JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT: The Complete Series on DVD
4-Disc Collector’s Edition Available March 26th from Shout! Factory
Author: Keith Aiken
Source: Shout! Factory press release
Special Thanks to Tom Chen
JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT, the Americanized version of the classic Toei tokusatsu television series GIANT ROBOT (ジャイアントロボ, Jaianto Robo, 1967), will be released on DVD by Shout! Factory on March 26th. The 4-Disc set will include all 26 episodes of the show; the first time the entire series will be officially available on home video in North America.
GIANT ROBOT was based on Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s manga Giant Robo, which debuted in Weekly Shonen Sunday on May 20, 1967 and ran in the magazine through March 19, 1968. Toei’s live-action adaptation was first broadcast in Japan on NET (Nippon Educational Television, now TV Asahi) from October 11, 1967 to April 1, 1968. The manga and the TV show both followed the adventures of Daisaku Kusama, a boy who is given the control device to a gigantic robot which he uses in the fight against the evil organization called Big Fire.
The characters of Giant Robo and Daisaku Kusama were revived for the popular original video animation series GIANT ROBO: THE DAY THE EARTH STOOD STILL (ジャイアント・ロボ – 地球が静止する日, Jaianto Robo: Chikyuu Ga Seishi Suru Hi), initially released as 7 episodes from 1992-1998. In 2007, a new 13 episode animated show entitled GR: GIANT ROBO (GR ジャイアントロボ, GR: Jaianto Robo) was produced to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the original manga.
In 1968, American International Pictures Television licensed the GIANT ROBOT series from Toei. The program was dubbed in English — with Daisaku Kusama (Mitsunobu Kaneko) becoming ‘Johnny Sokko’ in the process — and syndicated to television in the United States as JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT starting in 1969. JOHNNY SOKKO was broadcast on independent UHF stations across the country throughout the 1970s, alongside similar Japanese monster/hero shows such as ULTRAMAN and THE SPACE GIANTS. In 1971, AIP-TV edited five episodes of JOHNNY SOKKO into a television movie called VOYAGE INTO SPACE which also aired in syndication for many years.
While Toei has maintained ownership of the GIANT ROBOT series in Japan, rights to the US version have changed hands several times. AIP was bought by Filmways, Inc. in 1979, and three years later Filmways merged with the Orion Picture Corporation. In 1996, Orion Home Video released four VHS tapes of JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT, each containing two episodes of the show. Following Orion’s bankruptcy, the company was acquired by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios in 1997. In mid-2010, Fox Home Entertainment and MGM announced the complete JOHNNY SOKKO series would be released as a 7-Disc set from MGM DVD on Demand. Fox canceled their plans for the DVD set late that year, though MGM did make all 26 episodes available for pay-per-view and download from Amazon Instant Video.
In summer 2012, Shout! Factory licensed JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT from MGM. The deal includes the English dubbed version of the series originally distributed by AIP-TV, but not the AIP tele-film VOYAGE INTO SPACE nor the original Japanese language GIANT ROBOT (which would have required a separate licensing agreement with Toei). Since MGM never restored or remastered JOHNNY SOKKO, Shout! is working with older transfers taken from 16mm. The company explained these were “the best available masters” for the show in the MGM archives.
The following press release from Shout! Factory provides some additional details for JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT: The Complete Series…
The original giant robot comes to DVD for the First Time!
“Robot, attack! Robot, destroy!” These commands launched a thousand sci-fi fantasies for budding fans of the genre, just as they brought Johnny Sokko’s Giant Robot into imminent battle action! Under the voice control of young Johnny Sokko, the massive, flying metal behemoth would bring his fiery breath, laser eyes, finger-launched missiles and, above all, his physical strength into battle with countless menacing monsters bent on destroying the Earth!
This epic fantasy series from Toei Studios aired from 1967 – 1968 and garnered even more fans in after-school reruns throughout the 70s. Collected here for the first time on DVD are all 26 episodes of explosive kaiju battles, nefarious alien takeover plots and mind-blowing heroics from jet-packed Johnny Sokko and his equally airborne friend and protector: Giant Robot! This special 4-DVD collector’s edition includes a 24-page book with special essay by August Ragone.
Street Date: March 26, 2013
Number of Discs: 4
Running Time: 675 Minutes (+/- 11¼ Hours)
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
About Shout! Factory
Shout! Factory is a diversified entertainment company devoted to producing, uncovering and revitalizing the very best of pop culture. Founders Richard Foos, Bob Emmer and Garson Foos have spent their careers sharing their music, television and film faves with discerning consumers the world over. Shout! Factory’s DVD offerings serve up classic, contemporary and cult TV series, riveting sports programs, live music, animation and documentaries in lavish packages crammed with extras. The company’s audio catalogue boasts GRAMMY-nominated box sets, new releases from storied artists, lovingly assembled album reissues and indispensable “best of” compilations. These riches are the result of a creative acquisitions mandate that has established the company as a hotbed of cultural preservation and commercial reinvention. Shout! Factory is based in Santa Monica, California. For more on Shout! Factory, visit shoutfactory.com.
For more information on JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT, please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan:
- JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT Coming to MGM DVD on Demand
- Upcoming Product Report: SCI-FI REVOLTECH Series Wave 3 & 4
- SCI-FI REVOLTECH SERIES Waves 5 and 6 Plus HOBBY JAPAN EXCLUSIVE