1 9 6 9 (USA)
26 x episodes
Despite the secret agent-sounding name, Johnny Sokko was just an ordinary boy, not much different from many in his viewing audience. But fate placed young Johnny on the same boat with Gerry Monno, an undercover agent of the crime-fighting team Unicorn.
Gerry was out on the high seas responding to a recent UFO crash and some related shipwrecks. When Johnny and Gerry’s own ship went down, the two banded together, and Gerry revealed his secret identity.
The boy and the agent washed up on the shore of a secret island, home of the very aliens whose UFO had crashed in the ocean. Called Gargoyles, they were led by the evil Emperor Guillotine, who had his eye on conquering the Earth.
Escaping from the Gargoyle agents, Johnny and Gerry ran across Dr Lucius Guardian, a human scientist who had been captured by Guillotine and forced to build a powerful giant robot.
The robot still needed nuclear energy to be activated, but once his power cells were up and running, Giant Robot would be under the control of whomever first spoke into the doctor’s wristwatch communicator.
Dr Guardian had planted an atomic bomb on the island in the hopes of destroying the Gargoyles and his creation, but when it went off, it merely charged Giant Robot’s power cells. Inquisitive boy that he was, Johnny Sokko tested the communicator, thus becoming the proud owner of a flying steel war machine with a red and black Egyptian headdress.
His original plan foiled, Emperor Guillotine responded by sending his sea beast Dracalon to destroy Tokyo. Under Johnny’s command, Giant Robot flew to the rescue, carrying his master and Gerry in his giant hands.
Armed with explosive rockets in his fingertips, Giant Robot easily took out Dracalon, but Emperor Guillotine had several more gargantuan monsters where that one came from.
Over the course of the show’s 26 episodes, Johnny and pal battled such villains as the Terrifying Space Mummy, Dragon the Ninja Monster, the electric-powered Tentaclon, and giant eyeball Opticon.
The final episode pitted Giant Robot against the leader himself, Emperor Guillotine, who had built himself up to giant size with atomic energy. Thus charged, Guillotine was a walking atom bomb, and one wrong move could have destroyed the Earth.
Ignoring his master’s commands, Giant Robot took the battle into space, where both Guillotine and Giant Robot were vaporised in a tremendous explosion.
Back on Earth, a tearful Johnny Sokko and the Unicorn agents offered a final salute to their noble friend.
Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot wasn’t as widely seen in the US as some of its fellow imports, but the show gained a wider audience when its distributors compiled several episodes into a made-for-TV movie, Voyage Into Space.
The re-edited film became a regular part of Saturday afternoon “creature features” on local TV stations, and its influence can still be seen in works like the 1999 animated film The Iron Giant.