was just a baby, being willingly offered to Black Ghost by his father after his mother was killed, Jet who was running from the law after accidentally killing a rival gang leader in a street fight, Francoise who was just an average French girl who lived alone with her only family being her brother, Albert who was trying to escape Germany during WWII with his wife, who perished in the escape, G. Junior who was out of work and living on the streets due to discrimination against Native Americans, Chang who was an impoverished pig farmer whose situation was so bad that he was about to commit suicide when Black Ghost found him, GB who was a drunken washed up theater actor, Pyunma who was a resistance fighter who had just escaped being sold into slavery, and Joe who was a delinquent orphan.

It’s too risky to take people who are high-profile. Many people will miss that person and there will likely be an endless investigation into what happened to that person reaching out into current day where there will 34,000 podcasts and Youtube videos with titles like “Hurricane Joe: Gone with the Wind” “Joe Shimamura: Vanished in the Blink of an Eye” “Crashed Out of Existence: The Joe Shimamura Story” and “joe shimamorra was turned INTO A CYBORG?! #TRUTH”

Not to mention you’d be parading around a famous person as your cyborg? Keep in mind, the cyborgs have so much of their bodies replaced with cybernetics that they don’t age. People would start asking questions after a decade or two.

They also kidnapped Francoise who, in the movie, was a successful/famous ballerina, which is what she becomes in the manga in volume eight as well. So now they have two famous people on their team. They also have a baby and a young child, whom, for all we know in this timeline, are being furiously sought after by their parents.

Joe is turned into a cyborg by Black Ghost, and he later wakes up in some dark warehouse with a spiffy new version of his uniform. Instead of the uniform colors he had at this point in the manga, which was green with a yellow scarf, or even his most well-known colors, red with a yellow scarf, he is sporting a white uniform with a red scarf.

P0v3kwwq o

The rest of the 00 Cyborgs are wearing lavender uniforms with no scarves because they’re not the leader.

Oh, wait, back up, did I say the rest of them? I meant all except one.

Because, of course, they had to put the lone girl in the group in a goddamn pink uniform.

Can you not find enough femininity in friggin’ lavender?

When Joe awakens, he’s suddenly met with a voice telling him that the test will be starting soon. Unlike in every other iteration, this voice isn’t 001 communicating with him telepathically. Instead it’s….who I think is Gilmore? It’s hard to tell with the voice. I don’t know exactly how he transmitted the message though since Gilmore doesn’t have any powers. Maybe it was a PA system or something built into his head?

Joe, now known as Cyborg 009, is quickly attacked. He’s buried under tons of rocks, but survives and escapes easily, he’s chased and shot by a fighter plane, but he can run away really fast and survive getting shot in the back repeatedly.

Oh yeah, one other thing they changed with 009…..they took away his accelerator switch.

Yes, his main claim to fame, the thing that made him mostly unique among the crew, is absent in this movie. Supposedly, this was because of either animation limitations back in the 60s or budgetary constraints, but I can’t buy that. Joe’s acceleration powers should be really easy to animate. You just animate running and freeze everything else. Hell, sometimes you don’t even have to show everything frozen. There are plenty of moments where they show 009 using his accelerator and choose to put him over a black background. Heck, you don’t even have to do that. Just make off like he looks like he’s teleporting.

But 009 is still heralded as the best cyborg of the line because he supposedly has all of the powers of the previous cyborgs in the line, even though we know that’s not true. In fact, he actually might have fewer powers in common with the other cyborgs as he does in the manga because it’s possible 002 kept his, admittedly weaker, accelerator.

009 passes the test with flying colors after downing the plane by ripping it apart with his bare hands and causing it to crash. He’s met with the other 00 Cyborgs as well as a slew of other Black Ghost operatives, including Dr. Gilmore.

001 looks okay. I think he looks a bit too large, but overall, he’s designed pretty accurately, barring his hair color which is brown here. His hair color’s not technically inaccurate since it fluctuated throughout the series, but he’s usually known for his silver hair. Sadly, 001 also got a major power downgrade in the movie as his only power is telepathy. He kept his heightened intellect as well, but his telekinesis seems to be entirely gone.

His telepathy is largely useless here as well because they also gave him the ability to TALK. Why they did that when it gave them an excuse to not animate his speech is beyond me.

They took the ultimate deus ex machina from Cyborg 009 and basically turned him into a pretty useless cyborg baby. I wonder if this nerf at least allows him to avoid that pesky weakness of needing to sleep for 15 days straight.

Yzisdhcw o

002 looks way too angry. They elongated his face upwards and slanted it forwards to give him this almost comically angry face. They also gave him brown hair instead of his usual red hair, and they, for some reason, added a hook to his nose.

Fujxzcdp o

003 looks quite a bit different. Her hair is much longer, and she’s now brunette instead of a blonde. She also has INSANELY HUGE and VERY CREEPY blue eyes. Even for anime and even for Ishinomori’s typical style they’re way too big. I think they did this to highlight that her senses were her main powers, but no one else has any physical attributes changed to reflect their powers, so I’m left to believe that 003 is either an alien or a My Little Pony.

Uqhnnum8 o

004 has a horrid haircut. It’s not even like an actual haircut. It’s like someone took the clay pot they made in art class and plopped it on his head. His original hair color is meant to be gray/silver. 004 actually has powers added to him. They gave him missiles in his elbows in addition to the ones he usually has in his knees, and both hands house machine gun fingers instead of just one. I like this change because it makes him a little more badass.

B0geicu7 o

005 looks pretty decent. Some shots make him look stretched out, though. Also, his face markings were changed a little.

Ix5sm2jh o

006 was basically drawn to be even more stereotypical than he already was. They darkened his skin just slightly, kinda deflated his face and gave him a Fu Manchu mustache instead of the thin handlebar-esque one he typically sports.

007 is Lil’ 007, only his head is kinda caved in for some reason. His powers are left alone, which only muddies the limited animation/budgetary constraints excuse for 009’s lack of accelerator even more. How is it easier/cheaper to animate a character who constantly transforms into other things than it is to animate a character with super speed? Or did they allocate all of their budget towards animating his transformations that they didn’t have enough left over to properly animated 009’s acceleration powers?

I really think that Lil’ 007 was leaned into a bit hard with this movie. He gets basically as much screentime as 009 and he gets a big dramatic hero moment in the end, complete with speech. He’s also the only one, besides Joe and Francoise, who gets his fate explained in the epilogue. They really wanted to push this movie towards kids. The tone is noticeably lighter with more comedic moments and the fact that the new war that develops later in the movie is between two fictional countries – The Caesar Republic and the country of Divine – instead of two real ones.

Qwpgh04z o

008…….*sigh* Poor 008 can’t catch a frickin’ break.

He already had a problematic design by default, but look at this.

Z8lynara o

His lips take up half his face, and his nose was enlarged by about 700%. What the hell were they thinking when they did this to him?

They convince 009 to come with them, Dr. Gilmore acting as a hostage (he’s in on it and helped orchestrate their escape out of guilt.) and a massive battle ensues between the rebelling cyborgs and Black Ghost. They’re confronted with the usual suspects in this franchise; faceless thugs with laser guns, tanks and fighter planes.

They steal one of Black Ghost’s fighter jets and take off. 009 is able to pilot the plane flawlessly. 001 explains that he was already a masterful racecar driver, and his cybernetic brain enhanced his driving/piloting skills, allowing him to be an expert with any vehicle instantly. That actually does make a lot of sense, and I’ll take that as being his unique power over the others.

It’s weird how some of them have powers that correlate their own personal stories, but some of them don’t. Like 006 has fire powers, which greatly help him in his later career as a chef. 007 can transform into anything, which is something very reflective of an actor. 004 and his wife were shot up and blown to hell, so he’s loaded up with guns, missiles and explosives. But no one else really has powers that correlate to their personalities or stories. That would’ve been pretty neat.

Anyhoo, it’s during this aerial battle that we get to see all of the 00 Cyborgs’ powers on display. It’s a really cool moment and battle. They’re forced to take an emergency landing on a nearby island.

It seems like they’re in the clear, but 003 quickly points out that there are spy dolphins nearby, transmitting their location to the enemy. 009 kills the spy dolphin, but a whole slew of enemy robot underwater dinosaurs with missiles in their throats attack. Ya know, typical Tuesday.

009, 002 and 004 take them out in a really exciting battle, but they’re still not done.

003, for some reason, sounds really happy to share the news that they’re being approached by a whole fleet of fighter jets and ships. She’s smiling and everything. The voice acting combined with the smiling leads me to believe some wires were definitely crossed with the intended tone of this scene.

The amount of firepower that Black Ghost is sending their way is, honestly, way overboard. Look at this insanity.

Ijougjxn o

And this isn’t even showing the numerous submarines chasing them.

All of this just to retrieve or destroy the cyborgs. The money that they spent just launching all of those planes and ships would probably cover the expenses on making nine new cyborgs and just letting these ones go. I get that they might not want this technology to get out to the general public, but still.

009 knows they can’t fight all of that firepower, so he concocts a plan to steal one of their subs.

Somehow 008 looks even worse in this shot.

Zznkqt4s o

009, 007 and 008 head underwater to defeat the other spy dolphins and steal themselves a sub. Cue extended scene of Lil’ 007 shenanigans, including turning into a birthday cake that says “Happy Birthday Day”….???

Aoabkm9k o

Happy Birthday Dan? I dunno.

Anyway, screw that little punchline. 008, you’re up!

To his credit, even though this is his lone time to shine in this movie, shine he does. He zooms around the sub so fast that it starts disrupting their equipment, and when he reaches the nose, he simply stops the sub dead in its tracks with his bare hands.

That was so badass, even the doors of the sub are going “Dang!”

P14vlehh o

009 attaches a transmitter to their sub that tricks them into surfacing. 008 is such a baller that he’s just standing on top of the sub smoking a pipe when they come up.

3n9nilgg o

009 and 008 force the Black Ghost operatives out of the sub and take it for themselves. When the whole team is aboard, 009 has 003 send out a Morse code message to Black Ghost claiming that sub number 557 has been commandeered by the cyborgs when they’re really on sub 556.

557 gets the shit bombed out of them from above and below, killing everyone on board.

Good job, guys. We immediately went from peacefully acquiring a Black Ghost sub to turning a dozen people into chum in one scene. Simply amazing.

009: “That went well.” It sure did, you loony.

Don’t get me wrong, I know that they did that to distract Black Ghost and make them think that they were dead, but the 00 Cyborgs are supposed to be largely against killing. They typically only kill as a last resort. That’s why so many of their enemies are robots. And that’s why 001 made a point in the beginning that the planes that were following them were merely drones, even if they implied they were being piloted by people considering a bunch of Black Ghost soldiers were ordered to head to the planes to pursue the cyborgs. They wanted the green light to cause a bunch of destruction without the implications that they were slaughtering people. 006 was fully MELTING PLANES IN MIDAIR. No one wants to imagine the people in there melting like candles on the surface of Mercury.

For anyone thinking the sub may have also been a drone, they show the people inside as it’s being attacked.

Since Black Ghost is off their tails, they decide to head to Green Reef – a secret island hideout/laboratory belonging to Gilmore where not even Black Ghost can find them.

After a small time skip, we see Francoise and Joe relaxing on a cliffside as the sun sets. Joe says it’s only a matter of time before Black Ghost finds them. They should take the initiative and strike at them first, hopefully taking them down once and for all.

Francoise, however, vehemently refuses. She is tired of war, she’s tired of fighting, and she’s definitely tired of death. She shares her backstory with Joe, explaining that she was a successful ballerina until WWII arrived in France. After a very dramatic montage of the attacks, we learn that Francoise’s parents were both killed in the war, which is why she hates it so much.

I actually love this change. It adds so much more to her character, explains where her parents are and gives her a very good reason to already hate war and fighting long before the others do. The fact that she still also has the reason of her heightened senses forcing her to see and hear every atrocity of war that happens within 50 kilometers of her makes her situation all the more horrific and tragic.

After hearing Francoise’s story, Joe responds in the best way possible……by giving her a big ol’ smile.

M7i7xzsm o

I really think there was a disconnect between the artists and writers somewhere.

Joe convinces her to rejoin the fight by telling her that, if they don’t stop Black Ghost, then more people will suffer like she did. It’s rather open and shut, but the entire thing makes for a big romantic moment for the two of them.

When we next see Black Ghost, they’re preparing for their next scheme. In order to draw the 00 Cyborgs out of hiding, they’re going to send two fictional nations into war – the Caesar Republic, which I think is meant to reference the Roman Republic, and Divine….which…I don’t know what that’s referencing, if anything at all. There’s no information on this stuff on the Fandom page or the Wiki or any other source.

The best I could find was Carthage, which was the real Roman Republic’s biggest enemy, but I can’t find the connection of the names. Carthage means “New town” which doesn’t sound very ‘divine’ to me, so…..*shrug* Maybe they just bullshitted some names, or maybe I’m a geographical dummy, I dunno.

The troops for Black Ghost are being lead by some new character who looks like a huge naked goblin.

His name is Beagle.

5oyf6pk8 o

And no, you can’t take him seriously because of both of those facts.

To make it even less plausible to be scared of this guy, his has a cat that he strokes menacingly. Bonus: This cat is meant to be an evil version of Tom from Tom and Jerry. And if you don’t get that the first times you see the cat, don’t worry, near the end of the movie 007 will turn into a carbon copy of Jerry so they can have a nice comedic chase.

57n9hjqg o

The Fandom page explains that Tom and Jerry was just reaching Japanese shores at this time, so it was probably just meant to be further grasping at that young child audience.

The 00 Cyborgs learn the news of this burgeoning war, so they decide to head to the battlefield to put a stop to Black Ghost’s evil manipulative ways.

009 calls upon 003, 6 and 7 for the mission. Leaving 001, 2, 4, 5 and 8 on shore doing nothing for some reason.

Why does 009 only take three people with him, you may ask? Because it’s hard and expensive to animate nine people in battle conditions, silly. And they’ve already done it twice, so we gotta cut some expenses.

However, I really have to wonder why he chose this lineup specifically. 003 I get because she can get recon easily and from a distance. Lil’ 007 I guess I get because he’s also good in covert situations and spying. But why 006? And why not any of the others, especially 008 considering they’re heading off on a submarine? Actually, put that last question in your back pocket. We’re going to bring that back up in a few minutes.

When they reach the shore of the Caesar Republic, 003 overhears a Black Ghost operative making a deal for weapons with one of their military leaders. As they continue to spy on them, 003 is suddenly just grabbed by a pair of metallic black arms and kidnapped right from under the noses of the other three.

Sp7sqqoy o

Which is bullshit.

For god’s sake 003, your only use is to see and hear things that the others can’t. You’re unofficially known as the radar of the 00 Cyborg team. You’re telling me a cyborg or robot or what have you sneaked up behind you – in the goddamn woods – and was able to grab you without you making a sound? Come on.

The other three are able to tail her in the submarine by tracking a beacon in her headband, but Beagle shows up to stop them with his mind-controlled giant octopus.

How much would you believe me if I said this is actually mirroring a plot point from the manga? Actually, only partially because the one in the manga was just super aggressive because of radiation from the war polluting the ocean.

Worried their sub will be crushed by the creature, they head out to fight it.

006, while underwater, shoots flames at the octopus numerous times.

See why I’m confused about bringing 006 along but not 008?

Apparently, fire can exist underwater in the right circumstances. All you need to do is force oxygen, fuel and heat together, but 1) I don’t know if 006 has the means to do that. As far as I’ve ever known, 006’s fire breath works on the same principle that a flamethrower does. The fuel is thrown/expelled and then ignited. With people who ‘breathe fire’ it’s the same thing. They keep fuel in their mouths, hold up a flaming stick and spit the fuel out on the fire to create the stream. But 006 has no method of delivering the oxygen as far as I know, so I can’t see this working.

And 2) even if he could create fire underwater, I doubt he could make it into an accurately shot stream like that.

Z4zxjj9w o

Anyway, this poor octopus is blown apart, sliced up and even has one of his tentacles ground up with a grater, which is nightmarish to think about. The idea of grinding up the limbs of any creature is gross enough, but the grater in question was Lil’ 007. I can’t imagine the feeling of limbs being ground up in what is basically my torso……

Mdgsf1nj o

Once the octopus is defeated….

Lil’ 007: “Something else is coming!”

006: “Sharks!”

009: “Not just sharks….sharks with guided missiles!”

We’ve already seen these sharks in the manga before, but there’s something about these lines that really makes me want to re-embrace what a beautiful amalgamation of genius and goofy nonsense this franchise can be sometimes.

So they start blowing up the missile sharks, which is a cool sentence to say, but poor sharks. These animals aren’t doing anything wrong, they’re just being controlled or manipulated by Black Ghost and yet they all have to suffer such horrible fates.

Meanwhile, someone else is suffering a horrible fate – 003 is going under the knife again to alter her brain so she’ll be fully controlled by Black Ghost…..which just brings up a huge issue with this entire franchise that I’ve already discussed a little before – why don’t they just mind-control them entirely? They must have the technology. Weren’t they even working with Ivan’s father, Gamo, who worked exclusively with technology involving the brain? Instead they just hope that these people they just kidnapped and mutilated and had their lives ruined forever will just hop up and say “Well, golly gee, Mr. Black Ghost, I sure will be your tool of perpetual war!”

In the manga, it takes them until 0013 before they finally realize that they should put some failsafes in these cyborgs, but even then it kinda backfires on them.

By the way, they actually do perform the surgery and she’s not only fully mind-controlled later, but she basically turns into a weird monster for some reason? More on that later.

The trio reach the shores of Phantom Island. Some robot snakes show up and attack the three.

*the robot snake breathes fire towards 009*

009: “Are these things robots?”

No, no, 009. These are rare Firebending Snakes. You must have missed Phantom Island and accidentally landed on Shuhon Island.

Sadly, none of the 00 Cyborgs beyond 001-009 are shown in this movie, but we do get a brief encounter with a robot that looks and acts an awful lot like 0011. However, it’s not even clear if this robot spider is actually a cyborg. He has about two lines and then dies.

Bwpqz9l0 o

Something else weird about 006 – The robot shoots fire at them, and even though 006 is meant to withstand insanely high temperatures, he still reacts to the fire like it’s too hot even for him, which I sincerely doubt.

Once the snakes are destroyed, Lil’ 007 splits off from the group to infiltrate the base by himself. 009 and 006 go another way and find 003 unconscious and tied to a chair. When they wake her up, they’re shocked to find her face all monster-fied and that this whole thing was a trap.

Qf4geg9o o

I was really shocked to see that they actually did go through with the surgery on 003. The last shot of the surgery scene did suggest that they were seconds away from cutting into her, but a surgery to make her a mindless slave is something you’d think would get interrupted by the heroes.

Also, I guess they altered her height real quick too because she’s towering over these Black Ghost soldiers. Either that or Black Ghost set up a recruitment drive in a middle school.

Jniqwomu o

Beagle and his goons corner 009 and 006. One of the soldiers conveys to Beagle that they caught 007 as well. They’re about to have the same procedure performed on them when the soldier from before attacks Beagle. Surprise! It’s Lil’ 007 in disguise!

Cue the overly long heroic speech they let Lil’ 007 have for some reason.

After completely demolishing Black Ghost’s forces so easily it’s almost sad (and bear in mind that it’s only three of the nine 00 Cyborgs fighting them) 009, 6 and 7 corner Beagle. They think they’ve won, believing Beagle to be the big boss of the entire organization, but Beagle reveals that he’s not actually the final boss. He’s one of those annoying decoy final bosses who eats up all of your resources right before they throw you into the REAL final boss fight that comes out of nowhere.

At this point, I was getting really excited because I thought they’d reveal Skull here….but no. He’s not in this movie at all.

Instead, the real final boss is not given a name. He’s just Black Ghost Leader….Also, he’s not even given an original design. They took the design of the central hub of 0012 and made that the design of the Black Ghost Leader.

Alpdndcm o

To say I was disappointed would be a massive understatement. You traded Skull, one of the most iconic villains in classic anime/manga, and traded him for a brain in an upside-down salad bowl.

….Okie dokie.

BGL immediately kills Beagle for failing him, and then he explains to the cyborgs that he’s been around much longer than they think he has. He was responsible for the first two World Wars. He very easily triggers these wars with just a little manipulation. He feeds off of greed and the pain and suffering of war. He even states that he’s not human, which is something reinforced by the fact that he uses the term ‘human’ as a derogatory term. He also says that he didn’t create himself, or I guess more to the point that he didn’t start out like a normal being and then eventually became corrupted into the being he is now. He came into existence as an embodiment of the greed of humankind, which I guess is why his organization is so set on war profiteering instead of being a ‘take over the world’ type deal.

But that just begs the question as to where the brain came from and why he rides a giant crockpot if he’s just the embodiment of greed. Seems a little inconvenient, is all.

You can argue back and forth about who Skull really was – in no iteration do we ever learn of his backstory – but he was a cyborg who was constantly getting upgrades that left him as the most advanced cyborg, which is why the final battle with him is such a big deal. His character design is very imposing, even with his manga version’s sadface look, and, as his name also suggests, his presence just screams ‘death.’

I just can’t understand why they used 0012’s central hub as the design of BGL here. 0012’s actual hook was that she was a sentient immobile murder house. If you take that away, her design is in no way intimidating.

BGL decides to use 003 to finish off the cyborgs using a special laser gun that can take them out with one shot. He traps them within a super strong metal box and sends 003 in. However, 009 strongarms her, accidentally causing her to shoot the glass surrounding the brain of BGL, which for some reason causes the rest of his robot body to start blowing up. Flawless design there.

W25l05x8 o

That’s another silly aspect of this design. His brain is obviously his weak spot, so why does he keep it in a glass case on top of the robot instead of secured in the middle of this hulking behemoth so it’s as safe as possible? Again, it made a little sense in the manga because 0012’s house was protecting her central hub and her brain.

003’s back to normal again somehow, which is very confusing. You guys operated on her brain, yet you made her mind-control completely reliant on the integrity of a brain in a jar? Also, why do the changes to her face instantly go away when she’s freed?

Anyway, BGL is not going to die quietly. He has an H-bomb hidden on the island that will explode in five minutes. That’s right. He’s going to kill himself, all of his surviving subordinates and destroy all of his equipment in an H-bomb explosion just to kill four of the nine 00 Cyborgs. That’s some crazy nonsensical dedication. Oh well, at least he’s giving them a five minute head start.

They’ll need that head start too because they need to break out of the metal box. Using 006’s flames and the lasers of their super guns, they slowly manage to weaken the metal enough to break it by throwing a giant…..electronic box thing, I dunno what that is.

When they get to shore, they find that their sub is being commandeered by Black Ghost operatives. They won’t allow them to board the sub, but the rest of the cyborgs arrive to blast them away and save the others.

002: “We came because we figured something like this might happen.”

Then…why didn’t you just go with them in the first place?

They escape, utilizing the sub’s ability to turn into a plane, and watch as the island is disintegrated. Black Ghost is seemingly gone now. And the narrator explains that peace came to the world once more….So…Divine and the Caesar Republic stopped warring because Black Ghost disappeared?

Jcmwq9vb o

The movie wraps up with an epilogue that explains that the cyborgs “returned to their original forms” which, huh? That’s impossible. I’m pretty sure they’re still cyborgs. And they returned to their homes and old lives. Joe returned to being a racecar driver, Francoise returned to her life as a ballerina, Lil’ 007 returned to his life as a ‘mischievous brat’ in London, and no one else matters enough to mention.

Just know that they all returned to their normal, happy lives, but they still knew that one day they might need to return to action again should Black Ghost resurface. They can only pray that will never happen.

The end.

——————————————————–

And that was Cyborg 009’s first movie, and I really enjoyed it a lot. It was exciting, it was fun, it was a little funny, and as far as retelling the events of the origin story while also wrapping up the entire Black Ghost conflict in one barely over one hour long movie goes, it did a pretty good job. It obviously felt kinda rushed, and I’m really, really disappointed that basically every cyborg barring 009, 003 and Lil’ 007 had to be completely amputated, in terms of character exploration anyway. They did get some really cool moments in battle, and at least they went through the unique powers of each, but I’m really disappointed that we don’t at least get some nice non-battle moments with them or even learn their real names. Hell, we don’t even learn Lil’ 007’s real name despite them shoving him into the spotlight quite a bit.

They also didn’t do that good of a job giving them distinct personalities. Everyone, again, barring the main three, act about the same. Joe takes the role as leader, Francoise is the emotional one and Lil’ 007 is the clown. Everyone else is just a nice, brave and responsible person. 006 is kinda goofy, but that’s about it.

They crammed a lot of cool enemies and battles into this movie, which I appreciate greatly, but I actually kinda wish they’d toned it down a tiny bit or made the movie longer because it was almost too much stuff going on too quickly.

The animation was decent for the time. It’s an anime from the 60s, you’re not going to get anything too impressive, but some shots looked pretty damn good……and some looked really laughable.

There’s a shot near the end where 009 and 003 are fighting each other, and Lil’ 007 and 006 are just bobbing their heads as a reaction, and it reminded me of a badly animated ‘What is Love?’ meme gif.

The music’s pretty good. Very fitting and impacting. Nothing horribly memorable, but still good.

All in all, I had a lot of fun with this movie, and I’d gladly watch it again. I’d also suggest it as a fun watch for any fellow Cyborg 009 fan or anyone who doesn’t mind some classic anime cheese. It’ll be a little while before we cover the sequel to this movie, Cyborg 009: Monster Wars, but I look forward to covering that and seeing what else these movies have to offer.


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: Manga (1964) Volume 3

So immediately following the end of the last volume where 009 said he didn’t want to hitch a ride on the train because it would slow him down, volume three has 009 immediately jumping on the train and exclaiming “Wow! This thing is really fast!” Guess Joe changes his mind in a blink of an eye too.

0012’s remaining servants, barring one, make quick work of the goons who were trying to steal Kozumi’s potion, and we learn that the fourth member of their team is a seemingly ‘slow’ individual who speaks mostly in mutters. However, he also appears to be kind since he removes Kozumi’s gag, much to the annoyance of the other servants.

Joe enjoys his return to Tokyo, but he quickly realizes that walking around in a bright red outfit with a long yellow scarf is a bit too noticeable, so he heads to his old friend, Scar Nose Yasu’s, house to borrow some less conspicuous clothing. Yasu is more than welcoming of his old friend, insisting to go out and get some food and drinks for him. Problem is, he quickly realizes he has no money.

The mysterious member of the servant group comes around the corner with some bread and milk, which is good news for Yasu who quickly tries to strongarm the groceries from him.

Joe stops him, however, and gives back the groceries back to the guy. Being surprisingly understanding after nearly getting robbed, he happily insists that they both eat some bread and milk with him. They accept, but they’re soon interrupted by the other three servants who attack Joe.

009 is able to defeat Scarecrow, who commits suicide by swallowing his tongue, but right as the other two arrive, the mysterious member starts acting strangely. His eyes are finally revealed from under his hair, and he seems more serious and disturbed than before. He tells Joe one thing before taking the initiative and leaving with the other servants – “Thirteen.”

Throughout the past handful of pages, we’ve been intersecting to a massive humanoid robot in the middle of the sea. It destroys a ship and is later seen suddenly emerging from underground to rendezvous with the other servants. It dumps Kozumi from the car into its body and uses him as a hostage. When 009 arrives, he deduces that this giant robot is the 0013 he’s been hearing about.

009 has an incredibly destructive battle with the robot, who can not only burrow underground like a mole, but he can also detect objects above with electromagnetic sensors. 0013 can also cause massive earthquakes, has an accelerator, though it’s not as fast as 009’s, and is aiming to demolish all of Tokyo from the inside out. It even goes into the city itself to reduce the chance of military interference.

The robot very nearly kills Joe, but opts to spare him this time. He reveals that he’s repaying the kindness that Joe showed him earlier. He’s lived a harrowing life, so he truly appreciates the gesture. Joe deduces that the robot is actually being controlled by the mysterious member of the servant group – the real 0013.

Joe rushes through the incredibly heartbreaking destruction of Tokyo, even rescuing a little toddler who was crying over the crushed body of her mother. With the child still in his arms, Joe makes a plea to 0013 to stop his robot since innocent people are being killed. And if he won’t stop the robot, at least agree to travel to a more void area where they won’t hurt anyone with their battle. 0013 struggles, but Machine Gun isn’t willing to listen to any of this, so he shoots at them. In a cold display, he even says he doesn’t care about the baby in his arms and that she’ll make a fine cyborg. WOW.

Before he can continue his assault, 0013 lops off Machine Gun’s gun arm with a karate chop. Realizing he’s turned on them, Roentgen attempts to attack him, but Joe strikes him down.

Machine Gun tries to kill 0013 with a regular gun, but 0013 karate chops him in the neck, sending him flying down the flight of stairs they’re on, breaking his neck and killing him.

Joe is delighted to see 0013 revolt, but it seems 0013 still wants to fight. He directs Joe to put the girl down first so she won’t be hurt. Joe tries, but the girl is simply too scared. 0013 tries to cheer her up by making silly faces and offering her candy. She smiles, and 0013 takes her from Joe and brings her to a swing set so she can enjoy her candy and have fun swinging.

Joe and 0013 start fighting right there, accelerated so they’re only barely noticeable to the little girl. While the giant robot may have only been able to go about mach 1, the real 0013 is able to go at speeds much faster than 009 to the point where it seems like there are multiples of him.

Their fight ensues, but is soon interrupted by Roentgen, who was blinded by 009 after breaking his cybernetic eyes. Using his heightened sense of hearing, he’s able to find where 0013 and 009 are fighting and strike 0013 on the back with a few slashes of his blade, even while they’re accelerated. 0013 is not pleased by this and smacks him in the head so hard that it kills him.

Joe wants to stop the bloodshed, but before he can get a good shot at 0013, his giant robot shows up. Joe is forced to hold the little girl again, meaning he can’t accelerate (because normal humans can’t handle his speed without dying.) 0013 enters the robot, and all seems lost for 009 until 0013 retrieves Kozumi and releases him.

He doesn’t wish to cause anymore unnecessary bloodshed. He’s finally done with fighting.

We learn of 0013’s truly tragic story. Black Ghost designed him to be fully in tune with this robot, to a point where it’s extremely detrimental for him. First of all, while he can control the robot with his brain waves, he lost the ability to speak. The robot, known as 13 Robo, acted as his mouthpiece. Every thought he had was turned into speech through the robot.

But that’s not all. Black Ghost must have realized what a flight risk he was, so they installed a failsafe in 13 Robo. If he betrayed Black Ghost, the robot was rigged to explode. Realizing that 13 Robo would explode soon, he told 009 and the other cyborgs, who arrived really late to the party and did nothing, to flee.

Joe pleads with him to escape, but he refuses. Either to get the robot further away to lessen the damage or because, like the others, he believed he must die, 0013 insists on staying behind. Hearing one final plea from Joe at the last second spurs 0013 to at least try to make an escape, but he fails.

As he lay on the ground dying he writes “I wanted to become friends.” in the dirt. Joe assures him that they are friends. The little girl hops down to the ground and grabs 0013’s hand. He smiles one last time before his hand falls and he finally passes away.

Joe laments the loss of the friend and becomes more enraged than ever at Black Ghost. He vows to never stop fighting them until they’ve been destroyed and 0013 has been avenged.

I’ve always loved this plotline, and it never fails to choke me up. 0013 is such a brief character yet he makes a lasting impact. In fact, in the 2001 anime, in the end credits, a mockup of 0013 wearing the 00 Cyborg uniform was included as part of the collection of drawings of the main team, like he was spiritually with them.

It always felt like 0013 was more of a hostage of Black Ghost than any Cyborg before him. 0010 Plus and Minus didn’t really have any actual reason for being loyal to them, especially since they robbed them of the ability to have any physical contact with their own twin brother. 0011 was probably the closest example, but he was more tricked than he was held hostage. 0012 seemed to greatly enjoy her power and tormenting the other cyborgs. With 0013, he was forced into obeying.

His hostage situation was basically lose-lose. It’s either allow the robot to cause massive amounts of death and destruction/cause massive amounts of destruction yourself or betray Black Ghost…and cause massive amounts of death and destruction. Granted, at least in the latter, he could die doing the least amount of damage (not killing any of the 00 Cyborgs and stopping the robot’s rampage as well as redeeming himself in the process) as he did here,

Even though I love his story, it’s not entirely perfect. Why did Black Ghost only put a bomb in 13 Robo? Why not put a bomb or termination device in 0013 too? Putting the bomb in 13 Robo without putting anything in 0013 himself to kill him means he could have lived and stayed on the side of the other Cyborgs (and remember, he still has an even better accelerator than 009, and he has an insanely powerful karate chop technique.) Black Ghost had to bank on 0013 being too selfless and honorable to let 13 Robo explode while also sacrificing himself.

Why didn’t they just make 0013 the robot himself? They’ve already shown they’re more than willing to put human brains into giant robots and even sentient houses, so why not put 0013’s brain in the robot instead of having them be two separate beings? How is that a benefit to them, especially since the servants were always complaining about how useless he was? None of this is really a big plot hole or issue or anything, but I’m just wondering what logistics went into those decisions.

Next chapter, we’re starting off a new storyline. 004, 007 and 009 are battling with a fighter plane to help protect Dr. Dolphin and his daughter, Iruka. And yes, that means her name is Iruka Dolphin, or literally Dolphin Dolphin.

I first thought this was an error by Tokyopop, but according to the good folks at Cyborg 009’s Fandom page, Iruka really was Ishinomori’s intended name for her, and some translations opted to change her name to Cynthia to avoid this redundancy. Why did he name her that to begin with? I have no idea. I have a feeling it might have just been a placeholder name until he came up with something else, but he never did….or maybe the dude just really liked dolphins, I dunno. The submarine that the 00 Cyborgs get later is even called The Dolphin and Black Ghost uses dolphin spies……*shrug* Dolphins are cool, though, so I get it.

004 manages to shoot down the plane with his machine gun hand, but there’s a weird tank just around the corner. 004 and 007 are felled by the tank after it sends out a strange signal. After ensuring the doctor’s and Iruka’s safety, 009 heads over to see what’s happening and is also felled by the sound.

Cut to some time in the past where we see 004 shoot at leaves with his dart fingers. Hey, they came back up again! Yay! Inside the house, 007 is practicing some Shakespeare while Joe is reading comics. They get a call from Dr. Gilmore and head out.

On the way, they explain that Professor Dolphin is an old friend of his who lives in Yokohama. Gilmore went to his house, which has this weird sign out front that says “His joke fell flat.”

Cyborg 009 VOL3 SCREEN1
????????

but when he got there, he was smacked with the butt of a gun and Dolphin was kidnapped.

They find a note from the kidnappers telling them to not call the police otherwise Dolphin dies. And it’s signed NN with a swastika.

Dr. Dolphin was kidnapped by Neo Nazis. If you didn’t expect that, congratulations, you’re everyone.

Joe takes Iruka to her dorm to get some of her things so she can stay at Kozumi’s house with everyone else in order to keep her safe while they save her father. On the drive, Iruka explains that she doesn’t know anything about her father’s work besides the fact that he has built many massive robots. He was also so entranced in his work that he constantly neglected her, even forgetting her birthday. She started resenting machines, robots and even her father.

They’re suddenly stopped in the road and gas attacked by a group of men. Iruka is quickly knocked out, but Joe is resistant to the gas due to his cybernetics. He swiftly takes out all of the men and saves Iruka. Joe tries to question one who isn’t knocked out, but he swallows a cyanide pill and dies. What is with the last handful of chapters and people just peacing out the instant anything happens?

Joe contacts 004 and 007 to tell them what happened. They come up with a new plan – let Iruka be taken by the thugs. Joe doesn’t like the idea because he doesn’t want to put her in danger, but he agrees because he knows it’s the best way to find Dr. Dolphin.

Later, the thugs wake up with Iruka unconscious in front of them, They believe Joe must’ve accidentally fallen over the side of the cliff, so they decide to take her and run. They spot the guy who committed suicide, believe he must’ve done it on accident and just chuck his body over the side of the cliff. Who would’ve thunk Neo Nazis would be heartless assholes?

Following a tracking device hidden in Iruka’s watch, the trio follows her to a runway where a plane is waiting. Not wanting her to be loaded onto the plane, because they can’t follow her that way, the group decides to strike, but not for the reasons you’d think. They mostly distract the group and sneak onboard so they can follow her to the main base. On the way, they discover that 007 forgot to pack their super guns, and apparently the place they’re heading to is really cold.

Now. I need you all to prepare yourselves for what I’m about to convey to you. I promise you, with all my heart, I am not kidding when I say any of this. This is happening. Okay? Okay. You ready? Let’s do this.

They land the plane, and outside they see….

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

a bunch of giant penguins doing the Heil Hitler salute….

I will give you a break so you have time to parse that information.

Isn’t it glorious? Bask in the everything that is amazing about this. I get to review a manga that literally has the line “Nazi Penguin costumes, eh?” The Neo Nazis decided to dress up as penguins for reasons my brain cannot begin to process.

They are in Antarctica, I think anyway, but this still makes no sense. Even if there were a lot of people around in ANTARCTICA they wouldn’t be fooled by giant man-sized penguins….who are heiling Hitler! And if they would be…..is that some sort of commentary on penguins!?

I haven’t watched March of the Penguins in a long time. Is there a deleted scene with Morgan Freeman narrating the penguins as they partake in their daily reading of Mein Kampf? But they removed it after backlash from the penguin community?! They could have SS lightning bolt tattoos on their bodies. We wouldn’t know. THEY HAVE FEATHERS!

I can’t stop laughing. It’s too hilarious for this world. What was Ishinomori on when he wrote this? And where can I get some?

*sigh*….This is a beautiful day.

004 and 009 grab some of the penguin costumes to blend in, which means we also get them going undercover as nazi penguins….I can’t tell you how much I’m enjoying life right now.

The leader brings out Professor Dolphin and asks him about the missing component of the mad machine mark one, which is presumably the tank from the beginning of the chapter. There was one major component Dolphin didn’t map out on the schematics they stole, and they can’t make it work without it. However, Dolphin, knowing how powerful the machine is, would rather die than give them that information. As leverage, they use Iruka instead.

They get the information from him, and 004 and 009 use that opportunity to attack and retake Dolphin and Iruka. They escape on a plane, but it’s shot down. The other fighter plane swoops in and we cut to right where we left off before. All of the cyborgs are down for the count and the Neo Nazis come in to claim their prizes, but the cyborgs come back in full force. 004 uses his leg missile to blow up the tank and that’s that.

Dolphin relays why he made these machines in the first place. During the war, his wife had been badly injured by a rocket strike. She had lost a leg and burnt her face beyond recognition. She went from being a happy, lighthearted person to a dark and gloomy individual. Not even giving birth to their daughter brightened her any – in fact, it tipped her over the edge. She never wanted their daughter to see her disfigured face, so she killed herself.

….Quite the tone change from the nazi penguins…..*cough*

As a result, Dolphin dedicated his life to creating machines that would drive the men who operated them insane – hence the mad machine mark one. His machines were always intended on working against war machines. Iruka happily and tearfully embraces her father, gleeful that he also harbored hatred for machines….

I’ll be honest, I don’t understand this all too much. So…he made a machine that was a weapon that would drive the people who used it insane…but…it didn’t do that. The Neo Nazis weren’t negatively affected – only the cyborgs were. And…you made a machine that would make the operators go insane?….Wouldn’t that make them do even worse stuff because they’re, ya know, insane now? You don’t make any sense, man.

Iruka then says “Machines are evil…” which is Tokyopop’s doing again – the original line was just her saying “Machines…” while looking scared.

Iruka and Joe give each other a pensive look. Throughout the chapter, it had been hinted that Joe liked Iruka romantically, but now she knows he’s part machine and it’s obvious that that’s something she can’t overlook.

Joe, Albert and GB head off back home to reunite with everyone else. And the Neo Nazi penguins were never seen again. 😦

In the next part of our story, the cyborgs and Dr. Gilmore head out from Japan, fearing it’s become too dangerous with Black Ghost back on their tail. They bid Kozumi a fond farewell, and we get this hilaradorable shot of 005 carrying 001 and Gilmore on his shoulders.

Cyborg 009 VOL3 Screen2

Our next chapter, and yes the previous one was just them leaving, is called The Man with the Expensive Castle. Apparently, this was supposed to be called The Man in the High Castle to be a reference to the novel of the same name, but Tokyopop changed it to this stupid one because I dunno. Copyright worries, maybe? I dunno.

Anyway, masked men with jetpacks are kidnapping a little girl who turns out to the be the Prime Minister’s daughter.

The cyborgs catch wind of this and report back….which is when we meet, whom I refer to as……..*sigh* Lil’ 007.

Cyborg 009 VOL3 Screen3

Okay, some backstory. Around the release of volume three came the first film adaptation of the series, which is great! The producers of the movie wanted some manga promotion, so Ishinomori wrote this specific story to tie into the story of the movie. He was fine with doing that, but they wanted one more thing. They wanted to change 007 into a nine year old kid (though he honestly looks like he’s three or four) to help sell the movie to kids.

Reportedly, Ishinomori didn’t want to do this and hated the change, but was basically forced into doing it by his editor. Initially, he wrote this change as 007’s default form de-aging due to him shape-shifting so much, and no that doesn’t make any sense, but go along with it. However, this change didn’t stick forever. He would eventually change back to his adult form without barely a mention of it, though he would occasionally slip back into child form for one reason or another for sporadic amounts of time – it’s really inconsistent and confusing.

Despite the change being forced and hated by Ishinomori, it was apparently quite popular with fans so he made it into a character for a gag series called Cyborg-Chan of which I can find really no information or images. All I know is that it was about a cyborg boy whose power was transformation, exactly like 007.

I thought this change was just stupid. I didn’t really hate it because 007 was already the comic relief so he didn’t act too differently when he was Lil’ 007 but just the fact that they now had a little kid around was annoying on a visual level. Instead of having a goofy bald dude in his 30s making sarcastic quips every now and then to cut the tension we now have a bald kid who thinks he’s funny making almost every line he delivers a joke, cutting pretty much any tension ever when he’s on screen. I tolerate him being here, but adult 007 can’t return quickly enough.

Back to the story, the kidnappers have taken several girls in addition to the Prime Minister’s daughter, and for their safe return they’re asking for….

Also, I’m not kidding. They legitimately ask for 100 billion yen.

Granted, yeah, there’s the conversion rate, which makes this roughly 945 million USD, but there’s also the fact that this took place in 1966, which would mean that amount of money today would be about 7.5 billion USD today. And just for the sake of being thorough, with inflation from 1966 in Japan, 100 billion yen today would actually be nearly 400 billion yen, which equates to 3.7 billion USD.

Joe and the others try to wake 001 to see if he can psychically determine the location of the girls, but he’s fast asleep. Like I mentioned, 001 requires a lot of sleep to function. He sleeps for 15 days at a time and then stays awake for 15 days. He’s got a few days left on his most current sleep cycle, so they move onto other options.

Over the radio, they hear that the kidnappers have established a dropoff location for the ransom money at the summit of Mt. Fuji at four o’clock…..why are they giving away that information on the radio?

009 and 002 head off because they have acceleration switches, but Lil’ 007 wants to go too. Joe, however, forbids it because he’s a child, which is stupid because we know he’s not a child, 007 even points out that he’s not a child, but we have to embrace this change so he gets treated like a child. 007 whines for a bit then turns into a baby shark so he can tag along on Joe’s back. I don’t get why he’d turn into a baby shark for that, but it doesn’t matter, he gets to go.

The exchange is starting, so the boys head into position. The kidnappers aren’t screwing around, but they also won’t show the girls until they have the money in hand. After they kill one of the government officials, the three start combating the kidnappers. Lil’ 007 helps by bopping them on the head with a tiny mallet….Why isn’t he transforming into something that can actually help or at least use his super gun?

Because then he wouldn’t be in child form and this stupid marketing ploy wouldn’t work.

They let some of the kidnappers get away, leading them to their base.

At the base, the kidnappers attack again, and this time 007 actually transforms….into a snowman. And he was able to knock out one of the kidnappers with his teeny mallet because they were stupid enough to hide behind a snowman in the middle of a fire fight.

002 gives them a lift over an electric wall surrounding the base, and after a quick tangle with some guard dogs and robots who look like they have dryer ducts for heads, they infiltrate the main room.

All of the girls are being held in glass boxes strewn about the room. A strange looking man is threatening them with poisonous gas if the cyborgs don’t stand down, but, being super fast, 009 won’t take any of that. It seems like he got more than he bargained for when they’re all suddenly thrust to the floor. The man is psychic and is using telekinesis to pin them down. The man says he needs money in order to build a massive laboratory for all of his experiments, and he’ll kidnap and/or murder all the children he needs to in order to do it. Lovely guy, this one.

He’s about to murder the girls when suddenly 001 bursts into the room with his eyes drawn in that creepy alien way I hate. The man, who, by the way, is never named, can’t match 001’s powers. Using his own telekinesis, 001 breaks the girls free and all of them rush out of the lab as it explodes, killing the man and presumably everyone in the building…The uh….end?

Cyborg 009 VOL3 Screen4
Make it go away.

Yup, that’s the end of the volume. Quite the random note to end on, quite abrupt too, but it was pretty much a marketing ploy anyway.

———————————

And that was volume three! What’s not to love about this volume besides the ending chapter? 0013’s arc was just great. Always been one of my favorites. I really wish we got to see more of that poor guy.

The storyline with Iruka may have been pretty simple and the resolution about her dad really makes no sense to me, but this was pretty much the first time the group were outwardly hated or discriminated against in some capacity because they were cyborgs, and that’s something that they really needed to cover. It was slight because she never really stated she hated them but just saying she hated machines and turning away from Joe at the end, despite everything they did for her, was enough.

Plus, it was a wholly entertaining arc on its own. I mean, come on. NEO NAZIS IN PENGUIN COSTUMES. How can you not laugh yourself into a coma at that whole section? I’m laughing writing this right now.

The main weak point is the final chapter. Not only is it the introduction to Lil’ 007, but the story is bland. Usually, bland plotlines are supplemented with character development or new characters that help pick up the slack, but here there’s nothing.

The best part of the chapter is that the main baddie is an esper, like 001, but he’s ridiculously underpowered compared to 001. Not to mention that this is one of many times 001 is basically a deus ex machina. This guy was seconds away from killing a slue of children with three of our heroes pinned to the ground, and then 001 just bamfs in there, nabs the girls and leaves. The dude doesn’t even get a name.

However, it is understandable that this chapter is so forgettable because Ishinomori’s heart really wasn’t in it, but still.

Join me next time in volume four!


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: Manga (1964) Volume 2

Picking right back up where we left off, (The first chapter in the volume is even considered the second half of chapter eight) the 00 cyborgs have successfully infiltrated the Black Ghost base, intent on destroying it once and for all. Some of them are ridden with guilt because destroying the base means they have to kill the soldiers that are inside. They simply have no choice in the matter, however.

Once inside, they aim to blow up Black Ghost’s nuclear arsenal. 009 bumps into their commander, Skull. And I really just can’t help but laugh as Skull’s design here. The art goes through a lot of changes throughout time, but this version of Skull is hilarious, especially given the circumstances. His eyes just look so sad like he’s going ‘*sniff sniff* W-why are you destroying my base? I thought we were friends….*sniff*’ And look at his jaw. It looks like the bottom half of a medieval helmet.

They succeed in triggering the bombs, but they’re very concerned that 009 couldn’t get out in time before the place blew sky high. Just when all seems lost, he pops up and reveals that he was able to escape in the nick of time. He shares the shocking news that, at some point, Skull seems to have turned himself into a cyborg as well, and he has an accelerator just as powerful as 009’s.

They assume he probably died in the explosion anyway, but it’s soon revealed that Skull is alive and well and Black Ghost won’t be defeated as easily as they believe.

Still piloting one of Black Ghost’s old subs, the cyborgs head to Japan to seek refuge with Dr. Gilmore’s old buddy, Dr. Kozumi.

That’s the official end of Part I of the manga, so now we’re onto Part II The Black Ghost, starting with the insanely long chapter nine.

After a brief recap, we cut to the group in Japan where they’ve already taken up shelter at Dr. Kozumi’s house after a month of laying low. (Side note: Dr. Kozumi is a pretty chill dude. He doesn’t do a whole lot, but he’s a very nice guy.) Joe is troubled because he worries that Black Ghost is not entirely gone, but Francoise tries to get him to accept that Black Ghost has been defeated and that they can enjoy some peace and quiet for a change, even if the sudden shift is quite jarring and unsettling even to her.

In the middle of their conversation, Francoise suddenly hears a strange voice saying something about medicines at Dr. Kozumi’s place so they rush back, fearing intruders have invaded their hideout. Kozumi explains that the men must be talking about a potion he’s concocting to restore youth and possibly even grant immortality. However, it’s very far from complete and is fairly dangerous to use right now. That doesn’t stop people from believing he has finished it and is simply holding out on potential buyers in the pharmaceutical world.

Kozumi doesn’t have a care in the world over this because Joe and the others are on the case and he has total trust in them, which was a very sweet thing to say.

Joe gathers the other cyborgs and they head out to find the would-be thieves. They find a group of masked men and start confronting them only to have their targets blasted by a new enemy – the lightning powered 0010! If you’re wondering what I was wondering when I first saw 0010 “Why is he not 010?” then all I have to say is….I dunno. I mean, the project is called the 00 Cyborg project, but it still makes the numbering seem out of whack.

In the month that they’ve been gone, Black Ghost has gone further with the cyborg project and made 0010 – who has intense lightning powers that he can command via his hands and body, incredibly powerful eye beams, and he also has an accelerator that matches Joe’s. 003 is the first to be taken out by him because of course she is, but 004 and 007 fall soon after. Joe faces the new cyborg alone, but can’t find a way to outmaneuver him or overpower him.

What’s worse is that he’s not the only 0010. He has a twin brother with the exact same powers. They’re named 0010 Plus and Minus, and together they can make electric attacks so powerful that no one should be able to withstand them.

Joe struggles a lot with the cyborg duo and is felled by them, but he’s suddenly saved in the nick of time by 001 who has discovered that he has the power of teleportation. As long as the subject is willing to be teleported or is unconscious, 001 can teleport whatever he wants. He managed to teleport 009 before he was fried, but that doesn’t change the fact that Plus and Minus are still right around the corner and need to be stopped.

001 deduces that Plus and Minus each emit the opposite electrical charge of the other, meaning if they hit each other they’ll short out and die. Giving them both the super-speed runaround, Joe manages to force them both into colliding into each other, creating a massive surge of electricity and causing them both to die. As they lay on the ground, they’re seen with their hands touching each other. Joe laments that they were brothers, but Black Ghost made it so they could never touch or hold each other again, which is another testament to their evil.

I always thought Plus and Minus were a really great pair of characters, and I’m sad they never got a proper backstory. Sure, they were loyal to Black Ghost and took delight in taking down the other cyborgs, but they truly loved each other. For the record, we do see a hint at their contact weakness when they nearly short out by simply standing too close to each other and they have to jump away quickly. Afterward, they stare at each other with forlorn looks in the rain. And just for the sake of symbolism, rain is brought up in the next part as being a character’s tears, so it’s not hard to infer that their situation is deeply hurting them right now.

It’s a shame these two were taken out so quickly. They could have been upgradable repeated enemies or good allies. Their weakness was a bit on the ridiculous side, though. Yes, there’s a lot of poetic tragedy in their situation, but…..really Black Ghost? They explode and die if they touch? These two cyborgs who work best when they work together and also move at supersonic speeds making accidental collisions or contact nearly unavoidable at some point? How could you not make some sort of failsafe for that before sending them out in the field?

Once 0010 Plus and Minus are felled, 009 returns to Kozumi’s house where 003, 004, and 007 are resting. 003 is in particularly bad shape because of course she is. However, there’s no time for rest because, believe it or not, the next cyborg in the line, 0011 is knocking on their door.

And by ‘knocking’ I mean he’s destroying the house.

And by ‘0011’ I mean a

GIANT

ROBOT

SPIDER

Yup, skewing pretty far away from the human-given-cybernetic-implants angle is 0011, who is just a brain in a giant robot spider. I don’t actually know what the point is of just putting a brain in a giant robot spider, but believe it or not, in the outlandish design department, 0011 has absolutely nothing on 0012, whom we’ll get to in the next chapter.

0011’s abilities include missiles that contain some weird sticky substance that hardens into a stone-like material used to encase his enemies, an accelerator because everyone needs to have that thing now, flight and a projectile that is filled with poison that can even kill cyborgs.

Unlike 0010, who was brash and itching to fight, 0011 is oddly calm and understanding. He doesn’t want to fight the cyborgs, but Black Ghost promised him they’d put his brain back into his body if he did, so he has sworn allegiance to them. This is obviously a lie, but all 0011 has to live for right now is that promise. He starts his assault, and 005, 008 and 002 rush out first, since 009 is still weak from his battle with Plus and Minus, but he soon follows after anyway. 005 and 008 are quickly encased in that weird substance I mentioned earlier, so they’re taken out of the battle disappointingly quickly, leaving 002 and 009 to battle him.

It’s not quite that simple, however, because 0011 not only has both of their main powers and more, but he’s also incredibly well-armored. None of their shots can even hope to break through his defenses. They only have one option – the sliding doors that cover the openings for his guns. They wait until he opens them back up again and shoot inside, causing him to fall apart.

As he lay dying, 0011 shoots a projectile into the sky and it starts raining. 0011 dies peacefully having gained his freedom from this metal shell he was forced into. He equates the rain falling down his ‘eyes’ being the closest thing he’ll get to crying. But in his one last act to try and achieve his goal he reveals that the projectile is actually causing the ‘rain’ falling around them. It’s poisoned, and 002 and 009 have to act quickly in order to survive. He bids them farewell and explodes.

001 teleports all of them back to the house. First things first, they have to extract 008 and 005 from the stone. They have life-support systems, but they’re running low on power and oxygen. 006 is the only one who can remove them with his flames, but he has to be incredibly careful or else he’ll severely injure them. He’s able to remove them from the stones, though a little on the crispy side, so it’s time to address 002 and 009. In his infinite wisdom, 001 has not only been able to pinpoint what poison is affecting them, but even tells Dr. Kozumi…the…ya know…doctor…what to put in the antidote to save them.

All of the group recovers to full health, concerned about what else Black Ghost might have up their sleeves….and uh….it’s a doozy.

Chapter 10 introduces us to the weirdest cyborg of the 00 line – 0012. I say this because 0012 isn’t so much a cyborg or a robot even….she’s a sentient immobile murder house.

Bear in mind that the 00 cyborgs were created with the intention of mass producing and distributing them to various governments in order to perpetuate war – especially in outer space.

A sentient immobile murder house is one of those cyborgs.

Don’t get me wrong, she’s a really well-designed, powerful and AWESOME sentient immobile murder house, but she’s still an immobile murder house, who, by the way, doesn’t have any external weapons, which means as long as you don’t have a reason to go on the property, you’re golden.

Granted, she does have ‘servants’ which act as her ‘limbs.’ Each servant is their own character, and each is given disabilities that are compensated for with cybernetics. For example, the first servant, Camel (Known as Rakuda in the translation) has a hunchback. Yeah, not the most sensitive of names. I can understand why TokyoPop changed it to the literal Japanese version, if they did that intentionally.

His hunch was made cybernetic, allowing him to open and close it like it a venus fly trap or bear trap. This sounds cool, but unless someone’s trying to tackle him, it’s really inefficient. He can also spit?…I dunno. In his battle with 009, he’s spitting something at him over and over but I honestly don’t know if it’s a projectile or just spit. But get it?….Spit…..Camel….Ha….Ha? I really want to say he just has spit as a ‘power’ because ew no one likes getting spit on.

The second servant is Scarecrow, a man with a prosthetic leg who walks using a cane. His prosthetic is spring-loaded, allowing him to jump very high, and his cane doubles as a club and machine gun.

The third servant is named Roentgan (Lentgen in the TokyoPop version) who is blind. He’s able to see thanks to binocular-esque cybernetic eyes that also grant him the ability to see long distances and through objects. When those eyes are broken, he can track people through a heightened sense of sound, so he’s essentially their 003. Other than that, he has a sword hidden in his cane, which is a bit of a rip-off considering Scarecrow’s cane could be a club or a machine gun.

The fourth servant, The One-Armed Man (He’s not given a name, though in the 2001 anime he’s called Machine Gun) is, well, a one-armed man. His arm was replaced with a machine gun, kinda like 004 but it’s just a literal machine gun instead of a machine gun shaped like a working hand, which seems counter-intuitive. (In the earlier parts of this arc, his hand is a hook hand, but Ishinomori changed his mind on his design and powers.) Reminder – these guys are a package deal with 0012, meaning their designs all came after 004. There’s really no reason why 004 would get a regular hand that doubles as a machine gun but The One-Armed Man would just get a machine gun duct-taped to his stump, basically.

The final servant is one we’ll address a little later because he requires a bit more attention to detail.

We get a pretty nice scene of Francoise and Joe enjoying the fall leaves together.

Aaaannndddd that sweet moment is immediately ruined by 0012 drowning a dog in quicksand right outside the house. Thanks for that….

0012 sends out her servants to lure the cyborgs to her hou–…to…her, I guess, by kidnapping Dr. Kozumi, which they do quite easily by gassing him as he’s leaving his house. They leave Rakuda behind to do the rest.

Meanwhile, we get to see the other cyborgs enjoying some downtime. It’s always nice to just see them hanging out with each other. Albert is showing off the ability to shoot darts from his fingers, which I don’t think ever comes up again, but that’s cool, and Geronimo and Pyunma are making a bassinet for Ivan. They don’t give it wheels, but, being telekinetic, Ivan can just make the bassinet float around. Not sure why he doesn’t just float himself around, but it’s better than needing to carried by Francoise 24/7.

Rakuda goads Joe into battle by popping up wearing Dr. Kozumi’s hat and running off. He’s a bit slippery for Joe, but inevitably gets caught.

They interrogate him, and he reveals that he doesn’t know about their plans, he’s just following orders. He draws them a map to 0012’s location, and 001 reveals that, while Black Ghost is currently an issue right now, there’s another enemy lurking in the shadows – the same ones who tried to steal Kozumi’s medicine most likely (He doesn’t say that last bit, but I assume. They look like the same guys.)

They tie Rakuda back up and throw him into a room, but he’s not planning on giving them any more info or helping them. He bites down on a cyanide capsule he had in his tooth and dies.

009 decides to go out and investigate the location Rakuda was talking about. It’s a big fancy house out in the middle of nowhere. He spots the same goons in black from before – the not-Black Ghost-dudes – and they try to hop the wall into the yard, but one of them is shocked by an electric barrier and the others are lost to the quicksand yard, though 009 doesn’t realize this.

He thinks they entered the house, so he goes in after them only to accidentally get caught up in the quicksand. 004 and 007 arrive to help him out, however, having been guilted into it by 003…..Come on, guys, really? 003 needed to push your buttons to help 009? Actually, now that I think about it, why isn’t 003 here if she’s so concerned?

Joe: “Well, I’m glad someone cares about me.” It’s certainly not 003.

0012’s next trick comes in the trees in the yard, the ones 004, 9 and 7 are taking refuge in, having controllable vines that continuously wrap them up and try to strangle them. However, with 004’s knife hand and a few shots from a super gun, they’re down for the count…literally, they’re falling down. The trio then has to hop to the roof for something safe to stand on, but of course not even the roof is safe.

A door opens beneath them, and they nearly fall into a pit of spikes. 007 displays an ability I didn’t know he had, which is the ability to suction-cup to walls. I guess it makes sense if he can turn into anything, though. 009 is holding 004 while hanging from 007. 004 blasts a hole in a nearby wall and they hop through it. As they enter a new corridor, 0012 reveals herself as being the house that they’re currently in. Oh yeah, hey, we got our second woman in the 00 Cyborg series!

AND

She tries to blow them up with a chandelier, and they rush around to find Dr. Kozumi, finding traps around every corner, including a dummy Dr. Kozumi that was actually a bomb.

The next trap is her basically trapping them in her ‘stomach’ and trying to melt them alive with gastric juices IE acid. She damn near succeeds too, but the three are able to blast their way through the walls and escape.

As they’re continuing their search, they stumble upon the goons in black from before….I hope that means the dog’s alive too. I’m just gonna believe that’s what it means.

They’re the ones who sent a fake telegram to Kozumi to lure him out of the house with intentions on kidnapping him for his eternal youth potion, but 0012’s assistants got him first so they tracked him down to get him themselves.

The trio don’t really have reason to hurt them, so they just break their weapons and knock them out.

009, 7 and 4 decide to go straight to the epicenter of 0012 to end this once and for all – they’re going to destroy 0012’s brain. The instant they get close, however, she emits a powerful ultrasonic wave that drives the three to their knees. 009 is just barely able to get a shot off at the wires surrounding the brain, and that shuts off the noise.

0012 switches from being maniacally sadistic to begging for her life, so 009 says they’ll help her if she tells them where Kozumi is. Her servants took him out of the house and are transporting him to Tokyo. Her last word is ‘0013’ before her console explodes and her brain is destroyed.

It’s not over yet, however, because the house starts rumbling and falling apart. The trio barely escapes before the entire house collapses in on itself and sinks beneath the quicksand. 007 believes she was trying one last time to kill them, but 009 believes she was trying to give herself a proper burial. I disagree with both of those theories, however. Considering there seems to be a running theme of ensuring there’s nothing left behind of the cyborgs when they get defeated, or at least assuring they die once they’re caught (The bodies of Plus and Minus were taken in by 0011 and got blown up when he blew up, 0011…well, blew up, Rakuda committed suicide and now 0012 destroyed and buried herself.) I think she was just following whatever orders she had in the case of defeat.

009 rushes off to find Kozumi while 007 and 4 go tell the others about what’s happening.

The final chapter, which is going to explore 0013, is only part of the chapter and only shows Joe chasing after Dr. Kozumi while he runs alongside a train.

———————————–

And that was volume two! Admittedly, I am a tiny bit disappointed at how quickly we’re introduced to 0010 Plus and Minus and 0011 only to have them be knocked off rather quickly, but they were memorable in their own right. 0012 was really cool, even though the design makes no sense if you think about it for longer than a few seconds. Now all I can think about is a murder house floating around in space.

Think about how much money they had to have put in 0012. And now think about a show on HGTV that could’ve been made on her construction.

“Now, this is going to be the room that fills up with acid, so we’re gonna knock down these walls here and bring in some super strong steel walls. These are vulnerable to blasts from super guns, but we had to follow budget. A great aesthetic choice the homeowner made here was this exploding chandelier. But it’s also a bit of a money sink for obvious reasons. Really ties the room together, though. We’ve already lost a few workers in the pit of spikes, but they all signed waivers before working, so it’s all good. And as we were putting the final touches on the brain room, we got an offer on the house from someone named John Kramer, who is quirky fella who signed his name with a drawing of a jigsaw puzzle piece. Weird.”

We also got a bit of a power upgrade with 001, a soon to be mostly forgotten power in 004, and it all culminates in the buildup to 0013, who is my favorite side character in the series.

Overall, though, a lot of fun, some really cool action and quite a few funny moments with GB (007). Here’s looking forward to discussing volume three!


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

The Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: Manga (1964) Volume 1

I love Shotaro Ishinomori’s works, but the one that has stayed close to my heart over the years is Cyborg 009. I first remember watching the 2001 series on Toonami way back in the day, and I was very disappointed when the series just kinda stopped. Only half of the series got dubbed, so I was left without any resolution until years down the line when I was able to find a subbed version of the entire series.

Years later, I was happy to see new Cyborg 009 anime being made, but I noticed that Cyborg 009 still stands as one of those franchises that people just don’t seem to talk about very much, even when new stuff comes out. Kamen Rider is by far the more popular Ishinomori title, and that’s very fair. I enjoyed what I read of the manga, but it’s just disappointing that Cyborg 009 doesn’t get nearly the same level of recognition.

So I decided that I’d got back and review all that I could of Cyborg 009 to celebrate the vast series that Ishinomori literally died writing. We’ll explore the characters in all of their various incarnations, talk about some of the topics they address, and even discuss some of the more problematic aspects of the series. Granted, I wasn’t able to get my hands on every single thing Cyborg 009 related, in fact some of it is impossible get right now, but we’ll address that way down the line.

With that, let’s start with the first volume of the Cyborg 009 manga.

——————————–

Starting off, you’ll first take notice of Ishinomori’s art style. It’s a bit weird, but it’s also really unique and I love it. It’s goofy and cartoony while also being very stylized and interesting to look at. It reminds me a bit of old cartoons from the 20s and 30s. I especially love when he decides to get into more detail, particularly during scenes that are meant to be threatening and imposing. Don’t get fooled by his goofy cartoony style – he can strike fear and dread into your heart with a single page if he wants to, and he has a lot of talent in realism.

The first chapter sets the stage of our story in the midst of the cold war. A bunch of rich guys are having a meeting with Skull (Who will be known as Scar in the TokyoPop version – which is weird because he doesn’t have a scar…or if he does, we never see it because we never see his face. I’ll be referring to him as Skull though. Also, in nearly every incarnation they call him THE Black Ghost too, but it’s too confusing with the organization being given the same name.), the always imposing leader of the evil organization Black Ghost, which acts as our main antagonist for a long, long time. All of these guys are war mongerers, but they constantly fear that war will become a thing of the past and they won’t have anything to profit off of in the future.

However, Skull offers a proposition. They will perpetuate war and even bring it to outer space by creating cybernetic beings. They will be enhanced for combat, be modified to survive intense environments and follow the whims of their respective governments. Mass produced, they can make millions if not billions of dollars selling them en masse to every major super power in the world.

The rich guys all jump on the idea, and thus the 00 (Pronounced Zero-Zero) Cyborg project was born.

It’s actually a bit scary how much this plot still applies to real life. I mean, we’re not making cyborg soldiers or anything, but there are people who believe war is necessary for both the profit of greedy rich assholes and furthering science. I can’t even believe I have to say this, but the concept of war in space is also one that keeps getting thrown around, no matter if it’s jokingly or otherwise. Unless we’re in the process of developing mobile suits or X-Wings, I don’t want to hear it.

They needed a diverse set of people to experiment on and make a set of prototypes before mass producing the cyborgs, so Black Ghost sent out individuals to kidnap good candidates from across the globe.

This is another reason why Cyborg 009 appealed to me – it has one of the most diverse casts I’ve ever seen in an anime/manga. Each cyborg is from a different part of the globe. 001 is from Russia, 002 is from New York (and is Italian-American, but that doesn’t really come up much), 003 is from France, 004 is from Germany, 005 is Native American, 006 is Chinese, 007 is British, 008 is African and 009 is mixed-race Japanese.

That being said…bear in mind…..this IS a manga from the 1960s….and….uhm….Well…..Let’s just cut to the chase – racism’s here.

Pyunma (008) is the most egregious example of this manga showing its age BADLY. Actually, scratch that, any black person in this manga is problematic because, I’ll just go ahead and say it, it’s very blackface-y. Pure coal-black skin, little ball nose and massive lips all around. The first time we see Pyunma, he’s on a ship that’s delivering slaves and then basically gets saved from slavery to be enslaved by different people.

It should be noted that Pyunma is one of the first ever main characters in manga to be black, which is cool, but that doesn’t change the problems here. He is given several redesigns over time (like many of the characters) and looks so much better later. However, it did take quite a while for these changes to take place. In some versions of the early anime adaptations, even after some tweaks to his design, he still holds some racist qualities in his appearance (IE the large lips are still present in the 2001 anime, even if they’re toned down). He doesn’t really lose those all of those features until the most recent entries in the series.

Chang Changku doesn’t fare much better in the design department. Even in the 2001 anime, he has eyes so squinty that they pretty much don’t even exist. They’re just little shapes like backwards 3s.

Geronimo Junior, the Native American, is referred to as an Indian. Geronimo is down on his luck because he finds it difficult to get a job with people discriminating against Native Americans. His own design doesn’t help much because he fits the stereotype of the large stoic Native American man. He bumps into a producer who offers him a job – a very degrading role playing a caricature of a Native American chief in a folk dancing show (but only after he makes a comment about not deserving a job because he’s a ‘filthy Indian.’) Geronimo, who is usually extremely gentle and quiet, socks him and yells at him for treating his culture and people like sideshow freaks, causing the man to run off – good riddance.

Here’s the thing, though. It’s clear that this manga aims to be open-minded and accepting of all races. Like I said, it definitely has the most diverse cast I’ve ever seen in a manga, and each character gets their own focus and plenty of character development. Joe is obviously the main character, the show’s named after him and all, but I don’t feel like the rest of the cast suffers too much in comparison overall (Barring one thing I’ll get to in a moment). They’re a team. They’re equals. They need each other. They’re a family. They love each other.

This is probably going to come off like I’m making excuses for him, but hear me out – Ishinomori’s art wasn’t just a product of the times, it was also a product of the location. Japan was very isolated from the rest of the world during the time in which he was writing this manga. Seeing people from other parts of the world was rare. At least Ishinomori made the effort to include so many people from various cultures, kept changing his designs in order to be more appropriate and he was open to listening to others about their suggestions. Took way too long to get to a truly comfortable place, but at least it was moving forward.

The entire team of cyborgs never once treats each other differently because of their races. One chapter in this very volume highlights that. Jet (002) points out that Joe (009) doesn’t look Japanese due to his brown hair, which makes Joe visibly upset because he’s always been treated differently and ostracized in Japan due to being mixed-race. However, the other cyborgs all comfort him and say they don’t care if he’s mixed race. Pyunma in particular says they’re all human – or cyborg anyway – and that makes them all brothers. In fact, they tell him he should be proud of his mixed race heritage because it’s a symbol of erosion of the borders between nations and races.

In this group filled with people from every corner of the planet is the one place that Joe finally felt like he belonged.

Racism does pop up numerous times over the course of this series, but never once is it an issue among the cyborgs themselves, as far as I can remember – barring one. The gang that Jet’s crew fights in the manga, the Sharks, is made up of Puerto Ricans, and his fellow gang members throw out a lot of racist comments. One of his gang members even calls the leader a slur. Jet doesn’t say anything racist towards them, but he does accidentally kill the rival gang leader in a knife fight. Jet’s gang and Jet himself are obviously shown to be the ones in the wrong here since they were antagonizing the Sharks, but that doesn’t change what Jet did nor does it change the fact that, in the past, Jet was racist. As the previous scene I discussed shows, however, it’s quite apparent that he is no longer as such. In a weird way, becoming a 00 cyborg made Jet more accepting and caring as a person.

(Pre-posting edit because reasons: So apparently TokyoPop (The version available on Comixology, which is where I got my copy) made some alterations to the script that actually made this scene seem more racist than it originally was….which…uhm….Why? Why did they do that?

Here’s an excerpt from the Cyborg 009 Wiki on the matter:

“Much of the dialogue in Jet’s origin was altered, with one particular example being during the switchblade fight. In the original script, the other Jet gang members chant “Hey, hey!” “Get him!”, cheering Jet on. In Wellman’s script, they instead shout “Let’s go, spic!” and “We got enough of youse PRs!”, with their dialogue now aimed at the Shark leader. This had lead to misconception of the chapter promoting racism (though the Jets are still meant to be racist and discriminatory in the original text, just less blatant and without slur usage).”

So uhm, yeah. Thanks TokyoPop for being racist and making me write more than I had to. Appreciate it, ya dillweeds.)

Likewise, I never once felt like any of the characters acted in a manner that was particularly stereotypical of their race. The only three I’d ding in that regard is probably Geromino, Jet for being an impulsive thug sometimes and Francoise (003) for being…..*sigh* The Girl ™.

Look, as much as I love this series for its diverse cast and stories, they kinda dropped the ball with 003. She literally is just the girl ™. The only girl, mind you. The love interest for the main hero. The caretaker. The support. Her role 90% of the time is to sense things and babysit 001, who, despite his immense knowledge, is still just a baby that needs to be carried around and fed. 003 is consistently the only character in the cyborg team that gets treated differently within the group because of what she was born as, and that just sucks so much I can’t even begin to tell you.

Granted, she’s generally still treated as a fellow cyborg, and she does fight when needed. She’s pretty brave and sympathetic, but she’s consistently the one they need to protect, the one that gets the most questionable comments thrown her way, she’s the most pacifistic of them all and her main cybernetic enhancements are purely meant for support (Enhanced senses, x-ray vision etc.) Her profiles even describe has as being physically the weakest and slowest cyborg, even though she does have superhuman capabilities in that regard. Her support abilities are invaluable to their battles, don’t get me wrong, and depending on the version she does get improvements to her abilities and more to do, but that doesn’t change the fact that she’s still the typical girl role of support.

Speaking of characters, we’re soon introduced to our 00 cyborgs one by one.

First up is 001 – Ivan Whiskey.

He has what could be considered the most tragic backstory of all the main cyborgs. His father was a scientist named Gamo who aimed to unlock the hidden potential in the human brain, and he used his son as the main test subject for these experiments. He secretly performed brain surgery on Ivan while his wife, Erika, was away, but she came back unexpectedly. She was horrified at what Gamo was doing and threatened to call the cops, but Gamo, unwilling to give up his scientific advances, hit Erika over the head with a wrench and killed her. The Black Ghost operatives, who seem to have the best timing ever, arrive on scene and offer Gamo a cushy spot on their team of scientists while Ivan gets recruited into the 00 cyborg project.

Ivan’s case is considered one of the most tragic not just for these reasons, but also the repercussions his cyborg nature will have on him in the future. Ivan will never be able to grow up. He’ll forever be more or less reliant on others to care for him in some way, and he’ll never be able to mature or grow as a normal person would. Everyone else is either a teenager or a full adult, even though they can no longer grow either. They can’t have families or find romantic partners outside of their own group (which is why Francoise is the center of a love triangle between Joe and Jet sometimes.) but they can find romance sometimes and lead somewhat normal lives when all of the fighting is over, albeit temporarily. Ivan can’t.

Ivan is later given the nickname ‘The Brain’ or ‘The Electronic Brain’ because he’s the smartest one of their group, their main strategist, and his powers are all in psychic based like telepathy, telekinesis, teleportation and hypnosis.

Next up is 002 – Jet Link. His name is Jet. And later we’ll learn that, because of his flight capabilities, they granted him the “nickname” ‘The Jet.’ In conclusion, his name is Jet. Also, TokyoPop made a flub in the translation and made it seem like even his gang was called ‘The Jets’ which really just seems egotistical of Jet. It’s pretty funny.

Jet was the leader of a gang in New York (and, oddly, the first panel of them shows them dancing in the streets. Jet’s story is based on West Side Story, so maybe that’s a throwback, but it’s really weird given the context.) who started a fight with a rival gang, The Sharks. While having a switchblade fight with the leader of the Sharks, Jet accidentally drove the leader’s own knife into his stomach and killed him. The cops have the best response time ever and immediately drive over as soon as the dude hits the ground, so everyone runs away. Jet bumps into the Black Ghost operatives who claim they’re on his side and want to help him, so they make off with him.

Given the moniker 002, Jet is outfitted with an accelerator and boosters in his feet that allow him to fly at speeds up to mach 5.

003 – Francoise Arnoul, has the funniest backstory. She was just randomly kidnapped. No real reason, just eh, she’s there and she lives in a boarding house so she won’t be missed I guess. That’s not the funny part, though.

Her brother, Jean, who was in the air force, comes home right as it’s happening and we get a very, very long, drawn out comedy sketch where her brother takes various modes of transportation to chase the car in which she was kidnapped, crashes them one by one and then just steals something else to continue. He calls a cop over at first…to steal his bike. Then he crashes it. Then he steals a motorcycle and promptly crashes it into a car, so he steals the car. Then he crashes the car because the Black Ghost guys shoot out his tires. They leave in a plane, so he steals a plane, but the plane is extremely low on gas so he’s forced to bail out before he gets far, allowing the plane to crash somewhere nearby.

And that’s it. She’s gone, and Jean doesn’t pop up much after that. Wow.

As I’ve mentioned, 003 is outfitted with extremely powerful senses such as telescopic vision, x-ray vision and enhanced hearing. She’s also the only one of the group besides 009 to not get a nickname for some reason. I am forever sad that this series predated MASH by so many years, because it was a missed opportunity to call her Radar.

004 – Albert Heinrich has what I would consider the very close second most tragic backstory of the group, and he remains my favorite character of the lot (002 being, fittingly enough, my second favorite, and 007 being my third.) Living in post WWII East Berlin, Germany, Albert longed for a better life with his fiance, Hilda, so he concocted a plan to smuggle them out across the Berlin Wall. Granted, this incarnation’s version of events is a bit goofy, but still.

In pretty much all versions, he tries to smuggle them out by pretending to be a truck driver delivering some goods, but in this version the ‘goods’ are a pair of lions for a zoo. The reason this is kinda goofy is because he dresses up Hilda in a lion costume….And somehow that works.

They’re found out either way and endure a hail of gunfire. Albert crashes the truck and is distraught to find Hilda dead on the ground. Albert himself has suffered many horrible wounds both from the crash and the bullets, but Black Ghost operatives, again having just the best of timing, covertly take him away acting as if they’re going to find him medical care.

Albert’s wounds are so extensive that he winds up being the most mechanical of all the cyborgs with basically only his head being left intact. His entire body has been made into a weapon. He has an electromagnetic knife in his left hand, a machine gun in each finger on his right, and missiles in each knee. He also supposedly has a nuclear bomb in his body, but whether or not that’s true has never been revealed.

I’ve already pretty much explained Geronimo Junior/005’s backstory. The only thing I really left out was that Black Ghost arrives right after he punches the jerk and they offer him a ‘job’ which is obviously just a trick to get him to come with them. However, when they tell him the job is a bit far from home, he tells them they have no home anymore – he just goes wherever he can.

He’s later granted incredible levels of physical strength and durability. He frequently acts as a shield and protector to the other cyborgs when they’re being overrun by an enemy. He’s also given the nickname of ‘The Iron Man.’ I should mention that these nicknames don’t really stick. I was actually a little surprised to go back and read this volume, because I really didn’t remember any of them having nicknames. I remembered 006 being referred to as The Mole once or twice in other adaptations, and 004 mentioned he’s been called The God of Death or The Angel of Death, but that was about it.

Chang Changku or 006 was a struggling pig farmer in China. His farm was failing, he was starving, the last pig he had was too thin, he couldn’t keep up with taxes, he was completely broke, and finally he was driven to suicide. The super timing of the Black Ghost operatives stepped in, however, and shot the rope he was about to hang himself from. They just grabbed him and threw him in the car after that.

He’s been given the nickname ‘Mole’ because he can shoot intense flames from his mouth. The flames get so hot that they can easily melt rock, allowing him to tunnel underground easily. He’s also immune to pretty much all intensities of heat. Outside of 007, Chang is the most lighthearted of the group, typically focusing on cooking when they’re not in the heat of battle (haha, I make puns.) He’s also close friends with 007, and they make a really good comedy duo.

Speaking of 007, GB or Great Britain (His real name is unknown – Great Britain is his stage name) was a struggling actor who basically became a drunkard staggering around in the streets just looking for cigarettes or booze. Black Ghost simply threw a bottle of booze into their car and he jumped in after it, which makes this the second funny backstory to the cyborgs.

007 was granted the ability to change his form into anything he wished. (He couldn’t transform his clothes at this point, so he has to take them off every time he transformed in the early days of the manga.) He was also given the nickname of the ‘Chameleon.’

008 or Pyunma was one of many Africans set on a plane bound for an unknown destination to become slaves. He managed to escape his captors, but was cornered. He begged for his life, and the Black Ghost operatives shot them. Pyunma was very thankful for them saving his life, but they just put a gun in his face and forced him to come along with them anyway.

008 has, arguably, the least impressive powers. He can breathe underwater (Which is a power also given to 009) and withstand high levels of underwater pressure. He also has incredible swimming abilities and propellers in his feet to make him go faster underwater, making him their best sea-faring fighter. These abilities do come in handy more often than in most shows that have a water-based heroes because their base is an island and they travel most frequently via a submarine,

Granted, his skills as a freedom fighter (which we’ll explore later) give him an edge in combat on land, but, objectively, he kinda got screwed in the cyborg powers department considering most of the cyborgs can fight just fine in the water.

His nickname is ‘Merman’ for obvious reasons.

Finally, we’ve reached the titular character of Cyborg 009, Joe Shimamura.

As we’ve discussed, Joe was always treated differently because of his mixed-race heritage. He was orphaned at birth, and when he was old enough to work he quickly ended up in juvenile hall for reasons not given. He, along with another two boys, tried to escape the facility, but one of the boys ended up getting caught, though Joe tried to save him, and the other boy seemingly died from falling off of a cliff. Black Ghost operatives then captured Joe.

Now, something we need to address with Joe is that he has a tad bit of the ‘Main character/leader of the team gets the best stuff’ trope going on. He is told by 001 that they may be great, but 009 is top of the line. Since he was the last one built, he basically has the capability to do everything they can do, which is objectively false, but Joe does have, by far, the most amount of powers and abilities.

His main claim to fame is his speed. Joe has an accelerator switch in his molar that allows him to move so fast that time slows down and sometimes comes to a near halt when the switch is activated. However, even his main power was one adapted by an earlier cyborg. Jet also has an accelerator, but it’s not nearly as powerful as Joe’s.

In addition to that, though, he can also breathe underwater, is nearly as durable and physically strong as 005, has some heightened senses like night vision, an increased sense of smell and electromagnetic detection like 003 (Though why, of all things, give him heightened sense of smell but not sight or hearing?), heightened memory capability, a built-in language translator and even the ability to transmit messages in Morse code. He doesn’t have fire breathing powers, shapeshifting, built-in weapons or psychic powers, but he does have quite the collection.

He’s also noted as being the best pilot on the team. In the first volume, even though he’s never piloted a plane before and is scared out of his mind, he’s able to do incredibly impressive maneuvers, defeat the enemies and land safely.

I just find his situation to be a little silly. Why is 009 the only one who gets powers from previous cyborg models? Wouldn’t they do that with all of them? Why is 008 so blah if he was the cyborg that came directly before 009? Why would they not also include some of the most powerful abilities in the group – especially 001 considering he’s a damn near demi-god.

Yes, as impressive as 009 is, there’s no denying that 001 is just flatout more powerful. The only reason 001 isn’t more of a deus ex machina in the series (even though, trust me, he is definitely a big deus ex machina) is because his psychic powers wear him down so much, being a baby, that he needs near constant sleep. But if they put those powers in the body of an adult and gave them better energy output, he’d be unstoppable. They specifically recruited the guy who made 001’s powers possible, so there’s really no excuse why he’s the only one they allowed to have psychic capabilities.

Either way, Joe gets the best stuff, barring the god-like psychic powers, just cuz. He’s also the leader just cuz. It definitely doesn’t make him OP or anything, but it kinda rubs me the wrong way that there are numerous instances of ‘yeah Joe has that, but better.’ Like 002 was attacked by a Hydra V that pierced his skin with a tranquilizer, but 009 was developed after they created artificial skin to protect against those kinds of assaults so he could get through it just fine, but 002 was downed. Even though, you’d think flying unprotected at speeds upward of mach 5 would warrant some reinforced skin.

Once 009 is complete, he is awakened by the telepathic messages of 001 telling him to run. He is currently undergoing a field test by Black Ghost who are throwing robots, tanks, and fighter planes at 009 to test his combat prowess. With the guidance of 001, he passes with flying colors. The Black Ghost scientists introduce the 00 cyborgs that preceded 009 to him, but SURPRISE, this was actually a staged coups. The cyborgs have brandished some laser rifles and are rebelling against their creators.

They take Dr. Gilmore as a ‘hostage’ and convince 009 to join them. Black Ghost obviously isn’t going to let them go without a fight, however. They want to take them alive because they don’t want to destroy their hard work and valuable assets, but they are prepared to destroy them because allowing their technology and plans to leak to the general public is considered worse than simply losing the cyborgs they have.

It turns out Dr. Gilmore was actually the one who organized this rebellion and breakout in the first place. He felt guilty for all of the terrible acts he had partaken in, so he vowed to free all of the cyborgs and help them with any other troubles they may experience as a result of their augmentation or Black Ghost.

The rest of the volume is them trying to escape from the nearly endless onslaught of attacks from Black Ghost, who are utilizing drone planes, spy robots that take the forms of bats and dolphins, dinosaur-esque attack robots, tanks, massive mechs, submarines, soldiers, basically anything that they can throw at the cyborgs, they are. That’s another thing I really love about this series – there’s such a wide array of various enemies to fight that each have their own powers and abilities and they take on so many forms.

It’s a really cool display of all the cyborgs’ abilities, too. I especially enjoyed 005 just smashing up tanks like they were made of Legos. We may get reminded here and there that Joe is the most advanced 00 cyborg, but all of the characters get a good amount of time to shine in their own regard. Even though I may rag on 003 for being support and not doing much in actual combat, like I said, she is invaluable to their battles and strategies. Without her, they’d be dead.

Now they’ve commandeered a submarine and are trying to infiltrate Black Ghost’s base to try and take it out from the inside.

———————————–

And that was volume one. Phew, that was really a lot to go over, but we had to discuss the fundamentals before we could properly carry on into the rest of the series. Subsequent volume reviews should be shorter.

Overall, this was a really great introduction to all of the cast, their backstories and how they became the legendary 00 Cyborgs. Of course, it’s not perfect for all of the reasons I already explained, but it has really interesting characters, fun art, exciting battles, and even commentary on issues that are still very much relevant today, even if some of the specifics are very outdated. It sets the stage quite well for what’s to come and leaves you wanting more.

At the end of the day, I’m really glad I started this project, and I hope everyone has just as much fun along with me as we examine the rest of the franchise (As much as we can anyway.)

Also, I apologize in advance for flip-flopping over and over between the characters’ 00 numbers and their actual names. It’s a bad habit I got into a long time ago, and I have no idea why I do it.

Recommended Audience: Errrrrrrr…..Well…..Comixology lists this as being for ages 12+, but then again they also put that same rating on frickin’ Tokyo Mew Mew and that’s just…strange. I’d say that rating is much more fitting for Cyborg 009 than TMM. Is this one of those situations where they mis-rate anime and manga just because it’s anime or manga? This volume alone has death, murder, some blood, hinted suicide, racist overtones, alcohol….there’s not really sex or nudity I guess, so there’s that. Sure, let’s give it a 12+


If you enjoy my work and would like to help support my blog, please consider donating at my Ko-Fi page. Thank you! ♥

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com