Sunday, March 6, 2011

Umeboshi Denka (1969)

Fujiko Fujio were a popular cartoonist duo from Japan, made up of Hiroshi Fujimoto (1933-1996) and Moto Abiko (1934-). Together they've created many comics, the most popular being Doraemon, which was adapted into a TV series that ran from 1979 to 2005 (26 years!) only to be revived about a month later with a new show which still goes on to this day.

The duo has a long list of comics that they have created, many of which have been adapted into TV series. Tokyo Movie Shinsha (then simply known as Tokyo Movie) produced several in the '60s and '70s, many of them in black and white. "Obake no Q-taro" (Q-taro the Ghost) came first, followed by "Perman" (literally "Superman" without the "Su"), "Kaibutsu Kun" (Monster Prince), then this one...

"Umeboshi Denka" (Denka from Star Ume) was actually the last black and white show that TMS made*, broadcast on TBS (Tokyo Broadcast Service) from April to September of 1969 for 26 episodes. It was a gag-comedy about a royal alien family from another planet who moved to Earth after their planet got destroyed. A Japanese family took them in, resulting in comedic hijinks.

There were attempts to revive the series in color, but it was unsuccessful. They did a feature-film based on it, hoping to gain interest, and Denka even made a guest appearance in one episode of "Doraemon", but all attempts were futile.

As for the 1969 B&W series, the only thing available on the internet are the opening and closing sequences.

Notice that the end sequence has a lot of empty space in layouts. This was because they superimposed screen credits where the empty space is. The video presented above is a non-credit version.

* - One more B&W show from TMS came out after "Denka", called "Chingo Muchabei", broadcast in 1971. However this was actually made in 1968; it didn't air until years later.


Will Finn said...

I like this style of cartooning, though it often seems to lose something in the translation from print to animation. I like the loose, "broken line" art of strips like "GON" (the caveman, not the dinosaur) a lot. I have mentioned many times that the tight art of anime ruins the LUPIN 3 character for me every time. Give me the comic any day...

Never saw this before at all. Thanks for posting!

Brubaker said...

Japanese studios did (and still do) tend to "tighten" the design when it comes to adapting "cartoonier" comics for animation.

Still, I do have fondness for some of them. Nostalgia, I'll admit although I felt that the '70s animated version of "Gon" (then known as "Gyatrus") was pretty faithful to the comic, art-wise (apparently the studio went out of their way to make sure that their directors and animators drew like Shunji Sonoyama)

Brubaker said...

And I forgot to mention: "Perman", "Kaibutsu Kun" and "Umeboshi Denka" was actually animated at TWO studios: the aforementioned TMS and Studio Zero, the latter being a studio set up by the Fujiko-duo, plus Fujio Akatsuka, Shotaro Ishinomori, and Jiro Tsunoda.

They basically took turns animating the episodes (TMS would do eps. 1, 3, 5,... while Zero did eps. 2, 4, 6,...)

Studio Zero, alas, produced some of the worst animation ever, even by 1960s Japanese standards. They tended to employ artists who had no animation experience whatsoever and churned out some really stiff stuff.

The artists often joked that Studio Zero is really "Studio Boro" ("Boro" is Japanese for junk, garbage)