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Anime / Chargeman Ken!

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Charging! Go! Go, Ken!
Ken Izumi dons his special uniform and drives his Cool Car called the Sky Rod to fight against evil alien invaders called the Juralians. Ken is joined by his sister Caron and his robot dog Barican (who looks more like some sort of robo-duck).
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Chargeman Ken! is a notoriously bad 1974 Cult Classic anime. Although the studio that produced the show, Knack Productions, was known for low-quality productions emphasizing cheap gags over quality, this show may be the bottom of the barrel even by Knack standards. The production was something of a reunion for those who worked on Astroganger. Individual episodes only ran five minutes twenty seconds apiece (excluding the opening and end credits), which led to horrendous pacing issues. It was cancelled after 65 episodes. This fascinatingly dreadful series would have been completely forgotten had it not been for the 2007 DVD release being added to Nico Nico Douga. Memetic Mutation ensued.

The two different manga versions of the series, which ran on TV Land and Adventure King respectively, were published in one book in March, 2013. A stage musical based on the series ran from October 31 to November 6, 2019 in Tokyo.

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Chargeman Ken! provides examples of:

  • Adjective Noun Fred: Chargeman Ken.
  • Anti-Hero: Ken, although it's unlikely the creators meant for that to be the case.
  • Apologetic Attacker: Hilariously done in episode 35, with Ken's infamous "Dr. Volga, forgive me!" line as he launches him at the enemy as a human bomb.
  • Arson Murder And Life Saving: The Juralians mostly messed with Asshole Victims; they've stopped a suicide, a bank heist, a plane hijacking, and even an asteroid impact onto earth.
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Dinosaurs in "Dynamite in the Brain".
  • Big Bad: The Juralian General Maou, naturally.
  • Bishōnen: Hoshi. Ken is also supposed to be one.
  • Blatant Lies: Ken claims Hoshi changed schools after he killed him.
  • Brought to You By the Letter K: Ken's street clothes, such as they are.
  • Circus Episode: In Episode 58, "The Devil's Circus!", Ken, Caron, and Barican visit a circus. Ken doesn't have enough money for them to get in, but one of the clowns recognizes Ken and lets them in for free. Naturally, it's a trap set up by the Jurals to kill Ken.
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  • Circus of Fear: As the episode's title implies, the circus in "The Devil's Circus" is led by Jurals who disguise themselves as circus performers to kill Ken. At one point, they even unleash the lions upon the audience!
  • Cool Train: In "Dynamite in the Brain", one appears at the beginning, only to get destroyed by a dinosaur.
  • Creepy Circus Music: The waltz music in the Circus Episode is played in a minor key, and has a very melancholic tone. This turns out to be fitting, because the circus is a trap to kill Ken.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The fights in this show typically last a few seconds and largely involve Ken shooting Jural invaders. The one time this formula was inverted was when Hoshi (himself a Jural alien) leads his football team to an 18-0 shutout against Ken's.
  • Double Entendre: In Episode 33, it is mentioned that there are 5 bases on the moon. The way how it's said (kichi ga itsutsu)can be heard as kichigai tsutsu, with kichigai meaning 'crazy'.
  • Elevator School: In a rare attempt at actual worldbuilding, episode 6 reveals that in the show's futuristic setting, all grade levels from elementary school to university are housed in a single school building, and this is the case with schools the entire world over. The school Ken goes to is 70 stories tall.
  • Everybody Laughs Ending: A lot of episodes end this way. Usually, the characters are laughing at Barican's expense.
  • Evil Is Sexy: Invoked. Juralians often disguise as really good looking humans.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: The Juralians and General Maou.
  • Excuse Plot: Most episodes. Ken abruptly concludes the Jural are responsible for the incident, although there are few clues to support him.
  • Excited Show Title!: Chargeman Ken!
  • Girl with Psycho Weapon: Caron becomes one in episode 45, due to her piano teacher (who, predictably, is a disguised Juralian) brainwashing her into trying to kill Ken. She's snapped out of it when her mother slaps her.
  • Immune to Bullets: The Jural, strangely enough, are not affected by bullets, but they are by Ken's laser gun.
  • Kansai Regional Accent: Happens a lot with the Jural villains in human form, but hilariously highlighted when an aspiring arsonist is told, "Everyday, from now on, you will burn down a house." (Kore kara mainichi ie wo yakouze)
  • Light Is Good: It's used to power up Chargeman Ken, the hero of the history.
  • Limited Animation: Not as much limited as it is barely there. Between each episodes short length and the horrendous budget, individual episodes almost never exceed 50 total frames of animation.
  • Moral Dissonance: A lot of what makes this show funny is how incredibly cruel Ken (and his family in some episodes) is.
  • Off-Model: Is anything ever on model in this show? Well, Ken's family is usually not too far off, but there is the matter of Ken's mother consistently having a throat too long for a human being.
  • Planet Looters: The evil aliens are supposed to be a case of them.
  • Ray Gun: Ken's weapon.
  • Redemption Equals Death: For X-6 and J-7, anyway.
  • Role Called: Chargeman Ken!
  • Robot Dog: Barican, called the "grandpa robot" in the show and looks like a screwed up predecessor of Haro.
  • Scary Dogmatic Aliens: Jurals, of the Aliens as Nazis variety.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Ken.
  • Shouldn't We Be in School Right Now?: Caron is seven years old but is always fighting space escapades while she should be at school. Ken himself doesn't look more than about eleven or twelve. Their teacher and classmates do appear, however, and are usually victims of whatever that may happen.
  • Stock Dinosaurs: Episode 35 opens with two of them fighting in a city, with the stock SKREEEONK. Turns out this is part of a movie that Ken and co. are watching.
  • Transformation Sequence: A 20-second one in every episode. Also seen in the theme song.
  • Tyop on the Cover: Several episodes have their title cards misspelled, such as Episode 44, "Beat the Fake Ken!". It should be written as 研の偽者をやっつけろ!but on-screen it's written as 研の偽物をやっけろ!, with wrong kanji for 偽者 (both 偽者 and 偽物 are pronounced "nisemono", but the former is used for impersonating a person, while the latter is used for making fake objects, like counterfeit money. They should have used the former in the title card). やっつけろ (yatsukero) means "Defeating someone", but due to a typo it's written やっけろ (yakkero), which is not a real word.
  • Viewers Are Goldfish: "Dynamite in the Brain" flashes back to a scene that occurred literally 30 seconds earlier.
  • Would Harm a Senior: In "Dynamite in the Brain!", the Juralians implant a time bomb in the head of an old man named Dr. Volga. Ken drops him to destroy a Juralian spaceship.
  • Zeerust: The show's visions of the future is so 70's it hurts, which only adds to the charm.

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