Thunderbirds 2086 title card
(Scientific Rescue Team Techno Voyager)
|Anime television series|
|Original run||17 April 1982 – 11 September 1982|
Thunderbirds 2086 (科学救助隊テクノボイジャー Kagaku Kyūjo Tai Tekunoboijā?, Scientific Rescue Team TechnoVoyager) is a Japanese anime series loosely inspired by the original Gerry Anderson Supermarionation series Thunderbirds. The series was dubbed in English by ITC Entertainment, the original company who produced Thunderbirds, but is not officially recognised as part of Thunderbirds canon, due to the non-involvement of either Gerry or Sylvia Anderson. In addition to the English dub, the series contains music and sound effects from Anderson's series Stingray, Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons, Joe 90, UFO and Space:1999. A total of 24 episodes were produced, but only 18 were shown on Fuji TV in 1982.
The series takes place in 2086, (with the dub setting being roughly twenty years after the original series with other dates seen on screen) and chronicles the adventures of TechnoVoyager (literally, "TechnoBoyger", a portmanteau of "Techno", "Boy", and "Voyager") a rescue team portrayed in the dub as the "Thunderbirds" working for the International Rescue Organisation (in the Japanese version, the two entities are one and the same). Unlike the original International Rescue, which was small-scale and family-run, TechnoVoyager is a vast organisation comprising numerous branches and overseen by the Federation, this series' equivalent of the United Nations. Although the dub is called Thunderbirds 2086, the Tracy family, who ran IR in the original series, are not mentioned. In the dub, the Thunderbirds name is used to refer to the team, while in the original series the name merely referred to their vehicles. The animated series otherwise has notable similarities to the original, with most episodes revolving around a natural or man-made disaster which the TechnoVoyager/Thunderbirds team must investigate and help resolve. Unlike the original series, Thunderbirds 2086 also has an on-going story arc, like many Japanese anime series. This one revolves around a breakaway independence group known as the Shadow Axis, led by the mysterious Star Crusher. There is a heavy intimation in the series that Star Crusher is not human and may be some kind of alien entity.
Similar to the original show, the team's headquarters is an island in the Pacific. Its main building is a huge pyramid containing an entire city inside. It is known as the Arcology. Like the original International Rescue, a space station in orbit is maintained to monitor mayday calls. TB-6 is the space station in this series, similar in concept to Thunderbird 5. Both the Arcology and TB6 are home to many thousands of people.
Vehicles and characters
There are 17 vehicles, each with a different purpose and specialty. The craft are referred to using abbreviated designations containing "TB" (originally standing for "TechnoBoyger", the literal Japanese romanization of "TechnoVoyager"; in the dub, it is portrayed as standing for "Thunderbird"), such as TB-1, TB-2, etc. Oddly, the introductory dialogue in the dub describes the characters as cadets, while all of the episodes give their rank as Captain (although Gran Hanson is the senior captain in charge of the group).
The vehicles are
- TB-1/Thunderbird 1, an aircraft similar in design to the space shuttle. It is capable of space flight and can combine with Thunderbirds 2 and 3 to form a larger vessel. It is piloted by Captain Dylan Beyda.
- TB-2/Thunderbird 2, a large cargo hauler identical in purpose to the original series' Thunderbird 2, although it is blue rather than green and stores the smaller interchangeable vehicles inside its cargo bay rather than through the use of hangar pods. TB-2 has space flight capabilities and is piloted by Captain Jesse Rigel (Eric Jones in the Japanese version) and Captain Jonathon Jordan Jnr (Sammy Edkins Jnr).
- TB-3/Thunderbird 3 is an APC-like mobile command center used to monitor situations on the ground. It can split in half and merge with TB-1 and TB-2 for transportation to remote parts of the world. It is piloted by Captain Grant Hanson (same name in the Japanese version, but without the "t"), the oldest and most senior-ranking of the Thunderbirds.
- TB-4/Thunderbird 4 is a yellow submarine like its original series counterpart but much larger. It is too large to be carried by TB-2 and usually makes its way to the disaster area after being directly launched from the Arcology. It is piloted by Captain Kallan James (Catharine Heyward in the original), the only female crew member of the Thunderbirds team.
- TB-5/Thunderbird 5 is a large ground-tunneling vehicle which is reminiscent of the original series' pod vehicle known as the Mole. However, TB-5 is much larger. It is carried into missions by TB-2.
- TB-6/Thunderbird 6 is the largest Thunderbird, a massive space station which serves a similar purpose to the original series' Thunderbird 5. TB-6 is manned by hundreds if not thousands of IRO personnel and is described as a floating city.
- TB-7 and TB-8/Thunderbirds 7 and 8 are fast interceptor aircraft which can be stored either inside TB-1 or TB-2 and used as drones. The only difference between them is that TB-8 has VTOL capability.
- TB-9/Thunderbird 9 is a walker-robot used for repair and upgrade work. It is always carried by another craft.
- TB-10/Thunderbird 10 is an exceptionally fast spacecraft which can reach speeds of over Mach 176 and is used for rapid travel from Earth to other planets.
- TB-11/Thunderbird 11 is an armored high-speed ground vehicle carried aboard TB-3. Although never shown or referenced in the show, it is shown in the 1983 Thunderbirds 2086 annual.
- TB-12/Thunderbird 12 is a bulldozer-like vehicle which can move extremely heavy weights.
- TB-13/Thunderbird 13 is a smaller submarine which is carried inside TB-4 and deployed to reach places too small for TB-4 to travel.
- TB-14/Thunderbird 14 never appears but is referenced in one episode. It is a deep-water bathysphere capable of traveling far below crush depth.
- TB-15 and TB-16/Thunderbirds 15 and 16 are small tracked vehicles stored inside TB-3 and apparently capable of drone operation. TB-15 is virtually identical to the original series' Mole and is essentially a much smaller version of TB-5. TB-16 is a reconnaissance and scout vehicle.
- TB-17/Thunderbird 17 is a huge spacecraft which is bigger than any other Thunderbird bar only TB-6, where it spends most of its time docked. TB-17 is used for extended operations away from Earth and can store all of the other Thunderbirds (apart from TB-6) inside it.
Commander Jared Simpson (same name in the original) is the commanding officer of the team and gives the heroes their missions. He is the "Jeff Tracy" figure of the animated series. He has a nephew, Skipper Simpson (Paul in the Japanese original), a young boy who idolizes the Thunderbirds and hopes to one day join their ranks.
Oddly, for an organisation numbering in the thousands, the same five-person team is always dispatched to the danger zones.
- The Complete Gerry Anderson - The Authorised Episode Guide, Chris Bentley, (Reynolds and Hearn, 2005, 2006 and 2008 editions)
- Thunderbirds 2086 (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- Thunderbirds 2086 at the Internet Movie Database
- Thunderbirds 2086 at TV.com