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Cover of the first VHS volume
|Genre||Adventure, Comedy, Mecha|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Osamu Dezaki|
|Produced by||George Singer
|Written by||Barry Glasser|
|Music by||Yuji Ohno|
|Original run||September 8 – December 15, 1984|
Mighty Orbots (マイティ・オーボッツ?) is an American/Japanese Super robot animated series created in a joint collaboration of TMS Entertainment and Intermedia Entertainment in association with MGM/UA Television. It was directed by veteran anime director Osamu Dezaki and features character designs by Akio Sugino. The series aired from September 8, 1984 to December 15, 1984 on Saturday mornings in the United States on ABC and later on in Japan by Animax, totaling up to 13 episodes.
Mighty Orbots was developed from an idea pitched by Fred Silverman, possibly in response to the popularity of other robot-related properties such as Hasbro and Sunbow's Transformers. The original six-minute "pilot" featured a slightly different version of Might Orbots called Broots (pronounced "Brutes"). Rob and Ono looked similar to their 'finished' selves, though definitively more late 70s-like. The Orbots, while having the same names as in the finished product, are subtly different, and obviously unfinished. Even their combined form aka "Super-Broots" would go through some more developmental evolution before becoming Mighty Orbots. It was produced by Tokyo Movie Shinsha and Intermedia Entertainment in association with MGM/UA Television for both the United States for the television broadcast and Japan via home video. Unlike many other shows of its kind, Mighty Orbots was not simply a translated Japanese import. The series was directed by anime industry veteran Osamu Dezaki with storyboard work by Dezaki's brother Satoshi Dezaki, character designs by Akio Sugino, and animation by Shingo Araki.
The series lasted only a single season of thirteen episodes, mostly due to a lawsuit between the show's creators and toymaker Tonka, who accused them of basing the cartoon on their GoBots franchise (which was adapted from Bandai's Machine Robo line). The robot depicted in the show was virtually identical to the robot in the anime for Bandai's Godmars toy, although the colors were changed. However, the Godmars toy was not among the Bandai figures utilized by the GoBots line. The episodes aired on ABC and although some episodes were available on VHS, the series has yet to be released on DVD. Despite its short run, the series has a dedicated fan base today. The series' narration was done by voice-actor Gary Owens, who was the voice of Hanna-Barbera's Space Ghost in the 1960s and Dynomutt, Dog Wonder's human straight man Blue Falcon in the late 1970s.
The 23rd Century, the future is a time of robots and aliens. The people of Earth have banded together along with several other peaceful alien races to promote peace throughout the galaxy, forming the United Planets. As part of the United Planets, the Galactic Patrol — a body of law-enforcers — works to maintain order, under the leadership of Commander Rondu.
However, a powerful criminal organization called SHADOW is out to destroy both the Galactic Patrol and the U.P. Led by Umbra, a massive cyborg-computer, SHADOW employs sinister agents and incredible schemes to attack and someday rule over all corners of the known-galaxy.
There is one thing that helps to fight against SHADOW: ingenious inventor Rob Simmons — secretly a member of the Galactic Patrol — creates six special robots who can use their unique powers to battle against the forces of Umbra. Together, these robots can unite to form a giant robot called Mighty Orbots, to fight for truth, justice and peace for all.
Mighty Orbots is one of only a small number of Saturday morning cartoons to have a definite series finale: the final episode, "Invasion of the Shadow Star," ends with a sequence in which the SHADOW homeworld is destroyed and the arch-villain Umbra defeated "once and for all." This differs from most other animated series, where the villain always escaped to fight another day.
The show made use of many contemporary and older SF references. In the first episode, for example, after defeating the evil robot band the girls are off to see Disaster Area, which is playing on Mars, a reference to the band in Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy - they even use the phrase "Those guys are so hip, they're triple jointed" - an actual line from Hitchhiker's. The Dremloks in episode four are a nod to the Ewoks of Star Wars. Other episodes reference adamantium (from Marvel Comics). The series is set in the 23rd Century with Earth being the seat of the United Planets (Legion of Superheroes/Star Trek reference). The Galactic Patrol is run by aliens who look suspiciously like Vulcans (Star Trek reference). And of course the Orbots themselves (an anagram of robots) are essentially based on any number of Japanese robot series.
It is likely the idea of a galactic patrol and an evil head being (in this case an artificial intelligence) was lifted from E.E. Doc Smith's Lensmen series or more likely the Japanese animation adaptation of the books, "Lensman". The theme of "Invasion of the Shadow Star" is essentially the same as the invasion sequence in Lensman.
- Rob Simmons – A brilliant inventor and scientist, he is the creator of Mighty Orbots and as such is also a secret member of the Galactic Patrol. In general, he poses as a mild-mannered robotics engineer and tinkers in his own laboratory complex (in some unnamed location) on Earth, but when needed, he uses a transformation matrix to change his regular lab clothes – called an Omni-Suit – into the uniform and helmet of his alter-ego, the Orbots' Commander. It is by this alternate persona that the rest of the Galactic Patrol knows of him publicly, including Dia. Only Commander Rondu knows that the bespectacled Rob and the heroic Orbots' Commander are the same.
- Rob has curly blond hair and blue eyes. He can summon the Orbots from their recharge chambers with a remote signal from a device he wears on his wrist. He pilots the Beam Car; a special vehicle that acts as a "command center" when linked up within Mighty Orbots' core body. From there, he and Ohno can operate Mighty Orbots with maximum effectiveness in battle.
- Commander Rondu – The primary leader of the Galactic Patrol, Rondu is of a race of alien humanoids that somewhat resemble Earth humans (save he has slanted eyes and pointed ears, similar to archetypal fantasy elves; It could also be a reference to the Vulcan species from Star Trek). Rondu is a calm, wise leader and – as it appears throughout the series – has been in charge of the Galactic Patrol for many years. He serves along with his daughter, Dia, who serves as a senior officer. Only Rondu knows about the Orbots' Commander's secret identity, as well as the six robots (who are apparently also have a dual identity as well).
- Rondu has long silver-white hair and facial hair, and grey-white eyes. He exhibits formidable psionic powers; something that must be key to his race (since a space pirate named Shrike wanted to use his "unique life-force" to power a super-weapon in the episode "Raid on the Stellar Queen").
- Voiced by Don Messick
- Dia – A senior officer and agent of the Galactic Patrol, Dia serves under her father's command, and is considered one of the "top" agents on the force. She is a good starship pilot and warrior, but occasionally finds herself in jeopardy, needing to be rescued by Mighty Orbots. She has a fascination and apparent love-interest in the Orbots' Commander, but doesn't see his alter ego, Rob, as anything more than a good friend and fellow supporter for peace (she is unaware of the fact Rob and the Orbots' Commander are the same).
- Dia has long, silver-white hair and dark eyes. Aside from being highly skilled in fighting, acrobatics and flying ships, Dia often captures agents of SHADOW in a force-field projector stored in a wrist band on her left arm. It is never said if she possesses the same psionic powers her father does. It is hinted at in "Operation: Eclipse", however, when she volunteers to aid her father in mental battle with Dreneon, who is a member of the same race working for Shadow.
- Tor – A boastful, burly brute-sized male robot with a voice like Link Hogthrob, he is the strongest of the five team members. Although quite often portrayed as being a bit slow and with a very high opinion of himself, Tor had the ability to think on his feet during battles with SHADOW monsters and henchmen. Kind and supportive towards his friends although often with a good-naturedly egotistical macho attitude that annoys his female team mates, Tor sometimes is the de facto leader (when Rob – as the Orbots Commander – isn't leading them directly at the time), but he will take cues from the others when the situation merits it.
- Tor's primary colors are silver, red and blue. When forming the gestalt form of Mighty Orbots, Tor retracts his arms and legs into himself to form the central body and head.
- Bort – A gaunt-thin male robot with a nervous personality and a voice like Lou Costello, he is the one member of the team that is the most handy due having been built with quick-change circuits and other abilities that allow Bort to reconfigure himself into literally any machine or device he can think of. Often showing a lack of confidence in himself, Bort is portrayed as being clumsy, indecisive and self-depressive. Yet, when the chips are down, Bort always comes through in the clutch for his team.
- Bort's primary colors are silver and blue. When forming the gestalt form of Mighty Orbots, he retracts into a boxy unit that forms the lower right leg. While connected, he can use his quick-change circuits to modify the hands of Mighty Orbots into a variety of offensive and defensive weapons.
- Bo – One of the three female robot team members she is most outgoing, assertive and confident female on the team. Sometimes she likes to play practical jokes, but at times they can backfire (like when she removed Crunch's appetite chip, only to have it broken when they needed it in the episode "Trapped on The Prehistoric Planet"). She is a caring soul and will do what she can to support her team mates. She has the ability to manipulate the elements – fire, water, wind, etc. – to use in a myriad of offensive and defensive effects (whirlwinds, water geysers, etc.).
- Bo's primary colors are pale yellow and orange. When forming the gestalt form of Mighty Orbots, she transforms in the left arm, which forms a hand after it is connected to the main body. Through her connection, she can channel her elemental powers throughout the body of Mighty Orbots.
- Boo – The second female team member and twin sister to Bo, she is the shyest member of the team, yet she can prove to be as brave as her twin in combat, even standing up for herself and others (especially when Bo's pranks go too far). Boo has the ability to create and manipulate effects on light and energy that would appear to be "magic"; she can turn herself and others invisible, create force fields, levitate objects and even teleport. She can also channel energy to form optical illusions and holograms.
- Boo's primary colors are white and yellow. When forming the gestalt form of Mighty Orbots, she transforms into the right arm of the giant robot. Like Bo, she can channel her defensive abilities throughout the larger body, allowing it to benefit from all of her "magic" effects.
- Crunch – A stoutly robust (sic "chubby") male robot whose personality seems to be focused on one thing; simply put, Crunch loves to eat. His prime ability – coupled with his steel trap-like jaws and teeth – allows him to consume ANY materials available (metal, stone, glass, circuits, garbage, etc.) and digest it so it can be converted into energy. Often he's a subject of comic-relief due to his eating habits. Crunch seems simple-minded, but he does prove to have some brains, and is a good friend and a steadfast supportive personality.
- Crunch's primary colors are purple and black. When forming the gestalt form of Mighty Orbots, Crunch forms a boxy unit that forms the lower left leg. While connected, Crunch also serves as the back-up power source for the giant robot, and at times will detach so he can "chow down" on any available items to give his team mates a much-needed power boost.
- Ohno – The sixth robot of the team, so named for her propensity to exclaim "Oh no!" and quite possibly the most important of them all, Ohno resembles a small, female child in size and demeanor with the "mother hen" personality of a bossy little sister that can often get on the nerves of Rob and the others. Feisty, yet supportive in her role as Rob's assistant, Ohno helps keep the lab running and the rest of the team in line. At times she feels neglected and unappreciated, but through thick and thin she's always there to lend the team a hand (and a nag when needed).
- Ohno's primary colors are pink, red and white. When Mighty Orbots forms its gestalt form, it's Ohno that completes the final circuit "link" that allows the full power of the giant robot form to come online. Without this vital piece, Mighty Orbots cannot become fully functional (a flaw that was exploited once by Umbra, under the machinations of the Shadow Agent called Plasmus, in the episode "The Wishworld"). If necessary, Ohno can operate the controls alone for basic functions, but combat is simply too demanding without the Commander on board. Ohno also carries the repair tools and recharge kit needed should the Orbots be caught off-world away from their base recharge chambers.
- Umbra – The leader of SHADOW, Umbra is a massive, bio-mechanical computer the size of a planet's core; often depicted as a large globe with a mouth, a vestigial nose and five eyes. It is through his efforts, organizing through his minions and agents, that Umbra strives to conquer the galaxy. Operating from inside a massive base called the Shadow Star, which is essentially a Dyson sphere, or a shell around a star that can capture all of the available light, his network of informants and spies keep him abreast of any developments within the United Planets. The weaponry and defensive systems of the Shadow Star are so ominous that a direct assault by Galactic Patrol forces is considered to be out of the question. The Shadow Star can generate so much power that it is able to move under Umbra's direction, and any sector of space it occupies will be totally under Shadow control.
- Umbra himself has no real means of directly fighting his enemies, so he employs massive monsters, sinister aliens and elaborate plans to combat the threat of the Galactic Patrol and Mighty Orbots.
- Draconis – An agent of SHADOW, who works with Umbra in a diabolical plan to discredit and defeat the Orbots. He works with a duplicate, giant robot impostor, named Tobor, who resembles the assembled gestalt form of Mighty Orbots. Together, they first attack the peaceful peoples of the galaxy to make the Galactic Patrol believe that the Orbots have turned evil. Then, after the Orbots are put on trial and sentenced to 'life' on the Great Prison Planet, Draconis – who had managed to infiltrate the prison and put himself as the chief warden – would put the Orbots through grueling, demeaning and deadly tasks that would have destroyed them. However, Draconis and Tobor were exposed, and eventually defeated by Dia and the Orbots.
- Capt. Shrike – The leader of a gang of space pirates, Captain Shrike lashes out against unsuspecting ships and travelers from within the Sargasso Star Cluster; wherein lies his secret base. He battled Mighty Orbots after he hijacked a starliner, the Stellar-Queen, to use her hyperdrive engine along with the life-force of Commander Rondu to create a super weapon.
- Shrike uses a cybernetic eye to control his Master Computer, as well as stun his foes with a stasis-ray. Using his Master Computer, Shrike used Rondu's life-force to create a creature called a Titan (which looked like a Japanese Oni), to battle Mighty Orbots.
- Shrike was the only villain who was not a member of SHADOW.
- Plasmus – An alien shape-shifter, Plasmus was ordered by Umbra to find a weakness in Mighty Orbots so SHADOW could destroy them. Plasmus discovered that Ohno was a key to Mighty Orbots power, after he tricked her into traveling to the Wish World, where she was turned into a human girl. Plasmus later battled Mighty Orbots in the Emerald Nebula, in an attempt to defeat them, but was shoved into a hyper-warp and was never seen again.
- Plasmus could change his shape to resemble any type of non-robotic life form. He mostly traveled as a mass of gaseous, green/white vapor, which is what appeared as he transformed. As well, he could draw upon energy and matter to enlarge his strength and mass exponentially.
- Magnetic Menace (8 September 1984) - Bo and Boo go to see rock star robots Dragos and Drax in concert, unaware that they're SHADOW agents.
- The Wish World (15 September 1984) - Ohno worries that Rob doesn't appreciate her because she's a robot and travels to the Wishworld to become human.
- Trapped on the Prehistoric Planet (22 September 1984) - SHADOW agent Mentallus lures the team to a world populated by deadly monsters.
- The Dremloks (29 September 1984) - SHADOW take over the minds of a race of Ewok-like aliens.
- Devil's Asteroid (6 October 1984) - The team are framed as rampaging menaces and sent to prison.
- Raid on the Stellar Queen (13 October 1984)
- The Jewel of Targon (20 October 1984)
- The Phoenix Factor (27 October 1984)
- Leviathan (3 November 1984)
- The Cosmic Circus (17 November 1984)
- A Tale of Two Thieves (24 November 1984)
- Operation Eclipse (1 December 1984)
- The Invasion of the Shadow Star (15 December 1984)
- Mighty Orbots (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia
- Mighty Orbots at the Internet Movie Database
- Mighty Orbots at TV.com
- Arioch's Mighty Orbots Page
- A review of the first VHS volume of Mighty Orbots