This Book is fun!Super Book,
or Anime Oyako Gekijō
("Animated Parent and Child Theater") in the original Japanese, was a Japanese-American tag-team effort to try to show stories from the Old and New Testament of the Judeo-Christian Bible
to Japanese children. Released from 1981 to 1983. Originally, it was for Japan only (no one thought anime was marketable in the West back then), but a positive response at a French convention led to an English dub in the United States of America.
The set-up went something like this:
The series focuses on the adventures of Christopher (Chris) Peeper and his best friend Joy. During the first episode, Christopher's father, an eccentric college professor who seems to specialize in Biblical archaeology, tells Christopher to clean out the attic, as it has gotten severely cluttered and messy. While Chris and Joy are working on the attic, some boxes fall over, and a strange book falls out of one of them.
Taking the book to Chris's bedroom and failing to open it on their own, Christopher and Joy are startled to see a blinding light coming from it as it opens itself. Things then get even stranger; the book starts talking to them, identifying itself as the eponymous Super Book. The book explains that it contains many stories inside, and that they need only peer into it to experience them.
Thus begin Chris and Joy's adventurers. Once an Episode
, they travel within Super Book to experience one of the Biblical stories it contains, accompanied by Chris's toy robot Gizmo, who becomes a fully functioning robot during their adventures. Though they often interact with the Biblical characters themselves (at one point, they even try to stop Abraham from sacrificing Isaac), they primarily observe the stories, learning from them the lessons each tale has to teach.
Surprisingly, it was good. The creators did their best to keep true to the original stories as best as they could while still keeping it appropriate for kids. The Biblical characters, while often one-shots, were still given good characterization. And, importantly, the producers tried to illustrate the stories that showcased God's love and mercy, rather than focusing exclusively on the judgment and wrath part.
The second series (Superbook II,
or Pasokon Travel Tanteidan
) took place two years after the first and had Super Book accidentally fall on a computer keyboard. This somehow transferred Super Book's powers to the computer, allowing anyone who wanted to see into the past. Unfortunately, Chris' dog Ruffles accidentally gets lost in time in the process. To find her, Chris' cousin Uriah (Uri for short) and Gizmo (now a fully functioning robot even outside Super Book, with a built-in computer for recall purposes) regularly travel back in time to find her, adding an overarching plot arc to the second series.
There was also a third, separate series called Flying House
that focused more on stories from the New Testament, primarily the ministry of Jesus Christ.
Most of the tropes that apply are tropes from The Bible
. The ones listed here focus primarily on the original cast, the series, its premise, and any other characterization tropes not on The Bible
There's a new version of this that uses CGI.
This series provides examples of:
- Adults Are Useless: In the case of Chris' parents.
- Adventures In The Bible: The premise.
- Alternative Foreign Theme Song: The Japanese version has an opening and ending theme different from the English opening.
- Bible Times
- Chest Insignia: The letter U on Uri's shirt.
- And in the Japanese version his name is Yuu, which is pronounced like the English letter U.
- Clark Kenting: After Uri and Gizmo go to the computer and never went back for days, Chris and Joy have to make excuses to Chris' mother before she gets worried.
- Clockwork Creature: Gizmo is a robot version of this, as when he runs down on power he explicitely needs the key on his back wound back up for him to even move again (he can still talk just fine).
- Deranged Animation: Occurs whenever the kids travel through time
- Garden Hose Squirt Surprise: This happens to Chris in the Job episode.
- God Is Good
- Hey, It's That Voice!: Christopher Peeper was voiced by the late Billie Lou Watt - the English voice of the 1963 Astro Boy. There's also Peter Fernandez.
- Hitler's Time Travel Exemption Act: Despite their attempts to, something always happens that prevents the kids and Gizmo from preventing any of the bad things from happening, thereby ensuring events play out as they did.
- One example was Gizmo running towards Eve to stop her from eating from the Forbidden Fruit. And he would have succeeded, if not for his gears winding down at exactly that moment, immobilizing him as the Fall from the Garden happened. Chris then tried to stop Eve - but the snake lunged at him and blocked his passage.
- Somewhat of an inversion happened in the "First Christmas" episode - Gizmo managed to push two soldiers, who were looking to hunt down and kill the baby Jesus at King Herod's order (and threatened Chris when Chris tried to stop them), off a cliff.
- I Will Find You: Uri and Gizmo's quest is to find Ruffles.
- Jesus Saves: There was a few episodes based in the New Testament. This trope is stronger in "The Flying House" series.
- Meaningful Name: Christopher Peeper - His last name is rooted in peeping, essentially getting a quick look at something.
- "Christopher" means "bearing Christ."
- My Grandson Myself: How Chris and Joy explain looking the same when they meet the same person decades apart.
- Narrator: Superbook, who knew.
- Our Time Travel Is Different: Both the Videocassette and Wormhole kind, depending on which direction they're headed.
- Portal Book
- Powers as Programs: In Season 2, the Super Book's information are transferred to Chris' computer.
- Relationship Voice Actor: The three series also feature Billie Lou Watt's husband Hal Studer, along with Ray and Sonia Owens. All four often appeared together in the anime they've been in.
- Robot Buddy: Gizmo, in Season 2.
- Shonen Hair: Christopher
- Sibling Rivalry: Fred (Chris' father) and his younger brother (Uri's father).
- Strong as They Need to Be: Gizmo's wind-up function generally lasts until the plot requires him to break down. In the first episode this results in the Fall of Man.
- X Meets Y: Time Bokan in The Old Testament
- Which is fitting as both Superbook and Time Bokan were animated by the same company (Tatsunoko Production).
- Year Inside, Hour Outside: The kids and Gizmo literally experience days, if not weeks as the stories play out, but once they're done they are returned to their time, with no more than a minute, possibly five tops having passed.
- The Noah's Flood episode drops them into the story before the flood, and pulls them out after everyone emerges from the ark over a year later. When they get home it takes Christopher a moment to realize why his dad wasn't freaked out.