Bigger Than Big: Gigantor on DVD


Whether or not you’ve actually seen Gigantor before, undoubtedly you’ve either heard or hummed his theme song at one point or another.  Everyone with me now: Bigger than big, taller than taller, quicker than quick, stronger than strong! If you ask me, those are some damn good qualifications for being an awesome giant robot.  In a time when terminators and transformers explode across our 100 feet theater screens, it might be easy to forget about our first gigantic Japanese import – but never fear for the big guy is here on DVD.

gigantorFinally collected and put out are the first 26 episodes of the series, in their original intended order.  Always nice when the cards line up, I say.  For those of you unfamiliar, Gigantor is a giant freaking robot created by the awesomely named Dr. Bob Brilliant to fight against monsters, robots, and terrorists.  In creating this unstoppable smashing machine, fully equipped with built in rockets, Dr. Brilliant did the most sane and logical thing – wired control of the machine to a unit that was no more advanced than an Atari-2600 controller and entrusted it to ace pilot 12 year old boy, Jimmy Sparks.

Historically, Gigantor is important in that it was really the second bit of anime to come out of Japan after Astro Boy and the first to feature what would become the staple of Japanese entertainment for years to come – giant robots.  The animation is of the time and as such mostly simple.  Some scenes just have action lines moving, or a characters mouth, or Gigantor’s rockets firing.  If you’re looking for some fast paced action robot slap-up, you’ve dialed into the wrong robot.  If, however, you are looking for classic animation that mixes the delightfully cheesy with a significant dose of cartoon history, Gigantor will punch his way into your heart.

Here is the official line on what the DVD Collector’s Set contains:

Enlightening extras include an in-depth interview and audio commentary on select episodes with director/producer/writer Ladd, and an interview with anime historian Fred Patten from Animation World magazine.  In addition, this deluxe set features special DVD-ROM content – issues 1-6 of the Gigantor comic book series from Ben Dunn and Antarctic Press, published in 2000.  The 4-disc set also includes a 16-page collectible booklet with a brief history of the series, episode summaries as well as rare archival press materials/photos.

That doesn’t mention the main selling point for all you fans – 26 uncut black and white episodes digitally transferred from the 16mm original.  You’re simply not going to find most of this stuff anywhere ever, but if you did, it’s not going to look as good as it does now.  If you’ve never watched Gigantor before, you might not be won over by the plain animation but the chance to see something of historic significance should prove enough to offset that initial hesitation.  Plus there are episodes like Robot Olympics or Battle at the Bottom of the World which features a submarine disguised as a whale.  Yeah.

For being campy and light hearted fun, the show gets itself a solid:

Grade: B

While this DVD collection, for its small collection of extras but great transfer of the original material gets:

Grade: B+

More to Read: