Cyborg 009 Full Review Project Archive Post

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Manga

1964 Manga

Volume 1

Volume 2

Volume 3

Volume 4

Volume 5

Volume 6

God’s War Manga (2012)

Anime Series

1968 Anime Series

1979 Anime Series

2001 Anime Series

OVA

Cyborg 009 vs. Devilman

Movies

1966 Movie

1967 Movie – Monster Wars

1980 Movie – Legend of the Super Galaxy

2012 Movie – Re: Cyborg 009

2016 Movie Trilogy – Call of Justice Parts 1-3

Novel

Kanketsuhen (God’s War – First Version)

Video Games

Mega-CD/Sega CD (1993)

Super Famicom/Super Nintendo (1994)

Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: Manga (1964) Volume 6

Hey look at this creepy-ass statue.

Cyborg 009 Manga Volume 6 Screen1

Just thought I’d scare you all before the review started because I love you.

In the shadows of Mt. Olympus, a sheep herder tries to corral a black sheep who is running off and causing trouble. He always was the black sheep of the family……..:D

Anyway, the poor sheep ends up getting killed by a centaur after getting pelted in the head with a rock. Yes, this is still Cyborg 009 I’m reading. The centaur claims the poor sheep as a sacrifice to the gods and runs off.

The farmer’s family doesn’t believe his story that a monster stole his sheep, so he’s left outside without dinner.

In the actual first chapter, we see a bunch of centaurs and mythological creatures, known as the Mythos Cyborgs, eating the poor sheep. The one who did the killing is Centaurus D, and he’s being chewed out for it by a panther-esque cyborg named Achilles. D broke the rules that their leader, Dr. Uranus, gave them about not allowing humans to see their true forms, but D whines because he wanted wine and meat at their banquet….which was really just a normal meeting.

The fiery Apollo (who has a really awesome flying horse-drawn carriage) arrives with Dr. Uranus (who looks like a man-poodle) and Dr. Gaia. They convey the news that their Vietnamese Cyborgman cell has been defeated by the 00 Cyborgs. Despite these cyborgs being made in an earlier phase of the Black Ghost cyborg project, they have proved to be formidable foes due to their teamwork and unity, which, notably, the Mythos Cyborgs seem to lack.

Back at, I think, still Vietnam, Francoise tries to find a moment of peace, but her powers keep allowing her to see and hear the fighting and killing that’s going on all around her. I do feel bad for her in circumstances like this. She already has to experience more killing and destruction than all of the other cyborgs, and now she’s in a warzone and can’t get a moment’s reprieve from it.

Cyborg 009 Manga Volume 6 Screen2

Jet is all fixed up with a new leg, which allows him to now exceed mach 5 speed. Back in the lab, we see Gilmore also improving G. Junior. While he states he can’t give the cyborgs more abilities than what they were initially given (This will later prove to be false, but just go with it.) he can enhance their current powers with the technology they obtained. 005 now has the strength of a thousand men and can crush steel into powder.

Gilmore plans on upgrading all of the cyborgs to help their fight against Black Ghost, but Francoise is having none of it. She hates the powers she already has – it’d be a nightmare for her to have even more enhanced senses. She also detests the idea of the upgrades because it pulls them further away from their humanity. She storms out of the room, and Dr. Gilmore criticizes her for not being able to see the big picture – allowing her sensitivity to cloud her judgment. They’re the only line of defense against Black Ghost, and they need to be in top shape to stop them.

I do get where Gilmore is coming from, but he should also see her side of it. Everyone else’s upgrades only better their lives, like 002 will be faster and 005 will be stronger. 003’s may make her more effective in battle, but it’d only make her suffer more in the down time.

They suddenly get a transmission from Gaia and Uranus telling Gilmore and the cyborgs to meet them on Magma Island in two weeks to either surrender themselves or die trying to fight. If they don’t come in two weeks, they’ll come for them and leave a trail of destruction in their wake.

Dr. Uranus begins to sympathize with Gilmore for a second and even suggests he and his team might win, which angers Gaia. Uranus claims it was all a ploy to manipulate Gilmore’s nobility against him, but Gaia thinks he’s being too soft and his views will lead to their downfall.

He’s so distrusting of Uranus’ methods that he recruits D to go off to the 00 Cyborgs’ location right then and take them out….Really? You’re confident with that? You think one man-horse, who isn’t even worthy of getting a real name, can take out the entire 00 Cyborg group?….Good luck, dude.

Pan, the little half-goat boy who can’t really speak, learns of Gaia’s plans and alerts Uranus and the rest of the group. Apollo rushes after D and takes him down. Back on shore, Uranus and Gaia chew each other out. Gaia believes Uranus’ method is needlessly risky and they should sneak attack them instead (Well….then why send them a transmission in the first place?) but Uranus believes he can resolve this entire situation without bloodshed.

After the fight, Gaia again sneaks off with D and decides to upgrade him with some new weapons before sending him off again. Pan, again, hears of this but Gaia tries to buy him off with a sweet egg.

Pan goes back to the other cyborgs to tell them. They whisper some plan, but when Pan tries to get Helena’s attention to join in, she just puts a ribbon on his horn and praises him for keeping them updated on Gaia.

Cyborg 009 Manga Volume 6 Screen3

Chapter 23 is about the 00 Cyborgs’ journey to Magma Island. It’s chaos everywhere as American subs, Soviet subs and even the currents and falling debris get in their way. They don’t have a choice but to go through all of these hazards because they only have three days left on the deadline given by Dr. Gaia. It’s a pretty tense sequence, full of action and suspense, and WOOK AT IVAN’S WITTLE DUCKY BASSINET! WOOK AT IT! IT’S SO KYOOTT!

Cyborg 009 Manga Volume 6 Screen4

….*cough* Moving on.

The Soviet and American subs destroy each other in the chaos, and the cyborgs just barely manage to get through the falling debris field by the skin of their teeth. I love how 008 and 009 manage to outsmart Gilmore briefly during the escape.

After they reach shore, their battle begins immediately. 009 grabs Pan and tries to pluck his horn off in order to stop him from transmitting data to the Mythos Cyborgs’ base, but 003 stops him since the horn is connected to his brain, and removing it might kill him.

003, 007 and 009 face off against Hippo Man (That’s literally his name. He’s never given an actual name. I also don’t know what Greek myth he’s meant to represent. There are no hippos in Greek mythology as far as I know. There’s a Hippocampus, which is a half-horse half-fish creature, but this is literally a hippo….with a tutu on…who has stretchy arms and powerful breath. He kinda sticks out like a sore thumb.) 007 takes the reigns in this fight and manages to defeat him. He also takes on Hippo Man’s identity to help infiltrate the island.

Achilles arrives with an army of panthers that have accelerator switches. 009 takes this match, but he starts getting overwhelmed by the panthers. Achilles waits until 009 is exhausted from finally managing to defeat the panthers to take his opportunity to strike.

Achilles also has an accelerator and a shield which amplifies reflected sun rays so strongly that it can melt rock. 009 has a lot of difficulty with him, and he’s cornered when Achilles takes 003 hostage because tropes. It seems like the jig is up until Pan, who has taken a shine to 003, bites Achilles’ ankle and gets him away from 003.

It seems like Achilles is getting back into the battle, but when he tries to accelerate, he ends up spinning in such a violent fashion that it results in his death. Turns out Black Ghost gave Achilles the most ridiculously obvious weakness he could possibly have – his heels.

He actually has one accelerator in each heel. When Pan bit his foot, it broke one of his accelerators, so his attempt to accelerate with the other one caused him to spin around at a literal breakneck speed. What exactly happened with Achilles’ design? Every other cyborg with an accelerator switch has only needed one, and if one of them failing can result in a fatal accident, why would you even consider giving him two?

It seems like Pan is an ally now, and they come up with a plan to pretend 003 is a hostage while Pan and 007 (disguised as Hippo Man) bring her in.

Cyborg 009 Manga Volume 6 Screen5

Centaur K had overheard their plans, but 009 was able to kill him before he could relay the information. Standing behind him is a shocked Helena.

Helena calls her giant mechanical wooden horse to fight 009. It is a rather impressive robot with a targeting system, laser eyes, spikes, jets and even the ability to split in two, grab cyborgs through a powerful magnet and then squish them by reassembling.

However, disappointingly, Helena shows absolutely none of her own powers during this battle – and even more depressingly, she doesn’t actually seem to have any powers…..which just begs the question….what the hell is the point of Helena? (Is that a pun?….Pun intended if pun.) I don’t really mean that in a character sense, though that’s debatable. I mean in a cyborg sense. Why did Black Ghost make her? Any of the other Mythos Cyborgs could have piloted that horse….or, since it’s a robot, they could have had it be autonomous. 0013 was in a similar situation, but at least he had powers on his own and wasn’t reliant entirely on his robot.

Anyhoo, 009 manages to corner her in the horse and uses a special gas in his blaster to paralyze her. He blows up the horse and leaves Helena on the ground outside, sparing her life.

Back with 003, Pan and 007, their infiltration plan is going over well, though Gaia is very suspicious of 007 in his Hippo Man disguise once he gets word of K’s death and Helena’s Trojan horse defeat. He doesn’t trust that this hippo in a tutu managed to capture a 00 Cyborg. No clue why. Seems legit to me.

His suspicions only grow worse when his spy seagull (…..spygull) spots 009 skulking around outside. Uranus catches onto 007’s disguise, but chooses to not say anything. Gaia tells Uranus to put 003 in an electromagnetic prison while they handle 009, but he doesn’t trust him so he spies on him with a little trained/robot (?) mouse that he calls….Mighty Mouse.

Good taste in cartoons, bro.

Once they’re alone, Uranus ousts 007 and discusses their situation. It seems like he might be on their side, but he pulls out a blaster on them – not out of true malice, but because the Mythos Cyborgs are like children to him, like the 00 Cyborgs are to Gilmore. 003 manages to get through to him, though, when she points out that Gaia doesn’t trust him and is currently spying on him with a mouse.

Pan and a newly transformed Cat!007 give chase, which basically turns into a very long Tom and Jerry skit that runs throughout the following battle.

009 comes face to face with Apollo, and we get this odd exchange where he acknowledges that 009 is a 00 Cyborg, asks his name, and when he hears it’s 009 he….asks if he’s from the 00 series….???

They start their match, and quickly end up in a blaster standoff. Finding the match boring and without a point since they’d both kill each other this way, Apollo proposes to ditch their blasters and fight only using their cyborg abilities to determine which one of them is the supreme being.

Apollo goes all Human Torch on us, and it’s just awesome. He has always been one of my favorite cyborgs because he is such a cool and scary son of a bitch. The fact that he gets his own flying chariot is already major cool points, but the guy is living fire. He can reach temperatures as hot as the sun, he can melt anything he wants instantly with a point of his finger, and he’s obviously a huge threat to any cyborg (Hm…except maybe 006?) because he can melt them in seconds.

009 gives him a bit of a run for his money, but Apollo shoots him three times in the back with his heat beams and sends 009 careening into the rocky waters below.

Believing he has won, Apollo leaves, but we see Helena in the cliffside deciding to rescue 009 since he showed her mercy when no one else did. Once she gains 009’s trust, he tells her where their sub is so he can get patched up. However, they’re being tailed by a spy dolphin.

As 003, 007, Pan and Dr. Uranus are being held captive by Dr. Gaia, Helena reaches the sub with 009 to get him medical attention. 008 sends 006 off to destroy the spy dolphins before they relay their location back to the Mythos Cyborgs, but Atlas suddenly appears and starts an assault on their sub. Will they be trampled by the metal Goliath? How will the 00 Cyborgs get themselves out of this mess?

—————————–

This volume was a really great introduction to the Mythos Cyborgs, who were always some of my favorite cyborgs in the franchise. However, I do have to note that some of them are disappointing in design. Why even bother with weak and lame cyborgs like Centaurus and Hippo Man when you’ve already made so many impressive cyborgs that are much more powerful? Why make Helena so unimpressive and force her to just be a pilot to a secondary robot? And while Achilles was awesome in concept, the fact that he had such a peculiar and flawed accelerator setup when it’s been perfected and then some throughout the other cyborg designs is just baffling.

The story as a whole is very intriguing because Uranus kinda mirrors Gilmore in that he loves his cyborg team like family and wants to help them but, unlike Gilmore, he still holds a loyalty to Black Ghost. Likewise, many members of the Mythos crew seem like they’re decent people but they also embrace their roles as soldiers of Black Ghost. Pan in particular is a cute little dude. You can tell he wants to be loyal to his comrades, but they also treat him poorly – even Helena – while 003 was nice to him from the beginning and respected his abilities.

The battles were exciting and memorable, and I look forward to covering the conclusion of this arc.

Next Volume….

….Previous Volume


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Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: Manga (1964) Volume 5

We are in the throes of the Vietnam arc, and what an awesome yet depressing arc this is. When we last left our heroes, it seemed that Black Ghost was perpetuating conflict in Vietnam by giving an insanely technologically advanced tank, known as a Black Monster, to the Viet Cong, piloted by a mysterious man in black that we now learn is known as Cyborgman.

The horrible realities of war unfold all around us as the 00 Cyborgs, starting with 009, 007 and 004 combat the Cyborgman and his incredible tank. As they struggle with its power, the entire Viet Cong unit that had owned the tank gets blown away by an enemy air raid. They’re able to outwit the Cyborgman and destroy the Black Monster, but there’s a problem. It seems Cyborgman is more of a title, and he’s merely number eight in a line of many copies.

Not only that, but there are just as many Black Monsters around, each with unique designs and powers, and several of them have been ‘gifted’ to the Americans and the South Vietnamese to make the fighting even more intense.

A girl named Ran attempts to infiltrate a South Vietnamese camp dressed as a boy to find her brother. She’s about to be killed by them when 009, 4 and 7 save her, but are subsequently taken prisoner. They learn that both of her parents are dead and that her brother is her only family, but he disappeared some time ago. She had feared he was dead, but then she heard that he had joined the Viet Cong so she went off to look for him.

Turns out, one of the Cyborgmen, number eleven, was her brother. Black Ghost had kidnapped him and turned him into a cyborg. Her brother recognized Ran and turned against his allies, destroying several of them with their tanks. However, he felt he couldn’t go back with his sister. He was ashamed of what he had turned into and couldn’t face her anymore. In order to atone for what he did and destroy one more weapon of war, Ran’s brother bid his sister farewell and self-destructed the tank.

The trio then tried to bring Ran back to a peaceful village, but she revealed the harsh truth of the situation to them – there are no peaceful villages in the area anymore. Their entire country is wrought with war and killing. She has nowhere to go and no one to turn to.

As they try to flee, they’re pursued by robotic snakes that shoot lasers from their heads. They can slither around on the ground and in water and even burrow underground. The snakes are all really a part of the main body of another tank with another Cyborgman intent on killing them. Luckily, 003 and 006 manage to save them by digging a tunnel underneath their location before they were hit with the tank’s missiles. 002 is with them, fighting the tank and the robotic snakes in the air.

He’s giving the Cyborgman a run for his money, but with one massive surge of lasers from the main pod of the tank body, 002’s leg is shot off and he’s downed. Being a cyborg, such a wound is not immediately fatal, but Jet’s still in rough shape. His nutrition pipe and energy pipe have been severed. Proper circulation needs to be reestablished or else Jet may die.

They run into another legion of soldiers (They never specify which side they’re on, though they do mention Americans are their enemies, so that implies North Vietnamese/Viet Cong.) Ran tries to reason with them, but the second commander, Ga Diem, isn’t going to hear any of it. He believes they’re Americans with a unit that shot down one of their ally planes. He smacks Ran away and is about to kill them, but their elderly main commander arrives to spare them. He at least wants to hear them out, so he brings them to their base.

Everything above ground at their base is merely set dressing. These people actually live in a series of tunnels underground. The 00 Cyborgs relay their story about Black Ghost and the Cyborgmen, but Ga Diem shrugs it off as being ridiculous. The main commander, however, believes them, but he can’t assist them since he doesn’t know where the Cyborgmen’s base is.

It’s clear that Ga Diem does know, but he’s zipped up tight and acting ignorant. They leave the cyborgs alone for the night to rest, but Ga Diem puts heavy security on them. Jet is in really rough shape and is quickly deteriorating. They have to get him back to the sub so Dr. Gilmore can treat him, but they’re essentially trapped.

Oh and after this point Ran just kinda vanishes. We don’t even see her arriving at the village. I guess we’re to assume that she takes up shelter in their village, but her future still doesn’t look too bright.

In order to investigate and get Jet to some medical attention, they use 006’s fire abilities to tunnel out. GB transforms into a tiger to tail Ga Diem (but doesn’t realize that they hunt tigers in Vietnam) and Joe runs off with Jet to rush to the sub as quickly as possible.

GB manages to infiltrate the Cyborgmen hideout by posing as Ga Diem, Joe and Jet make it to the sub, but 004, 006 and 003 are cornered by the soldiers again and taken prisoner after the reveal that Ga Diem is a traitor.

Once Gilmore looks over Jet, he claims he can save him, but in order to do it properly he needs advanced equipment that only Black Ghost would have. Joe heads to find the Cyborgmen lair in order to search for adequate parts.

Meanwhile, GB is found out by the Cyborgman #1. 007 makes a valiant effort to fight him, even showing off his true ‘Chameleon’ skills by changing his colors to blend in with the machinery, but the Cyborgman has an ace up his sleeve – an electric field that shocks everything in the room. 007 gets downed, but the Cyborgman is unharmed thanks to his suit. He locks up 007 and puts a helmet on him that makes him unable to communicate through radio transmissions.

Back with 003, 006 and 004, the robotic snakes find them again at the village and strike. They burrow away from the robots by using 006’s fire, but they’re incredibly persistent. What’s worse is that they can’t burrow any further due to a pocket of poison gas and molten magma resting right below their location.

009 shows up and saves them from the snakes, but scouting bats tell them that the Cyborgman has 007. They rush to the Cyborgman’s location to save 007, viciously pursued by Cyborgmen, the Black Monsters and fighter planes the whole way. Eventually, it just turns into a ‘009’s the main character so let him defeat everything’ fest. Even 004 points out that 009’s a ‘glory hog.’ Narratively speaking, he does have a point. While 003 and 006 have been very useful on a support level, 004, 007 and 002 keep getting cucked while 009 is able to do most of the heavy lifting.

004 does some stuff, but it’s not that impressive. 007 tries to infiltrate enemy lines three times and ends up getting found out three times – one of those leading to his capture. 002 gets a bit of a cool mid-air fight, but gets his leg shot off and spends the rest of the volume in critical condition. Don’t even talk to me about 008 and 005 who basically aren’t in this volume at all. They stay back on the sub and have barely a few lines between them. Gilmore does more than they do. Are they just meant to guard the sub? Why are they not participating at all? Wouldn’t 008 be particularly useful in this situation, being a resistance fighter back home?

009, however, defeats many of the enemies and saves many people with his acceleration powers. He even gets one really awesome scene where he throws Ran up into the air and defeats a bunch of enemies while in acceleration mode and then catches her after he’s done.

It’s quite odd, too. It seemed for the longest time that Black Ghost thought the acceleration switch was the bees’ knees. They were putting it in every subsequent 00 Cyborg after 009, but once they started work on the Cyborgmen they just thought, what, that it’d be better to not put the acceleration switch in any of them or the Black Monsters and give them a massive tube on their faces as an obvious weak point?

When they arrive at the hideout, 007 is able to warn 009 and the others about the trap the Cyborgman has laid since he accidentally broke the helmet while punching 007 in the face. 009 rescues 007, but 004 tells 009 to step aside so he can take out the Cyborgman on his own. In a literal western-esque shootout, 004 does manage to take down the Cyborgman in one shot. Way to take back the badass reins, Albert.

With all the tech in the hideout, they’ve got everything they need to help 002. And thus our volume ends.

lighten up Ishinomori

Ah, I’m just kidding. I fight pain with humor.

—————————————–

Anyhoo, that was the Vietnam arc, and while it is quite depressing with, by far, the biggest body count of any Cyborg 009 story yet….it’s…kinda to be expected. It is the Vietnam war. Ishinomori was never really shy about his anti-war sentiments, and it really shines through here. Several moments throughout the volume are dedicated to highlighting the harsh realities of war both for the soldiers and the innocents who are caught in the crossfire.

That’s why I wish Ran hadn’t been completely removed from the story once they reached the camp. She had a decent story from an everyday villager perspective, but she’s just kinda forgotten about. She said herself that there was no safe place with the war going on, and even the camp proved to be a dangerous place with the robot snakes popping in, so we’re pretty much just left to assume Ran will live in fear and pain alone for however long until the war is over, and even that’s no guarantee. Which, when you think about it, is even more of a realistic slap in the face. Still, I wish she hadn’t just been abandoned like that.

Though we don’t get a lot of time with him, #11 (Ran’s brother)’s situation was equally sad. Immediately after losing his parents, he’s kidnapped by Black Ghost and turned into a cyborg who is forced to partake in the same war that took his parents’ lives while acknowledging that, even if he did escape, he’d never be able to live a normal life with his sister again. Then he turns on his comrades and kills himself all for his sister.

Then you have the soldiers casually discussing what BS it is that they have to fight in this war. One even mentions that he was a simple farmer before all this and that he detests having to kill and bloody his hands for politicians who can’t and wouldn’t take up arms themselves.

Also, make no mistake, the 00 Cyborgs didn’t end the Vietnam war or anything – they just destroyed everything that Black Ghost injected into it.

Back to the 00 Cyborgs, what a blow 002 took, eh? I remember gasping when that first happened in the anime, even though I knew he was a cyborg so he’d probably be okay. Still, he is human, and such an injury can definitely be devastating.

Also, it was cool to see 007 show off a new power, even if it didn’t help him not get captured. The nickname thing is being brought up a little more than I first thought it was. A volume or two ago, 007 kept referring to 004 as ‘The God of Death’ and it was just weird. He did it like a slip up. “God of Death—err, I mean 004.” Who does that? Usually, it’s the opposite, and done in a sarcastic manner. Like “Albert—err I mean ‘God of Death’”

Next Volume….

…..Previous Volume


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Cyborg 009 Full Review Project: Manga (1964) Volume 4

Volume four starts with chapter fifteen – Empty War. Or as it’s known originally, Vacuum War – a change I’m perfectly okay with. I know the original title was meant to indicate the vacuum of space, but all I see when I hear that title is a bunch of Kirbys, Hoovers and Dirt Devils shooting each other on a bloodied battlefield. Plus, Empty War kinda sounds poetic.

This story is another one of the side stories from Separate Shonen King that ran while Cyborg 009 was being canceled from Weekly Shonen King.

We start with a plane being shot down by Black Ghost. In the debris, a robot is carrying an old man through the air, dodging the fire from the fighter planes and trying to keep him safe. He bumps into the submarine of the 00 Cyborgs, who offer him refuge from the Black Ghost planes. The robot’s name is JQ and he was designed by Dr. Yamazaki, the old man being rescued from the plane.

Yamazaki was originally an engineer at Black Ghost, but when he realized the evils they were doing he wanted no part in it any longer. He remembered how Gilmore and the escaped cyborgs were fighting to take Black Ghost down, so he also decided to leave with JQ and fight for justice. However, Black Ghost quickly found him out and attacked his plane as he was leaving.

Yamazaki reveals the terrifying news that Black Ghost is setting to launch an armed satellite that will be utilized by the countries of the world to shoot missiles at any corner of the globe. It’s being completed today, and he needs their help to stop them.

JQ, 009, 004, 006, 008 and 003 head out to stop the last two rockets heading to the base. While they’re unable to stop one rocket, they do manage to board the second, but they’re forced to leave 004 and 008 behind.

Having hijacked the rocket, rather easily, actually, they get as much important information out of the pilots as possible. Their rocket is merely for transport and isn’t armed, meaning they can’t use it to attack the base. That’s not the worst part, though – apparently the satellite base is only one of two weapons bases Black Ghost has set up in space. Another has been built on the moon.

They plan to destroy the satellite base by setting their rocket to self-destruct at the exact moment it hits the atomic core of the base, which will cause a chain reaction and destroy everything. They’re able to pull this off, but the moon base is another issue. Black Ghost will be on full alert after the satellite explosion, and they don’t have much of a plan to destroy the base in the first place.

JQ heads off on his own to attack the missiles right next to the control dome while 009 takes care of the cyborgs and robots being sent to their location. After the battle, 009, 3 and 6 go to the base to see what happened with JQ and they find the place in ruins. While there are still some rockets and missiles left standing, the place is completely empty and the control dome has been destroyed. JQ blew up four of the missiles simultaneously with his arms and legs, which destroyed the area, but JQ did not survive the blast.

And uh….it’s actually really abrupt. 003 is like “He’s gone. I see pieces of him everywhere.” 006 says “Poor JQ!” 009 says “He will be missed.” then we get one more shot of the rockets and the chapter’s over. That’s pretty disrespectful of JQ. The dude died trying to save the world and then it’s like ‘Press F to pay respects.’ and we just move on.

Overall, though, I wish the ending was a bit cleaner, but I did enjoy this chapter. I liked JQ and Dr. Yamazaki. I actually felt really bad when JQ was killed. He was a very noble and loyal robot, and I kinda liked his dynamic with Yamazaki, but alas, being a side story character, he was destined to die.

Oh except when he came back as a completely new character in the next chapter – A New Type of Bomb (Thunder and Lightning) or The Bomb Model “Raiden”

This story is a Frankenstein’d from Vacuum War and The Man in the High Castle. Almost all of the artwork is just lifted from those chapters with new writing being put in place to make a new story. I can’t find a solid reason as to why this story is the way it is. The best I’ve gathered is that Ishinomori was unhappy with how these stories initially went, or at least he was unhappy with how Vacuum War ended, so he made this story out of recycled panels and dialogue, but it only came out a few months after Vacuum War and The Man in the High Castle, and those stories are perfectly fine, in my opinion anyway. What went so wrong that he felt compelled to go back and ‘fix’ them, but not even really fix them because he didn’t remake either story, he just stitched the two together? Also, if speculation is correct, he never considered this to be canon either, so why bother?

To make matters worse, this story’s existence and placement in the magazine and subsequent collections, like the one I’m reading right now, make everything extremely confusing as to the timeline, the canonicity of the stories, even in their own little side-collection of stories, and the status of 007.

This story starts off with a plane being shot down by Black Ghost fighter planes. We see a robot in disguise, C-11, who is totally not JQ with a darker head, introduce himself to Dr. Yamaz—Kaminari. C-11 was originally sent there to kill Kaminari, but he has defected from Black Ghost and plans to save him instead – and save him he does.

Meanwhile, on the Cyborgs’ submarine, they catch wind of the news of the attack while simultaneously getting the news that his granddaughter, the Prime Minister’s daughter from chapter fourtee—I mean not her – was kidnapped. He was working on a weapon called Thunder and Lightning which would send snowflake shaped nanomachines into the sky and explode. He didn’t work for Black Ghost, but they wanted his weapon, which he wouldn’t hand over. So, of course, they sent a killer robot to kill him in his plane while also planning on shooting down his plane, almost certainly killing him….WHILE kidnapping his granddaughter? Well, that’s doesn’t make any sense.

They do get information on the location of Black Ghost’s base from the recon dolphins they spot outside, but they don’t reuse the dolphin ‘torture’ scene from chapter fifteen.

The base infiltration scene is lifted entirely from Vacuum War, barring some new shots of 007 and 5. Then when we get outside, it’s back to chapter fourteen and now, despite being shown as an adult about a page prior, 007 is a child again because he was a child in chapter fourteen. Also, despite the fact that we were near Japan all of a page ago, we’re suddenly in some snowy tundra because that’s where we were in chapter fourteen. They explain away the snow by reminding us that the weapon he created uses nanomachines that, for some reason, look like snowflakes.

Also, somehow, despite escaping the planes and Black Ghost with C-11, Kaminari was captured off-screen, I guess?

We get a repeat of Lil’ 007 knocking some guy out as a snowman, and this entire fight scene was ripped from chapter fourteen. Because they’re recovering Kaminari here, they redraw the shot that was originally 002 giving 007 and 009 a lift over the electric barrier to showing 002 grabbing Kaminari and lifting him up.

One of the kidnappers activates the weapon, which causes the snow to explode….but I’m 99% certain it’s just repeat shots of the electric barrier from chapter fourteen.

Anyway, 007 had a growth spurt due to the weapon because he’s now back to being an adult again. Back on the sub – by the way, the other cyborgs saved his granddaughter off-panel – Kaminari explains that his prototype for the weapon wasn’t ready, but he knew he needed to deliver something to them or else they’d kill his granddaughter, so he loaded up the place with gunpowder and, when the snow exploded, so did the base.

009 tells him to use his brilliant intellect for good now, and the story ends.

….So…I had to go back and see what happened because the introduction scene is really confusing. I guess C-11 died in a missile explosion while trying to cause a distraction? They don’t really make it clear. There’s a final panel before we cut to the cyborgs where there’s a black blotch on the ocean floor and I honestly couldn’t tell if that was meant to be C-11’s body or part of it. Also, despite the pilot of one of the Black Ghost planes saying “He’s gone.” I guess that was when Kaminari was spotted by the Black Ghost planes, somehow, and taken away. How did they see him in that barrel? They couldn’t last time.

I don’t really get why Ishinomori made this story. If you ask me, it’s just a very sloppy retelling/chimera of two solid standalone stories. If Ishinomori really was unhappy about how Vacuum War ended, he should have just redone the story from scratch instead of making this because it almost feels like he missed a deadline and just threw this together. It’s not terrible, but I’d much rather take the other two stories on their own.

The next chapter, the 00 Cyborgs are attacked in their sub while Black Ghost utilizes all of their undersea friends – I mean fearsome creatures to attack them including their signature recon dolphins, swarms of regular fish, a manta ray with cameras for eyes, attack sharks, TIGER SHARK MISSILES which are exactly what you think they are, and a giant octopus which tries to crush their sub. I love this series with all my heart.

After 009, 008 and 005 take down the pursuing Black Ghost sub, with 009 hitching a ride on a sea turtle (How can you not love that imagery?) they chart a course for the Indo-China Peninsula because Gilmore had heard rumors that Black Ghost is funding a superhuman guerrilla unit for the Viet Cong in the civil war with Laos. They must head there, investigate and take down Black Ghost if they’re involved.

003 suddenly bursts out that she doesn’t want to go. She’s seen enough killing and destruction, and she wants it to end. Gilmore reminds her of the grim truth, however. They have to stop Black Ghost at all costs or else they’ll perpetuate war and bring about the destruction of the world. They’re the only ones who have a chance at taking them down.

But enough of that, it’s time to be attacked by an army of jellyfish and a plesiosaur! This crazy train ain’t stoppin’. The jellyfish are, somehow, draining all of the power from the sub. When 008 and 9 investigate, they spot a frickin’ plesiosaur who wants to destroy the sub among the mass of jellyfish.

009 gets attacked by the jellyfish, and all of his energy gets drained by them, but 008 saves him and returns him to the sub. 009 is okay, but they have to figure out how to get out of this jam……or jelly….fish. 😀

They decide to forcibly wake 001 up from his deep slumber, and he uses his psychic powers to power the sub manually and move the sub away from the jellyfish. However, the plesiosaur continues to pursue them. 005 decides to fight it, and he RIPS THE THING APART WITH HIS BARE HANDS. 005 needs more spotlight pronto.

They manage to get a sample from the plesiosaur and two of the jellyfish. After analyzing the jellyfish, Gilmore realizes that they weren’t modified by Black Ghost. Their insane power-draining abilities are a result of nuclear bomb tests performed underwater during the war. Realizing that war creates just as much suffering in the environment as it does in the lives of everyday people, the 00 Cyborgs reaffirm their resolve to stop Black Ghost and end war.

We then get a prologue that leads us into chapter eighteen. It philosophizes on the nature of man, violence and war while showing a depiction of war throughout history from the times of cavemen to the 20th century. It’s quite troubling, especially when Ishinomori starts showing images such as tanks driving right next to a dead body, someone running up to hug the body in despair and someone getting executed via firing squad. I was going to take a potshot at 003 for suddenly bursting out like that because I felt like it was another instance where she was just being ‘the girl’ of the group and getting overly emotional, wanting to quit, but after reading this section, I don’t think such a thing is warranted.

It is a little irritating that 003 was singled out for that scene, but I can completely understand why any of them would want to quit after everything they’ve seen, especially if no end seems to be in sight for them. And 003 does have to see and hear the horrible details of everything they go through. Many times, she has to sense things that the others can’t see or hear. In that regard, I feel pretty bad for her.

The prologue ends with us arriving in Vietnam – the US forces rolling up and destroying a bunch of stuff before one of the tanks gets destroyed by a strange man in a full-body black suit driving a weird black domed tank.

Chapter eighteen starts, and we get more backstory on the situation, questioning why the American troops were having such difficulty taking on the Viet Cong. It’s chalked up to either the Viet Cong using the confusing terrain to their advantage since American troops aren’t used to fighting in these dense jungles, the American troops being unable to discern between North and South Vietnamese people, which allowed the north to deceive them OR….Cyborgs, robots and super tanks that turn into robot spiders.

See what happens when you fall asleep in history class, kids? You miss all the cool robot spiders.

Anyway, it uses its buzzsaw arms, because, yes, it has those too, to cut a pathway through the jungle. And then it uses its suction cup feet to climb up a rockface.

This thing is really sick. Just look at the blueprints.

It’s awesome.

The man in black gives the tank to the leader of the Viet Cong unit without any compensation and leaves. Joe, GB and Albert are watching all of this from the shadows, but they suddenly trip a booby trap, and that’s where volume four ends.

——————————-

All in all….this volume was…okay. Forgive my lack of enthusiasm, but this volume just didn’t have a lot going for it. Most of it was filler a la forcibly included side stories. This doesn’t mean the stories were inherently bad just because they were filler – I quite enjoyed the story with JQ – but the second story was just a recycled confusing okay story at best.

The only true saving grace of this volume was the storyline with all of the awesome undersea creatures Black Ghost was utilizing – plus the super mutated jellyfish and the PLESIOSAUR, that weren’t even created by Black Ghost. That chapter was just buckets of fun, even if it ended on a downer note.

Right when we get back into the thick of things, the volume ends.

The volume wasn’t bad by any stretch, but it wasn’t quite as the same level as some of the previous volumes.

Next Volume…..

……Previous Volume


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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 his 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….

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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, and I am very aware the cast includes a literal baby. 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 whenever 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.

Next Volume…

…Previous Volume


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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 believed.

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 Black Ghost’s 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 ten 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!

Next Volume….

….Previous Volume


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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 go 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. (Update on this situation here.)

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 warmongers, 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 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 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 fiancé, 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 the captors. 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 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+

Next Volume….


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