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Tetsujin 28-go

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Tetsujin 28
(Tetsujin Nijūhachi-gō)
GenreMecha, dieselpunk
Written byMitsuteru Yokoyama
Published byKobunsha
Original runJuly 1956May 1966
Television drama
Directed bySantaro Marune
Original networkNippon TV
Original run February 1, 1960 April 25, 1960
Anime television series
Tetsujin 28 FX
Directed byTetsuo Imazawa
Produced byJin Totani
Mikihiro Iwata
Toru Horikoshi
Yuko Sagawa
Written byFumihiko Shimo
Hideki Sonoda
Hiroshi Minamino
Isao Shizuya
Nobuaki Kishima
Ryoe Tsukimura
Satoru Nishizono
Toshimichi Okawa
Music byHiroaki Kondo
StudioTokyo Movie Shinsha
Licensed by
Original networkNNS (Nippon TV)
Original run April 5, 1992 March 30, 1993
Anime television series
Tetsujin 28 Gao!
Directed byTatsuji Yamazaki
Produced byShotaro Muroji
Daisuke Hara
Written byMitsutaka Hirota
Tatsuji Yamazaki
Music byFutoshi Sato
Original networkFNS (Fuji TV)
Original run April 6, 2013 March 26, 2016
Written byAtsushi Oba
Published byShueisha
MagazineSaikyō Jump
Original runJune 2013 – present
Anime television series
Live-action film

Tetsujin 28-gō (Japanese: 鉄人28号, Hepburn: Tetsujin Nijūhachi-gō, lit. "Iron Man No. 28"), known as simply Tetsujin 28 in international releases, is a 1956 manga written and illustrated by Mitsuteru Yokoyama, who also created Giant Robo. The series centers on the adventures of a young boy named Shotaro Kaneda, who controls a giant robot named Tetsujin 28, built by his late father.

The manga was later adapted into four anime television series, a Japanese television drama and two films, one live action and one animated. Released in 1963, the series was among the first Japanese anime series to feature a giant robot. It was later released in the United States as Gigantor.[1] A live-action movie with heavy use of CGI was produced in Japan in 2005.

The series is credited with featuring the first humanoid giant robot controlled externally via remote control by an operator.


In the final phase of the Pacific War, the Imperial Japanese Army were developing a gigantic robot "Tetsujin 28-gō" as the secret weapon to fight against the Allies. However, Japan surrendered before they could complete its construction. After the war, Dr. Kaneda (the developer of Tetsujin 28-go) passed his robot to his son Shotaro Kaneda.


  • Shotaro Kaneda (金田 正太郎, Kaneda Shōtarō): The ten-year-old[citation needed] son of Dr. Kaneda. He is Tetsujin's assigned controller, with a deep emotional attachment to the robot. Shotaro is a boy detective famous throughout Tokyo, and in the manga, 1963 series, and 2004 series, can be seen frequently driving a car.
  • Professor Shikishima (敷島 博士, Shikishima-hakase): Dr. Kaneda's assistant, later Shotaro's mentor and guardian. He is caring and very dedicated to his work, but usually looks serious and deadpan. He is married, and has a son named Tetsuo.
  • Inspector Ootsuka (大塚 署長, Ōtsuka-shochō): The Chief of Tokyo Police. He is warm in personality and very enthusiastic, which isn't to say he doesn't take his job seriously. He is very close to Shikishima and also takes care of Shotaro, even acting as a surrogate father in the 2004 series.
  • Kenji Murasame (村雨 健次, Murasame Kenji): A former intelligence officer who begins to help Otsuka and Shotaro's work. His appearances in the 1960s and 2004 series are starkly different; he is immediately Shotaro's ally in the 1960s, but in the 2004 series, his brothers Ryuusaku and Tatsu are killed during Tetsujin's revival, causing him to seek revenge for several episodes. In the original manga, he and Ryuusaku are the leaders of a criminal organization.
  • Professor Shutain Franken (不乱拳酒多飲 博士, Furanken Shutain-hakase): A reclusive mad scientist who created the robot Black Ox. He is calm and very knowledgeable, but unfortunately uses his talents to create dangerous robots. In the original version of the 1960s series, his name is Dr. Black Dog.
  • Superhuman Kelly (超人間 ケリー, Chōningen Kerī): An American man who volunteered himself to be turned into an android as part of a wartime experiment. As a result, his body is entirely robotic with the exception of his brain, and is often covered in bandages. In the 2004 series, he steals his brother Johnson's identity in order to kill the doctor that made him this way.


Yokoyama's Tetsujin, much like Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy, was influenced by the artist's wartime experiences. In Yokoyama's case, this was through the bombing of Kobe in World War II.[2]

As he had written in Ushio magazine in 1995, "When I was a fifth-grader, the war ended and I returned home from Tottori Prefecture, where I had been evacuated. The city of Kobe had been totally flattened, reduced to ashes. People said it was because of the B-29 bombers...as a child, I was astonished by their terrifying, destructive power." Another influence on Tetsujin's creation was the Vergeltungswaffen, a set of wonder weapons designed for long-range strategic bombing during World War II, and the idea that Nazi Germany possessed an "ace in the hole to reverse [its] waning fortunes".[3] The third work to inspire Yokoyama's creation was the 1931 film Frankenstein, which shaped Yokoyama's belief that the monster itself is neither good or evil.


Tetsujin 28-go was serialized in Kobunsha's Shōnen magazine from July 1956 to May 1966, for a total of 97 chapters. The series was collected into 12 tankōbon volumes, which are re-released every ten years.


1963 television series[edit]

The 1963 television incarnation of Tetsujin 28-go aired on Fuji TV from 20 October 1963 to 25 May 1966. The series initially ended with 84 episodes, but then returned for 13 more, for a total of 97 episodes. The series had mostly short plots that never took up more than three episodes, but was generally more light-hearted than the anime that would succeed it. Shotaro, Otsuka, Shikishima and Murasame functioned as a team in this version.

In North America, due to the Marvel Comics character Iron Man appearing in that market before Tetsujin 28-go (which literally means "Iron Man No. 28"), the series was renamed Gigantor for the American version.[4] The dub was done by Fred Ladd, all of the character names were changed, and the wartime setting removed. Shotaro Kaneda became Jimmy Sparks, Dr. Shikishima became Dr. Bob Brilliant, Inspector Otsuka became Inspector Ignatz J. Blooper, and Kenji Murasame became Dick Strong. The series' setting was pushed forward to the year 2000. Only 52 of the 97 episodes were ever dubbed in English.

1980 television series[edit]

The 1980-81 New Tetsujin 28 series was created with 51 color episodes based on a modernized take upon the original concept art. In 1993, Fred Ladd and the TMS animation studio converted the series into The New Adventures of Gigantor and had it broadcast on America's Sci-Fi Channel from September 9, 1993 to June 30, 1997.

Tetsujin 28 FX[edit]

Chō Dendō Robo Tetsujin 28-go FX is a sequel to Tetsujin 28-go directed by Tetsuo Imazawa and produced at the Tokyo Movie Shinsha studio. It ran on Nippon Television from April 5, 1992 to March 30, 1993, totaling 47 episodes.[5] It has been brought over to Latin America, but never released in English-speaking countries.

The show follows Shotaro's son, Masato, who controls a new edition of Tetsujin and works at a detective agency with other children. Among them are Shiori Nishina, granddaughter of Chief Otsuka. The Tetsujin FX (Iron Hero 28 Future X) is controlled by a remote control gun, which has to be aimed at the robot for it to take commands.[5]


2004 television series[edit]

Written and directed by Yasuhiro Imagawa, the 2004 remake takes place ten years after World War II, approximately the same time as the manga debuted. The new television series has been released in the United States under its original name Tetsujin-28 by Geneon and in the United Kingdom by Manga Entertainment, the first time a Tetsujin-28 property has not been localized to "Gigantor" in America or other English speaking nations. The television series focused mainly on Shotaro's pursuit to control and fully understand Tetsujin's capabilities, all the while encountering previous creations and scientists from the Tetsujin Project. While not fully based on the original manga, it followed an extremely different storyline than in the 1960s series.

On July 1, 2004, a video game was released for the PlayStation 2 developed by Sandlot and published by Bandai. The game uses the same voice actors as the animation, though it takes presentation cues from the anime, the manga, as well as the kaiju film genre.

On March 31, 2007, a feature-length film, entitled "Tetsujin 28-go: Hakuchu no Zangetsu" (which translates as "Tetsujin #28: The Daytime Moon") was released in Japanese theaters. The film used the same character designs and scenery as the 2004 television series, albeit the film remade the series from the beginning. Among the changes, a new character "Shoutarou" debuted, Shotaro's older half-brother who was in the same airforce troop as Ryuusaku Murasame. Also a character named Tsuki, with a heavily bandaged body, attempts to murder Shotaro.

2005 live-action film[edit]

A live-action adaptation of the series, directed by Shin Togashi, was released in Japan on March 19, 2005. It was later released on DVD in the US by Geneon Entertainment and by Manga Entertainment in the UK. The film centers on Shotaro (Sosuke Ikematsu), who is living in the modern age with his widowed mother. He discovers Tetsujin 28, a giant robot left for him by his father (Hiroshi Abe). With the help of Chief Otsuka and classmate Mami Tachibana, Shotaro learns to control Tetsujin and does battle with the villainous Dr. Reiji Takumi and Black Ox.

Cancelled films[edit]

On December 26, 2008, Felix Ip, the creative director of Imagi Animation Studios, revealed screenshots from a computer-animated teaser trailer featuring Tetsujin and Black Ox.[6] On January 9, 2009, the Japanese animation company Hikari Productions and Imagi launched the projects website, as well as the full teaser featuring Shotaro and Dr. Franken.[7] The film was subsequently cancelled, along with several other projects, when Imagi went defunct in 2010.

Idlewild director Bryan Barber reportedly acquired the rights to Gigantor in 2011, with plans to adapt it into a feature film. The project never came to fruition, however, and no further developments have been made since.[8][9]


  • The shotacon genre of Japanese fiction, which focuses on a sexual attraction to young boys, is said to be linked to Tetsujin 28-go's Shotaro as an early example of the archetypal boys the genre focuses on; indeed, the term "shotacon" is said to be short for "Shotaro Complex".[10]
  • Guillermo del Toro has cited the series as an influence on his movie Pacific Rim, depicting a series of battles between human-controlled giant robots and giant alien monsters.[11]
  • Shotaro's name was borrowed by Katsuhiro Otomo for the protagonist of his manga, Akira. He also borrowed the name Shikishima for the colonel and the name of Shikishima's son, Tetsuo, for the character Tetsuo Shima; he has stated in the Akira Club book that it could be said that Akira is based on Tetsujin 28-go (Akira himself is referred to as "No. 28" by the scientists experimenting on the espers).
  • The U.S. edition of the show, Gigantor, was spoofed in Saturday Night Live's "Torboto" sketch.


  1. ^ "Fire kills Japanese manga artist". BBC. 16 April 2004. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
  2. ^ Hornyak, Timothy (2006). Loving the Machine: The Art and Science of Japanese Robots. Kodansha International. pp. 58–59. ISBN 4-7700-3012-6.
  3. ^ Anne Allison, Gary Cross (2006). Millennial Monsters: Japanese Toys and the Global Imagination. University of California Press. pp. 103–114. ISBN 0-520-22148-6.
  4. ^ Erickson, Hal (1995). Television cartoon shows: an illustrated encyclopedia, 1949 through 1993. McFarland. pp. 232 & 324. ISBN 9780786400294. The character names were then "westernized": Dr. Kaneda became Dr. Sparks; his son Shotaro became Jimmy; and finally, since there already was an "Iron Man" on the market (see Marvel Superheroes), Tetsujin 28GO was not translated as Iron Man No. 28 but completely rechristened as Gigantor.
  5. ^ a b "鉄人28号 @ Tokyo Movie Shinsha" (in Japanese). TMS Entertainment. Archived from the original on 2013-09-03. Retrieved 2011-10-23.
  6. ^ "New "Tetsujin 28" Teaser". Felix Ip. 26 December 2008.
  7. ^ "Imagi Launches "Tetsujin 28" Site with CG Test Teaser". Anime News Network. 2009-01-09.
  8. ^ "OutKast Video Director to Pitch Gigantor/Tetsujin 28 Film - News". Anime News Network. 2011-10-21. Retrieved 2016-08-10.
  9. ^ Fleming, Mike (20 October 2011). "After Getting Close On Several Big Jobs, Director Bryan Barber's Taking His Next Meetings With 'Gigantor' In His Corner". Deadline New York.
  10. ^ Saitō Tamaki (2007). "Otaku Sexuality" in Christopher Bolton, Istvan Csicsery-Ronay Jr., and Takayuki Tatsumi ed., page 236 Robot Ghosts and Wired Dreams Archived 2011-06-05 at the Wayback Machine. University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-0-8166-4974-7.
  11. ^ "Mr. Beaks Talks PACIFIC RIM, World Building And Gargantuas W/ Guillermo del Toro And Travis Beacham!". Aintitcool.com. 2013-07-08. Retrieved 2016-08-10.

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