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Saibôgu 009

Saibôgu 009 (1966) Movie Poster
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Japan  •    •  64m  •    •  Directed by: Yûgo Serikawa.  •  Starring: Hiroyuki Ôta, Judy Ongg, Arihiro Fujimura, Machiko Soga, Jôji Yanami, Masato Yamanouchi, Kiyoshi Kawakubo, Ryô Ishihara, Hiroshi Ôtake, Kenji Utsumi, Hiroshi Masuoka, Kyôko Toriyama, Sanji Hase.  •  Music by: Taiichirô Kosugi.
     Dr. Gilmore creates nine human-robot hybrids for the evil criminal entity Black Ghost. When Gilmore and the cyborgs revolt and go off on their own, Black Ghost unleashes the full extent of his private military empire to destroy them.

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Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
Image from: Saibôgu 009 (1966)
CYBORG 009 (1966) is a 64-minute Japanese animated theatrical movie based on the manga (comic book) by Shotaro Ishinomori (creator of KAMEN RIDER and other popular anime and live-action sci-fi films and TV shows). It was followed by two additional Cyborg 009 movies and three different TV series. While this was not the first work of Ishinomori's to be filmed, it was one of the earliest as well as one of the first animated sci-fi theatrical features in Japan. It tells of nine cyborgs (human-robot hybrids) created by scientist Dr. Gilmore, who is employed by the evil criminal entity Black Ghost. When the cyborgs revolt and go off on their own, joined by Dr. Gilmore and the newest, most advanced cyborg, 009, Black Ghost unleashes the full extent of his private military empire to destroy them.

Each of the cyborgs has a special superpower: 001 is a baby-sized Russian psychic; 002 is an American athlete who can fly; 003, the only female in the group, is a French dancer with super hearing; 004 is a German with guns and cannons built into his arms and legs; 005 is an American Indian with super strength; 006 is a Chinese cook who can shoot flames from his mouth; 007 is British (what else?) and can transform into any object or creature; 008 is a black African who can survive underwater; and 009, the group's nominal leader, is stronger, faster and more resourceful than the others. The opening sequences show how 009 came to be a cyborg, the only character afforded such treatment. He's a half-Japanese race car driver (shades of SPEED RACER!) whose broken body is snatched from a wreck and taken to Black Ghost where he's completely rebuilt, as displayed in a helpful diagram.

After some initial battles, Dr. Gilmore gives the Cyborgs a new high-tech boatsub and four of them go off on a secret mission to locate Black Ghost's underwater headquarters. 003, the female cyborg, is abducted by Black Ghost's minions and transformed into an evil cyborg. 009, joined by 006 and 007, must penetrate Black Ghost's security, rescue 003 and destroy Black Ghost's capacity to wage war on the rest of the world.

Like much early Japanese animation, the human characters are rather cartoonish and detract from the overall serious tone of the sci-fi adventure. The compact, diminutive 007, constantly jabbering and quick to cower in fear, is most like a traditional cartoon character, but is also the funniest of the group, as he transforms into all sorts of incongruous objects and creatures. At one point, while fighting a giant octopus, he transforms first into a meat cutting knife, slicing one tentacle into little pieces, and then into a meat grinder to reduce another tentacle into minced octopus. At another point, he turns into a mouse to sneak into the underwater base, only to be terrorized by a cat. He then transforms into a sexy white feline and when the male cat expects a kiss, becomes a bulldog and scares it away, offering an unmistakable echo of the classic Tom & Jerry cartoons.

While the character design is somewhat crude, the battle action involves huge fleets of planes, ships, subs, tanks, etc. and is surprisingly well-executed. The film boasts almost nonstop action, much of it patently absurd. Sea creatures and other animals all have a malevolent purpose and include a school of missile-toting sharks(!). In one sequence the cyborgs all use their individual powers to destroy attacking fighter jets until the entire wave of jets, which had been seemingly endless, is destroyed. After a while, it becomes just too relentless and one wishes for some of the introspective moments found in a later 009 movie, CYBORG 009: THE LEGEND OF THE SUPER GALAXY (1980).

This first movie was followed by KAIJU SENSO (aka MONSTER WAR, 1967, listed on IMDB as SAIBOGU 009: KAIJU SENSO) and then a black-and-white TV series (1968). The franchise was revived as a 1979 color TV series which led to the aforementioned 1980 movie. More recently, in 2001, a new version of CYBORG 009 appeared on TV in Japan.


Review by Brian Camp from the Internet Movie Database.