Based the manga series 8 Man
by Jiro Kuwata and Kazumasa Hirai, this 1963 anime tells the story of a private investigator named Hachiro Azuma (Brady in the US), ambushed by criminals and run over by a car. As he lies dying, a mysterious scientist rescues him and gives him a new cyborg body
Now empowered beyond ordinary men, Azuma becomes (all by himself) the secret 8th division of the Tokyo Police. His only superior is bureau chief Tanaka (called Chief Fumblethumbs, of all things, in English). Now called 8-Man ("Eighth Man", in English, because according to the dub he was the eighth cyborg attempt — and the first one to work!), he has the usual array
of powers: Super Strength
, Super Speed
, plus the unusual ability to detach and remotely control his limbs
. In a detail that would never get past kid-vid censors today, 8-Man recharged his power supply using "special cigarettes". He spent much of his time fighting an array of goofy enemies ranging from communist spies and robot bats to gangsters with bizarre names right out of Dick Tracy.
Although the animation was average for a TV series of its time (it ran from November 7, 1963 to December 12, 1964 in Japan), by modern standards it is laughable and crude. In addition to being in black and white, its production crew had almost no experience with cel animation and took several episodes to gain any skill with the form. Even then it was of low quality, with a minimal frame rate, low detail, and wooden movement.
Despite this, it is still viewed with a certain amount of nostalgia in both Japan and the United States, so much so that there was actually a (reputedly awful) Live-Action Adaptation
produced in 1992.
It also prompted a Darker and Edgier Revival OVA
series in 1993, 8th Man After
, which was released in English by Streamline Pictures
. This has joined its originator as a Cult Classic
due to its unique blend of dark Cyber Punk
and over-the-top Super Hero
themes. It is also remembered for its mock-worthy Drugs Are Bad
themes - Cybernetics Eat Your Soul
because they are unusable without Psycho Serum
. Eight Man is resurrected to fight them, fueled by Super Serum
. Just Say NO to Psycho Serum
- Use Super Serum
! This could have all been avoided by simply distributing the "safe" serum.
Then lots of people could have cybernetics. But Reed Richards Is Useless
. It's just an anime, I should really just relax
and enjoy the ultraviolence.
Along with Astro Boy
and Speed Racer
, 8th Man
is historically significant as one of the first anime series to be distributed in the United States. The American version's newly animated opening sequence
was the first professional animation work done by Ralph Bakshi
Any similarities to another story about a dying cop revived by Science
are purely coincidental.
The original series contains examples of:
- Expository Theme Tune: The theme to the English dub combines this trope and Never Trust a Trailer, as the theme and (American animated) opening sequence described Eight Man fighting aliens (which he never does) and flying (which he can't do). A very young Ralph Bakshi was responsible for the new (and Off Model) opening.
- It Runs on Nonsensoleum: 8 Man recharges his super-batteries or whatever by smoking radium-laced cigarettes.
- Sdrawkcab Alias: His secret identity is named Tobor.
- Weaksauce Weakness: Eight Man has to smoke (or eat) what appear to be cigarettes to keep his powers running. Great when he's facing a firing squad, but what if kids see him smoking and he sets a bad example?
- Note that the latter issue is only thanks to Values Dissonance with the time period the character was originally created in. 60s Japan was a time when people still believed cigarettes were good for you.
8th-Man After contains examples of:
- Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: Cyborgs routinely run rampant because the cybernetic link to the nervous system along with the massive boost in strength unhinges most people's minds. Eight Man, being a (Bishōnen) Phlebotinum Rebel with "good cybernetics" is able to escape these effects and battle the evil Mega Corp. producing them.
- Drugs Are Bad: Used by the OVA in place of Cybernetics Eat Your Soul: it's not the cybernetics per se that drives the users crazy, but the massive quantities of Psycho Serum they have to take to use the implants effectively. Eight Man makes do with good-old Super Serum.
- Killed Off for Real: In 8th Man After it's revealed that Azuma was deleted from his cyborg body with no explanation as to how or why he was deleted, the only remaining trace being his name, and his successor Hazama inheriting the body. However, combining statements from Sachiko and Professor Tani suggests that Azuma eventually wasn't able to cope with his situation and died. Since Tani had the body to begin with, it's possible that he ended up euthanizing Azuma.
- Put on a Bus: Azuma disappears not a minute into the OVA, never to be seen again.
- Bus Crash: We later discover that Hazama isn't a totally new Eight Man, but inhabits the original body. Azuma's mind had been deleted by persons and methods unknown.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: In After, Hazama remembers the night his fiancee was murdered and how he promptly hunted down and killed those responsible. The memory of the murder unfortunately can trigger Unstoppable Rage.
- Super Serum: Used in the OVA.
- What the Hell, Hero?: Sachiko chews out Eight Man for using excessive force in killing a rampaging cyborg football team, going so far as to call him scarier than the cyborgs he killed. The cyborgs that were in the midst of slaughtering dozens of innocent fans in the stands and were just about to do the same to Sachiko before Eight Man arrived.