The Amazing 3
|The Amazing 3|
The cover for "Amazing Three" volume 3 from the Osamu Tezuka Manga Complete Works edition.
|Written by||Osamu Tezuka|
|Magazine||Weekly Shōnen Sunday|
|Original run||30 May 1965 – 8 May 1966|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Taku Sugiyama|
|Original run||6 June 1965 – 27 June 1966|
The Amazing 3, known in Japan as W3 or Wonder 3 (ワンダー3 Wandā Surī?), is an Osamu Tezuka manga and a black and white anime series from the 1960s. It involves the adventures of three agents from outer space who are sent to Earth to determine whether the planet, a potential threat to the universe, should be destroyed. The agents (Captain Bokko, Nokko, and Pukko) are originally humanoid in appearance, but upon arrival on Earth they take on the appearances of a rabbit (Bokko), a horse (Nokko), and a duck (Pukko) that they had captured as examples of Earth life forms. While on Earth they travel in a tire-shaped vehicle capable of enormous speeds called the Big Wheel, which can travel on both land and water (and, with modifications, through the air).
The series was first released in manga print format in Japan in 1965, and then spawned a Japanese anime television version, with different stories. This version was then dubbed in English and released in the United States, with a different theme song, as well as different closing and opening elements. The American version was also aired in Australia in 1969, and in Spanish-speaking countries as Los tres espaciales. The Japanese anime version was first released on DVD in 2002, and then a full 10-DVD set in 2005.
The series tackles a number of issues which were surprisingly progressive for an animated cartoon of that period; particularly ecological concerns and poverty.
In the final episode of the series the decision is made by the galactic council that mankind is irredeemable and that the Earth is to be destroyed. Although Pukko is in favor of this as much as ever, Bokko puts off the order as long as possible, and eventually decides to disobey the council's decision. However, prior to Bokko's decision to disobey her orders, Shinichi is appalled at the likelihood that his friends would obey the order and runs to Koichi to ask Phoenix to intervene.
Although dozens of Phoenix agents fight the Amazing 3 in their saucer, they are unable to destroy it, and Shinichi appeals to Bokko, Nokko, and Pukko to take him back to their home planet to plead Earth's case. During the trip Bokko, Nokko, and Pukko revert to their humanoid forms for the first time, much to the surprise of Shinichi, who had never seen their true appearances before (perhaps not clearly, anyway - he had also seen them through the window of their saucer in the first episode, though it's suggested in the episode that he could only see their silhouettes).
Shinichi is particularly surprised by Bokko's beauty in her actual form. A3 are presented to the galactic council on charges of disobeying orders. Shinichi is given a chance to plead Earth's case and the council offers him the opportunity to stay on their planet with all the rights and privileges of other citizens. Shinichi becomes angry and attacks a guard, thus proving mankind's inherently violent nature to many there.
The order is given to wipe out Shinichi's memories, but before this can be done Bokko pleads for him to be released, and for the Earth to be given more time to develop. The council eventually decides to return A3 to the Earth and re-examine the matter when Shinichi reaches adulthood.
Upon their return to Earth Pukko is ashamed of his attitude toward humans before that point, Shinichi is reunited with Koichi, and Bokko is transformed by Nokko and Pukko into an Earth girl so she'll have a chance to be with Shinichi as the human girl she really wants to be - for a short time, anyway. The closing shot of the series is of the now-human Bokko walking towards Shinichi's home to find him.
Bokko is the cute one, and the brains of the group. She is capable of great powers of hypnosis, has extremely sensitive hearing, and can also control the inner workings of machines by pressing her ears against them. She likes humans and sees no need to destroy the planet because of the actions of a few bad eggs. Despite the fact that in her humanoid form she is somewhat older than Shinichi (their human friend who is probably in his early teens, while she is probably in her 20s), and the fact that she's a rabbit in her animal form, her feelings for Shinichi are considerably more than platonic. Her deepest desire is to be an Earth girl so she can be with Shinichi.
Nokko is capable of creating inventions incredibly quickly, and is extremely fast and strong in his horse appearance. Nokko would also prefer to see the Earth not destroyed - largely because he likes the food. He has a girlfriend named Felina who is also a member of the Galactic Patrol. She is seen once in the series when sent to Earth on a mission and takes on the form of a cat.
Pukko is a curmudgeon with an occasional heart of gold, can generate shockwaves with his wings, and is also quite a capable guitarist. He is also quite a bit stronger than his duck appearance would suggest. However, he is the member of the Amazing 3 who is most in favor of destroying the Earth, and this increasingly brings him into conflict with Bokko as the series progresses, also criticizing her for her feelings regarding Shinichi (it's implied on occasion that he harbors his own feelings for Bokko). Pukko has what appears to be either a haircut or wig that resembles that worn by The Beatles or Moe Howard from The Three Stooges; probably added by Tezuka due to The Beatles' enormous popularity in Japan at the time.
Bokko, Nokko, and Pukko are all conversant in Japanese - and apparently English - and can also talk to other animals. They also possess a gun called the time reversal gun. It can be used to reverse the flow of time in a small area.
An Earth boy named Shinichi Hoshi (named after Tezuka's longtime friend, the Japanese science fiction writer Shinichi Hoshi) becomes their ally throughout the series. He is the only person who knows what they really are, or that they can talk. Shinichi's girlfriend Kanoko also figures prominently in the manga, but is absent from the anime; possibly because her presence would have detracted from Tezuka's plan for the ending of the series.
Koichi Hoshi, Shinichi's older brother, is a secret agent for an organization called Phoenix, whose cover is a manga artist. His primary adversary is Interspy, though he also fights against others as well. He sometimes uses guns, but primarily relies on martial arts, and his watch, which contains a small hammer and chain, a radar, and a flashlight, which can also be used as a beam to blind his opponents. His pipe also contains a smoke gas which can conceal his whereabouts. Within Phoenix he is known as Agent P77. Koichi joined Phoenix in order to avenge the death of a friend (who had previously been Agent P77) who had been killed by Interspy. The policy of Phoenix is to avoid violence when possible, but recognizes that it's sometimes unavoidable.
Three other characters who show up regularly in both the manga and anime are Shinichi and Koichi's mother and father, who operate a small hotel. Their mother is a heavyset woman, and their father is something of a milquetoast who is domineered by their mother. The third major supporting character is the mysterious M, the head of Phoenix and the person from whom Koichi takes his orders. Only the back of his head is ever seen.
- 01. Three Beings from Outer Space
- 02. Evacuation in 24 Hours
- 03. The Mystery of Shangri-La
- 04. Camphor Tree Story
- 05. The Floating Fortress
- 06. Zoo on a Skyscraper
- 07. The Queen of Siva
- 08. Phantom of the Circus
- 09. Sun, Don't Set
- 10. The Mummy Factory
- 11. The Duel in the North Valley
- 12. Mole Plan
- 13. The Iron-Eating Fish
- 14. Fort of the Wild Dogs
- 15. Sacrifice is Not Allowed
- 16. My Name is X
- 17. Black Extract
- 18. Explode the Barn
- 19. The Phoenix Story
- 20. The Mad Target
- 21. Adventure in the Volcano
- 22. The Dangerous Stage
- 23. Duel in the Storm
- 24. The Mysterious Inventor
- 25. The Deadly Auto Race
- 26. The Trans Ocean Tunnel
- 27. Invitation of the Diamonds
- 28. Valley of the Thunderbolt
- 29. A Day Blotted Out
- 30. The Penguin Campaign
- 31. Something Very Strange
- 32. The Kiddie Battle
- 33. Four Witches
- 34. The Snow Fairy
- 35. The One-Eyed Gray Wolf
- 36. The Pledge in the Jungle
- 37. The Mystery of the Amazon
- 38. The Horrifying Skiing Competition
- 39. The Hero in the Desert
- 40. The Secret of the Grand Piano
- 41. Jump out, Pukko!
- 42. The Wonder 3 Go West
- 43. Mice from the Universe
- 44. The Moving Buddha
- 45. The Satellite Swag
- 46. The Alligator Incident
- 47. The Mexican Bandits
- 48. Adventures on a Balloon
- 49. The Smog Missile
- 50. Beat Them with the Strange Machine
- 51. The Underground Whale
- 52. Goodbye, Wonder 3
In the American version of the series (released in syndication through Erika Productions in 1967), Bokko's name was changed to Bonnie. Nokko became Ronnie, Pukko became Zero, Shinichi was renamed Kenny Carter, and Koichi was given the name Randy.
Japanese voice actors
- Bokko: Shiraishi Fuyumi
- Nokko: Kojima Yasuo
- Pukko: Chikaishi Shinsuke
- Shinichi: Sawada Kazuko
- Koichi: Kanauchi Yoshio
- Shinichi's and Koichi's mother: Sakurai Ryoko
American voice actors
Differences between the manga and anime
The premise of both the manga and the anime was the same, and the characters looked nearly identical in both, but the stories differed greatly. Stories which appeared in the manga were not used again for the anime - and vice-versa. In addition, the manga version has Shinichi's schoolfriends and teachers playing more of a role than they would in the anime.
Unlike Astro Boy, where the opening theme music was the same in both the Japanese and American versions (with only the lyrics changed), the Japanese and American versions of The Amazing 3 had different theme music, as well as considerably different opening and closing segments. The American version borrowed part of its melody from the Japanese version, but any similarities ended there. The Japanese theme (sung by a group called Vocal Shop) was considerably more playful and complex than the American version.
The lyrics (by Don Muller) for the American version are as follows:
Space men with a missionAmazing Three...
You must make a very big decision
With your solar bomb you could destroy us
Or save the world...
Or save the world...
Space men must be wise men
Strange in human eyes, you'll be disguised then
Bonnie Bunny, Pony Ronny laughed when
Zero had no luck
And became a duck...
Space men with a mission
They must make a very big decision
Earth boy Kenny Carter knows their secret
Away they go
To meet the foe
This series was the first Tezuka production in which Tezuka adopted a method of animation which had long been used by Disney and Warner Brothers in which each animator was responsible for drawing a single character instead of the team of animators each taking a piece of a show and drawing everything.
In the pilot for the series a few characters looked slightly different. Bokko's appearance was more rabbit-like and less feminine, and she didn't yet have the black tips on her ears, or the tuft of black hair on her head. Pukko didn't have his Beatle haircut. And Koichi looked much the same, but his face was altered slightly for the series. The pilot for the series is largely the same as the first episode - and some footage was reused for the first episode - but differs in a few respects; mostly with regards to how Bokko, Nokko, and Pukko first meet Shinichi. It is also only about 15 minutes long, and ends with Koichi's discovery of a hidden base, which isn't part of the first episode.
There was a brief report from the 2000 Anime Expo in Anaheim, California that Studio Pierrot and a newer company called Digital Manga were considering the idea of teaming up and producing a new version of the series to be streamed on the internet. However, it appears that the project never got past the initial design stage.
The Japanese version of this series was first released on DVD in Japan in two volumes in 2002 and 2003, which are now out of print. A complete single-volume 10-DVD set was released in 2005. A lower priced (¥15,000) 10-DVD set was released for a limited time in 2008 in honor of what would have been Tezuka's 80th birthday. Though the negatives for the series were damaged in a warehouse flood, the episodes on the Japanese DVDs were taken from the best existing sources.
The American (English-dubbed) films are rumored to have been either lost or destroyed, so an official DVD release in the United States seems unlikely, though bootlegs of varying quality exist which were taken from videotaped 1975 KCOP broadcasts of the series using an early pre-Betamax home video recorder, the Sanyo V-Cord. Approximately half of the series' episodes exist in this format.
The English-dubbed version of the series also aired on Australia's Channel 9 beginning in 1969, so the possibility exists that English dubs of the series might be found there.
The series is also known to have been dubbed in Spanish and broadcast in Spanish-speaking countries as Los tres espaciales.
The complete Japanese-language manga is available in two volumes. A late '70s three volume set can also sometimes be found. The manga has never been officially released in English, but the scanlator group "twopioneers" released a scanlation of Volume 1 of the manga on August 9, 2011, and a scanlation of Volume 2 of the manga on September 17, 2011.
Anime Sols is currently crowdfunding the streaming of the official English-subbed version of the show. 
- A talking duck with an alarming similarity to Pukko also made a brief appearance in Episode 26 of Astro Boy (1980). The story also brought together an adult version of Princess Sapphire with alternative versions of Black Jack and Pinoko. The episode was notable for being Black Jack's first televised appearance and for bringing an unofficial close to the Princess Knight saga (although how Pukko ended up in 15th Century Europe is anyone's guess).
- Bokko, Nokko, and Pukko make a cameo appearance in the 2004 game Astro Boy: Omega Factor game created for the Game Boy Advance, along with a number of other characters created by Osamu Tezuka.