1 9 6 5 (Japan)
1140 x 30 minute episodes
You can destroy his body, but you can’t keep a good crime fighter down. The villainous Saucer Lips learned the hard way when he killed Metro City Police Force officer Peter Brady (no, not that Peter Brady).
Little did Saucer Lips know he was sowing the seeds from which would spring his greatest foe, the bionic superhero known as Tobor, the 8th Man!
Created by writer Kazumasa Hirai and artist Jiro Kuwata in 1963, 8-Man was a Japanese comic strip detailing the crime-busting adventures of 8-Man.
The comic was developed into an animated series, which was re-edited, dubbed into English, and taken to the United States in syndication in 1965.
After Saucer Lips (“Mukade” in the Japanese series) killed Brady (“Rachiro Azuma”), the slain police officer was found by Professor Genius (“Dr Tani”). The Professor used Brady’s body, memories, and personality to create Tobor (spell it backwards), the 8th Man, so called as he was the Professor’s eighth attempt.
Tobor was an atomic-powered crime fighter with super strength, an arsenal of robotic weapons, and high-tech, malleable skin which gave him the ability to change his facial features into any form he chose.
The strangest part by far was the fact that when 8th Man ran low on energy he could recharge by smoking cigarette-like energy tabs, a lesson that would surely take today’s kids’ advocates from calm to apoplectic faster than you can say Chief Fumblethumbs (the top cop who 8th Man took into his confidence).
It was nearly as odd that 8th Man had a second brain in his arm . . .
Operating his own private detective agency, Tobor flew into battle against Saucer Lips and such other villains as Armoured Man, Baron Stormy, Dr Demon, the Satan Brothers, and a spy ring called Intercrime.
8th Man, originally a Japanese comic strip and cartoon, was imported and dubbed for American audiences in 1965.
The show ran for several years in syndication, continuing to blaze the trail that imports like Astro Boy had marked.
The series’ impact is most evident in the number of similar works it helped inspire, from The Six Million Dollar Man in the 70’s to Robocop in the 80’s.