“Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot”, does this ring a bell?
Well what was popular in the 1960’s in Japan as ジャイアントロボ (Giant Robot) and was a hit in the US in the 70’s as “Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot” was on Indian television channel Doordarshan in the mid 1980’s when I was 12 years old.
The first experience of a science fiction, I used to complete my homework early on Wednesday afternoon, skip playing cricket with friends and stay glued to the television set as Giant Robot used to fight evil forces of alien emperor called Guillotine. Johnny Sokko with his wrist watch used to command his robot (well I guess Apple Watch will eventually get there) and I also remember the cute Japanese Girl Mari who used to pair with Johnny Sokko as part of the Unicorn team. Mari could speak 36 languages!!! and yeah she was sooooo cute, that’s what I thought then.
I have many such inspirations of why I came to Japan and Giant Robot is a big one. I started to locate the places where the serial was shot and one was right in Tokyo, the Kyu Furukawa Teien, walkable distance from the Kami Nakazato Station on the Keihin Tohoku Line. Famous for the rose garden the place has a European style stone building and beautiful Japanese styled gardens and ponds.
The place used to serve as the consulate for the UK, but now it is more known for the rose garden and has been thrown open to public access. The commander Azuma is in the gardens, talking over a mobile device which is also a reality in the 21st century. He is readying an attack by Unicorn on the villains holed up inside the stone apartment!!! The current location is below.
A close up which shows that the circular entrance arch are the same, the small pan shaped fountains on either side are also still there, given that it’s been nearly 50 years since the serial was shot, so similar. In the episode after this shot the central door is blown by a hand bomb!!! Seems it survived…
It seems the doors have been changed, the earlier style and the present door look is quite different. Still it retains the European feel which it had then . The evil emperors guards are seen securing the gate in the Giant Robot Episode 12 – Amberon The Synthetic Monster
Note the plants are also retained the same for the past 50 years. Preservation well done! The Gardens charge 150 yen for entrance. Honestly speaking being at the same location where Giant Robot was shot is like a dream… Lucky I made the right decision to pursue my career in Japan. Got to relieve the nostalgic moments.
Commander Azuma and Johnny Sokko discuss their strategy to catch the villains after the villains flee from the bungalow and their boss uses a hexagonal cube to make himself disappear. Commander hints to Johnny that he should call his robot. It’s high time he is there to help…
Wake up Giant Robot, come. Johnny gives the orders, and yeah yeah……
The Robot is on his way!!!!!!
I will keep posting more such location articles for Giant Robot, there are multiple of them around here in Tokyo. If Doordarshan, Giant Robot, childhood science fiction is what you dig, Giant RObot is one not to be missed serial. The opening of Giant Robot is below. ENJOY!!!!